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Raw Food Feeding Guidelines

There are varying opinions about the amount of raw food to feed, and the amount can vary quite a bit with the metabolism and activity level of the animal. The recommendations will also vary by manufacturer. The best way to determine how much to feed is to closely watch your animal’s weight for the first month to six weeks on the new diet by either weighing them once or twice per week or checking them physically (feel ribs, hips, etc.) for signs of weight gain or loss and adjusting your feeding practices accordingly. Here are some general guidelines:

Feeding Guidelines:

For Dogs: Feed approximately 2-3% of your dog’s weight daily, and split this between two meals. For example, a 50 lb. dog would need ½ to ¾ of a lb. PER MEAL. A very active or working dog may need more. A less active “couch-potato” dog may need less.

For Cats: Feed approximately 2-3% of your cat’s weight daily, and split this between two meals. A 10 lb. cat would receive 1.5 to 2.5 ounces per meal. Again, this will depend on the individual cat’s activity level and metabolism.

To calculate the appropriate amount of food to feed your pet:

First , take your pet's weight in pounds and multiply by:
.02 (inactive/need to lose weight)
.025 (normal activity/maintain current weight) or
.03 (for very active pets, or to gain weight)

Then, take the total (the amount of food to feed in pounds) and multiply by 16 to get the correct number of ounces to feed each day. Be sure to split the number in half if you are feeding twice a day.

Check the portion sizes of commercial raw food to see which comes in portions that best suit your pet's needs. For example, some raw food comes in 2lb chubs and others in 8oz patties. If your pet needs one pound of food per day, you could give two patties, or ½ of a chub. For small pets, many guardians prefer medallions or nuggets, which are usually 1 oz. portions that are extremely easy to thaw and serve.

Puppies, Kittens & pregnant or nursing females:

Feed at least 5% of body weight daily (about ¼ lb per 10 lbs. of body weight). This can be split into at least 2 and preferably 3 meals per day. 

Transitioning

The length of your pet’s transition process to raw food will depend on their overall health, digestive issues, and how “finicky” they may be. 

A healthy dog with no signs of digestive issues (chronic vomiting or diarrhea/loose stools) could be transitioned within a week by just gradually adding more raw food and less of the original food to each meal. 

Cats may take longer since they tend to be more discriminating about their food and can become habituated to dry food in particular. Cats on dry food only should be transitioned to 2 meals per day of canned food first, then slowly transitioned to raw starting with as little as ¼ - ½ teaspoon of raw mixed in with their canned food and gradually increasing the amount of raw over the course of 2-3 weeks or more. Some cats may prefer the raw on its own, and you can offer them a teaspoon or so before offering their regular meal to see if they show interest. 

Animals with digestive issues will need a very gradual transition. It may be best to very lightly cook the food for the first week also, then gradually cook it less and less until you are feeding raw. Start with no more than 1/8 of one meal as raw or lightly cooked raw, and increase gradually over the course of at least 2 weeks.

Mixing with dry kibble or canned

Most manufacturers recommend that you feed raw food separately from dry or canned food. If you are feeding kibble or canned along with raw, you might consider making this the morning meal and raw the evening meal. If you are switching to raw due to any health issues such as allergies or inflammatory bowel disease, etc., then it is highly recommended that you transition to a completely raw food diet for at least 1-3 months – the longer the animal has been ill, the longer the only-raw diet should be.  After the initial time on raw, then try a gradual addition of canned, kibble or dehydrated or freeze-dried and see how the animal tolerates it.

Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Alternatives

Although most people think of frozen formulas when they think of raw food for pets, there are less expensive and more convenient alternatives available in the form of dehydrated and freeze-dried formulas. These formulas are made from raw meat, vegetables, and fruits and have the water removed from them through either dehydration or freeze-drying, so that all you need to do is add water before feeding your pet. These offer all the nutritional benefits of raw food, but are easier to handle and prepare and also tend to be less expensive. Freeze-dried formulas are very light weight, and so are great for travelling, but tend to me more expensive than dehydrated, so they are used mostly for cats and small dogs. Dehydrated food is more expensive than dry kibble, but not by a lot (around a dollar per day for a 40 pound dog), and it is much healthier than dry kibble. (Think of the difference between corn flakes and fresh salad.) The favorite around Only Natural Pet Store is our EasyRaw formula, which is not only the most cost effective dehydrated alternative, but looks a lot like a bowl of soup you might have for lunch once it's rehydrated!

Rotation

We highly recommend you rotate the raw formula you feed (unless otherwise directed for your companion who may be ill). Just as with any type of food used, feeding a variety of protein sources can help optimize nutrition and wellness. If the raw diet you use does not contain organ meats, rotating organ meats into the diet several times a week is a good idea.

For more information on feeding raw food diets, please see the following articles in our Holistic Healthcare Library:

All About Raw Food

Safety of Raw Meat Diets

 

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The articles and information in the Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff, guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care products.

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