an illustration of a dog, wearing glasses, reading a book titled "Beginner's guide to raw food for dogs"

What is raw dog food?

Raw feeding for dogs is not new, in fact, it’s their natural diet that they would be consuming if they were still living in the wild. Wild animals do not have access to kitchens, nor do they have a need for cooked or processed foods. Raw feeding for dogs is their species appropriate diet, just as nature intended for them.

Why is raw food beneficial for dogs?

As raw feeding is the most natural option for dogs, it makes sense that this style of feeding will be full of health benefits for them. So, why is raw dog food better for your doggo?  

Some of the benefits of raw feeding are:

an icon representing a strong immune system

A stronger immune system

Providing complete and balanced nutrition with fresh meat, vegetables and superfoods is essential to support our dogs’ immune systems. Highly processed foods may cause inflammation which can negatively impact our pets’ immune function.

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Superior joint and bone health

There is no better way to support bones than with bones! Crushed real bone is a natural source of calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen and marrow.

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Improved skin and softer, shinier coat

Naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids play a large role in supporting healthy skin and a soft coat as well as providing anti-inflammatory benefits, perfect for dogs with allergies or inflammatory skin diseases.

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Superior dental health

Crushed raw bone is a great source of high-quality and absorbable calcium for our pets. Calcium is the building block for our pets’ teeth and bones and is of critical importance in healthy growth and development especially in young animals.

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Reduced stool volume and odour

A positive effect of having a diet made up of highly digestible ingredients for your pet is that more of what goes in is absorbed and utilised so less comes out the other end.

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Enhanced reproductive health

In a 2009 study, Big Dog Pet Foods worked with the Queensland Guide Dogs to examine the impacts of a 100% raw food diet on their colony numbers. During this time Guide Dogs Australia reported an increased number of dogs per litter, healthier pups and parents.

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Reduced body odour

While there hasn’t yet been any formal clinical research done on diet and odour, at Big Dog Pet Foods, we receive this feedback regularly from our customers and the raw feeding community at large.

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Increased cognitive ability

There is a lot of research to support the link between the gut microbiome and the brain. A diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants has been shown to assist brain function, mental health, mood, and behaviour.

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Decreased incidence of obesity

A raw, species appropriate diet is high in protein and low in carbohydrates which is beneficial in the prevention of chronic diseases such as obesity.

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Lower incidence of digestive problems

Several studies have evaluated the impact of meat-based raw food diets versus extruded kibble diets on the gut microbiome of dogs and found that the more natural raw food diets promoted a more diverse and abundant microbiome and healthy gut function.

an icon representing Improved cardiovascular health

Improved cardiovascular health

Species appropriate diets are rich in raw meat and offal which are high quality sources of important amino acids including taurine for heart health. Meat in its raw state is naturally higher in this important amino acid than cooked meat products and plant sources of protein.

an icon representing Reduced incidence of disease and degenerative disorders

Reduced incidence of disease and degenerative disorders

It is well established that eating food as close to its natural form as possible is by far our best bet for improving health and preventing chronic inflammation from taking hold and giving our pets’ the best chance at a long and happy life.

In early 2023, we surveyed Big Dog Pet Foods’ customers, and these were some of the results they experienced after switching their dog to a raw food diet:

2023 customer survey findings - 85% said they noticed better stools - 80% said they noticed their dog had a healthier coat - over 70% said their dog reached a healthy weight
Narelle Cooke - Canine Nutritionist
an image link to blog article titled "Raw Feeding Rundown with Animal Nutritionist" by Narelle Cooke

One of Australia’s most popular Canine Nutritionist’s, Narelle Cooke, gives her rundown on raw feeding and the health benefits here if you’d like to read further.

What makes up a raw food diet for dogs?

There are different ratios that you can use but the most popular is the BARF method. BARF is an acronym and stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. There are some slight variations with the ratios but the guideline we use here at Big Dog Pet Foods is:

diagram of the BARF model - 70% muscle meat, 10% secreting organs/offal, 10% crushed real bone, 10% plant mattera
what is BARF?
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BARF is just one of many unique pet food terms, if you’d like to see more you can check out this guide here.

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At Big Dog Pet Foods, we use minimal processing to provide maximum nutrition, so all of the nutrients in our food are naturally occurring in all the fresh produce that we use. We believe this is the best way for pets to receive the nutrition that they need to thrive. There may be times when supplementation is required (eg to support them with a health condition) however, for most dogs a BARF diet will provide all the fundamental nutrients they require.  

a thumbnail for a blog titled "Complete and Balanced and Raw Food feeding" by Narelle Cooke

Some pet food manufacturers may choose to add a synthetic vitamin and mineral mix to their food so that they can meet AAFCO standards (AAFCO stands for the Association of American Feed Control Officials) and state that their foods are ‘Complete and Balanced’. The AAFCO nutrient guidelines were originally developed for use with highly processed commercial pet food products such as kibbles and canned foods that require the addition of synthetic nutrients back into the food to ensure that they meet a nutritional standard.  

You can read more about the AAFCO guidelines by clicking here.

Complete and Balanced Naturally

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We believe that nature gets it right and that feeding your dog a varied diet is the best way to provide them with a complete and balanced diet. Imagine your dog in the wild (if you have a goofball for a dog this will probably be a humorous activity, but stick with us) they would be eating variety – they wouldn’t eat the same prey every day. Providing them with a varied diet also gives them enjoyment at meal times (imagine eating the same dry biscuits every day).  

Most of the recipes at Big Dog Pet Foods are Mixed Protein Recipes, which means they will be made up of more than one protein source to provide nutritional (and flavour) variety.  

Is raw food safe?

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Yes, raw food is safe for you and your pet, but like all safe food practices you need to practice hygiene and use quality ingredients. Always wash your hands and utensils after serving raw food to your dog.

a thumbnail for a blog titled "bacteria and raw pet food"

The whole world is made up of bacteria so, naturally, there will be some in raw food. Just like the meat your buy at the supermarket. At Big Dog Pet Foods, we use fresh and carefully sourced ingredients from the human supply chain and our QA team conduct regular testing to ensure any bacteria is minimal and at a safe level for your dogs. If bacteria is a concern for you, we recommend that you read our article about our Quality practices that ensure food safety. We also have an interesting article on bacteria and raw food that you may find helpful. It’s also important to note that we have been producing raw food diets for pets since the year 2000 with no product recalls and thousands of glowing comments and reviews from pet parents.

How will my dog react to a raw food diet?

a thumbnail for a blog titled "how to transition your dog to raw food easily"

To ensure that your dog has a good transition experience is to introduce them to their new diet slowly over a period of about two weeks, just slowly swap out their current food for their new raw food. This will help to minimise digestive upsets that come with a sudden change of food and will also help fussy dogs adjust to the change. If your dog has a particularly sensitive tummy or you’re transitioning to our natural diets to boost their immunity, then we recommend that you also use our Probiotic.  

Now go, feed fresh, and enjoy the wonderful benefits of raw feeding for you and your dog!

Further Resources