welcome to the pawty!


Your Cart is Empty

Whole Prey for Dogs

by Scott Marshall June 18, 2024 12 min read

Whole Prey for Dogs

Whole Prey for dogs often finds itself in the shadows of more conventional pet diets, overshadowed by commercial kibble and canned foods. Yet, it establishes its unique position through a profound mimicry of a dog's ancestral diet, offering unparalleled nutritional richness and variety. This distinctive approach sets Whole Prey apart in the expansive universe of dog nutrition, marking it as a distinct category that champions a return to nature for canine dietary needs.

Key components of a Whole Prey diet include small animals like rodents and birds, as well as larger mammals such as rabbits, each contributing their unique nutritional profiles. Whole Fish is another noteworthy option, providing a lighter yet equally nutritious alternative for dogs. Diving deeper, each element of the Whole Prey diet brings its own set of benefits, from muscle meats providing high-quality protein to bones and organs offering essential minerals and vitamins.

The following sections will delve into these aspects in greater detail, furnishing a comprehensive understanding of why Whole Prey for dogs is celebrated by many as a superior feeding choice, promoting optimal health and vitality.

Table of Contents

What is Whole Prey Feeding?

Whole Prey feeding is a dietary practice for dogs that involves providing them with entire animals for consumption, closely mirroring the natural eating habits of wild canines. This method encompasses feeding dogs with small rodents, poultry, larger mammals like rabbits, and even whole fish, aiming to deliver a balanced and nutrient-rich diet. It emphasizes the inclusion of not just the muscle meat but also bones, organs, and sometimes fur or feathers, to ensure a comprehensive intake of proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

By replicating the diet dogs would have consumed in the wild, Whole Prey feeding supports a range of health benefits, from enhanced dental hygiene to improved digestive function, making it a compelling choice for dog owners seeking a more natural and holistic approach to their pet's nutrition. For example, organs such as liver and kidneys are rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K, nutrients often added synthetically to commercial diets. Whole Prey feeding naturally incorporates these essential vitamins in their most bioavailable forms, alongside minerals like zinc and iron, directly from the source.

Why choose Whole Prey for dogs?

Choosing Whole Prey for dogs offers a multitude of benefits that align closely with their natural dietary needs and instincts. Firstly, it mimics a natural diet, providing a variety of nutrients in their most bioavailable forms. This method promotes dental health for dog's by encouraging chewing, which naturally cleans teeth and strengthens gums.

Additionally, Whole Prey feeding enhances digestive function through the inclusion of raw bones and organs, which contain essential enzymes and nutrients. By feeding dogs a diet that closely resembles what their ancestors would have eaten in the wild, owners can support their pet's overall health, vitality, and well-being, making Whole Prey an excellent choice for those looking to nourish their dogs in a more natural and holistic manner.

Mimics natural diet

Whole Prey for dogs closely replicates the varied and balanced diet their wild counterparts consume. This approach ensures dogs receive a wide range of nutrients in forms their bodies are naturally designed to digest, such as proteins from muscle meat, calcium from bones, and essential vitamins from organs. Comparative data showing health improvements in dogs switched to a Whole Prey diet from a commercial diet, such as enhanced coat condition, higher energy levels, and improved health markers, further underscore its benefits.

Promotes dental health

Feeding Whole Prey encourages dogs to chew thoroughly, which is a natural way to clean teeth and maintain gum health. The act of chewing raw bones and tough muscle meat helps scrape away plaque, reducing the risk of dental diseases. Scientific studies and veterinary opinions support the claim that Whole Prey diets promote dental health by reducing the incidence of dental issues commonly seen in dogs on commercial diets.

Enhances digestive function

A Whole Prey diet includes components like raw bones, fur, and feathers, which provide dietary fiber and aid in digestive health. These elements help stimulate the digestive tract, improve stool quality, and support the overall function of the gastrointestinal system. Case studies or testimonials from dog owners who have observed improved digestive health in their pets after switching to a Whole Prey diet provide practical insights into its effectiveness.

Common animals in Whole Prey diets

Whole Prey diets for dogs typically include a variety of animals to ensure a balanced and nutrient-rich feeding regimen. Small rodents (mostly with cats) such as mice and rats are often used, providing lean protein and essential fats. Poultry, including chickens and quails, offers another source of high-quality protein along with beneficial vitamins and minerals.

For those looking to diversify their dog's diet further, larger mammals like rabbits can be introduced, which contribute additional protein varieties and textural diversity. Each of these animals plays a crucial role in mimicking the natural dietary patterns of wild canines, catering to their instinctual needs and promoting overall health.

Nutritional Breakdown of Common Whole Prey Animals

Animal Type

Protein (%)

Fat (%)

Essential Vitamins

Essential Minerals





B Vitamins, Vitamin D

Calcium, Iron

Complete protein source, high in omega-3 fatty acids




B12, D, E

Phosphorus, Zinc

Rich in B vitamins, good for muscle and nerve function




B3 (Niacin), B6, B12

Selenium, Phosphorus

High in niacin, supports skin health, lean protein




B1, B2, B6, B12

Iron, Zinc

High in iron, supports immune function




B12, E, D

Magnesium, Potassium

Low in fat, high in vitamin D, good for bone health

Poultry: Chickens and quails

Poultry, including chickens and quails, provides dogs with another layer of nutritional diversity. These birds contribute high-quality proteins, essential vitamins, and minerals necessary for a dog's health. Their bones also offer a natural source of calcium and phosphorus, supporting bone health and dental hygiene.

Larger mammals: Rabbits

Incorporating larger mammals like rabbits into a dog's Whole Prey diet introduces a varied protein source that is both rich and lean. Rabbits not only offer a different texture and taste that dogs find appealing but also supply a broad spectrum of nutrients, including high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals that support overall well-being.

Transitioning to a Whole Prey diet

Transitioning your dog to a Whole Prey diet requires careful consideration and a gradual approach to ensure their health and well-being. Here's a step-by-step guide to help your dog adjust to the new textures and nutrients, while closely observing dog's poop and weight changes to gauge how well your dog is adapting to the diet. Consulting a veterinarian before and during the transition is crucial to address any nutritional concerns and to tailor the diet to your dog's specific needs.

This strategic approach helps mitigate potential digestive issues and ensures a smooth transition to a Whole Prey diet, supporting your dog's health and nutritional balance.

Step-by-Step Transition Guide

  1. Consultation with a Experienced Professional: Before starting, consult with an experienced professional that is knowledgeable in raw and Whole Prey diets to ensure it's a suitable choice for your dog's health status and nutritional needs.
  2. Introduction Phase (Week 1-2): Begin by introducing small amounts of Whole Prey items, such as mice or quails, into your dog's current diet. This should constitute no more than 10% of their total dietary intake to minimize digestive upset.
  3. Observation Period (Week 3-4): Gradually increase the proportion of Whole Prey items to about 25% of the diet, closely monitoring your dog's stool consistency, weight, and overall health. Make adjustments as needed based on their reaction.
  4. Transition Phase (Week 5-8): If your dog is adjusting well, continue to gradually replace commercial food with Whole Prey items, aiming for a 50-75% transition during this period. Introduce a variety of prey to ensure a balanced diet, including different types of small rodents, poultry, and larger mammals like rabbits.
  5. Full Transition (Week 9+): By this stage, your dog should be predominantly on a Whole Prey diet. Continue to monitor their health and adjust the variety of prey based on their nutritional needs and preferences.
  6. Ongoing Evaluation: Regularly consult with your veterinarian to monitor your dog's health and make any necessary adjustments to their diet. This includes annual check-ups or more frequent visits if any health concerns arise.

Start with smaller prey items

Initiating the transition to a Whole Prey diet with smaller prey items, such as mice or quails, is advisable. These are easier for dogs to digest and can help them gradually acclimate to the new diet's texture and nutritional profile.

Observe stool and weight changes

Closely monitoring your dog's stool and weight is crucial during the transition. Changes in these areas can provide valuable insights into how well your dog is adapting to the Whole Prey diet, allowing for adjustments as needed.

Consult a veterinarian

Before and throughout the transition to a Whole Prey diet, it's essential to consult with a veterinarian. They can offer guidance, ensure the diet meets your dog's nutritional needs, and address any health concerns that may arise during the transition.

Risks of Whole Prey diets

While Whole Prey diets offer numerous benefits for dogs, they also come with certain risks that pet owners should be aware of. Nutritional imbalances can occur if the diet is not properly varied or if specific nutritional needs of the dog are not met. There's also a risk of choking on bones, especially if the dog is not used to chewing raw bones or if the bones are too small or brittle.

Additionally, the potential for parasite transmission exists, particularly if the prey animals are not sourced from reputable suppliers or if they are not handled and stored properly. It's crucial for dog owners to carefully consider these risks, take preventive measures, and consult with a veterinarian to ensure that a Whole Prey diet is a safe and healthy choice for their pets.

Potential for nutritional imbalances

A Whole Prey diet, while rich in natural nutrients, carries the potential for nutritional imbalances. Without careful planning and variety, dogs may miss out on essential nutrients, leading to health issues over time. To provide a clearer picture, incorporating statistical data or research findings on the frequency and severity of nutritional imbalances in dogs on a Whole Prey diet could help readers gauge the actual risks involved.

For example, studies showing the percentage of dogs developing specific nutrient deficiencies when fed an unbalanced Whole Prey diet would be informative.

Risk of choking on bones

One of the inherent risks of a Whole Prey diet is the risk of choking on bones. This can occur if bones for dogs are too small, too brittle, or if a dog is inexperienced with chewing raw bones, highlighting the need for supervision and appropriate bone selection. Including data on incidents of choking or obstructions caused by bones in dogs on Whole Prey diets, along with expert recommendations for preventing such incidents, would provide valuable insights for concerned pet owners.

Parasite transmission

Parasite transmission is another concern with Whole Prey diets. Dogs can be exposed to parasites present in raw meat if the prey is not properly sourced, handled, and prepared, underscoring the importance of obtaining prey from reputable sources and following safe handling practices.One of the best ways to avoid parasites is to remove the intestines of the animal before feeding it. This is typically where parasites like to live - not to mention the feces that is found in the intestines. 

Sourcing Whole Prey

Sourcing Whole Prey for dogs is a critical step in ensuring the health and safety of the diet. Ethically raised small farms often provide high-quality prey animals that are free from harmful additives and have lived stress-free lives, contributing to their nutritional value. Online specialty pet food suppliers are another reliable source, offering a wide range of Whole Prey options that are specifically tailored for pet consumption, ensuring both variety and convenience.

For those with the skills and knowledge, hunting and home preparation of prey animals can also be a viable option, allowing for the most natural and fresh diet possible. However, it's essential to adhere to local wildlife laws and ethical hunting practices in this case. Each sourcing method has its own set of considerations, but the primary goal remains the same: to obtain clean, safe, and nutritionally complete Whole Prey for the healthiest diet possible.

Detailed Sourcing Recommendations

Source Type



Ethically Raised Farms

Farms that prioritize animal welfare, use no harmful additives, and provide stress-free environments for their animals.

"Green Valley Farms" – Specializes in free-range rodents and rabbits, certified organic.

Online Specialty Pet Food Suppliers

Suppliers that offer a wide range of Whole Prey options, ensuring products are safe and specifically prepared for pets.

"WholePreyDirect.com" – Offers frozen mice, rats, quails, and rabbits, with ethical sourcing certifications.

Hunting and Home Preparation

For those who prefer the freshest option and have the necessary skills, adhering to ethical and legal standards.

Local hunting clubs that offer courses on ethical hunting; guidelines on safe preparation and storage practices.

Ethically raised small farms

Ethically raised small farms are a preferred source for Whole Prey, offering animals that have been reared in stress-free environments without the use of harmful additives. This method ensures the prey is both nutritious and ethically sourced, supporting sustainable farming practices.

Online specialty pet food suppliers

Online specialty pet food suppliers provide a convenient option for sourcing Whole Prey, with a variety of animals available that are specifically prepared for pet consumption. This route offers the advantage of variety and ease of access, ensuring pets receive a balanced diet.

Hunting and home preparation

For those with the skills and knowledge, hunting and home preparation of prey animals represent the most natural way to source Whole Prey. This method allows for control over the diet's freshness and quality, though it requires adherence to local wildlife laws and ethical hunting practices.

Legal and ethical considerations

Adopting a Whole Prey diet for dogs involves navigating a series of legal and ethical considerations to ensure responsible feeding practices. Compliance with local wildlife laws is paramount, particularly for those who choose to hunt and prepare prey animals themselves. It's essential to ensure that all prey is sourced in a manner that respects wildlife populations and adheres to regulations designed to protect natural ecosystems.

To enhance this section, consider incorporating specific examples or guidelines that can provide actionable advice for readers:

  • Examples of Local Wildlife Laws: Many regions have specific regulations regarding the hunting and capturing of wild animals. For instance, in some areas, it may be illegal to trap certain species without a permit, or there may be designated hunting seasons that must be adhered to. Providing examples of such laws, or suggesting resources where readers can find relevant information for their area, would be invaluable.
  • Guidelines for Humane Treatment: Ethical considerations extend to the humane treatment of prey animals. Guidelines could include ensuring quick and humane dispatching methods, avoiding unnecessary suffering, and selecting prey animals that have been raised in conditions that meet or exceed welfare standards.

Furthermore, the humane treatment of prey animals is a critical ethical concern; sourcing from farms that raise animals ethically and in stress-free environments is crucial. Guidelines on how to verify the ethical standards of suppliers, such as looking for certifications (e.g., Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved), could provide readers with practical steps to ensure they are supporting ethical practices. Lastly, supporting sustainable farming practices plays a significant role in the ethical sourcing of Whole Prey, contributing to the health of the planet and its inhabitants.

Suggestions for identifying and supporting sustainable practices might include choosing suppliers who prioritize biodiversity, soil health, and water conservation, and who avoid the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers. By carefully considering these aspects, dog owners can provide a Whole Prey diet that is not only beneficial for their pets but also aligns with broader environmental and ethical standards.

Compliance with local wildlife laws

Compliance with local wildlife laws is essential when sourcing Whole Prey, especially for those engaging in hunting. Adhering to these laws ensures that the practice contributes positively to ecological balance and respects the legal boundaries set for wildlife protection. Providing a link to a government website or a reputable resource where readers can find specific laws applicable to their location would be helpful.

Ensuring humane treatment of prey animals

The humane treatment of prey animals is a cornerstone of ethical Whole Prey diets. This involves sourcing from suppliers who raise animals in stress-free environments and ensure their well-being throughout their lives, reflecting a commitment to animal welfare. Offering a checklist or criteria for assessing the humane treatment of animals by suppliers could empower readers to make informed choices.

Supporting sustainable farming practices

Supporting sustainable farming practices is vital in the sourcing of Whole Prey. By choosing suppliers who engage in environmentally friendly and sustainable methods, dog owners can contribute to the health of the planet while providing nutritious diets for their pets. Suggestions for recognizing sustainable practices, such as looking for organic certification or evidence of regenerative farming techniques, would provide readers with concrete steps to take.

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