Raw Dog Food Nutrition of Various RMBs
So you've made up your mind, that's it, you're ditching commercial dog food and joining the growing ranks of raw feeders. Good for you, and better for your dog! We put this page together to try and simplify what can often get overwhelming for many new raw feeders.
Raw dog food nutrition values will vary depending on what you raw meats you feed and our aim is providing nutritional balance. Take that with a grain of salt though as raw in general is balanced and chasing your tail trying to perfectly prepare every raw meal can be counter productive.
Remember, raw food is much more nutritious for dogs than any commercially processed dry kibble could ever be. When blueprinting your dog's raw menu look at a weeks worth of meals, the view from 30 thousand feet as they say, rather than individual meals. Then break those down into daily meals and you wont need to worry about what's fed at each serving, as long as your planned weekly diet is consumed.
Providing a Balanced Raw Meal
There are no hard rules for raw feeding and the goal is to balance nutrition over time. Simply put, individual meals could be more meat, more bone or more organ, as long as everything averages out over the course of a week or two, that's perfect!
Customarily, most raw feeders strive for an overall raw dog food nutrition balance of;
1. 80% meat, ligaments, connective tissue (sinew) & fat.
2. 10% edible bone.
3. 10% organ meat.
Fortunately, nature makes this easy as many raw meaty bones (RMBs), already have 10 to 20% bone. Doing a little figuring, a chicken thigh with 15% bone mass and 85% meat would make up item 1 & 2 on our list and account for 90% of your TOTAL raw meal. Next, add 10% organ meat to achieve 100% total meal and you're golden.
Another way to look at it, if you're feeding 1 pound per meal of a RMB with good bone content, simply add a tenth of that weight, about 1.6 ounces of organ and call it a wrap!
If you go with a RMB that has a higher bone content, like a turkey neck at 42% bone, add boneless meat about twice the weight of that turkey neck to bring the bone for this meal down to 14% or so. Or, feed all turkey necks for one meal and boneless meat the next two meals to average out the meat and bone ratio over three meals.
TIP: Ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey works awesome top "top off" a meal of raw meaty bones that may be a bit high in bone content.
Protein Levels of Raw Meat
Contrary to what many believe and a myth is that raw meat is way too high in protein. Often a concern for people feeding puppies or those advised by a Vet to keep their dogs on a lower protein diet. Raw dog food nutrition protein level of most all raw meats is between 15 and 25%.
TIP: It's the moisture content of raw meats that keeps protein levels in check. Many find their raw fed dogs rarely drink water. I can personally attest to this phenomenon.
There's a big difference in protein between raw meat and grain free or "raw equivalent" kibble. Dried, processed grain free kibble is nutritionally dense with typical protein levels upwards of 40%, some brands even higher. This fact also validates why puppies should stay away from grain free kibble but are perfectly fine with raw dog food nutrition and the protein level it provides.
Calcium & Phosphorus Levels of Raw
Meat, not the bone when talking about raw meaty bones (RMBs), has high phosphorus. But it is very low in calcium, that's where the bone comes into play.
Ideally, providing an even 1/1 ratio of calcium & phosphorus should be the objective when feeding puppies but it isn't as critical with adult dogs. To accomplish a balanced ratio, look for raw meaty bones containing between 10 to 20% bone mass.
Don't try to micromanage every meal, you'll drive yourself nuts. This ratio can average out over a week's worth of feeding. For instance, if you feed a few chicken drumsticks or bony chicken backs one day, feed boneless meat the next to average out bone consumed.
Phosphorus in raw foods plays a major role forming bones and teeth. Also, assists a dog's body to synthesize protein, metabolize carbohydrates and fat plus repair and maintain cells and tissues.
Phosphorus helps muscle contraction, regulate heart rate, supports nerve conduction and renal function.
Is found in bone and dogs require a balanced ratio of calcium and phosphorus with daily nutrition. Calcium is responsible for neuromuscular, cardiovascular, and immune system function. Cells in a dog's body need calcium to support enzyme function and calcium builds cell skeletal structure while maintaining cell membrane stability.
Repeating the need for balanced calcium and phosphorus here, because it's so important. An overload of calcium can impede or accelerate normal bone growth. Puppies up to a year old and large or giant breeds up to age 2 are at highest risk from excess calcium.
Issues like osteochondrosis, abnormal metacarples, hip dysplasia and wobblers syndrome in giant breeds are often associated with improper calcium and/or calcium to phosphorus ratio.
Raw Dog Food Nutrition Bone Content of Common RMBs
WHOLE GAME BIRDS
Additional Nutrients in RMBs
So you've got the bone content down pat but what else makes RMB nutrition so great? Glad you asked :)
MEAT: Raw meat is packed with protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and water. Protein and fat provide energy without carbohydrates, starches, grains or sugars like many dry kibble dog food formulas. Fat content of meat varies by type and species, with pork and chicken containing higher fat levels.
BONES: Raw bones provide calcium, some phosphorus and an array of complex nutrients via living tissue and cells. Chicken and pork bones are high in fat, essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. Bone marrow contains enzymes, antioxidants and iron.
Packed with a store of natural vitamins and minerals, many believe there's nothing better for a dog than a raw bone. Bones play a natural role of a filter, absorbing and removing toxins from the gut. In addition, gnawing and crunching of bones promote dental hygiene and you'll rarely find a bone fed dog with dental or periodontal related diseases.
The Importance of Organs
We strive for 10% organ meet but being honest, many dogs struggle with digesting organs. Episodes of loose stool can be common, especially when feeding a new organ to a dog for the first time.
Liver is one of the best organs to feed because it contains a wide array of nutrients. Loaded with vitamin A, D, E, K and containing Omega 3 & 6, B vitamins 1, 2, 3, 5 & 12. Liver holds minerals like iron, manganese, zinc and selenium and is a source of vitamin C to boot. At a minimum, try to incorporate Liver into your dog's daily meal in an amount of at least 5% of what's fed.
Kidney is another awesome iron rich organ containing quality protein, Omega 3 & 6, vitamins A, B, D, E and K. Kidneys are also a source of zinc and known to be easily digestible.
Additional organs to consider:
Heart (Actually muscle meat) - Source of taurine & good protein, iron, A & B vitamins.
Brain, Spleen, Pancreas & Lung.
TIP: You can use the USDA Food Composition Database search tool to dig raw dog food nutrition on just about any meat here. Note, you'll need to pick out the part from search results and listings do not include data for bone content.
Green tripe may smell like Cow manure yet for raw dog food nutrition, you can't beat it!
Tripe is the stomach of animals such as cattle, buffalo, goats, deer, sheep, deer, etc. Green, means it still contains semi digested stomach contents and is loaded with awesome raw dog food nutrition.
Green tripe stinks, literally! This is not the bleached white tripe you may find at your grocery store with no nutritional value.
Green Tripe is high in good digestive enzymes and Lactobacillus Acidophilus bacteria, also known as intestinal flora. With a 1/1 calcium to phosphorus ratio, tripe is perfect for giant breed puppies.
Green tripe also provides vitamin B plus essential fatty acids Omega 3 & 6, Linoleic and Linolenic. Green tripe from grass fed animals is preferred over grain fed animals. Read more information on Green Tripe for Dogs here.
For additional raw feeding articles visit our feeding dogs raw Main Page and our "Raw Feeding Library".