How To Feed Raw Dog Food For Beginners: My First Few Months

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K9sOverCoffee | How to feed raw dog food beginners: my first few months

Raw Dog Food For Beginners: I can’t believe it’s only been a few months since I began feeding my pups raw dog food.

That’s because the raw diet has already become such an integral part of our daily lives!

However, there’s definitely a learning curve, and one thing I’ve learned is that it’s easiest to order pre-made raw dog food. At least for the first few months.

K9sOverCoffee.com | How to Feed Raw Dog Food for Beginners/ My First Few Months

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Raw Dog Food For Beginners: My Favorite Brands

I’ve been ordering pre-made raw dog food from Darwin’s Natural Pet and Raw Paws Pet Food. Both make raw feeding super easy because all you have to do is thaw, measure, and serve.

Darwin’s Natural Pet

Darwin’s is located in Seattle, Washington, but ships their raw dog (& cat) food throughout the entire continental US via UPS. Every shipment has arrived safely, on time, and in great condition.

They use dry ice to keep the food frozen, and it has worked phenomenally. Even on those crazy summer days when the temperature has been in the high 90s/low 100s (30-40 C) here in NC.

Their raw dog food comes pre-packaged in 2 pound packages consisting of four 8 oz pouches. Each of those pouches can be opened easily with their easy-peel opening, making measuring our pups’ portions a breeze!

Side Note: Both Missy & Buzz get fed twice per day. Buzz eats a little over 1 lb per meal, and Missy about 7.5 oz per meal.

Raw Paws Pet Food

Raw Paws Pet Food is located in Indianapolis, Indiana, and also ships throughout the entire US. 

Their shipments go out via FedEx Home and are also kept frozen with dry ice. We received their first package on a 95 F (35 C) day and the contents arrived in impeccable shape/frozen consistency.

I ordered 5 lb of different protein sources (duck, lamb, chicken, beef) which came pre-packaged in long tubes (except for the lamb which came in a plastic bag). They took longer to thaw than Darwin’s packages which makes sense because of the 3 lb difference in volume.

Once opened, the contents of the tube needed to be transferred into a storage container, which we have a large variety of, so that was easy enough to do!

Raw Dog Food For Beginners: Discounts At Darwin’s & Raw Paws

Both companies offer incentives for first time raw customers. Darwin’s “Trial Offer” consists of 10 lb of raw food for $14.95, which I began with before ordering larger amounts.

Raw Paws Pet Food offers several Free Ship Packs: The Variety Pack for Beginners, Complete Goat & Lamb, Complete Beef, Complete Chicken, Complete Goat, Complete Lamb and Complete Beef & Chicken.

Update 2020: You can now save 15% on your Raw Paws Pet Food order with my affiliate discount code K9Savings. Simply enter it at checkout.

Knowing How Much Raw To Feed

The formula to follow to figure out how much raw dog food your dog needs per day is a very simple one.

Adult dogs should be fed between 2-4% of their ideal body weight. Divide that into however many meals your feed your pup(s) per day, and you’re off to a good start.

It has taken a combination of following that formula, the raw food company’s feeding guidelines and observing my pups’ body condition in order to come up with the correct amount of food to feed. 

I started with 1 lb per meal for Buzz, and 9 oz per meal for Missy. 1 lb wasn’t enough for my active big boy, and once his ribs were noticeable when he was lying down, I adjusted his allowance per meal. Now he gets about 1.15 lb per meal. 

Missy was starting to fill out a little more, which was the perfect indicator to lower her per meal allowance to 7.5 oz. Now their bodies look perfect, featuring nice waistlines and glowing coats!

Measuring Raw Dog Food With A Kitchen Scale

Based on the exact amount of food I mentioned, you probably already guessed that I’m using a food scale to measure out Missy’s & Buzz’s meat allowance.

I began measuring the food with a manual kitchen scale. Just recently, I got my hands on a digital food scale I’ve been using ever since. It’s a Weight Watchers scale that measures in pounds and grams, but you can also find digital scales that measure in oz and grams on Amazon. It’s a very convenient raw dog feeding tool I highly recommend.

How To Thaw Frozen Raw Dog Food

It’s important to understand how to thaw frozen dog food in order to keep all of its nutrients intact.

Basically, you can either take it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge. That takes anywhere between 1-2 days, depending on the volume. 

The other method is to put the frozen dog food in a bowl with cold water and let it thaw that way.

I have noticed that this method is much quicker than the fridge method.

But it only works for smaller amounts of frozen raw. For example, Darwin’s pouches and Raw Paws’ 1 lb tubes.  

What's the cost of raw dog food? Darwin's raw lamb
Raw lamb from Darwin’s
K9sOverCoffee.com | Eight different raw protein sources for raw dog meals and raw goat milk
The Raw Paws Pet Food Variety Pack for raw feeding beginners consists of balanced dog meals that are ready to be fed once thawed. They include chicken, beef, green tripe, turkey, goat, lamb, atlantic salmon, and goat milk.

NEVER USE THE MICROWAVE TO THAW FROZEN RAW DOG FOOD! It will kill the nutrients!

Raw Dog Food With Veggies Or Without?

Whether or not to include veggies & fruit when feeding a raw dog diet seems to be the question of the century.

Some raw feeders add plant matter to their raw dog food (that’s called the BARF method). Others don’t (that’s the so-called Prey Model).

I personally like the idea of adding some veggies to the pups’ meals because a) prey in the wild would have contained veggies and b) the pups really enjoy snacking on some veggies (& fruit)!

Update 2020: I’ve learned a lot about raw dog food since I first began feeding it in 2015 and I got my raw dog food nutrition specialist certification in early 2020.

It’s recommended to add veggies to close nutritional holes unless you feed whole prey with EVERYTHING. Including heads and brains, eyes, fur, fins, feathers, etc.

Darwin’s raw meals consist of 75% meat (bone, meat, secreting organs) and 25% vegetables. They also add a small nutrient mix of important trace minerals. 

Raw Paws Pet Food follows what is known as the “80/10/10” rule, meaning their complete meals consist of 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% secreting organs. They also offer a few options with veggies.

I found out about several dehydrated veggie mixes that are made to be mixed with raw or cooked meat. For example, Dr. Harvey’s Grain-Free Veg-to-BowlSojos’ Grain-Free Pre-Mix, and The Honest Kitchen’s Base-Mix.

K9sOverCoffee.com | Dr. Harvey's Veg-to-Bowl and Health & Shine Fish Oil Capsules
Dr. Harvey’s grain-free Veg-to-Bowl
The Honest Kitchen Base Mix
The Honest Kitchen Base Mix
Sojos Pre-Mix for Raw Meals
Sojos Pre-Mix

Do you feed raw dog food? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!

Related Reading:

Why Do Dogs Regurgitate Raw Dog Food & Easy Solutions

What Does Balanced Raw Dog Food Consist Of?

3 Best Raw Dog Foods In The US That I Recommend

Vegetables In Raw Dog Food: Yes Or No?

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8 COMMENTS

  1. 3 months already good for you and always learning. I don’t feed raw except raw bones. I have too much other things I need to do I just don’t think I have the extra time to feed raw. I’m happy with the results of my dry kibble so will stick to it for now.

    • Thanks! The first two weeks required more time on my part while figuring everything out, especially how much to feed each pup and where to get quality protein from. Once that hurdle was mastered, it kept getting easier and less time consuming.
      Had Missy not been diagnosed with cancer, I don’t think I would be feeding raw right now. But her diagnosis made me rethink their nutrition and try to cut out as many processed foods and chemicals from their lives as possible. It’s not a guarantee the cancer won’t come back, of course, but I’m trying to be as proactive about it as possible 🙂

  2. I haven’t made the raw transition yet but still working in that direction. Haley eats mostly cooked food and fresh veggies/fruit with occasional high quality kibble mixed in. I really appreciate these types of articles on raw feeding that go into a lot of detail because it is a little overwhelming to get started. Thanks for sharing your progress, I’m taking lots of notes! 🙂

    • The way Haley eats currently is exactly how I started transitioning our pups from kibble to a healthier doggie diet. I love that you’re taking notes, you’re so awesome 🙂

      When I got the opportunity to do a product review of Dr. Harvey’s Veg-to-Bowl early this year, I realized that I needed to add meat to their dehydrated veggies & fruit.

      I continued cooking their food for several months until jumping over my shadow and offering raw meat in early June!

      Had someone told me last year that my dogs would be eating raw dog food in 2015, I would have laughed in their face! Now I can’t imagine our lives without it anymore 😉

    • It’s definitely super convenient to have it delivered! I’m going to keep a bag of the Sojos in our pantry at all times now, and also a bag of freeze-dried raw for those days we may be running low on the pre-made raw 😉
      By the way, I now know why Missy regurgitated and “fixed” it with the help of Raw Paws Pet Food. They are definitely knowledgeable! I’ll write about that soon!