Have you ever wondered how to feed your dog wild, raw venison as part of his raw dog food diet? I certainly have, and I’m happy to write this blog post today to share what I’ve learned over the years.
First, I’ll cover the benefits, then I’ll talk about where to source it. After that, I’ll tell you how to feed it including a raw dog food recipe featuring different cuts of venison. Last but not least, I’ll point out what to be aware of.
Ready? Let’s dig in!
Benefits Of Wild, Raw Venison For Dogs
Let’s start by talking about the plethora of benefits of adding wild, raw venison to your pup’s raw dog food.
Above all, it’s organic, minimally processed, free range meat! It really doesn’t get any better or fresher than that.
Wild venison is also red meat! As such, it’s nutritionally superior to white meat like chicken, turkey, and duck.
That means it’s higher in proteins, minerals, and B vitamins. Its omega-3 fatty acid content is also a lot more balanced than that of farmed deer. That’s because farmed deer mainly eat a diet consisting of corn and soy. Wild deer eat what Mother Nature has readily available for them. For instance, berries, nuts, grasses, seeds, etc.
On top of that, wild venison is lean meat that’s great to feed for weight control. It also works great as a novel protein for dogs with food sensitivities.
Last but not least it’s a lot less expensive than if you bought it at a meat specialty store. More on that below!
How To Feed Your Dog Wild, Raw Venison: Where To Source It
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.
If you’re interested in getting your hands on wild, raw venison for your pup’s raw meals, there are essentially two options. You either hunt it yourself, or you get it from someone who’s done the hunting for you.
However, it’s actually illegal for hunters and wildlife processors to sell their hunted deer here in the US, so you can’t exactly buy it from them.
But! It’s perfectly legal for them to give away the parts of the deer they don’t want for their own consumption.
It’s just up to you to make friends with hunters or to contact wildlife processors about the cuts they’d just throw out. And they do throw out a lot, essentially anything us raw feeders are interested in! For example, heart, lung, liver, kidneys, and spleen.
Hunters And Wildlife Processors
When my boyfriend shoots deer, he usually takes it to a wildlife processor because it’s so much more convenient than having to harvest it himself.
The wildlife processor charges a fee for that which ranges anywhere between $50-100, depending on the size of the deer. So technically, as a hunter you’re still paying for the deer you shoot unless you process it yourself.
When that particular wildlife processor heard that I’m a raw feeder and put those organs to good use, he told me I could take as many as I want whenever he has some. That’s because the organs would just end up getting thrown out anyway. Jackpot!!
Harvesting Deer Yourself
Of course you can harvest the deer yourself if you’re a hunter and feel up to it. My boyfriend actually did that the other day, but only because it was a smaller buck.
I was there to “assist” of sorts, although I ended up mostly taking pictures and handing him tools he used for harvesting it, most importantly a pot for my pup Wally’s cuts, ha!
I will say that it would have been extremely hard for me to harvest the deer myself because I felt sorry for it. Yes, I’ve been feeding my pups raw dog food since 2015 and mostly make their own meals, so I’m used to handling those odd cuts of meat like hearts, liver, lung, etc. But I’m not used to getting them THAT FRESHLY!!
So when I went to wash the organs prior to freezing them, I had a bit of a harder time handling them because they were still warm. That warmth reminded me of the dead animal that was being butchered on our patio.
Ultimately, I still put on my big girl pants and sucked it up, because Wally needs to eat. Ha!
That was definitely new to me, because I usually get my cuts of meat delivered frozen when I buy them from raw pet food retailers like Raw Feeding Miami, Raw Paws Pet Food or My Pet Carnivore.
Freezer Clean Outs
You can also check Craigslist or Facebook Market Place for freezer clean outs that consist of deer or other types of venison.
Raw Pet Food Retailers
Raw pet food retailers like Raw Feeding Miami or Raw Paws Pet Food carry venison, but of course it won’t be as fresh as the kind you’ll hunt yourself or get from hunters.
The kind that Raw Paws Pet Food sells is ground and wild-caught and comes from Australian deer that “freely roam the Australian Outback”. I’ve fed it to Wally and he’s loved it. The price for it is around $7.50 per lb.
Tip: Use my affiliate discount code K9Savings for 15% off the venison and anything else from Raw Paws Pet Food.
Raw Feeding Miami sells venison and elk sourced from California, but they don’t specify whether it’s wild-harvested or farmed. Their price is $25 for 2.5 lbs of ground venison and elk, and $23.95 for 2.5 lbs of their venison trim and chunked elk.
Tip: Use my affiliate link for 10% off your order from Raw Feeding Miami.
How To Feed Your Dog Wild, Raw Venison: Freeze For 3 Weeks Before Feeding It
Here’s a word of caution: You’ll want to freeze your wild venison for 3 weeks before it makes it into your pup’s food bowl. This ensures that the venison is free of the parasite Trichinella. That’s a small worm that lives in the intestines of animals.
Tip: You won’t have to do that with the venison you buy from Raw Paws Pet Food and Raw Feeding Miami, as their venison has previously been frozen.
Symptoms of trichinellosis in dogs include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, as well as fever, muscle pain, and joint pain. The disease also causes edema, which is swelling caused by the accumulation of large volumes of fluid in the tissues between the body’s cells.
So definitely no fun stuff and not worth risking, which is why you’ll want to remember to freeze raw, wild venison for 3 weeks before feeding it to your pup!
Chronic Wasting Disease In Deer aka CWD
Here’s my second word of caution.
CWD is s a fatal, transmittable neurological disease found in farmed and wild deer, but also in elk, moose, and reindeer/caribou. It’s comparable to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, aka “mad cow” disease and is found in North America, Europe, and Asia. Check out this map to see all CWD-positive US states and Canadian provinces.
The source of the disease is an abnormal prion (protein) present in a wide variety of tissues and body fluids. For example, the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils, and spleen.
That’s why you don’t want to feed any parts of the head, the spine, or the spleen if you suspect that the deer you shot has CWD. For instance, if it’s from a state that’s known to have CWD cases or if the deer exhibits any of these symptoms:
Weight loss, stumbling, listlessness, droopy ears, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urinating.
Dogs seem to be immune to CWD, but I’d still err on the side of caution and not feed the parts I mentioned above if the deer was harvested in an area where CWD has been reported.
I found a very good article on the subject of CWD and raw feeding. If you’d like to read it, click here.
Which Cuts Of Wild Venison Can’t Be Fed?
The only part that can’t be fed are the legs. That’s because they’re too dense and can cause fractured teeth. The same goes for cows and other larger hooved animals.
However, you can offer your dog leg bones that still have meat attached to them. Just make sure to supervise that chewing session because you want to avoid your dog eating the leg bone. If your dog is a gulper and you won’t be able to take the leg bone away from him, don’t offer it.
Thankfully, my pup Wally is very good about not eating the leg bone and only rips the meat off of it. He also lets me take the bone away from him when he’s done with the meat.
You can use the deer bones you don’t feed to make bone broth.
It’s fine to feed the head including tongue, brains, and eyes. It’s safer not to feed it if you suspect that the animal has CWD.
The same goes for the spine and spleen.
How To Feed Your Dog Wild, Raw Venison: The Cuts I feed My Dog
Wally gets to eat all the cuts that my boyfriend and I won’t eat, as well as some meat. In other words, the heart, lung, kidneys, liver, and spleen.
The heart and lung count towards muscle meat in raw feeding, and the kidneys, liver and spleen are secreting organs. I didn’t end up feeding him the lung we harvested because it looked a little funky, so I threw it out to be on the safe side. The other half of it had ammo in it.
Muscle meat makes up the vast majority of raw dog food, around 70-80%, depending on whether or not you feed veggies, fruit, and seeds. If you do, feed 70% muscle meat and 10% plant matter.
Secreting organs make up 10% of raw dog food. 5% of it has to be liver, and the remaining 5% needs to be some other secreting organ like kidney, spleen, pancreas, or brains.
How To Feed Your Dog Wild, Raw Venison: A Sample Raw Dog Food Recipe
That said, here’s a balanced raw dog food recipe containing cuts of wild, raw venison along with some other cuts of meat.
I put it together for Wally following the 70-80/10/10 formula.
Wally is an adult, 3 year old Feist mix who weighs 38 lb, which is his ideal body weight. That means he doesn’t have to lose or gain any weight. Wally eats 2.5% of his body weight in raw dog food per day, which translates into around 15 oz. 15.3 oz to be specific.
Of those 15.3 oz, 10.6 oz are muscle meat, 1.6 oz are raw meaty bone, 0.8 oz are liver, 0.8 oz are other secreting organs, and 1.5 oz are veggies.
Wally gets two meals per day. The meal shown below consists of his total daily amount of food, the 15.3 oz. That said, I split it into two portions.
Here’s the exact breakdown of the recipe:
Muscle Meat: 10.6 oz
2.46 oz duck meat. That’s the part of the duck wings that isn’t bone.
1.3 oz thread herring. That’s one whole tread herring.
2.7 oz beef green tripe.
1.2 oz venison heart.
3 oz venison meat.
Raw Meaty Bone: 1.6 oz
1.64 oz duck bone. That’s the bony part of the duck wings. Duck wings consist of an average of 40% bone. I used 2.5 duck wings that weighed 4.1 oz total. 40% of that is 1.64 oz, and the remaining 2.46 oz (=60%) are muscle meat.
Secreting Organs: 1.6 oz
0.8 oz venison liver. That’s the first half of 1.6 oz.
0.4 oz venison kidney and 0.4 oz lamb brains. That’s the other half of 1.6 oz.
Veggies: 1.5 oz
1.5 oz of Dr. Harvey’s Paradigm (amazon affiliate link). It’s a dehydrated veggie and herb mix that’s low-carb. All I do is add hot water to it, wait a few minutes, and then I can add it to Wally’s raw dog food.
A 6 lb bag makes 56 lbs of the veggie/herb mix. That lasts me A LONG time considering I only need so little of it per day.
The duck wings, lamb brains, beef green tripe, and thread herring are from Raw Feeding Miami.
Tip: Use my discount link for 10% off your Raw Feeding Miami order.
Now have fun feeding your pup wild, raw venison!
Please leave your questions or comments in the comment section below this post!