When we switched our dogs to a raw food diet, we started with pre-made raw meals. A local company ground and mixed the meat, bone and other ingredients needed to create a balanced raw meal for our dogs. As you can imagine, you pay a premium for this service, and when our family went from 2 dogs to 4 dogs, we started making our own raw meals.
After a year of doing so, I’ve created some habits that make the process easier and cleaner.
1. Invest in Good Equipment
We have an extra freezer for storage, a meat grinder, semi-professional chef knives, and a professional mixer. These were less expensive than we expected and we save a tremendous amount of time when preparing raw meals for our dogs.
2. Know Your Protein Sources
Buying from the grocery store isn't affordable for everyone. It’s important to find alternative sources for protein and other ingredients for raw meals. Raw feeders shop though raw food co-ops, online, area hunters, and local farms.
3. Invest in Storage
Raw feeders organize meals, raw and dry goods, and other ingredients in cabinets and the freezer. For raw feeders who have placed gold in the Organization Olympics, you’ll see that everything is clearly labeled, making food prep more efficient.
4. Always Be Learning
Each dog has different needs and raw feeders are always learning about the best ways to meet those needs. We have two dogs with allergies, two dogs with arthritis, one dog who has recurring rashes, and all of them have a chicken intolerance.
5. Mental Inventory
It’s helpful to know how much of each item is on hand to avoid an ordering snafu (too much, too little). I check our freezer before each raw food order to make sure that I have enough room to store more food.
6. Socialize with Raw Feeders
This is a great way to learn, to get feedback on meal plans, and to connect with local raw feeders to swap food or split orders. Facebook has several raw feeding groups; find one where people are open to sharing without pressure.
7. Buy White Vinegar
Diluted white vinegar in a spray bottle will help quickly clean and sanitize the kitchen when I’m finished preparing raw meals for the week. Diluted bleach works too, but vinegar is safer for homes with pets.
8. Know Your Dog’s Poop
You wouldn't believe what you can learn from your dog’s poop. Diarrhea tells me that our dog either doesn't have enough bone or may be revealing an allergy to an ingredient. Constipation can signal too much bone. Cleaning the yard is how I measure how our dogs are doing on their meals.
Raw feeders tend to be an organized bunch; something we learn when researching how to prepare a balanced meal for our best friends. What I've learned from other raw feeders has been invaluable and has saved me a tremendous amount of money and time! Feel free to reach out to me on the subject if you're curious about a raw diet for your dogs.
To learn more about raw feeding, visit Keep the Tail Wagging.