The Ultimate Guide to Feeding Your Furry Friend: How Often Should Dogs Eat Raw Meat?
If you’re currently researching the idea of switching your pup to a raw diet, you may be wondering: “How often should dogs eat raw meat? Should raw-fed dogs eat more or less often than kibble-fed dogs?”
The short answer is that you can feed your dog raw on the same schedule as you feed them any other food (although you can’t leave it out for them to graze on all day). But there’s a whole lot to know about raw feeding and how often to feed your dog raw food, so keep reading for more information!
Benefits of Feeding Dogs Raw Meat
The raw food diet for dogs has numerous health benefits. Here are some of the best benefits of feeding dogs raw meat.
More Quality Years
Many health problems that can shorten your dog’s lifespan or reduce their quality of life may be staved off by feeding a raw diet. For example, kibble-fed dogs tend to be more prone to things like diabetes, obesity, cancer, heart disease, and more compared to dogs that eat a fully balanced, species-appropriate raw diet.
If your dog is gassy or frequently has soft stools, diarrhea, or constipation, a raw diet may help them have firmer, less-frequent poops and less gas. How? Despite looking quite different from their wolf ancestors, dogs are still biologically designed to derive all their nutrition from muscle meat, organ meat, and bones—NOT the refined carbohydrates found in kibble.
Healthier Skin and Coat
Rich in fatty acids and lacking inflammation-causing carbs, the raw diet for dogs helps provide the building blocks for healthier, less-itchy skin and smoother, shinier fur.
Stronger Immune System
As much as 80% of a dog’s immune system resides in their gut, so a healthier gut tends to correlate with a stronger immune system. Since it’s closer to what dogs eat in the wild, raw dog food is easier to digest, which contributes to a stronger immune system.
There are two main ways a raw diet can help reduce allergy symptoms:
•Raw dog food is a naturally limited-ingredient diet, making it easier to avoid allergens for dogs with food allergies.
•A raw diet for dogs helps improve skin health, so even dogs with environmental allergies often see symptom improvement.
More Mealtime Excitement
Would YOU be excited about a dry bowl of cereal for every meal? Most dogs get more excited about eating fresh, raw food than they do about eating kibble, especially if you choose more than one of our 6 tasty proteins (beef, chicken, turkey, duck, venison, and lamb).
Better Weight Control
Nearly 3 out of every 5 dogs are overweight or obese, and high-carb diets seem to be the primary culprit. In fact, studies have shown that dogs fed a low-carb diet lose more weight than dogs fed the exact same number of calories in a high-carb diet.
High-carb kibble diets also significantly contribute to dental disease in dogs since the bacteria that cause periodontal disease feed on carbohydrates. Therefore, dogs on a raw diet tend to have much cleaner, healthier teeth. Chewing on raw, meaty bones also helps provide a “flossing” effect that further improves dog dental health.
Risks of Feeding Dogs Raw Meat
Veterinarians like to warn that feeding raw meat to dogs can be dangerous, and if you feed a DIY raw diet, it could be. Here are some of the risks of trying to feed a raw dog food diet if you don’t choose a nutritionally complete and balanced diet that has gone through high-pressure processing to eliminate pathogens like We Feed Raw.
If you’ve ever gotten sick from eating undercooked meat, you know how many pathogens raw meat can carry. However, dogs’ digestive systems are specially designed to handle bacteria and viruses in ways that humans’ digestive systems simply aren’t, so it’s much less likely that your dog will get sick from eating raw meat than you might imagine.
That said, we take food safety very seriously at We Feed Raw. We start with USDA-inspected meat, package everything in a USDA-inspected facility, use a cold-pressure process to eliminate pathogens, and store and ship our food frozen to keep it as safe as possible.
Trying to make sure your dog gets the right proportions of meat, organs, and bone every day, along with ensuring they get all the vitamins and minerals they need, can be extremely tricky.
That’s why We Feed Raw pre-portions our patties with approximately 80% muscle meat (with associated connective tissue and fat), 10% organ meat, and 10% finely ground bone, along with a small amount of a vitamin and mineral pre-mix to guarantee that our food is nutritionally complete and balanced.
In fact, our food meets AAFCO nutritional standards for dogs of all life stages, including the growth of large-breed puppies.
How Often Should Dogs Eat Raw Meat?
Ideally, dogs should eat raw meat for every meal, and you can feed those meals as little as once a day or as often as three or more times per day. Lots of factors go into determining the best feeding schedule for your dog.
Factors Affecting Feeding Frequency
How often should you feed your dog raw meat? Let’s take a closer look at some of the factors determining which frequency might be best for your dog and your family.
Puppies need to eat a lot to grow at the proper pace, but they have tiny tummies, so puppies under 3 months old should eat at least 3 times a day. After that, it’s best to feed your puppy twice a day until they’re fully grown (usually 12-18 months), and then you can reduce to a single meal each day if you want.
Potential for Bloat
While bloat is less common in raw-fed dogs than kibble-fed dogs, it may still be a good idea to feed your dog at least twice a day if they are a breed known to be prone to bloat, since gulping large amounts of food at once is thought to be one of the primary triggers for bloat.
Does your dog get bored while you work all day? Feeding your dog multiple meals throughout the day, especially if the food is frozen in an enrichment toy, can help keep them busy and out of trouble.
What works best for your schedule? Do you want to feed your dog once a day and be done with it? Twice a day while the rest of your family eats breakfast and dinner? Another schedule entirely? As long as you stick with one schedule so your dog knows when to expect their meals, you can feed them whenever you want.
Some studies have shown that once-daily feeding may be associated with a longer life and better health than dogs who eat more than once a day. This may be because dogs in the wild (along with their wolf ancestors) only eat when they find food, meaning they frequently experience intermittent fasting when they can’t find food.
Begging or Vomiting
Some dogs may throw up bile or beg for food between meals if they’re only fed once a day, so they may do best eating at least twice a day.
Recommended Raw Meat Diet for Dogs
The most recommended raw meat diet for dogs is one that follows the prey model raw diet, which contains the approximate percentages of what would be found in a whole prey food item: approximately 80% muscle meat (and associated connective tissue and fat), 10% bone, and 10% organ meat, of which at least half should be liver.
We Feed Raw contains these perfect proportions in each of our recipes and tells you how much to feed your dog every day. Start your dog’s meal plan now and take advantage of the easiest way to feed raw.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the benefits of feeding dogs a raw meat diet?
The numerous benefits of raw dog food include:
•Stronger immune system
•Better weight control
•Smaller, firmer stools
•Softer, healthier skin and coat
Is it safe to feed dogs raw meat?
With highly acidic stomachs and short digestive tracts, dogs are designed to eat raw meat without getting sick. However, if you still worry about safety, We Feed Raw uses a cold-pressure process to eliminate potential pathogens, making it even safer to feed your dog a raw diet.
What types of raw meat should I feed my dog?
The more types of raw meat you can feed your dog, the better. Not only is variety the spice of life, but feeding more proteins may help prevent your dog from developing allergies to certain proteins in the future. That’s why We Feed Raw offers 6 different proteins to choose from.
Can dogs eat raw ground beef every day?
While raw ground beef can be PART of a raw diet, it is not nutritionally complete and balanced on its own. Raw dog food must contain organ meat and bones to provide proper nutrition. We Feed Raw is conveniently ground while ALSO containing organ meat, bones, and all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs to thrive.
How often should I feed my dog raw meat?
The more, the better! If you can, you should feed your dog raw meat daily. You can feed your dog as many or as few times per day as you like, as long as you stick to a regular schedule so your dog knows when to expect their meals.
What are the risks of feeding dogs raw meat?
Feeding your dog raw meat from questionable sources could make them sick, and formulating a DIY raw diet could lead to nutrient deficiencies. However, We Feed Raw uses a cold-pressure process to eliminate pathogens and is nutritionally complete and balanced.
What are some tips for preparing and serving raw meat to dogs?
You should handle raw meat for dogs the same way you handle raw meat before cooking it for your own meals:
•Keep it frozen until no more than a few days before feeding it
•Wash your hands before and after handling the meat
•Disinfect any bowls, cutting boards, or other surfaces that touch raw meat
•Use different cutting boards for raw meat and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination
Will feeding my dog a raw meat diet improve their overall health?
Yes! While there are exceptions to every rule, most dogs thrive on raw dog food. Like any diet change, however, it can take time to see the benefits, so don’t expect your dog’s health to suddenly improve after a single day of raw feeding.