Simple raw dog food for beginners, here’s everything you need to know!

Simple Raw Dog Food For Beginners

Beginners Guide to Raw Dog Food

Why We Chose Raw Feeding – The Barf Diet

Over the years I have had a few dogs but one in particular was very a very picky eater.  Hennie was a full sized Dachshund that would eat a food for a month or less.  As a result we tried every dog food under the sun.  We tried wet food, expensive brands, cheap brands, refrigerated tubs, and anything else that could be found at the local box stores. It didn’t matter what the food was, after a month or so she would take pieces of it and throw it out of her bowl with her mouth.   This went on for a few years, we likely tried 15 or so brands of food. 

One day I was reading something about cooking your own dog food.  Since we tried everything else we had nothing to loose.  So we started to boil chicken in a huge pot, added some sweet potato and other veggies.  Finally we had found something that Hennie actually liked.  No more throwing the food on the floor.  She actually got excited with each meal.  

We had two issues with it though.  First, we almost burned the house down making it one time.  Second we had a larger dog that required lots of food to be cooked. 

We had the power go out one time while I had a 10 gallon pot boiling on the stove.  So after about 2 hours with the power out, we fell asleep.  Sometime in the night, the power came back on and since the stove dial was on, it started cooking again.  Eventually it boiled all the water out and started to burn the chicken.  The house didn’t burn down but stunk really bad for a few days.  Lesson Learned – turn the stove off if the power goes out. 

A few years after we started making the food, we got Keko.  She ate about 2.5% of her body weight daily.  That amounted to boiling chicken far too often which is a lot of work and makes a mess.  

While Keko was being trained, the trainer mentioned why don’t you just feed them both raw?  Before this point, I had no idea that was a thing.  That began my quest to learn more.  It eventually led to feeding all of my dogs raw food.  At first we used a local commercial raw food, then made the jump into creating our own food. 

Over the last 7 years I have been raw feeding multiple dogs.   When I first got started in raw feeding, there was not much information available.  i did not have access to and information on raw dog food for beginners.  I still feel that the information out there is not all that easy to follow. As a result I decided to write a bit of information I have gathered through my own experiences.     Below you will find information on raw dog food for beginners.

While browsing the internet you can easily find information that is against raw feeding.  This information is sponsored by the commercial pet food industry.  Much of the it seems to be put out there to scare people away from going raw.  It is in the commercial kibble industry’s best interest to scare consumers away from raw feeding.  They want to scare consumers into buying their products over choosing a more natural way to feed a dog. 

If you search for terms like “can dogs eat raw meat?”,  you will find information on both sides of the debate.  Some articles say your dog will get sick eating raw meat.  Again this seems to be a scare tactic to get the uninformed consumer to buy the commercial kibble. 

Many of the questions about raw feeding below come from my own friends and family.  It is not uncommon to hear someone ask these questions when they first see my dog get fed a raw meal.  Hopefully answering these questions will help you on your journey into raw feeding. Here’s everything that I know about raw dog food for beginners.  Click the link to learn more About Us.

Raw Dog Food for Beginners: BARF Diet For Dogs

The BARF Diet means “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.” This diet consists of raw meats, raw bones, veggies, secreting organs, fruit and grains.   Its designed to get the dog back to what it would eat in the natural world if it were wild.   This is similar to the recent trends where people are eating more whole foods.  The idea behind it is to move away from commercial kibble which contains many fillers and unnecessary things.  Many people that make the switch report heath improvements in their dog.  

BARF is designed to mimic how a wild dog would eat.  In this diet, the emphasis is on proteins over carbohydrates.  The dog consumes the entire bone for the calcium and other nutrients.  It sounds more complicated then it actually is.  You can chose to give the dog whole large pieces of meat and bone such as chicken back.  In the wild, a dog would also consume the stomach contents of its prey.  This is where the idea of adding vegetables and fruits comes from.  

Some people that follow the BARF diet choose to grind the food using a meat grinder.  There is a certain ratio that should be used when creating the BARF meals.  If there is too much bone, the dog may have issues passing its stool. I do not feed weight bearing bones to my dog.  By this I mean I do not feed leg bones from larger animals.   Chicken bones are the main source of calcium for my dog. I use the wings, legs, bone in breasts and backs along with the feet.   After much reading, I still think barf is the best raw food for dogs.  

If you read this entire post about raw dog food for beginners, you should have a basic understanding.  If you have any questions after reading through it, please Contact Us.

Dr. Ian Billinghurst was the first to publish a book about the BARF diet.  His first book on the subject – Give your dog a bone is a bit older.  It was published back in 1993.  The book is still worth reading if you are looking to switch to the raw feeding diet.

raw dog food for beginners
Raw Dog Food For Beginners – Barf Diet Meat and Bones

Barf Diet – What do you feed the dog?

The Barf Diet is based on balancing over time and not every meal is balanced.  You should aim to meet the barf diet ratios with each meal but there is some give and take.  One important thing is the amount of bone and liver in the meals.  If you provide too much of either, you will know it when the dog poops.   One will make the dog struggle, while the other will make the dog have loose stools.  This post is just going over the basics since it is raw dog food for beginners, to get more in depth information on barf check out the follow posts:


Barf Diet – Diet Ratios:

Both the adult dogs and the puppies are similar in their diet.  However the puppies need to get a little bit more bone for the added calcium.  Typically the puppies need to be at 17% RMB while adult dogs only need 10%.

Adult Dogs:

  • 70% Muscle meat
  • 10% Raw Meaty Bones(RMB)
  • 5% Liver
  • 5% Secreting Organs
  • 7% Vegetables
  • 2% Seeds and Nuts
  • 1% Fruit


  • 63% Muscle meat
  • 17% Raw Meaty Bones(RMB)
  • 5% Liver
  • 5% Secreting Organs
  • 7% Vegetables
  • 2% Seeds and Nuts
  • 1% Fruit

Barf Diet – Daily Amount To Feed Your Dog?

This is all relative to the age, breed, and activity level of your dog. . The general guideline feed for weight maintenance.  The scale for adult dogs is between 2 and 3 percent of their body weight.  Puppies need a much higher amount.  

Barf Diet – How Complicated Is Raw Feeding?

Just like anything else, raw feeding can be as complicated or as simple as you make it.  You can feed your pet whole chicken backs with some fruit, veggies, chicken breast, liver, and some added vitaminsI have used this method in the past with good success.  I also used chicken hearts, salmon skin, gizzards, chicken paws and other various meats.  

This method should only be used if you have are sure your dog is able to consume whole bones.   If your dog has bad or broken teeth, its not advisable to feed whole bones.   My German Shepherd ate this way for many years.   Since I started her on a raw diet she had perfect teeth.   She was easily able to chew up chicken bone and digest it.  Some of my friends would cringe at the sound of her cracking the bone with her teeth.

Currently I grind all of the foods that I create with a Weston meat grinder.   My puppy is just 16 weeks so I am hesitant to feed her whole bones just yet.  She has a tendency to gulp her food down with minimal chewing.

Once I process the food, I store it in Ziploc plastic containers that can be reused. Next I stack them neatly inside a deep freezer that I keep in the garage.  Lastly I take the food out a day before its needed and let it defrost in the refrigerator. 

Raw Dog Food For Beginners: Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

I hear this one all the time. In short, yes, they can eat raw meat.  Dogs were domesticated some 10,000 to 15,000 years ago but they still share approximately 99% of their DNA with their close relative the wolf.  Like a wolf, their bodies are made to digest raw meat.  All the essential nutrients that a dog needs can be obtained from raw feeding.

The main difference between a dog and a wolf in their digestive tract is an enzyme that digests starch.   The enzyme is called amylase.  Amylase is found in greater amounts in a dog then a wolf.  As the human race started to eat starches from farming, so did their companions.   This seems to be the main cause of the difference between the two.    If you’re interested in an actual study that was done, it can be viewed here at the National Library of Medicine website.  The study found that dogs do have 2 to 30 x the gene that is used to produce the enzyme for starch digestion.   

Is It Safe to eat raw

Can’t Your Dog Get Sick From Eating Raw Meat?

Like humans dogs can get sick from eating contaminated foods.  However, dogs have a much higher resistance to bacteria that easily make humans sick.  Dogs have a much lower PH in their stomach especially an hour after food is consumed.  Youngberg et al. (1985) Found that an hour after a meal when the gastric juices are present, the PH can range from 1.5 to 2.1.  Other studies suggest the PH can go down as low as 1 which is highly acidic.  This acidity is inhospitable for most bacteria that are commonly found on food such as salmonella.  

Salmonella is controlled in human foods by reducing the PH below 4.5.   An example of this is the raw eggs in mayonnaise.  The manufacturer has to maintain a PH of 4.5 or below for the food to be considered safe.   Anyone that uses a boiling water bath to can veggies follows this same idea.  The solution that is being canned needs to be acidic or it can get contaminated with harmful bacteria.  

The chart below shows the average PH range that common bacteria found on raw meat can survive.  The PH of the dogs digestive tract is far below the survivable range for the most common bacteria.  On a side note dogs are much more likely to get sick from eating mushrooms.

Ph range bacteria vs dog stomach
PH Range Bacteria can Survive Vs The PH of a typical dogs stomach.

Is A Raw Meat Diet Considered A Balanced Diet?

This diet can be balanced if you follow some basic guidelines.  I wouldn’t suggest you jump right into feeding raw or the BARF diet unless you do a bit of research. The raw fed diet isn’t simply giving your dog raw meat and then you’re done.  A dog’s diet needs to be balanced just like your diet does.  If you eat the same thing every day you are bound to have nutritional deficiencies if you do not supplement with proper nutrients and minerals. 

There are some things to be aware of such as how much meat, bone, organ, veggies, and fruit should be in the food to achieve optimal nutrition.  Large dogs have different needs then smaller dogs, just like senior dogs differ from puppies.  In the future i will have more information available on the dude and a dog website.  Please check back or consider signing up for my newsletter.

Remember you can supplement the raw diet if you need to.  If there are certain things that are not available in your area you should use supplements.  My dog gets a daily multivitamin twice per day.  The raw food that I create lacks the omega 3 and omega 6 that is found in fish.   I do not add fish to the grind because its sometimes hard to get.  I was also buying a locally available raw pet food with salmon, I could not tolerate the smell.   As a result, I chose to supplement for omega 3 and omega 6.  

Raw Dog Food For Beginners: How to make raw dog food in bulk?

This is pretty easy to do, you just have to figure out how many days worth of food you want.  Find the stores or locations you can get the best quality food for good prices.  Buy enough food to create that many days worth of food.  Make sure that you do not buy more food then you can store.  You also want to get storage containers, it can be zip lock bags, zip lock storage containers, or vacuum bags.  

When I shop I consider the items that are harder to find.  Chicken paws which are a good source of calcium(they are about 60%) can be hard to find.  When I see them in the store, I stock up on a few extra pounds.  Anytime I see chicken hearts or necks I will buy more then I need.  I like to keep them in the deep freezer so I have a backup supply.  The chicken paws were out of stock for over a year during the Covid pandemic.  

Once you have all the ingredients you need its just like any other recipe.  The exception is you don’t cook any of it(except some veggies).  Do not feed any cooked bones to your dog, they can splinter damaging the internal organs.   I use the raw dog food calculator to see how much of each item I need.  

Since I grind the food its easy to make bulk.  I just process all of my ingredients through the Weston grinder.  Once that’s done, I mix them up in a huge bowl.  Then  I grind them through again with the vegies mixed in.  The whole process takes about 2 hours to make about 50 LBS of food.  With the Weston grinder I can make 100 lbs. in 2.5 hours.  The bulk of the time is the cleanup.  

Once it is all ground up, it looks similar to hamburger meat.  The last step is to tare the scale with whatever containers are being used.  I feed my puppy 6% of her body weight over 1 day.  So each container has 6% times her weight in lbs.  For an adult dog the range is 2-3% of their body weight, I found 2.5% worked best for my adult GSD.  

What is the cost of raw food diet for dogs?

The cost based on this raw dog for beginners post is relatively close to the same cost as the higher end commercial kibble.  If you want to see an in depth article on what it costs to make your own dog food, please check back.  We are in the process of putting together a post on this.  

Is there a good raw dog food calculator?

I currently do not have my own built on this website but was able to find one that I use when creating my own dog food.  Please check out the calculator – Here

Raw Dog Food For Beginners: Myths Associated With Raw Feeding?

I have heard many myths about the dangers of feeding a dog this type of diet.  In my own experience I have not observed any of them to be true.

One of those myths is that once a dog has a taste for blood, they will become aggressive.  This simply is not true from my experience.  It comes down to whether a dog has food aggression to begin with or not. 

In the past I had a dog that was very food aggressive, but this started before she was on a raw fed diet.  Changing her over to the raw diet did not change her level of aggression at all.  Both German Shepherds that I have owned allowed me to reach my hand right in the bowl and take away their food.  While they were puppies I practiced petting them and putting my hand in their bowls.  I wanted to desensitize them to having food or objects taken from their mouth. 

Another common theme I have heard is “be careful when handling the raw dog food or you will get salmonella”.  The raw food should be treated just as you would food for human consumption.  Wash your hands after touching anything raw regardless of if it was dog food or your own food.  Clean the surfaces that you prepare the food on with soap and water to get the larger remains off.  Follow that up with a quick disinfecting spray and your done.  There really doesn’t need to be any further precautions then that when handling the raw dog food. 

Raw Diet Killed My Dog – 

I have seen this title all over the internet.  If you follow the basic principles of the Barf diet, its highly unlikely it kills your dog.  There are some common sense ideas that need to be considered.   

If meat smells spoiled or foul, do not feed it to your dog.  If your dog is old, don’t give them large bones that could break their teeth.  If you have a smaller dog, don’t give it large weight bearing bones as food.   If you have an immune compromised dog, feeding raw might not be the best idea.  If you use people grade food and follow the ratios, your dog should thrive.  Also being mindful of the bone size.  You most likely will not have issues.  This raw fed diet has worked for my dogs for over 7 years.= without any issues.  

Top reasons to Feed Your Dog a Raw Meat Diet?

  • Many Commercial pet foods use starches and other fillers to create their food.
  • Commercial pet foods get recalled often for contamination during manufacturing.
  • Commercial pet foods often use ingredients that are not of the best quality.
  • If you make your own raw food, you can use human grade ingredients of your choice.
  • You may be able to eliminate allergies by testing which raw ingredient your dog reacts to.  
  • you can tailor the raw food to your dog’s needs, adjusting it as necessary. 
  • You can create your own treats that are healthy and your dog will love it

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