welcome to the pawty!


Your Cart is Empty

How much raw food should your dog eat?

by Scott Marshall March 16, 2024 6 min read

How much raw food should your dog eat?

How much raw food should your dog eat?

Transitioning your dog to a raw food diet is like rediscovering their natural diet, promising a host of health benefits. This guide navigates the intricacies of raw feeding, offering a clear roadmap to accurately gauge the appropriate raw food portions tailored to your dog's unique needs. 

Whether you're contemplating the shift to a raw diet for a puppy or aiming to enhance the diet of an adult dog, this blog aims to provide you with the necessary insights to optimize the beginning of your dog's health through the benefits of raw nutrition.

What is raw feeding for dogs?

Raw feeding, or the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet, focuses on raw, unprocessed foods. This approach is grounded in the belief that dogs thrive on a diet closely resembling that of their wild counterparts, which includes raw muscle meat, edible bones, organ meats, and a carefully selected mix of fruits and vegetables

The essence of raw feeding lies in its commitment to natural eating practices and nutritional integrity, steering away from processed pet foods to embrace the full spectrum of nutrients available in unprocessed ingredients. 

This dietary choice is designed to align with the physiological needs of dogs. 

Why choose raw feeding?

Choosing raw feeding for dogs is a decision rooted in the desire to closely align with their ancestral dietary patterns.

Natural Diet Benefits

Embracing a raw feeding approach unlocks a spectrum of natural diet benefits for dogs. This diet, rich in unprocessed, whole foods, mirrors the nutritional intake of their wild ancestors.

It is abundant in essential nutrients, enzymes, and phytonutrients that are typically diminished through cooking. Offering a variety of raw meats, bones, organ meats, and carefully selected fruits, vegetables and supplementation where required ensures dogs receive a nutrient balanced diet. 

Such a diet is pivotal in promoting enhanced digestive health and optimal nutrient absorption, fostering a strong immune system and setting the stage for a thriving, healthy life.

Potential Health Improvements

The shift to a raw diet can manifest in significant potential health improvements for dogs. Owners often observe a shinier coat, healthier skin, and a notable decrease in allergy symptoms, thanks to the superior nutrition raw foods provide. 

The diet's focus on lean proteins and natural fats supports effective weight management and muscle development. Moreover, dogs benefiting from a raw diet typically exhibit cleaner teeth and fresher breath, attributed to the natural abrasive action of chewing raw bones. 

These health benefits not only increase the dog's life quality but also contribute to fewer veterinary visits.

Calculating raw food amount

Determining the correct raw food amount is pivotal in ensuring your dog receives balanced nutrition. The foundation for calculating the ideal portion size starts with the dog's weight

A common guideline suggests feeding about 2% to 3% of the dog's body weight each day, split into one or two meals. However, this ratio may need adjustment based on the dog's activity level, age, and metabolic rate. 

More active dogs or those with higher metabolic demands might require a larger share, around 3% to 4%, whereas less active canines could benefit from a slightly reduced percentage.

For puppies, the nutritional demands are even greater to support their rapid growth. They may need up to 10% of their body weight in raw food daily, spread over several meals to suit their developing digestive systems. This percentage gradually decreases, transitioning to adult proportions as they approach full maturity. Though, the best option for puppies is a balanced, premade raw food or a customized diet tailored to their needs. Percentage based diets often fall short on meeting all nutrient requirements, particularly with puppies.

Adjusting the amount of raw food is an ongoing process that should adapt to your dog's evolving health, weight, and activity needs. 

Raw feeding frequency

The raw feeding frequency is carefully adjusted based on the dog's life stage, ensuring they receive the right balance of nutrients for their age and energy levels.

Puppies Feeding Schedule

For puppies, achieving a balanced diet means spreading their daily portion of raw food into three to four meals. This frequency caters to their smaller stomach capacities and fulfills their intense nutritional needs during the critical growth stages. 

It ensures a constant supply of energy and essential nutrients, facilitating optimal development and health.

Adults Feeding Schedule

In contrast, adult dogs benefit from a more streamlined feeding routine, ideally one to two meals per day. This schedule is better suited to their matured physiological state, accounting for their stable growth demands and moderated energy consumption. 

Adapting to a reduced feeding frequency helps in regulating their metabolism, supporting weight management, and maintaining overall health as they continue to age.

Types of raw food for dogs

The raw food diet for dogs is a rich tapestry of whole food elements, carefully selected to cater to their nutritional needs. 

Muscle Meat

Muscle meat serves as the foundation of a raw diet, rich in high-quality proteins and essential amino acids necessary for muscle health and repair. Common sources include beef, chicken, and turkey, which are integral for a dog's nutritional needs.

Edible Bones

Edible bones provide critical calcium and phosphorus, supporting strong bones and dental health. These bones, often served with meat attached, play a dual role in dental hygiene and digestive stimulation.

Organ Meats

Organ meats such as the heart and lungs are packed with vitamins and minerals, offering a concentrated source of B vitamins, iron, and manganese for energy metabolism and antioxidant defense.


A standout among organ meats, the liver is a nutritional powerhouse, abundant in vitamins A, D, and E, and rich in minerals like zinc and copper, essential for various bodily functions.


Kidneys complement the liver with their wealth of B vitamins and selenium, a mineral key to immune function and thyroid health, underscoring their importance in a balanced raw diet.

Fruits and Vegetables

Incorporating a mix of fruits and vegetables ensures a diet rich in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, aiding digestion and bolstering health. Choices like carrots, apples, and pumpkin are favorites.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, including spinach and kale, are prized for their fiber and antioxidant content, promoting digestive health and offering anti-inflammatory benefits.


Berries such as blueberries and raspberries are renowned for their antioxidant capabilities, crucial for combating free radicals and supporting heart health.

Transitioning to raw food

Transitioning your dog to a raw food diet necessitates a careful and gradual introduction of raw elements into their existing meals. For information, please see our How To Feed Raw For The First Time free guide.

Gradual Introduction

The key to a successful transition to a raw food diet lies in a gradual introduction. 

Start by slowly mixing raw food elements with your dog's current diet, increasing the raw proportion over time. This method helps in minimizing the risk of digestive discomfort. 

A thoughtful, phased approach ensures a smoother dietary shift, allowing better acceptance and adaptation to raw feeding.

Monitoring Dog's Reaction

An essential aspect of transitioning to raw food is monitoring your dog's reaction closely. Observe any changes in energy levels, coat appearance and digestive health. 

Negative reactions may necessitate dietary adjustments to identify and eliminate the problematic raw food items. 

This monitoring is important for customizing the diet to your dog's specific health needs, ensuring the transition enhances their well-being.

Sourcing quality raw food

Securing high-quality raw food for your dog means finding reputable sources that offer fresh ingredients. 

  • Local butchers 

Stand out as a prime source for fresh, premium raw meats tailored for your dog's raw diet. They offer a diverse selection, including various cuts, organ meats, and bones, enabling a tailored approach to raw feeding.

  • Specialized pet stores 

Offer a convenient avenue for procuring quality raw food. These establishments typically feature an assortment of pre-packaged raw diets, meticulously formulated to fulfill dogs' nutritional requirements. 

  • Online suppliers 

Have significantly simplified the process of obtaining high-quality raw dog food. These digital platforms boast a wide selection of ethically sourced raw food products, delivered straight to your home. When selecting an online supplier, thorough vetting of their reputation, ethical sourcing standards, and customer feedback is crucial to ensure the nutritional integrity and safety of the raw food you choose for your dog's diet.

The Takeaway

Feeding your dog a raw diet has its pros and cons, but it definitely promotes a healthier life for your canine friend. If followed through correctly, it is definitely worth it. 


The information on Raw Feeding 101’s website and other media outlets is designed ONLY for educational and informational purposes. It is essential that you understand the statements and information provided on this website and its other outlets do not aim to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any diseases or illnesses. Raw Feeding 101 strongly insists that you consult with your veterinarian to discuss your dog's medical care thoroughly.

Scott Marshall
Scott Marshall

Scott has been feeding a raw dog food diet for over 13 years. He lives in Utah with his wife Arianne, his 11.5 year old german shepherd Wolken, and his 2.5 year old labradoodle Montu. Scott has been teaching others about raw feeding since 2013, started Raw Feeding 101 in 2017, and has been solely focused on simplifying the process of pet parents meeting their dogs’ daily nutrient requirements since 2018.

Also in Dog Nutrition

Can dogs eat kale?
Can dogs eat kale?

by Scott Marshall June 23, 2024 10 min read

Read More
Can dogs eat ham?
Can dogs eat ham?

by Scott Marshall June 21, 2024 9 min read

Read More
Impact of Raw Feeding on dogs dental health
Impact of Raw Feeding on dogs dental health

by Scott Marshall June 19, 2024 11 min read

Read More