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:
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.
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
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
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
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 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
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