New to Raw feeding? You're in the right place.

If you’re new to raw feeding, we know you’ve got lots of questions. To help you get started, we’ve put this guide together to provide you with the basics on feeding a healthy raw diet. 

Why Feed Raw

There are numerous reasons owners put their pets on a raw diet and most can be traced back to the fact that your pet is able to better digest raw. Both cats and dogs have digestive systems that have evolved to digest high protein and fat diets rather than the high carbohydrate content typically found in pet food today. As a result, pets on raw diets typically see the following benefits: 

  • Fewer inflammation related health issues: Excess sugars in the body causes inflammation which manifests in a myriad of ways. That's why the most common “transformation” story you’ll hear from owners who have made the switch is how a raw diet instantly cleared up their pet’s inflammation issues such as hotspots, ear infections, and stomach sensitivities. 
  • Higher and more stable energy levels: Your pet’s digestive system is able to absorb more nutrients from clean, unprocessed raw food (which is why you’ll also see smaller, stiffer poops!). The effect is that overall, your pet will have more energy at a stable level throughout the day. 
  • Long term health: By the time kibble ends up in your pet's bowl, it's hard to tell what went into it. Over time, the by-products and preservatives can cause chronic health issues. The bag of kibble may come at a lower price tag, but the cost comes in the form of medical bills and quality of life over the years. At Viva Raw, we’re committed to quality and transparency. Our human-grade meat comes from the same pool that our farmers & suppliers use for stocking premium restaurants and grocery chains. We use multiple meats & organs in each of our recipes and there are absolutely no by-products. 
  • Bonus: Smaller poops: Gross but true. Raw fed pets have smaller, less smelly, and more infrequent stools. This is actually a benefit that our customers talk about most and despite how much we love our pets, we can all do with a little less poop. 

Raw Models 

PMR? BARF? 80/10/10? It's an alphabet soup and everyone has their own opinions. BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods) is based on the premise that wolves had a natural diet of plant & vegetable matter as well as meat, bones, and organs. The recommendation here is to feed 70% muscle meat, 10% bone, 10% secreting organs, and 10% plant & veggies. In the other hand, PMR (Prey Model Raw) believes that a true ancestral diet only consists of prey animals and the best diet would be to feed 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, and 10% secreting organs. 

 At Viva Raw, all of our recipes are Prey Model Raw with two mix options—chunked or coarse ground. For each protein, we use a variety of different muscle meats, such as lean muscle, heart, and gizzards (for our poultry recipes) to ensure a diverse mix. When it comes to organs, we don't slouch either—whenever possible, we use both liver & kidney to make sure your pet has the nutritional diversity they need. Here at Viva, we build our recipes to be wholesome and fresh because it's what matters most.

Making the Switch 

When starting your pet on a new raw diet, we recommend starting out by replacing 25% of their kibble portion with raw. Increase the raw portion by 25% every other day until you’re at 100% on the seventh day. Some pets may need more or less time and a good sign is if they’re having consistent firm stools. Some pets, mostly younger (lucky!) ones, are able to completely switch over without a transition period, but we've found that taking it slow is what works for the majority. Expect loose stools during this initial transition period and be prepared to take them out more frequently. Slippery elm bark or pumpkin can be added to firm up the bowel movements. Keep in mind that their body is learning how to digest this new type of food. Stick with it and you will soon see results!

Always start with a single protein (chicken, turkey & rabbit are good choices for beginners) and only introduce new proteins once they’ve had no issues with their stool & digestion for a week. New proteins can be introduced in the same way—starting at 25% of their diet—and once you get the hang of it, aim for a rotation of 3-5 proteins.

One last note, raw-fed pets will tend to drink less water since their food now has a much higher water content. This is perfectly normal. 

How Much to Feed 

If you ask your pet, they’ll tell you they need everything in the fridge. Lucky for you, we have some more sensible guidelines:

Pet WeightFeeding Amount
< 10 LB
4-6% of ideal weight
10 - 20 LB2.5 - 3.5% of ideal weight
20+ LB2-3% of ideal weight

As an example, a 50 LB dog eating 2% of its ideal weight will be eating a total of 1 LB/day. These numbers provide a good starting point for most dogs. Don't worry about measuring and feeding an exact amount each day as long as you're hitting the target number over time. In the example here, you know that your dog should eat 2 LB over two days so as long as they finish our 2 LB package in that time, it's all good. As always, each pet is unique and these amounts can and should be adjusted based on their needs. 

What Changes Will I See? 

Overnight, your pet will develop superpowers and learn to fly. Only partially kidding here. Your pet’s health will improve and many of our customers have seen the following changes in their pets:

  • Shinier coat & healthier skin 
  • Better body composition (losing/gaining weight as necessary) 
  • More muscle tone
  • Higher energy levels 
  • Improved dental health 

Many of these changes do take time to materialize but you will see them! Even if your pet previously had no issues, putting them on a raw diet is still going to benefit their long term health and wellness. 

Still have questions? Check out our FAQs for more info on raw feeding practices or reach out to us at info@vivarawpets.com.