When we talk about pet food, the word ‘raw’ can sometimes scare pet owners away. It’s often associated with negative stereotypes and myths (cue the mental images of pet owners butchering up all sorts of road kill or a raw fed dog gnawing on any animal in sight – seriously, we’ve heard them all!). In reality, raw feeding isn’t scary at all. In fact, with a little bit of help and guidance, it’s easy.
Raw feeding means feeding your pet a fresh diet; one that replicates what they’d naturally eat in the wild. Cats are considered obligate carnivores, meaning they need meat in order to thrive. Canines are also carnivores, but scavenging carnivores, meaning they are firstly meat eaters, but can survive on plant vegetation in times of food droughts (key word survive, not thrive).
We’re working hard to dispel the myths surrounding raw pet food by using phrases like ‘fresh diet’. This paints a very different picture (especially when chatting to friends, family and, in particular, vets) because no one can argue that a highly processed diet is better than a fresh one, right? Research has outlined the many benefits of feeding a fresh diet, and you only need to chat to a fellow raw feeder to witness their passion and belief that raw is best.
Here’s some of the benefits you could notice in your pet when feeding fresh, raw food:
- Improved overall health
- Better digestion and less digestive upsets such as colitis and runny stools
- Fewer and better formed stools and less anal gland issues
- Nicer smelling breath, less tartar and cleaner teeth
- Glossier coats
- More stamina and improved muscle mass
- No itchiness
- Food enjoyment
- A calmer, yet more focused nature
Fresh, raw pet foods are now becoming increasingly popular. Although this is amazing news, it does mean there’s an overwhelming amount of information out there which can leave pet owners feeling completely muddled. Our Stefs Pet Pantry team have helped hundreds of raw feeding newbies get the information they need to start their pets on a fresh diet. With our detailed guides, you’ll feel confident taking that leap into the world of raw feeding (and once you’ve started, you’ll be so glad you did).
Raw feeding made simple: how much should you feed your pet?
We’ve split this information into three sections: puppies and kittens, adult dogs and cats, and seniors.
Puppies and kittens
These guidelines are for puppies and kittens up to an age of approximately 9-12 months. For large breed puppies, they can be used up to 24 months.
Because young pets are constantly growing, they need a higher percentage of food than adult pets. The easiest way to work out how much to feed your puppy or kitten is to feed a percentage of its body weight.
As a guideline, we’d suggest:
|Age||Percentage (per day)|
36 + weeks
These percentages are a guide. It’s important to regularly weigh your puppy or kitten and keep a record of their weight so you can increase/decrease their food as and when necessary.
This is the easiest and most effective way to ensure you’re feeding the correct amount. Weighing them is easy. You can weigh them on your home scales or ask your local vet. We also have pet weighing facilities at our pet shop in Burley-in-Wharfedale so next time you’re visiting, ask one of our staff members and they’ll gladly assist you.
As explained above, the feeding percentages are per day. Puppies and kittens need to be fed little and often (2-4 times a day) so you’ll need to split these percentages out per meal.
Puppies and kittens can eat the same diet as their adult counterparts. However, some toy breed puppies and younger kittens may need their food minced a little finer. Stef’s dachshund puppies will eat the same food as her adult dogs, including chicken wings, carcasses and all minces, from 3+ weeks of age. We do have a range of products which are specifically designed for puppies and kittens; visit our shop page for more information.
Adult dogs and cats
As a general rule, adult dogs and cats should be fed around 2-4% of their ideal adult weight depending on activity levels.
Senior dogs and cats
For senior pets, we’d recommend feeding approximately 1-3% of their ideal adult weight.
Raw feeding made simple: what ingredients should you feed your pet?
This section looks at a diagram of the prey model diet, explaining what components we should feed to create a ‘complete’ or ‘balanced’ meal.
At Stefs Pet Pantry, this is the most commonly followed diet, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for every pet. Just like percentages of weight, this information is a guide. It’s important to monitor your pet and tweak their diet to accommodate to their individual needs.
You might decide to feed complete raw foods which are already created with an 80-10-10 mix, or you might decide to go down the DIY route to create that balance yourself.
Whichever you decide, we’re here to help guide you through the process.
Dogs and cats can differ in how to transition them onto raw feeding so we’ve split them into two different subsections…
Puppies, adults and senior dogs
When transitioning your dog onto raw, regardless of their age, we would advise starting slowly. It’s very important to prepare your dog’s gut for the transition to a fresh, raw diet. Probiotics are fantastic for gut health and getting your dog’s stomach ready to transition from a processed/kibble based diet to a fresh, raw diet. Kefir is a great probiotic and contains lots of lovely healthy bacteria to set your dog up well.
These healthy bacteria also need feeding, so it’s a good idea to also add in some fresh fruit & veggies too (organic if possible).
You can add some of the following things in very small amounts (1-2tbsp in total, and feed a range of the different colours):
- Cabbage (red or white)
- Red pepper
- Dandelion leaves
- Butternut squash
Providing there are no allergies, we recommend starting your dog’s transition to raw slowly. Some good products to start with include
Dog and bones Chicken Mince. Dog and Bones Chicken Mince can be used with the kefir and fruit and veggies. Start with the meaty chicken mince for 3 days. This product doesn’t have any offal in (which can upset tums) and is roughly 90% meat and 10% bone.
From day 3 we can introduce TDB Starter Minced Ox Tripe with Chicken or TDB Starter Mince Ox Tripe with Duck. These are very reasonable at £2.30 per kg and super convenient with 10% bone plus no offal. Too much bone can cause discomfort and constipation. As a guideline, we recommend 10% but some dogs may need more or less (which is easily adjusted).
After a couple of weeks, we’d recommend adding another two proteins. These could include turkey, duck, beef or lamb (the latter two can be rich).
Continue on a similar cycle for weeks 3 and 4, adding a further two proteins into the diet. Remove any proteins that are known allergens to your dog.
Normally a rotation of 4-6 proteins within the diet is a fantastic base, adding eggs, fish, and some extras (see poster) 2-3 times a week will lay great foundations.
After 4-6 weeks, bones can be introduced. We usually suggest starting with duck necks or lamb ribs. These aid mental stimulation, as well as allowing your dog to feel satisfied and helping to clean their teeth! Boneless meals should be fed following a bone to help balance the higher bone content and avoid chalky, hard stools.
Kittens, adults and senior cats
Kittens up to the age of 12 weeks are much easier to start on raw food as their taste buds haven’t become dependent on sugars and salts.
From experience, cats prefer food at room temperature and from above. They also prefer completely fresh foods, and are disinterested in food that is a few days old. Purrform is a fantastic brand to start with. It has a very high success rate for transitioning kittens onto raw cat food.
For adult cats, we’d recommend following a more gradual transition. It can be a slower process but it will be completely worth the wait!
Cats can eat any 80-10-10 mix (no veggies or extras) including any of the 80-10-10 dog brands. Extra heart may need to be added.
Of course, every pet is individual and what works for some pets might not work for others. That’s why we’re more than happy to assist with your pet’s specific requirements, helping you make the best and most informed choice. Either visit our natural pet shop in Burley-in-Wharfedale and chat to our knowledgeable and friendly staff or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up to our Facebook groups for more advice and handy tips!
We’re always looking out for the latest research and advice around feeding a fresh, raw diet, and we always ensure you’re the first to know when we find new research. We highly recommend you make use of the many resources available to help you start your journey into fresh feeding.
Check out our Stefs Pet Pantry Facebook Page where Stef frequently posts handy tips and advice on how to feed a fresh diet.
We also have a fantastic Stefs Pet Pantry Customers Facebook Group where you can chat to other customers and find out more about how other people are feeding a fresh diet. We’re all learning together!
Stef also highly recommends that you join the Holistic Dog Care Facebook Group. It’s a brilliant group for discussing all aspects of fresh feeding.