Learn To Raw Feed

An Introduction to Raw Feeding

Welcome! Scroll to read or click to navigate

This guide best read while going through the Fall Course. Click here to go to the Fall Course

Table of Contents

Raw Feeding 101

Introduction

A brief guide that scratches the surface for the average dog (adult, healthy) owner in diet formulation. NOT to replace the help of professionals! Disclaimer: Nutritional numbers are only one part of the picture. Ingredient sourcing, quality, unique dog and cat needs etc are just some of the other factors in feeding your dog and cat.

ADULT HEALTHY ANIMALS ONLY

Why feed a raw diet? We won’t fix what isn’t broken, so we will link to one of our favorite blog posts of all time: The Science of Raw Pet Food.

Why use nutrient guidelines over ratios? Read more here (FAQ) and here.

Unless indicated, this guide was written by the group owner, Savannah Welna:

SAVANNAH WELNA, Cert. ACN, Cert. ACF

Savannah Welna created the group after being inspired by professionals in the field and a recognized need for raw feeding groups based on nutrition science. She wants you to know that it is through the encouragement of many others that RFN was created in the first place. Savannah highly values the entire admin team and the wonderful members who make RFN the fantastic resource that is is.

Savannah recognizes that meat, bones, and organs build the foundation for many healthy animals. She heavily values the use of traditional whole foods.

 

N

Southern Illinois University Canine & Feline Nutrition

Certificate Canine and Feline Nutrition including hands-on clinical formulations.

N

Advanced Canine Nutrition (Cert. ACN)

Certificate Advanced Canine Nutrition- Companion Animal Sciences Institute (Includes Cert. CN)

N

Advanced Canine Fitness (Cert. ACF)

Certificate Advanced Canine Fitness- Companion Animal Sciences Institute (Includes Cert. CF)

Foundations in Herbal Medicine

Foundations in Herbal Medicine- Medicine Lodge Ranch with Dr. Low Dog

See More
  • Organic Chemistry Helena College
  • Biochemistry Helena College
  • Associate of Arts Montana State University
  • Canine Studies (Oxford Learning College)
  • Canine Anatomy and Physiology (Etraining for Dogs)
  • Canine Aanatomy and Physiology (Canine Principles)

Step 1

Get Familiar with nutrients

Energy & Nutrients

Whether you have been feeding ratio diets, winging it, or are brand new to raw feeding, extremely basic nutritional knowledge is needed. Let’s start with the basics of the basics: Energy

“With the exception of water, energy is the most critical component that must be considered in a diet.”

“Once energy needs are met, nutrients become available for metabolic functions.”

 Canine and Feline Nutrition

Energy is measured in food by calories. If you have looked at a nutrition label, this is not new. Current home feeders can analyze the calories in the food they are using by using a free tool such as nutrition data.

You can also check out Cronometer. But be careful- some food is crowd sourced information.

Some parts raw feeders use are not in the database. Do the best you can. Nutrition information on raw meaty bones are in the group albums.

If you already know how many calories your dog is eating and that is working, then congrats on hitting step one. If you are unsure how many calories you are feeding, commercial feeders can refer to their current dog food. Metabolizable energy (ME) is what you are looking for.

Estimate Calories dogs

The best way to determine how many calories your pet needs to is analyze how many calories they have been eating.

Just because a calculator says your pet needs, say, 1200 but your pet does better with 1300 kcal, doesn’t mean you should feed 1200 kcal. 

If your pet has been eating far below the lowest estimate of the calculator, you may consider checking for health conditions.

Most people overestimate their pet’s caloric needs. What may be active for us often isn’t for dogs, who are natural born athletes.

Pick a number: 90-130

Picking a higher number will result in a higher caloric goal. Other factors that influence the number you pick: 

Overall activity level
Age
Altered
Lifestage (though this roadmap is for adult healthy dogs)
Environement (Very cold temps for example mean the larger needs for energy)
Observation from previous caloric intake

LEARN HOW THIS WORKS AND DO IT YOURSELF

Briefly, the calculation works as described by The Possible Canine

“Just take your dogs weight in kgs to the power of 0.75, and you have the Metabolic Weight. (MW from here on in). Using that number, you multiply by as little as 90 (geriatric and sedentary dogs) or as high as 130 for adult active, well muscled dogs. Often, we find that somewhere in the middle works (say, 115). Now –  if you have taken the time to figure out approximately how much you’re currently feeding, then let that figure guide you as you work with the numbers. Calculating energy needs is not as exact as say, supplementing vitamins and minerals, because there is so much metabolic variability. But in answer to the question “how much to feed”? You would feed the amount that maintains your dog at her best weight, and that is best ascertained by assessing her caloric needs.”

All this adult healthy dog calorie calculator does is take your dog’s weight in KG, raise that number to the power of .75 and then multiplies that by the value of your choosing. 90 on the lowest end to 130 on the highest end.

Many factors contribute to a pet’s caloric needs. Always adjust accordingly.

Estimate Calories cATS

Domestic cats overall have somewhat similar body weight when mature. Sometimes, because of the similar body weights, cat’s caloric needs are expressed linear. However, it was learned that this may provide too many calories for large cats. Recent studies show that metabolic weight provides accurate energy intake, just as it does dogs. (Canine and Feline Nutrition)

You should be made aware of the formulas calculators are using- and where the information came from.

The best way to know how many calories your pet needs is by calculating how many calories they are already consuming.

The following came from Canine and Feline Nutrition and can also be cross checked with NRC Nutrient Requirements of Cats and Dogs.

The equation is:
100 x kg^.67 = Kcal/Day

Many factors contribute to a pet’s caloric needs. Always adjust accordingly.

Get to Know Nutrients

Dogs (and cats) require protein. More specifically, dogs require amino acids. Dogs require fat, but more specifically dog’s require fatty acids. Dogs require vitamins and dog’s require minerals. It is important to differentiate that nutrients are different than ingredients. 80/20 Ground beef, for example, contains a different nutritional profile than ground turkey. This step will be one of the longest steps. The effort you put in will directly affect the rewards you get out. We need to study the nutrients in food, rather than just the ingredients (ingredients come later).

Liver is an ingredient

Vitamin A is a nutrient

Photo: Linus Pauling Institute. Click photo to learn more.

Spend Minimum 1 week

Unit 1 Homework

1. Do your own personal homework and ask questions in the Facebook group. For the following define what they are, research food sources they are found in, and just get a brief and general taste for nutrients. The fall course is a slower moving, free course that is linked.

Resources for this question:

Vitamin and Mineral Cards

The Fall Course

Fall Course Highly Recommended 

Fiber by Better Cells Nutrition

Optional Books But Will Help You Now and In The Future: 

Canine and Feline Nutrition

Small Animal Clinical Nutrition FREE (Very technical for beginners)

This step should take a while and is the longest step:

FAT (ALSO FIND HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN ONE GRAM)

FATTY ACID

SATURATED FATTY ACIDS

POLYUNSATURATED FATTY ACIDS

ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS

PROTEIN (ALSO FIND HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN ONE GRAM)

AMINO ACID

ESSENTIAL AMINO ACIDS

CARBOHYDRATE (ALSO FIND HOW MANY CALORIES ARE IN ONE GRAM)
FIBER

SOLUBLE FIBER

INSOLUBLE FIBER

FERMENTABLE FIBER

 

2. Investigate and figure out how many calories your pet is eating or figure out a caloric goal for your pet.

Homework help welcomed in the Facebook Group!

 

Step 2

How Much of Each Nutrient Does My Pet Need?

Nutrient Needs For Adult Cats and Dogs

Now that you have taken the time to do some research, you may be left wondering how to figure out how much of each nutrient your dog or cat needs. The National Research Council (NRC) has outlined how much of each nutrient dogs need based on lifestage. For puppy nutrition, we advise working with a professional such as Cat Lane or Plear Littlefield.

This section will take less than one hour!

The NRC has provided nutrient requirements for cats per 1000/kcal. That means they have defined how many nutrients are needed within the amount of calories being consumed. Don’t worry, we have a handy calculator that we will share in this section.

The NRC has provided nutrient requirements for dogs per 1000/kcal and also per metabolic weight. Your adult dog’s metabolic weight is your dog’s weight in kilograms to the powder of 0.75. This number, the metabolic weight, can be multiplied by each number in this chart. Don’t worry, we have also built a calculator for you. What is the difference between nutrients per 1000 kcal or on a metabolic weight basis? The topic is a bit complex for a starter’s guide, but if your dog is not very active, metabolic weight ensures that they get all the nutrients for their size. If your dog is eating low calories (and many truly are), then using nutrients per 1000 kcal can yield lower nutrient intake goals. Therefore, we have provided you with a calculator where you can email yourself with your dog’s nutrient requirements! If for some reason you would rather use nutrients per 1000 kcal, click here.

The NRC is the National Research Council and the original document, Nutrient Requirements of Cats and Dogs, can be found here.

We have also found the requirements for free online and have put it into this document here (dogs only).

Dogs and cats per 1000 kcal can be found here.

You will need your pet’s weight in kilograms, not pounds. We have provided you with a handy conversion tool.

Be sure to check your spam when using the calculators below if you don’t see it in your email.

 

 

Email My Requirements!
Email My Requirements!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why don’t the calculators have minimum requirements?

You can grab the minimum requirements from the the links in the first paragraphs in this section.

2. I see there are only some safe upper limits defined… are all other ones safe at high levels?

No. Nutrients interact and safe upper limits were only sometimes defined for some nutrients. Fear not, posting your recipes in the facebook group will provide you with helpful feedback. As you formulate more, you will get more comfortable with this process.

3. Safe upper limit, recommended allowance, minimum requirement…what does it all mean?

“A nutrient’s minimum requirement represents the minimal concentration of a bioavailable nutrient that is needed as supported by published data. Conversely, adequate intake is presented as the amount of the nutrient that is presumed to support life when no minimum requirement has been established for the species or life stage. Therefore one of these two requirement recommendations (but not both) is provided for each species, nutrient, and life stage. The third measure, recommended allowance, represents the amount of a nutrient present in food that supports the relevant life stage. The recommended allowance includes a factor to account for nutrient bioavailability and is calculated from either the nutrient’s minimum requirement or adequate intake value. The final recommendation is safe upper limit, which represents the maximum concentration of a nutrient that has not been associated with adverse effects (when data are available).”

Canine and Feline Nutrition

It is important to note that the RA is NOT the minimum requirements for dogs and cats! This is incorrectly stated in various places in FB groups and websites.

4. What about FEDIAF?
Here you are! And also please read this if it interests you.

Step 3

Analyzing Recipes and New Recipe Formulation

Recipe Formulation

There are many methods for diet formulation. These include pen and paper, cronometer, Pet Diet Designer, and spreadsheets.

Formulation

The actual part of formulation can be a bit of an art and a skill that takes time. The Fall Course (will or does depending n when you read this), goes into much depth about recipe formulation.

General guidelines

  1. Determine what main protein sources you want to use. Beef? Chicken? Don’t try, unless you really want to, to include 4+ protein sources that many raw groups say you need to have in one meal. Instead, provide variety by rotating out recipes. We don’t need to rely on variety every single day in the bowl. There is nothing ancestral about that (if that is what you are worried about).
  2. Determine the type of cut. Need a lot of energy? Fattier cuts may be suitable. Need less energy? Stick to leaner cuts.
  3. Where will you source your essential fatty acids? If you have not enrolled in the fall course, please at the minimum read the fatty acid units. Will you use fresh fish for this recipe? Or will this be a fish-less recipe and you will use a fish oil. Perhaps your dog cannot have marine lipids and you have to work with plant based oils.
  4. Optional (but often very beneficial): Select a digestible carbohydrate.
  5. Select fiber sources. You may refer to The Better Cell’s article above about fiber.
  6. Common mistakes include not tinkering with ingredients enough or feeling bound to 80/10/10 guidelines. As a result, people start adding many ingredients to a recipe. See how ingredients affect your recipe!
  7. Try to meet nutrient requirements with primarily animal based foods- especially most minerals. 
  8. When you are limited by food allergies, intolerances, sourcing, or calories, you can definitely consider a supplement. The DSM link above is useful for that and so is posting in the group.
  9. Is the whole food more appropriate than the supplement? Often times, people new to NRC will try to meet things like Vitamin E or Manganese with inappropriate sources such as high amounts of ginger or large amounts of seeds. Others have claimed that brain will meet vitamin E needs. Most are well-meaning, and just want to meet nutrients with whole foods (which we applaud). However, the properties of the ingredient are important. Again, posting in the group will provide you with valuable feedback.
  10. Post your recipe in the group, correctly.

What is PMR+?

PMR+ is a style of ratio feeding. Alone, PMR is not nutritionally adequate or balanced. That is where the “+” comes in. PMR by itself is 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% other secreting organ. + are the other ingredients or supplements to fill in the gaps- such as manganese, vitamin E, digestible carbohydrates, oily fish, eggs, tripe, non-secreting organs like heart,  etc. PMR+ means utilizing ratios as a base and balancing nutrients that can be balanced over time. Therefore, one needs the same knowledge for regular NRC feeding. NRC feeding can encompass many different styles of feeding- incluidng PMR+ and BARF. PMR+ means providng water solubles daily, but balancing mineral needs and fat solubles over time- as just one example. There is no scientific evidence that one method of feeding is better than the other. PMR+ is still based on the utilization of NRC nutrient requirements.

To form a basic PMR diet, you often will feed 1.5-2.5% of your dog’s weight. Let’s say we have a 40 lb dog who is eating 2.5% of her weight. That would be 1 lb a day- 0.025 X 40 lb = 1 lb.

The break down of this one pound would be:

 

%

Muscle Meat

lb muscle meat| 12.8 oz

%

Bone

lb bone | 1.6 oz

%

Liver

lb liver| 0.8 oz

%

Other Secreting Organ

lb liver| 0.8 oz

General Guidelines

Determine what main protein sources you want to use. Beef? Chicken? Don’t try, unless you really want to, to include 4+ protein sources that many raw groups say you need to have in one meal. Instead, provide variety by rotating out recipes. We don’t need to rely on variety every single day in the bowl. There is nothing ancestral about that (if that is what you are worried about).

  1. Determine the type of cut. Need a lot of energy? Fattier cuts may be suitable. Need less energy? Stick to leaner cuts.
  2. Where will you source your essential fatty acids? If you have not enrolled in the fall course, please at the minimum read the fatty acid units. Will you use fresh fish for this recipe? Or will this be a fish-less recipe and you will use a fish oil. Perhaps your dog cannot have marine lipids and you have to work with plant based oils.
  3. Optional (but often very beneficial): Select a digestible carbohydrate.
  4. Select fiber sources. You may refer to The Better Cell’s article above about fiber.
  5. Common mistakes include not tinkering with ingredients enough or feeling bound to 80/10/10 guidelines. As a result, people start adding many ingredients to a recipe. See how ingredients affect your recipe!
  6. Try to meet nutrient requirements with primarily animal based foods- especially most minerals. 
  7. When you are limited by food allergies, intolerances, sourcing, or calories, you can definitely consider a supplement. The DSM link above is useful for that and so is posting in the group.
  8. Is the whole food more appropriate than the supplement? Often times, people new to NRC will try to meet things like Vitamin E or Manganese with inappropriate sources such as high amounts of ginger or large amounts of seeds. Others have claimed that brain will meet vitamin E needs. Most are well-meaning, and just want to meet nutrients with whole foods (which we applaud). However, the properties of the ingredient are important. Again, posting in the group will provide you with valuable feedback.
  9. Post your recipe in the group, correctly.

Tools

There are many free and paid for tools. The following is from Unit 9 in the Fall Course

Contrary to popular belief, excel is not the only option for balancing recipes. Here are some options, pros and cons. Click the titles to learn more or access the tool.

Official Raw Fed & Nerdy Formulation Sheet

Price: $20 USD
Subscription: No
OS:  Browser based- If you can run Google Drive (Sheets) you can run this
Cloud Based: Yes
Nutrient Guidelines: NRC Nutrients per Metabolic Weight, FEDIAF, AAFCO
Pets: Dogs and Cats
User Friendly: 5/5
Customer Support: 5/5
**Includes the nutrient analysis of raw meaty bones**

This review is biased because Raw Fed & Nerdy sells this sheet.

This has been created by member Jenny Ryoo. This sheet was in response to the poor user interface of Pet Diet Designer (see next review).
Adult dogs and cats only.

Pros
$20 one time allows for updates- future updates possibly to include FEDIAF and AAFCO options. As of now, this is for raw diets and not cooked.
This comes with popular supplements already added- but its super easy to add your own. Much easier than the Food Wizard from Pet Diet Designer
This product gets direct feedback from RFN members and is improved from this information.
Comes with estimated raw meaty bone values already built in!
Cloud Based
User interface is much better- option to check and uncheck items to see how it affects the nutrient profile
Can optimize for black coats
Other ratios like zinc:copper already built in
Much quicker to load than other programs
Can control how bioavailable some nutrients from plant foods are (for example, discounting much iron from plant foods)

Please click here to see full tutorials and information.

 

Official Raw Fed & Nerdy PACK Formulation Sheet

Price: $40 USD
Subscription: No
OS:  Browser based- If you can run Google Drive (Sheets) you can run this
Cloud Based: Yes
Nutrient Guidelines: NRC Nutrients per Metabolic Weight, FEDIAF, AAFCO
Pets: Dogs and Cats
User Friendly: 5/5
Customer Support: 5/5
**Includes the nutrient analsyis for raw meaty bones**

This review is biased because Raw Fed & Nerdy sells this sheet.

This has been created by member Jenny Ryoo. This sheet was in response to the poor user interface of Pet Diet Designer (see next review).
Adult dogs and cats only.

Pros
This comes with popular supplements already added- but its super easy to add your own. Much easier than the Food Wizard from Pet Diet Designer
This product gets direct feedback from RFN members and is improved from this information.
Comes with estimated raw meaty bone values already built in!
Cloud Based
User interface is much better- option to check and uncheck items to see how it affects the nutrient profile
Can optimize for black coats
Other ratios like zinc:copper already built in
Much quicker to load than other programs
Can control how bioavailable some nutrients from plant foods are (for example, discounting much iron from plant foods)

This formulation sheet is meant for multiple pet households that eat the same batch recipe.

Please click here to see full tutorials and information.

 

Pet Diet Designer

Price: $20 USD
Subscription: Yes if you want updates, but $20 dollars gets you the actual software for life. Also they basically do not update it anymore,
OS:  Windows 7 and Newer (You can do something like Bootcamp if you have Apple products)
Cloud Based: No
Nutrient Guidelines: NRC Nutrients per 1000/kcal (but you can use the recipe report to compare with per MW)
Pets: Dogs and Cats
User Friendly: 2/5
Customer Support: 1/5
NO raw bone data

Pet diet designer is a very affordable option for recipe formulation. It receives a 2/5 stars for user friendliness because the user interface can be overwhelming to use. The food wizard can be challenging and there are lots of little “quirks” that can easily frustrate new users. One example of this is when you add a new pet and you add all the correct data and hit save yet your pet won’t appear as an option when making a new recipe until you simply go back in and open up the pet settings and hit save again. Another example is the fact that when you enter in ingredients, it adds it as 100 grams and when you change it, you have to hit “enter” on your keyboard or your change won’t stick. When you add a new food to the food wizard, you have to hit “refresh” on the foods list in the recipe balancer screen. You also have to hit “refresh common measures” for any of your new food changes to show up. However, once you get over the quirks of it and their terrible audio on their youtube channels, you can greatly increase your workflow if you know how to use the program correctly.  

PDD receives the lowest score for customer support because, well, they are terribly rude to our members and even denied glitches (that I have recorded). They really need to hire somebody to interact with the public. There is also serious issues with some of the pre-loaded recipes that come with the program. Don’t use these.

PDD will soon (?) be PetDiet365 and will address a lot of these cons. UI will be totally revamped and will be an entirely different program. They are also testing raw meaty bone analysis and will have those built in as well.

Pros:
See how different ingredients effect your nutrient levels in the recipe. Checking and unchecking ingredients reflects visually on the screen.
Organization- Stay organized by storing your pet data with recipes
Built in NRC standards
USDA database built in
In-depth nutrient analysis that give you different balances and include some ingredients on a dry matter basis.
Batch Food Maker
BETA users who buy the 20 dollar version will get 1 year free of their newest yet-to-be-released product PetDiet365

Cons
Hard to know how to use up front.
No RMB analysis- but you can add them in with the food wizard
Not cloud based- BUT you can backup the database and upload it to somewhere like Google Drive when wanting to work away from home
Really easy to screw things up by user error. I mean..really easy.

One thing I forgot to mention in the video is that PDD will now show you if your are surpassing a safe upper limit. Some nutrients do not have SULs. Please be mindful!

Food wizard

When entering things into the food wizard, it can be tricky. Let’s say you are adding a supplement that says “serving size: two capsules” and the label says “100 mg of magnesium.”  Open the food wizard and enter the information like this:
Amount: 2 (because 2 capsules)
Measure: Capsule
Measure Weight: HOWEVER MUCH THE CAPSULE ACTUALLY WEIGHS. NOT the amount of magnesium in the capsule.  Most people do not know how much a capsule would weigh. One capsule might weigh 0.05 grams. Since this amount is 2 capsules, put 0.1 grams. Then go to the corresponding nutrient tabs and fill in the nutrient value. For example, under minerals, I would add 100 mg by Magnesium.

Save and exit. Refresh food list. Refresh common measures. DONE.

Watch my PDD review video here. Please be respectful of my content. Videos are my least favorite.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1V4NARMUyyZhe6brXoBh5odRJbMe3mlMF

Overall, I actually very much appreciate PDD and the work Rene has done. I hope he can forgive us nerds in Raw Fed and Nerdy as we are one of the biggest supporters of his work.

Cronometer

Price: Free* (You can upgrade to gold)
Subscription: Yes if doing the paid version
OS:  Browser based- also has mobile apps!
Cloud Based: Yes
Nutrient Guidelines: FOR HUMANS, SEE BELOW
Pets: N/A
User Friendly: —
Customer Support: —

Cronometer is a for humans web based nutrition program that can be used in a similar fashion to Pet Diet Designer. You cannot use this as is. You must read the cronometer blog! You have to overwrite their values with your pet’s values! You can grab these values by using the Adult Nutrient Requirements (cats or dogs) calculator and by visiting the calorie lesson.

Something you need to be mindful with Cronometer is that you enter your values correctly. If things seem really crazy (a bunch of bars are red), then you may consider posting what you have to RFN for somebody to help you.

I did not rate user friendly/customer support because I personally have not used them. Pet’s set at N/A because you can pretty much user whatever species you have nutrient requirements for.

Pros:
See how different ingredients effect your nutrient levels in the recipe. Checking and unchecking ingredients reflects visually on the screen.
Can use NRC standards with some manipulation
FREE
Mobile app options
Some consider this more user friendly
100% Cloud Based
Option to add more features through low cost subscription service

Cons
Poor fatty acid profile
Entering values can be tricky because dog’s don’t have the same nutrient requirements- such as vitamin C.
No RMB analysis- but you can add them using custom foods
Still easy to mess things up with user error

Please tag Jeanne Moran in RFN for cronometer help. You can tab most admins for PDD help as well.

Animal Diet Formulator

Price: $999 for the first year and $250 the year after + Excel
Subscription: Yes
OS:  Windows 7 and Newer
Cloud Based: Yes- I think
Nutrient Guidelines: AAFCO and FEDIAF
Pets: Dog and Cat
User Friendly: 5/5
Customer Support: 5/5

Animal Diet Formulator was sold to RAHU from Steve Brown. RAHU is different than PDD in the price and the nutrient requirements used. It is also not as visual as PDD and is more spreadsheet based. So spreadsheet based that you actually cannot use the program unless you have excel running on your local machine! This is a benefit to some if you indeed love spreadsheets.  I did meet with them in a virtual meeting and was able to ask some questions before buying it, I will share them here,

Animal Diet Formulator does not use a food wizard. They have foods built in already and you cannot add your own custom foods. They do have a lot of foods and supplements added- but if you want to use a supplement or food in there, you have to request that they add it for you. Commercial clients apparently get first priority- or so I was told- but their customer service seemed great at any rate. The elimination of the food wizard removes a lot of risk for user error but can also present its own set of challenges. It appears to be less glitchy than PDD because it is out of beta testing.

Furthermore, animal diet formulator has RMB built in. However, as of my meeting with them last month- they had less raw meaty bones than in the RFN FB album. You cannot ask them to add them- for multiple reasons. Their RMBs are indeed likely very accurate, though. They said they would be getting more in- but whoever gets to them first (PDD or ADF) is unknown. Commercial option (thousands of dollars) will include more ingredients than the personal use one and I felt it was suggested that that included more RMBs.

You should know that I have not used ADF and am basing my review off of the meeting I had with them and their video.

Can only be installed on 2 computers.

The recipe reports for animal diet formulator is pretty similar to what you can get in PDD but with less options than PDD. Batch food is also an option as well and can be done much easier than PDD.

There isn’t an ability to toggle ingredients on and off like PDD which might bother some users.

Warning: When I talked to them last month, they said therapeutic recipes are not included by any means and their advertisement for therapeutic is very misleading at this particular date. You can indeed build therapeutic diets- but the software in no way suggests how to do so. They said they may implement this in the future but there is no replacement for a professional!

Overall, there is nothing that Animal Diet Formulator has that PDD does not have except the fact it has some of their own RMBs (sorry folks- no duck heads) and uses FEDIAF or AAFCO. Their customer support is better and they were much friendlier to me. They keep their database up to date which is very important.  The entire process is much more streamlined and user friendliness is far greater than PDD. The main catch is the price, lack of adding custom foods, and no NRC if you want to use NRC.

If you like excel and are interested in a different source (although small) of RMBs, ADF may be for you if you can afford it.

Watch their video here.

Old Fashion Pen and Paper

You can always grab a pen and paper and copy down your pet’s nutrient requirements. Then you can print out nutrients in a recipe and compare and do everything by hand. If you need more help with this, make a post!

Excel

Excel presents many possibilities and some people love this method. Just about any spreadsheet software will do- including the one in Google Drive. The one in google drive is also super useful for sharing with other members! Approach is similar to pen and paper.

 

Raw Meaty Bones + Other ingredients

Raw bones are generally pretty safe. However, they are often touted as more safe than they truly are. While we do know that dogs should never consume cooked bones, raw bones still present a risk to the pet. We will discuss which bones to feed or not to feed in a later unit. Here we will briefly touch on the risk of raw feeding bones.

You should know as a pet owner that raw bones can still cause damage to the digestive system. Raw bones can cause punctures. Raw bones can be painful to pass. Much of these can be eliminated by safe feeding practices that will be covered later in the course. However, the bottom line is that pets consuming raw bones are experiencing greater risk than a pet who eats raw ground bones, or consumes other forms of calcium. Wrong bones can damage teeth. Sometimes a bone can cause a pet to land themselves in the hospital because of puncture.

If fed correctly, the risk of feeding raw meaty bones is low- but there still is a risk that is very much worth mentioning before delving deeper in to the course.

Regarding the term “low risk,” this is what raw feeders say and experience and say as a whole. Some disagree and some have had bad experiences. The bottom line is that raw meaty bones have benefits, but definite risks.

For Dogs

As discussed earlier, feeding raw meaty bones does pose extra risk. If you are feeding bones, here is some information:

  • Avoid weight bearing bones of larger animals. Chicken legs are fine, turkey legs and above start getting dense. Consider the size of the animal and the function of the bone. Even wolves have required dental work when eating weight bearing bones 🙂
  • A quote from Plear Littlefield: “Remember to choose bones that are appropriate for your pet! If you have a large dog, chicken necks might be too easily swallowed whole, which is a choking hazard, but for small dogs, cats, and ferrets, chicken necks are great RMBs. A good RMB for a Great Dane might be a slab of pork ribs, but a Chihuahua that tries to eat pork ribs might end up with a cracked tooth. Choose RMBs accordingly!”
  • Ground bones will pose less risk. If you plan on grinding your bones, be sure to research a grinder to do that. Not all grinders can handle the same bones. You should still never feed cooked bones- even if it is ground.
  • You should be careful feeding thyroid hormone containing ingredients (such as necks). Read More Here.

Ideas for bones:

  • Chicken Necks
  • Chicken Wings
  • Chicken Legs
  • Turkey Necks*
  • Duck Necks*
  • Chicken Backs
  • Chicken Breast Bone-In
  • Duck Backs
  • Duck Wings
  • Duck Breast Bone-In
  • Beef Ribs
  • Quail
  • Rabbit
  • Bones that are not too dense

Smaller dogs will do better with smaller bones such as chicken necks and wings. Medium dogs might do better with duck neck and chicken backs. Larger dogs can consume a wider variety if they do not gulp. Otherwise turkey necks, ribs, and frames are appropriate.

Avoid:

  • Any bones not raw including dehydrated, boiled, or smoked
  • Machine cut bones- These bones can have sharp edges and result in injury
  • Whole weight bearing bones of large animals including turkey can splinter. They can also cause fracturing of the teeth.
  • Whole beef bones can also fracture teeth.

Each dog is  unique- and their ability to carefully chew bones (or lack of) determines what you can or cannot feed. Much of this is on a dog by dog basis. Posting in the group would help you get valuable feedback if you are at all unsure of your bone selection.

Always supervise your pet when feeding appropriate edible raw meaty bones

 

What Bones Can I Feed My Cat?
This piece donated by Bonnie Edkin

Bones from animals that a cat would typically catch and eat are safe for cats.  The prey that a cat would catch and eat generally have hollow bones that a cat can easily handle.  Chicken, quail, chicks, rabbit, rodents. Bones from larger animals, such as swine and cattle are not hollow and are generally too dense for a cat to handle.  If you can cut the bone with kitchen shears, it is safe for your cat.

Don’t cut the bone into bite-size pieces.  Otherwise, the cat might swallow the entire piece and it can lodge in the cat’s throat, which will require the cat to regurgitate the bone to clear it out of its throat.

Leave the meat on the bones so the cat has to tear at the meat to strip it from the bone.  This is a wonderful exercise for the jaw muscles. The jaw muscles help with tooth retention and tearing the meat off the bones and gnawing on the bones helps keep the teeth clean.

If you have not fed bones to your cat before, start out with smaller bones, such as from Cornish hens or quail.  When your cat is comfortable with them, you can move up to some of the other bones on the list below.

Examples of bones you can use

  • Raw, thin bones that are not weight-bearing bones
  • Bones from Cornish hen, quail or similar sized birds
  • Chicken ribs
  • Chicken wings
  • Chicken necks & frames
  • Rabbit bones
  • Some cats can handle the smaller ribs from goats or pork (not the larger, heavier ribs)

Bones you should avoid for cats

  • Bones leftover from meat you’ve cooked for yourself – these can splinter and cause problems
  • Weight-bearing bones, such as chicken or turkey leg bones, are too dense for cats
  • Bones from any larger animal, such as swine, goats, deer, cattle, or bear

Nutrient Information:

Raw feeding presents unique challenges as bone nutritional information is not readily available. Many are feeding obscure cuts of meat. There is no perfect answer to these issues. This section is not here to tell you to stop feeding these things! RMB are fantastic! If your dog has a nutritionally sensitive condition, you may consider using values from things you know. Ultimately, it is up to your discretion as the pet owner.

Pet Diet Designer, soon to be PetDiet365, is conducting large batch testing on bones for raw feeders. The release in 2019 will provide bone in nutritional values for raw feeders.

We have RMB bone analysis and other foods in the files section of the Facebook group as a Google Document.

Cannot find the nutrient information?

Shoot! The USDA database does not contain information for cuts not commonly consumed by humans. You can:

A) Make an estimated guess from values that are in the database. (ex venison liver, beef liver)

B) Take a gamble

Unfortunately, that is the situation we are in. But it is not always a bad choice to substitute values.

 

Example of a Simple Raw NRC Ingredient List

 

-Raw Beef chuck for stew

 

-RMB: Chicken Drumstick, Bone, Meat, Skin

 

-Raw beef liver

 

-Raw beef kidney

 

-Raw chicken hearts

 

-Hardboiled Eggs

 

-Sardines, raw or cooked (if raw, keep separate)

 

-Oats, C ooked

 

-Celery, blueberries, kale, carrots

 

 

Keep Learning

We highly recommend that you take the FREE Fall Course. 

You can also take some paid for courses here taught by a professional.

Of course, join the Facebook Group!

 

 

Step 4

Materials & Transition

Transitioning to Raw

There are various methods for transitioning your dog and cat to raw. While many look at the cold turkey approach, we promote a gradual transition. This also works with cooked diets.

Useful Tools

 1. Kitchen scale

2. Cutting boards

3. Knives

4. Gloves

5. Cleaning Supplies

6. Bulk making recipes is easier done when you have an extra freezer

7. Storage containers for prepped food

8. Optional: Meat Grinder

9. Large buckets and bowls can also be very useful when mixing together large amounts of ingredients!

For Dogs 

Many raw feeding guides advocate for extremely long and abrupt transitioning. As a result, dogs experience vomiting, gas, and stool disturbances. While hunger pukes and some bone pukes are generally harmless, it doesn’t need to be that way. This type of transitioning is also not backed by science. Neither is the claim that kibble and raw cannot be digested together.

The rate at which you gradually transition your dog will depend on your dog! Below is a general guideline that helps you replace the daily portion of food.

1. If your dog is new to raw, you should formulate a very simple diet. It does not need to be complex with supplements added (unless it is calcium because you are not feeding raw meaty bones). Fish oil or fresh fish can still be included. A sample diet might look like: Beef chuck for stew, sweet potatoes cooked, sardines, beef liver, beef kidney, calcium supplement or chicken raw meaty bone. Many will say to use lighter meats like chicken for transitioning, but you should select the foods that you feel will be best tolerated by your pet. If your pet does not have food issues, going with lighter meats at first may be best! Some may say to add organs later, but when we are replacing just a little bit of food at a time, you may not have to and many do well gradually introducing the ingredients in small amounts in a batch formula. If you feel your dog is not sensitive, you can try using a complete and balanced batch of food. You can also use commercial raw to transition.

2. Make a batch of the food, if not using commercial raw, all mixed together (except the lipids like fish or fish oil)

3. Slowly replace the kibble or previous food with your new batch of food. The rate at which you increase will depend on how well the dog does. You can speed up or slow down depending on the response of the dog. Each time you increase food, you should assess the dog to see how the increase was tolerated. This will let you decide For example, you may choose to increase always by 10 percent. Others may get to day 6 and do only 90 percent. Know Thy Dog.

Pay attention to your dog.

White fresh poop that crumbles easily means the high bone amount is not tolerated. Greasy and yellow stools can indicate an issue with fat. Dark stools (not due to ingredients like blueberries or beets), may indicate you need to use less rich ingredients (dark meat, organ meat).

Gradual Transition Method 1

%

Day 1: Replace current food with this much raw (or cooked)

%

Day 2: Replace current food with this much raw (or cooked)

%

Day 3: Replace current food with this much raw (or cooked)

%

Day 4: Replace current food with this much raw (or cooked)

%

Day 5: Replace current food with this much raw (or cooked)

%

Day 6: Replace current food with this much raw (or cooked)

Gradual Transition Method 2

 

%

Days 1-3: Replace old food with 25% of new food

%

Days 4-6: Replace current food with this much raw (or cooked)

%

Days 6-7: Replace current food with this much raw (or cooked)

%

Finish according to how the dog does during transition to 100% new food.

For Cats

Cat Transition Guide Provided by Bonnie Edkin. Not to be redistributed. Thank you.

Great! You’ve decided to make the switch to a raw diet for your cat. You take out a second mortgage on your home (just joking) to buy some premade raw cat food, put it down for your cat – and your lovely fur-child turns his or her nose up at the new food. Now what?

Here are some suggestions that have helped others. You may find that some of this doesn’t apply to you – in which case, just skip the steps that don’t apply and move on to the next step that does.

Hopefully, you are reading this document before you spent money on commercial raw pet food. Why? Because this document will explain some steps that will make the transition to raw much easier. Those steps will also save you money during the transition. While some cats will dive right in when they are given raw food, a lot of cats will not. For those cats, trying to feed a bowl of already prepared raw cat food can result waste. A lot of waste. Here are some things you should do before you begin the adventure of raw feeding.

Step One

If you have been free-feeding, you need to stop. That is the very first step! Begin by establishing regular meal times.

If you are feeding kibble, but are not free-feeding, jump to step 2.

For adult cats, that might mean you’ll start feeding at least twice a day – two meals approximately 12 hours apart. Or, perhaps three times a day with the meals fairly evenly spaced apart. Some people find it helpful to provide a third meal right before bedtime as it often enables the human staff get a full night’s sleep: the cats will be less likely to annoy you at 3 AM begging for food. The total amount of food that the cat should have for the day, divide that up by the number of meals you’re going to feed and portion it out at each meal.

For cats under one year (these cats are called kittens, by the way), you will need to feed about four or five meals a day. That’s because a little kitten belly is just too small to eat enough food at one meal to last them for eight to twelve hours. Once weaned, kittens should be allowed to eat as much as they want at each of their meals. As the kitten gets closer to one year old, you’ll be able to reduce the number of meals – perhaps from five meals down to four, and eventually from four down to three meals per day.

If you’ve been free-feeding, continue to use whatever food you are currently feeding. Put it down and let the cat eat for about 30 minutes and then pick up the food. Do not put food down again until the next meal time. Yes, they may pester you. Yes, they may begin to drive you a little crazy. It’s okay for them to get a little hungry between meals. They will not die from doing this. If they tell you they will die from this change, they are lying. Don’t fall for it.

Gradually start letting the food down for shorter periods of time. Perhaps one week you’ll let it down for the full 30 minutes. The next week you might let it down for 25 minutes. The third week, cut it back to 20 minutes. Eventually, you want to only let the food down for about 15 minutes.

The cat will learn that it needs to eat its fill at meal times. Er . . . well, most cats will. I have one who apparently has not taken the time to read all the information written by all the cat experts because he has never learned this. There is always one rebel.

Before moving to Step 2, you need to have scheduled mealtimes for your cats, before you try switching them from kibble to canned or wet food.

Step Two

If your cat is currently eating kibble and has scheduled meal times, the next step is to switch to canned or pouches of wet food before switching to raw.

Some cats find kibble so enticing that any wet food is not attractive to them. That’s because there is a special, highly-flavored coating on each piece of kibble. It’s very aromatic and cats seem to really like that. It is absolutely yummy-smelling! Okay, let’s be honest, it stinks – but cats do seem to really like the smell. Well, what can I say? They also like sniffing cat butts.

You may need to experiment to find a wet food that your cat will eat. At this point, since you are planning to switch to raw, don’t worry a lot about finding the absolute best, the highest quality wet food – because this is, hopefully, just a temporary step. Just find something that they will eat that’s either canned or in pouches. In other words, not dry kibble. At this point, your goal is to transition them from dry food to wet food.

While you don’t need to be overly concerned about getting the best quality food you can find because this is a temporary step, I also don’t recommend that you buy the cheapest you can find. However, there’s no point in spending hundreds of hours researching canned foods when you’re only going to be feeding this short term. Learn a little bit about feline nutrition and pick out a reasonably decent canned food and use it during the transition. The important thing for now is that your cat finds the new food appealing. But sure the food you select is a “complete” food for the life stage of your cat.

When you are making the switch to wet food, remove all kibble. If the cat refuses to eat the canned food, that’s okay for one meal. Missing a meal is no different than withholding food before the cat has anesthesia to be spayed or neutered or some other procedure. But if the cat will not eat the next meal of canned food, then you may have to sprinkle some kibble or treats over the top of the canned food.

There are other toppings that have worked, too. Some people have found that sprinkling a little grated Parmesan cheese on the food will encourage the cat to eat it. Parmesan cheese is a better choice than other cheeses because it has a strong smell (enticing to a cat, almost as appealing as cat butts!) and because it is aged long enough that there is no lactose left in it anymore. Now, by Parmesan cheese I mean the real stuff. Not the dried, powdered stuff in the green can. If you buy pre-grated cheese, look to make sure there aren’t any antifungals added to it to prevent mold growth. The antifungal that’s often added to pre-grated cheese is natamycin. If you cannot find pre-grated parmesan cheese without natamycin, buy a small piece of Parmesan and grate a little bit yourself.

Some cats really like the smell and taste of nutritional yeast and it can be used as a topper to encourage a cat to try a new food. Note, this is not baking yeast. These are yellow flakes of dried yeast and they have a bit of a cheesy flavor to it that many cats like. It’s also high in B vitamins, so it won’t hurt your cat at all.

There’s also a Purina product called Forte Flora that helps some cats make a switch to a different food. It’s sold as a probiotic, but you can use it a flavor enhancer. It has the same ingredient in it that is used to coat kibble, so kibble-loving cats tend to really like it. Instead of following the instructions on the box for the amount to use, just sprinkle a little bit of it over the new food. The smell will often encourage a cat to try a new food. The instructions on the box say to open a packet and sprinkle the entire packet on the cat’s food. You don’t need to use an entire packet when you’re just using it to entice a cat to eat. Gradually, reduce the amount of the powder you’re sprinkling on the food until the cat is willing to eat the food without it.

Dried fish flakes or dried liver sprinkled over the top of the new food might entice some cats to try it. You’ll have to find what works for your cat. Something else that works is to put a little bit of the juice from a can of tuna on top of the new canned food.

These things are all just temporary measures to entice your cat to try something new. You may not need to do any of these. Your cat might just dive right into the canned food. Many cats prefer canned food over kibble.

You might find it helpful at this point to not buy a lot of any particular wet food – because you never know what the cat might decide to not eat. It’s upsetting to have a pantry full of cans of food that your cat refuses to eat.

Your ultimate goal is to completely remove kibble. Most cats, if they know kibble is in the house, they will try to hold out for it. As was already mentioned, kibble has a smelly coating on it that cats find extremely enticing. If they smell it, they will want it. So, get the kibble out of the house as soon as possible.

Okay, at this point, you’ve stopped free feeding, you’ve established meal times, and you’ve transitioned your cats to some kind of wet food. Before trying to introduce raw, it’s important that the cats have actually accepted the wet food and all kibble has been removed from the home (so they can’t smell it). Give them enough time to fully accept whatever wet food you’re feeding. Don’t rush the changes. The cat is in charge.

Some cats will make these transitions very quickly and others may take months. It’s okay. Just go at whatever pace works for your cat. You might find that your cat will help you learn patience through this process.

There are actually very good reasons to make dietary changes slowly. A cat’s digestive tract produces whatever enzymes it needs to digest the food it’s currently eating. Kibble generally has a mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. So, the pancreas of a cat that’s eating kibble will produce the enzymes it needs to digest the amounts of those nutrients that are regularly in its diet. When there’s a food change, it takes a while for the production of those digestive enzymes to change to meet the new needs. If, for example, the new food has more protein in it and less carbohydrate than the previous food, the cat’s pancreas needs to increase its production of protease and decrease its production of amylase. When a dietary change is sudden, the cat can end up with upset tummy, flatulence, diarrhea or constipation. Making dietary changes gradually gives the cat’s body chance to make those changes so it is producing the digestive enzymes it will need for the new food.

If you’re one of the lucky cat owners who happens to have a cat who accepts new food very quickly without any digestive upsets – that’s wonderful. Just understand that not all cats will willingly make dietary changes quickly, and for some a slow, gradual transition is extremely important. Bottom line is that it’s better to go slower than is necessary and avoid problems than it is to rush things and end up with an emergency vet visit because Fluffy has bloody diarrhea . . . which will very likely result in a ‘really fun’ discussion with your vet.

Okay, so now you’re no longer free-feeding, your cats are eating at scheduled mealtimes and they have fully accepted wet food. Now you’re finally ready to switch them to raw, right? And all you’ll have to do is just put some raw cat food in their dish and they’ll just gobble it up, right?

Um, no, not always.

Step Three

When starting out on raw, I encourage people to just start out with a small piece of meat in the cat’s bowl next to their usual food. This can even be cooked meat, leftovers from your dinner (assuming there’s nothing in your dinner that the cat shouldn’t have).

The cat may not eat the small piece of meat. That’s okay. What you are doing at this point is just teaching the cat “this is food, too, and it’s okay for you to eat it.”

For your own education, do this . . .

Pick up a piece of raw meat and sniff it. Then, sniff the canned cat food you’ve been feeding your cat. And sniff a piece of cooked meat. The raw meat doesn’t have nearly as much smell as the cooked meat, and the cooked meat doesn’t have nearly as much smell as canned cat food, do they? Smell is important to a cat. The more odorous the food, the more cats seem to like it. (Remember, they like smelling other cats’ butts!) So, for many cats, trying to move them from strong-smelling kibble or canned food directly to raw food that doesn’t have nearly as much smell – they rebel at that change. They don’t recognize the raw meat as food. It doesn’t smell like any food they’ve eaten. That’s one reason why it’s helpful to first transition a kibble-fed cat to canned food. The smell of canned food will be more enticing to the cat than plain raw meat, and, the canned food will help the cat accept wet food.

What you’ve just learned is that – as silly as it sounds – a cat might not recognize that a piece of raw meat is food. Cats are naturally suspicious. It’s a survival mechanism and it has served them well. If a cat has never had to catch its own food, if the only thing the cat has ever eaten was kibble or canned, a piece of raw meat is totally foreign. And to a cat, something that is foreign might be something that is dangerous.

So, start out with just a small piece of raw meat placed in the cat’s dish right next to the wet food you’ve been feeding. Some people try mixing the raw meat into the wet food, but many cats will not eat their wet food if you mix the raw meat into it. For many cats if you stir it around with their food, they won’t touch any of the food in the dish. Be willing to experiment to see what works for your cat.

It’s okay if the cat eats the regular food and lets the small piece of raw meat behind. This is why I said at the beginning of this document that there’s no need to buy pre-made raw cat food for the transition – because many cats will initially refuse to eat it. Just keep putting a small piece of raw meat in the dish at every meal. Don’t yell at the cat or show any frustration over this. Helping your kitty learn that this new thing in the dish is food is just part of the transition process. Just pick up the dish when the cat has finished eating the regular food and throw that little tidbit of raw away. Or, if you have dogs, feed it to them.

Some pre-made raw cat foods come in bags of medallions. These are frozen pieces of the ground cat food shaped like tiny hamburgers. Some people feel more comfortable using this kind of a product during the transition because they can take out a single medallion, let it thaw in the refrigerator, and just use a small portion of a medallion for the process of teaching the cat “this is food.” One advantage of doing this is that you do not have to worry about nutrient imbalances if the pre-made raw is properly balanced. On the other hand, as I said above, nutrition imbalances are not a concern for the short time during the transition. One down-side of using the medallion-shaped pre-made raw is the expense. Remember that you might be throwing away the raw you add to your cat’s dish for a while during the transition.

Eventually, the cat will begin to associate the raw meat with food and it will eat it.

When the cat is consistently eating that small amount of raw meat, you can begin to increase the amount of raw and decrease the canned. For many cats, it’s better to do this gradually because of their suspicious nature. Again, your cat might just dive right in – and if so, be glad. Do a happy foot dance! The important thing is to let the cat set the pace for any changes. Wait to make another change until the cat has fully accepted the previous one.

When you’re just adding a small amount of raw meat to the dish, having the meal perfectly balanced nutritionally is not important. So, feel free to try different things. Some cats will love chicken or pork but hate beef. Some will love liver and other cats will not touch it.

As your cat begins to accept raw food, you’ll be adding more raw meat to the food dish – and less of the commercially produced cat food. When the cat is eating more of the raw meat than the canned food, it does indeed become important for the meals to be balanced. So, be sure to spend time before and during the transition process to learn how to balance the meals if you plan on feeding homemade cat food.

How to make a balanced raw diet for your cat is a totally different topic, so it’s not discussed in this document. You’ll find various recipes online, but be very careful! There are some questionable recipes online, even those that are promoted by veterinarians. Avoid any recipe that calls for a lot of vegetables or fruits or nuts or seeds.

Once you learn how to make your own cat food, you’ll find it’s easy and it costs less than the better quality canned food.

You can also buy pre-made raw cat food. It comes frozen. If it’s in a large container, it’s perfectly fine to thaw the entire container and then portion it into smaller containers and re-freeze it. Be aware, though, that many of the commercial raw pet foods are too high in bone for cats and will cause constipation. This is just one example of why it’s so important to learn about the nutritional needs of cats before you begin fully feeding raw.

Congratulations on making the switch to raw!

Cat Transition Guide Provided  by Bonnie Edkin. Thank you!