Raw food provides a high-quality protein, low-carbohydrate food that can bolster your dog or cat’s overall health. But it does cost more than some kibbles, so many households look for ways to save on the increased cost of raw food.
What we’ve learned after decades of feeding raw to our own pets is raw food can be economical if you’re willing to choose carefully. To find out more about what Muddies often recommend to customers looking to cut their raw food costs, we talked with Shoreline Store Lead Kelsey Deans. Kelsey feeds her dog a partially raw diet and likes to share the cost-saving tips she’s discovered from feeding her own animals.
MB: What is one of your best tips for people who want to feed raw on a budget?
KD: People sometimes see bags of freeze-dried raw food and think that it’s beyond their budget. But it’s important to know that freeze-dried raw food is nutritionally very dense, so you’ll be able to feed less. And if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of convenience, our raw frozen food is a lot less expensive per ounce and doesn’t need added moisture before serving.
We carry a variety of brands at different price points. However, each food may or may not make sense for your individual animal, so we recommend coming into a Mud Bay and talking to a Muddy. We’re more than happy to discuss what you can do to keep costs low.
MB: Years ago, people said your dog or cat should only eat either raw or cooked food. But now we know dogs and cats can eat a mixture of the two foods, which is a great way to keep raw food cost effective. What do you recommend for people who want to combine two different food types?
KD: If you want most of the health benefits of feeding raw food, we recommend feeding at least 50 percent. For dogs, that can be a very easy transition to make. For example, with my own dog, I feed her half kibble and half raw. It’s a cost-effective way of meeting her nutritional needs.
For people with very big dogs or people on a strict budget, we like to encourage them to consider just 25 percent raw food. Your dog will get a lot of benefits of eating raw food, but you’ll be able to minimize the cost difference.
For cats, we strongly encourage people to use at least 50 percent raw food. Cat’s need the extra water in their diet because they don’t drink enough water naturally. Eating at least 50 percent raw helps protect their kidneys and prevents overall dehydration. Of course, some cats don’t like the texture of raw food, so for those few cats, we strongly recommend at least 50 percent wet food. If that doesn’t fit your budget, 25 percent will also help your cat’s overall health.
However, people should embrace whatever amount of raw food fits into their budget. Even a topper of 10 percent raw food gives your dog or cat valuable high-quality protein. We support adding high-quality protein and moisture-rich foods into your dog or cat’s diet in whatever amount fits your budget.
MB: What are other ways to save when feeding raw food?
KD: A big way to save is to feed less food. It sounds really obvious, but many pets are overweight. And owners think that if you feed a cup of one type of food, you should feed your dog or cat a cup of this other type of food. But feeding should come down to calorie counts.
We have a feeding calculator at Mud Bay that will calculate exactly how much you should feed your dog or cat based on the food you want to feed and your animal’s characteristics.
And what you’ll quickly see when you switch is the amount of food you feed changes depending on the food form and type. If you feed kibble to your dog and then switch to a freeze-dried raw food, you’re going to feed approximately a third less of that freeze-dried raw food.
It’s important to remember that switching between any two foods is never going to be a simple switch. We’ll calculate how much raw food you should feed when you buy that food. We’re also happy to make those calculations for several different foods at several different price points, so you know the exact daily cost to feed your dog or cat. ***
Store Lead Kelsey Deans is a three-year Muddy who works at Shoreline, so come say hello if you’d like to learn more about raw food. When she’s not at work, she’s spending time with her surprisingly friendly seven-year-old Shiba Inu, Sushi.
This post is part of our Just Add Water campaign, which talks about the health benefits of adding moisture-rich foods to your dog or cat’s diet. Both species can significantly benefit from eating wet, raw or other moisture-rich foods in addition to kibble. To learn more about the benefits of moisture in your dog or cat’s diet, talk to a Muddy in one of our stores.