Raw dog food for beginners: How do I start raw feeding my dog?

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You are interested in raw dog food, but you don’t know where to start? Well, this post is for you! In it, I cover the basics of how to start raw feeding a dog. 

Raw dog food is a great way to get the nutrients your dog needs without any chemicals or preservatives found in commercial pet foods. 

But before you jump in, it’s important to know what raw foods are good for dogs and how you can transition them into this diet. 

It is hard to estimate that the food you are offering provides all that your dog needs to thrive.  

Luckily, in this blog post I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about raw feeding including how much your pup should eat, what ingredients work best, and more.

By the end of the article, you will learn how to start raw feeding your dog to exactly match your fido’s body requirements. Read on!

What Does Barf Mean?

Raw dog food for beginners- How do I start raw feeding my dog.

The term barf is not as nasty as it looks. Previously, they named it to barf from the raw diet for dogs which means;

  • Bone
  • And
  • Raw
  • Food

Recently, they came up with a new concept which stands for;

  • Biologically 
  • Approved
  • Raw
  • Food

The major mindset behind this terminology is to ensure dogs with natural raw food that their ancestors used to feed. 

Barf diet for dogs is something that provides safe and natural feeding without any processed ingredients. The concept of barf diet was given by Ian Billinghurst, an Australian veterinarian, in 1933.

That’s why I’m here with a top-class pro-barf diet for your dog. Moreover, I believe that homemade food is better than buying kibbles at the supermarket. 

Fortunately, this natural and raw diet for dogs has progressed under the supervision of canine nutritionists and veterinarians.

Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

The answer to this question is not as easy as the question itself. The reason behind this is that dogs are different, just like raw meat samples. Some of them like raw meat feeding while others do not. Broadly speaking, raw meat feeding reflects dogs of their ancestral feeding. 

There are lots of misconceptions about the raw meat feeding of dogs. But I highly recommend raw meat for dogs as it will provide your doggo what he is supposed to get from food.  

Here are some myths about raw meat feeding that must need rejections

Myths About Barf Diet and Raw Meat for Dogs

  1. Raw meat diet is not like a balanced dog food diet
  2. Dogs get salmonella infections after the raw meat diet
  3. Feeding a raw meat diet to your fido is time-consuming
  4. It is hard to afford a raw meat diet for your furry friend
  5. Dogs become aggressive after raw meat diets
  6. You are putting your dogs in danger by giving them bones  
  7. Pups and toy breeds are not suitable for raw feeding

Despite all these misconceptions, wise dog owners still have a strong notion for raw feeding to their canine fellows. Because they know very well how raw feeding is beneficial for the digestive system of dogs.

Benefits of a Raw Meat Diet

Here I have mentioned some benefits of a raw diet for dogs. You must contemplate the following advantages of a raw meat diet before knowing how to start raw feeding your dog. 

1. Compatible With The Biological Needs of Dogs

Most raw meat advocates believe that their digestive system is naturally designed for raw meat as the dogs descend from raw meat-eating ancestors. Moreover, the stomach of the dog also secretes stronger acids that can easily digest raw meat. 

2. Healthy Skin and Coat

According to research conducted at California University, raw meat diet promotes healthier skin and coat in dogs and easy digestion compared to commercial dry kibbles. 

Moreover, it’s all about the presence of minute fillers in raw feeding with plenty of readily available proteins, zinc, vitamin E, and fresh fats. All these nutrients give a healthy coat to your furry friend.

3. Improved Breath and Oral Health

A study was conducted by Park and Brown that comes up with the surprising results that dental problems in dogs can be reduced or avoided by using raw meat bones. 

They showed how dogs develop dental issues by consuming low-grade soft foods. This study used 30 dogs and shifted their diet to beef oxtail from canned dog food.

The results were fascinating as more than 95% of dogs successfully removed dental calculus within two weeks. 

4. Improved Digestion

Researchers believe that raw diet food for dogs permits them to absorb maximum nutrients than dry kibbles do. Raw meat diet stays in your dog’s stomach just for 2 hours, whereas kibbles take 7-8 hours to digest.

This is the reason for less frequent pooping along with less pungent smell in dogs with raw feeding.

Do Vets Recommend a Raw Diet for Dogs?

Unfortunately, most vets do not recommend preparing raw dog food by you at home. Though they are correct, they want you to feed the exact nutrients that your dog’s body requires for healthy growth. Therefore, they forbid raw diet for dogs because of the following reasons;

1. Chances of Nutrients Lack Feeding

In some instances, owners don’t know the exact nutritional profile of the raw dog food, and they keep on feeding a diet deprived of essential nutrients. Therefore, their dogs face the consequences.

2. Chances of Bacterial Infections

Moreover, the chances of getting deadly bacterial infections like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria are maximum if you don’t follow proper hygienic measures and cooking protocols.

3. Chances of Compromised Quality

Some vets are against homemade raw feeding to dogs because of the risk of not knowing the dog food quality standards. Therefore, they recommend a manufacturer approved by PFMA. 

Fortunately, you can feed a raw diet to your canine friends by ensuring hygienic standards during food preparation. Here I’ve mentioned some important tips to follow during the progression of a raw diet. 

  1. Separation of items — I recommend you to keep all the necessary things or items used to handle and prepare raw food separate to avoid contamination. Like cutlery, storage boxes, and bowls. 
  2. Use steel boxes — It is better to use stainless steel bowls or boxes for storing raw food because, in plastic bowls, there are chances of bacterial growth in minute cracks. 
  3. Washing of hands — Don’t forget to wash your hands before handling raw dog food. Similarly, please do the same thing after you are done with it.
  4. Know the nutritional profile — You need to ensure all essential nutrients to your doggo during raw meat diet feeding. For this purpose, it is wise to consult a veterinarian or a canine nutritionist.
  5. Personal foods safety — Always handle the raw diet for dogs with proper care, either during cooking or thawing to defrost it. Don’t use a microwave oven for defrosting raw diet to avoid uneven thawing.
  6. Sanitization of surfaces — Make sure to wash the washing of items after each feeding. Moreover, sanitize the surfaces used in raw food preparation thoroughly every time to avoid infections. 
  7. Use within 24 hours — Once you defrost the meat, make sure your canine friend consumes it within 24 hours and never refreeze it. 

This way, you can start raw feeding your dog without any hesitation. Just follow the safety measures strictly and provide whatever is suitable for your furry friend.

at What Age Can a Dog Start a Raw Diet?

Canine nutritionists have a viewpoint to start raw feeding your dog during his weaning season at about eight to twelve weeks of age. This is the ideal time to consider raw feeding your puppy so that he may develop a strong body with a strong immune system. 

How to Start Raw Feeding My Dog?

After getting all the necessary benefits and myth busters, you are at a stage to think about how to raw feed your dog. So, here I’m going to describe some essential steps to chew over while shifting your dog to raw feed.

1. Slow Transition for Your Dog New to The Raw Diet

The simple key to raw food transition is to go slowly. Moreover, it depends upon your dog’s age and life stage to shift on a raw diet. Simply, if your dog is senior, it will take much more time for a complete transition than a young dog.

For instance, young dogs have a healthy digestive system that can adapt to raw feeding quickly within a few days. While for an adult or senior dog, at least one week is required for a complete transition to raw feeding.

2. Consider Fasting for a Full Day (or a Half-day)

Firstly, make sure your best friend’s complete appetite and interest by fasting him for a half or full-day. Secondly, feed him a little bit to see whether he takes an interest in a new diet or not. If yes, then keep on replacing the portion of the previous diet with the new raw diet.

3. Keep on Monitoring Your Dog

There are chances of a loose stool after the transition to a raw diet which is quite normal. In such a situation, wait for a few days until the stool gets firm and then again continue feeding a raw diet to your fido.

How Do I Transition My Dog From Kibble to Raw?

Transitioning your dog from kibble to raw requires at least 12-24 hours of fasting. It will help to clear out the digestive tract of your fido by digesting the leftover food. This act will also aid in a smooth transition from kibbles to a raw diet. 

Ensure the provision of a raw meat diet to your furry friend when it is at room temperature rather than in a frosting state. 

To attain this purpose, keep the frost raw diet at room temperature for 30 minutes at least.

Guidelines for The Gradual Transition From Kibble to Raw (percentages)

  • Day 1&2 = 25% Raw diet + 75% Kibbles
  • Day 3&4 = 50% Raw diet + 50% Kibbles
  • Day 5&6 = 75% Raw diet + 25% Kibbles
  • Day 7      = 100% Raw diet

How Much Raw Food Should I Be Feeding My Dog?

For all those pet owners who will start raw feeding their dogs but don’t know how much to feed them, I’m here to ease their worries.

A raw diet equivalent to 2% to 3% of your dog’s body weight split into two meals per day is usually recommended. 

For an appropriate estimation, please make some calculations depending upon the body weight of your doggo, and talk with your veterinarian. 

Multiply the body weight of your fido in-lbs with different factors to get an exact percentage.             

  • For inactive dogs = body weight in lb x 0.02
  • For dog with average activity = body weight in lb x 0.025
  • For active dogs = body weight (lb) x 0.03  

For a puppy

Puppies need almost 5% of their body weight due to their fast metabolism. It comes up as;

For 10lb body weight = 1/4 lb of a raw diet

Tips for Barf Diet

According to the AAFCO recommendation, your dog diet must contain these six nutrients, including proteins, fats, carbs, minerals, vitamins, and water. 

So, to consider the provision of these nutrients, you must follow general guidelines for barf ingredients which are;

  • Muscle meat = 70%
  • Raw edible bones = 10%
  • Liver = 5%
  • Other organs = 5%
  • Fruits and veggies = 10%

The composition I personally use for my dogs is:

  • 60% meaty bones (bones with meat attached)
  • 20% lean meat and/or fish
  • 10% Guts and/or internal organs
  • 10% fruits & vegetables (steamed and shredded)
  • Supplements

What Are The Meaty Bones?

Meaty bones are all those bones that are covered in meat (to a greater or lesser extent) and are soft enough to be digested and demineralized in the dog’s stomach through digestion and gastric juices.

Some examples of meaty bones suitable for the BARF diet are:

  • Chicken: wings, neck, backbone.
  • Turkey: wings, neck.
  • Rabbit: any piece.
  • Lamb: neck, ribs.
  • Duck: wings, neck, backbone.
  • Calf: ribs, neck.
  • Quail: any piece.

Bone chips and fragments are very dangerous to the dog, as they can cause severe perforations in the intestines.

Once chewed, the bones form a compound that is not as dangerous to the dog.

Note: However, certain recommendations should be followed when making use of bones in the BARF diet:

  • Poultry or rabbit bones should always have meat around the bone to reduce the potential risk of chipping.
  • If you notice that the bone no longer has meat around it, pick it up immediately.
  • If your dog does not chew the bones and swallows them quickly, it can be very dangerous. the solution in this case is to carefully chop the bones before serving them to your dog.
  • Do not offer your dog only one type of bone with meat. Variety is the secret to run fewer risks.
  • Bones are very important in the BARF diet as they provide your dog with phosphorus, calcium and other essential minerals.
  • Hard bones, such as calf’s knee, can be used as a recreational bone, as the dog will have a lot of fun gnawing on it; this type of bone provides the dog with excellent mental stimulation and also promotes dental hygiene.

Barf Recipes for Dogs

Here are 2 barf recipes that you can try:

1. Ground Beef, Veggies and Chicken Liver Mix


  • Ground beef = 2 ½ cup
  • Chicken liver = 4 oz
  • Chopped carrot = 1
  • Small apple (cored) = 1
  • Baby spinach = 1/2 cup
  • Whole eggs with shell = 2
  • Plain yogurt = 1/2 cups
  • Ground flaxseed = 1 tbsp
  • Olive oil = 1 tbsp


  1. Thoroughly chopped carrot, spinach in a food processor
  2. Add other ingredients in it, excluding beef, and chopped them well
  3. After transferring them to a large bowl, add beef and mix thoroughly
  4. Shaped them into patties and placed them on a baking sheet
  5. Freeze these patties (airtight in a container) and thaw them before serving

2. Raw Boneless Turkey With Eggs


  • Ground lean turkey = 5 pounds
  • Chicken heart = 2 pounds
  • Beef liver = 1 pound
  • Eggs excluding shells = 6
  • Kale = 8 ounce
  • Broccoli = 8 ounce
  • Dandelion greens = 8 ounce
  • Blueberries = 12 ounce
  • Bone meal = 6 tbsp
  • Pumpkin seed powder = 3 tbsp
  • Himalayan salt = 2 tbsp
  • Kelp = 1/4 tbsp


  1. Chop or grind the beef liver and chicken heart
  2. Pore other remaining ingredients in a food processor
  3. Then thoroughly mix these chopped ingredients with ground turkey, heart, liver, and other veggies mixture.
  4. After placing these ingredients in 2-3 small containers, freeze them 

What Ingredients Should Be Used in The BARF Diet for Dogs?

How to cook Homemade Dog Food for Small Dogs 7

1. Meat

In addition to the meaty bones we discussed in the previous section, the BARF diet should include 25% – 30% lean meat (or fish).

Some examples of meats that you can feed to a dog on the BARF diet are:

  • Chicken,
  • Turkey,
  • Duck,
  • Deer,
  • Horse,
  • Ostrich,
  • Quail,
  • Rabbit,
  • Lamb,
  • Beef,
  • Ox,
  • Calf.

2. Fish

Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and other essential nutrients, so I recommend that you include fish at least twice a week.

Some examples of fish that you can feed to a dog on the BARF diet are:

  • Herrings,
  • Anchovies,
  • Mackerel,
  • Trout,
  • Sea Bass,
  • Redfish,
  • Codfish,
  • Hake,
  • Grouper,
  • Sole,
  • Salmon,
  • Sea Bream,
  • Tuna.

3. Fruits

You must always feed fruit to dogs without seeds or stones.

Examples of fruits you can feed to a dog on the BARF diet are:

  • Banana,
  • Apple,
  • Strawberry,
  • Raspberry,
  • Pear,
  • Tangerine,
  • Watermelon,
  • Kiwi,
  • Cherry,
  • Blueberry,
  • Melon,
  • Pineapple,
  • Mango,
  • Coconut,
  • Plum,
  • Pumpkin.

4. Vegetables

Examples of vegetables you can give to a dog on the BARF diet are:

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Carrot
  • Turnip
  • Pumpkin
  • Swiss Chard
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Parsley
  • Cucumber
  • Lettuce of different types
  • Cauliflower

5. Organs and Viscera

Organs and viscera are part of the 10% of the diet we were talking about earlier, and should always be fresh and purchased from a trusted butcher.

Did you know that viscera and internal organs have a higher nutrient density than any other part of an animal?

In fact, for this reason, we might even say that organs and viscera are a multi-vitamin.

Guts and internal organs are another key component of the BARF diet, as they are the best natural multi-vitamin your dog can consume due to the incredible amount of:

  • Vitamins,
  • Proteins,
  • Minerals,
  • Enzymes,
  • Essential Fatty Acids,
  • Antioxidants,
  • Water.

The most commonly used viscera and internal organs in the BARF diet are:

  • Chicken gizzards,
  • Chicken stomach
  • Calf’s Heart,
  • Chicken Heart,
  • Tripe,
  • Beef kidney
  • Chicken kidney
  • Lung,
  • Brain,
  • Pancreas,
  • Testicles,
  • Chicken Liver,
  • Calf liver,
  • Beef spleen,
  • Beef Liver.

6. Supplements

The BARF diet may also contain other ingredients and supplements that you can include in your dog’s diet, two or three times a week, in order to complement and enrich the main recipe with extra nutrients, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids.

Some examples of dietary supplements you can feed to a dog on the BARF diet are:

  • Raw eggs (protein with high biological value and rich in essential amino acids).
  • Natural yogurt, Kefir and cottage cheese (source of probiotics).
  • Chicken feet and beef ear (rich in collagen).
  • Spirulina (natural multi-vitamin).
  • Marine phytoplankton (source of Omega 3 and multi-vitamin)
  • Olive oil (fatty acids).
  • Coconut oil (fatty acids, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial).
  • Chia (vitamins and minerals).
  • Apple cider vinegar (antiparasitic).
  • Fish oil (omega 3).
  • Bee pollen (enzymes, strengthens the immune system).
  • Turmeric (anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant).
  • Aromatic herbs such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, coriander.
  • Seaweed.
  • Quail eggs.

Alternatives to Raw Dog Food: Human Grade Pet Food Brands

what are dogs allowed to eat - what human food can dogs eat 4

Here in this article, I come with some other options for raw dog food that are entirely based on human-grade pet food. 

Moreover, you have an opportunity to deliver human-grade pet food for your best friend at your doorstep. 

  1. Ollie dog food
  2. Raise right pet food
  3. Pet plate  


FAQ - What Breed is My Dog How to Identify ANY Dog Breed - Is my dog a pure breed (4)

Can Dogs Get Salmonella From Raw Meat?

Yes, dogs can get salmonella infection from contaminated raw meat, but the dog’s stomach’s acids are still powerful enough to eliminate these infectious bacteria. However, at times, chances are there to transfer infection. 

Can Dogs Get Sick From a Raw Diet?

Almost 25% of raw diet samples contain bacterial species like Listeria and Salmonella, which may impose certain health issues in your fido.  

How Much Raw Food Should I Feed My Dog?

On average, a raw diet of 2% to 3% of the bodyweight of your doggo is sufficient to maintain a healthy body.

How Safe Is It for Dogs to Eat Raw Chicken Wings?

Raw chicken wings are best for your best friend because of their perfect bone-to-flesh proportion. In addition, their fatty acid contents are best among all the bones of the chicken.

What Are Dog Lover’s Opinions on Raw Feeding?

Dog lovers who want to see their dogs as working dogs favor raw feeding to dogs. However, the concept varies from individual to individual. 

Can Dogs Get Worms From Raw Feeding?

Raw feeding based on cheap and low-quality raw meat brings chances of getting certain protozoa infestations along with tapeworm to your lovely dogs.   

Can I Feed My Dog Kibble in The Morning and a Raw Diet at Night?

By doing so, you are putting your dog on the edge of getting intestinal dysbiosis, which may damage the good bacteria and disturb normal digestion. 

Can a Raw Diet Make Dogs Aggressive?

It is a myth that dogs become aggressive and bloodthirsty towards humans after getting raw feeding. However, by providing a balanced and complete raw diet, you can rule out this behavior of your doggo.

How Can I Feed My Dog Raw for Cheap?

You can make use of cheap but high-quality ingredients for the raw preparation diet for your best friends. You can also chew over to cut down the price by considering alternatives to a raw diet.  

Is It Expensive to Feed a Dog a Raw Diet?

It may or maybe not because it entirely depends upon the ingredients you are using to prepare a raw diet. The price varies dramatically, but high-quality fresh raw food may cost you more.   

When Can I Start Raw Feeding My Dog?

Canine nutritionists have a viewpoint to start raw feeding your dog during his weaning season at about eight to twelve weeks of age. This is the ideal time to consider raw feeding your puppy so that he may develop a strong body with a strong immune system. 


So, in this article, you get to know how to start raw feeding your dog with potential benefits and myth busters.

I hope you enjoyed learning more about the barf diet and raw diets for dogs.

If your dog is currently eating kibble, I recommend gradually transitioning them to a raw food diet by mixing up their daily allotment of dry food with an increasing amount of fresh meat each day until they are only getting 100% raw food.

It may take some time before your pup gets used to this new kind of cuisine, but it’s worth sticking it out as there are many benefits that come from changing how our pets eat!

Of course if you have any questions or concerns along the way don’t hesitate to contact me.

If you liked this article on how to start raw feeding a dog, please share it so others can find out about the barf biet.

Until next time!

A big hug.

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Housam Ayouni
Housam Ayouni

I am a professional in the field of canine behavior and care with many years of experience. Through my dog blog, which has reached over one million dog owners, I offer practical tips and guidance to support dog owners in creating strong, positive relationships with their pets and promoting the well-being and happiness of all dogs. My goal is to help dog owners create a harmonious and fulfilling life with their furry companions.

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