Raw Pet Food FAQs

What is the recommended % content of meat and vegetable?

A balanced diet for a dog is considered to be about 75% meat and bones, and 25% fruit & vegetables. For cats the meat and bones part should be closer to 90- 95%.

How much food do I feed my dog each day?

Every individual dog should be observed for weight changes and feeding amounts adjusted accordingly. These are guidelines only.

Puppies: (weaning - 12 months) and pregnant/lactating mothers should receive 5-10% of their body weight.
Adult Dogs: (12 months and up) should receive approximately 2-3% of their ideal body weight.

I have heard that feeding raw diet is very expensive, so how much will it cost?

Feeding your pet a variety of 4 different proteins can cost less than you might think. An adult 40 lb. dog eating Chicken, Beef, a fish and maybe some Tripe will cost less than $4.00 per day. A smaller dog of 12 lbs. eating the same product will cost less than $25.00 for one month.

Should I grind the bones?

Bones do not have to be ground, it's more of a convenience choice. When giving ground bones you will still benefit from their nutritional aspect, however, the benefits of chewing, ripping and subsequently cleaning the teeth , will be missed. It is still the best choice in case of pets who cannot chew because of dental problems, sickness or weakness, and may also be more convenient during the transitional stage. It is highly recommended to complement the ground bones with whole raw meaty bones at least 3 times a week, to promote the chewing, gnawing and tearing along with the dental benefits.

What supplements should I feed?

Supplements are a tricky call. Some say it is unnecessary while others over supplement, and that is where the danger lays. Vitamins B and C are water soluble, which means whatever the body does not use, is eliminated in the urine. You basically cannot "overdo" the vitamins except too much can cause loose bowels (that's why you often see it recommended to supplement with Vitamin C "to bowel tolerance"). Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble and it IS possible to cause problems by over-supplementing - sometimes the problems can be as bad if not worse than UNDER supplementation.

As a general rule supplements should be given to make up or balance what the diet itself may lack. For example, a dog that doesn't like fish can definitely use some fish oil as a supplement for it's fatty acids content. There is no magic formula and supplements should be considered on a pet-by-pet basis.

How do I handle raw food safely?

The general rule is to handle raw food the same way you handle human raw meat.

  • Thawed food can be kept in the refrigerator for about 3- 4 days
  • Leftovers can be kept but should be refrigerated immediately
  • In the case of bones we recommend that the bone be discarded after use as old bones become dry and brittle
  • Defrost the food unopened in cool water or placed the refrigerator for thawing
  • Always keep the food frozen until you are ready to use it; do not refreeze thawed food products
  • Wash utensils and working surfaces with hot soapy water in the same manner you wash your own
  • Stainless steel or other non porous material dishes are recommended
  • Make sure the pets dish and feeding area is thoroughly washed after use

But aren't chicken bones dangerous?!!!

Raw chicken bones are great for pets and are probably the most common bones; As long as they are not cooked. The cooking process changes the bone's constitution and the way they break. A cooked bone (especially the longer thigh and leg bones) tend to splinter and create very sharp edges. Raw Chicken bones are soft enough for cats and toy dogs to chew and digest. Wings, necks and back (carcasses) are a great addition to any raw diet, and are also good for puppies and kittens even before they actually eat them. Make sure to discard of leftovers.

My dog tends to inhale food!???

Dogs tend to do that. The chewing process is very different with carnivores then it is with us (or herbivores). They do not have flat molars that grind the food. Some Dogs and cats will chew food only to the point where it is small enough for them to swallow and not necessarily more. Their digestive system is designed to digest bigger chunks of food then ours. If you are feeding ground raw food your dog may literally skip the chewing part and just swallow mouthfuls. The same is right for small pieces (or large dogs). Keep an eye on your pet when dealing with midsize bones, they don't always estimate their swallowing capacity correctly and they may seem to choke and then regurgitate for a second try at chewing the same piece. The best way to "teach" chewing properly is to always give RMBs that are a size too big.

How can I feed my big dog a raw diet for a reasonable cost?

Bigger dogs will usually have lower metabolism and may not require more then 2% of their body weight per day. The best way to reduce the costs (without compromising) is to buy bulk. Most of the products at Wild at Heart are available (or can be ordered) in bulk. The bigger the cheaper. Another way (easier for bigger dogs) is feeding whole carcasses; you can buy (or make) the veggie mix separately to balance the diet or even complement with table scraps. Buying whole chickens (for example) in bulk will make a great base for a raw diet. There is plenty of variety available even without the more exotic (and expensive). Fasting days (highly recommended by many Raw Diet advocates) are another way to cut a little, although it should be made up for in the long run.

There are cheaper brands out there, why don't you carry some of them?

The answer is simple, if we won't feed it to our dogs.... We don't carry it. We want you to feel comfortable with any and all products you buy from us and not all brands are created equal. We are constantly researching .... As we continue to grow, so will the lines we offer, so check back often.

What are the benefits of feeding raw food to my pet?

There are many benefits associated with the raw food diet. Here is a brief list of the most commonly observed:

  • The teeth become whiter and stronger
  • The skin and coat become healthier and shiny
  • Bad breath and odor are minimized or disappear
  • Allergies disappear
  • Better metabolism - weight lost or gained
  • An overall stronger immune system
  • Stool will be less in quantity and odor
  • Your pet will feel and act lively

What about risks such as Toxoplasmosis, E. Coli and Salmonella?

Risks are almost non-existent to healthy adult animals. Dogs and Cats have digestive systems designed to handle and destroy many bacteria that are harmful to humans such as Salmonella and E. Coli. They have a short, acidic digestive tract, which easily digests raw animal protein, fat and bones. If your pet is ill, or very weak/ old please consult a pet health care professional who is experienced with raw feeding. Handling and hygiene of the raw meat should be in the same fashion as the any other meat, and your pet's dishes and eating area should be thoroughly cleaned after each meal.

But what about bacteria on raw chicken?

Raw chicken may contain bacteria,, The dogs' digestive system can easily deal with it. (We can't and therefore we need to cook the food). Remember dogs naturally eat feces, soil and buried bones and lick their private parts. Their tolerance to bacteria is much higher than humans. Handling of the pet's food should be done with the same hygiene standards as any other raw meat.

Help! My dog is having negative reactions to this diet!

Very often, when dogs (or people) make a switch to a more balanced, nutritious diet, they can sometimes display negative symptoms, such as (in the case of dogs) runny eyes, itchy skin, rashes and pimples, bad breath, vomiting, smelly ears. This is just a part of the healing cycle, in other words they are mobilizing toxins, which have been stored in the cells of the body. These symptoms should pass over a period of time, usually a few days.

Can a dog or cat get salmon poisoning from raw salmon products?

Yes, although cats are said to be immune to it. It is caused by a bacterial-like organism (Neorickettsia helminthoeca) that lives in little flukes (flatworm), which parasite wild salmon. The poisoning is fatal on one hand but treatable on the other. The problem is that symptoms appear only 5-7 days after ingestion so it is hard to detect. Freezing, cooking and smoking the fish will kill this organism and will make the fish harmless. All of our suppliers use prolonged freezing as means to kill the organism (and for storage) and ensure all our raw salmon is perfectly safe for consumption.

Can I cook raw foods?

Cooking is not recommended. Cooking destroys the enzymes and some nutrients in raw food defeating the purpose of feeding a raw diet. Microwaving to defrost is also not recommended due to the uneven nature of microwave heating. Some of the food gets cooked when defrosting in the microwave. If you forget to take the food out to thaw, our suggestion for a quick defrost is to place the container in a dish of cool water in your sink (with the plastic rap). That will speed up the thawing process. In general you should plan ahead to remove our food from your freezer and allow it to defrost in your refrigerator as you would with your own food.

Can I mix raw meat with kibble?

Yes, you can feed both kibble/canned and raw. ... We usually don’t recommend it though and suggest separate meals. Mixing them just temporarily is acceptable.

Digesting raw or kibble requires different enzymes and kibble decreases the pH levels. With a less acidic stomach, bacteria like E coli and salmonella have a higher probability of surviving and thriving in your pet’s belly. Dogs & cat have evolved so that their digestive systems are able to neutralize bacteria, but when you start changing the pH level of their digestive tracts by feeding too many carbohydrates and starches, you could be open to a whole plethora of digestive and health problems. If switching completely is not an option, please call us to discuss what can be done to keep things in check. 

Doesn't eating kibble keep my dog or cat's teeth clean?

If anything, kibble will do the opposite. The chewing of something hard (and starchy) will not add to clean teeth. The way to clean teeth is through a balanced diet, which will create healthy saliva, and plenty of Raw Meaty Bones including the soft and hard tissues.

How Do I Feed Raw Food While Traveling?

Most kennels will accommodate raw or home-prepared food if they have a refrigerator/freezer on hand, just call and ask. If you are taking your pet on a trip, use a cooler to keep the food at a refrigeration temperature with dry or regular ice. If you are traveling for longer than a few days, you can also take some dehydrated (preferably raw) food. Stopping at the local market and buying some human grade chicken is always a good choice.

I've always heard that dogs and cats shouldn't eat human food...

This is a common myth. Our grandparents and great grandparents fed their pets with raw scraps from their own meals because, at the time, there was no such thing as bagged kibble and canned pet food. However, pets should NEVER eat cooked bones from leftover meals from their human companions. Dogs and cats are carnivores and have the jaw structure to rip, tear and swallow prey animals. They do not have flat molars like humans meant for chewing things like grains and whole vegetables. In fact they no need for human like diet, which is rich with carbohydrates and grains. Their digestive tracts are short and manufacture very harsh gastric juices meant to digest whole raw meat and bone and move it through their system very quickly. So in reality, feeding your pet our raw food is not feeding them human food per se, but in fact, feeding them a species appropriate diet close to what they would get when eating a prey animal.

Will raw food help my pet's allergies?

It's possible. A switch to raw food may alleviate allergic symptoms your pet may be having. There is a good chance that simply stopping the consumption of highly processed, grain based, commercial pet food, will improve those symptoms. Many pets are allergic to protein in grains. These allergies can be seen in symptoms of chronic yeast infections, skin rashes and stiff joints or arthritic conditions. Long-term exposure to large amounts of grains, for these animals, can be a precursor to more serious and permanent illness over time. But it is never too late to switch to a raw food diet. Pets of any age can be given a new diet and benefit from it very quickly.

Won't eating raw meat make my dog vicious?

That is a common urban myth. Your dog will not become a vicious hunter just because he has a raw diet. You may however, notice more liveliness, especially if your dog used to be bloated and lethargic after meals.

But my vet doesn't think that feeding raw is any good

According to many Vets the focus in their studies is not nutrition but how to 'fix' the pets' health. The little instruction they ARE given in regards to nutrition is given by the commercial pet food companies themselves. Lack of knowledge and experience are what will usually be a Vet's reason for objecting to a raw diet. Consulting a vet who does have that kind of experience in order to get support and peace of mind, is recommended.

Can I feed my pregnant/lactating dog raw food?

Yes, it is the best thing for her. As far as quantities, you will probably want to increase them significantly, some say to no upper limit. When lactating it is especially important to increase bone consumption and plenty of water.

Can I give raw food to puppies?

Puppies can start eating (or trying to eat) raw meaty even before weaning. Wings, necks or backs can be an excellent way to introduce solid food to puppies and get their little jaws used to chewing. This will prepare them for later and give some relief to the lactating mom from the puppies' biting.

How do I learn more?

Taking responsibility over your pet's feeding is a big step for many owners. We encourage everyone to seek information, listen to views (both for and against), read books and generally educate yourself. Wild at Heart can provide books, information and other resources for learning. There is a lot of information out there, and many people with good intentions and strong convictions, who may absolutely contradict each other. Eventually YOU will have to decide what is best for yourself and your pet. Feel welcome to call us at Wild at Heart to ask questions, have a chat on a specific subject. Of course we are biased, we feed OUR pets a raw diet.

My dog is allergic to chicken is it safe to feed other poultry?

Current research is showing that genomes between avian species have less copy number variants than mammalians. So, the logical assumption that your pet is sensitive to one bird protein and will be to another, is not necessarily true.

Each protein is different and you could be denying your pet a vital protein source. They may still have a reaction but, it is best to try each one before crossing it off your list. Many dogs allergic to chicken thrive on Turkey, Duck, Pheasant etc.

How many different proteins should I feed my dog or cat?

Variety is the spice of life and the heart and soul of a good raw diet. Each protein has different vitamins and minerals. Limiting proteins can lead to nutritional deficiencies. We suggest a minimum of 4 different proteins per month for a good balance.