So you’ve done your research on the raw diet and have decided you want to give it a shot. You begin planning out the meals and are suddenly shocked to see how expensive this is going to be.
The truth is, the reason raw diets seem so expensive is because the average owner is being way too careful when selecting food. You don’t need to buy organic or grass fed meat. Sure, it’s slightly higher quality, but our dogs’ stomachs can handle a lot more than we think.
The raw diet will never be as cheap as the low quality kibble you can find at your local Walmart, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feed your dog a raw diet on a budget.
If you’re willing to experiment with half raw/half kibble, you can cut the cost even more. However, driving down the price of a raw diet is going to take some time and effort on your end. You’ll need to prepare the meals yourself instead of going with a done for you service.
Today we will be going over 13 creative ways to save money on a raw diet. It might not be as cheap as kibble, but the money you save on veterinary visits will more than make up for it. Not to mention the improved health of your dog!
Before we get started with the tips, please remember that these tips are for adult dogs. If you have a puppy, we recommend sticking with puppy food for the first few weeks. Puppy food contains all the ingredients to ensure proper health and growth into adulthood.
You’ll also notice we don’t mention any grains in this diet. That’s because a real raw diet is typically grain free. If you want to include some carbs, feel free to add a small amount of fruits and veggies.
1: Homemade Instead of Prepackaged
There are a couple high quality prepackaged raw meal plans you can subscribe to. These are great because they are guaranteed to contain all the nutrients your dog needs…not to mention the fact that you don’t have to do any of the preparing. The downside is these services come with a hefty price tag.
If budget is a concern right now, you’ll need to do all the shopping and preparing yourself. Be sure to educate yourself on how many macronutrients and vitamins your dog needs at their weight. Yup, there’s some homework involved when going homemade.
2: You Don’t Need To Go Grass Fed
One of the main reasons raw diets get ridiculously expensive is because people want to buy the grass fed/organic meat for their pet. You don’t need to feed human quality meat to your dog. Dogs have stronger digestive systems than humans. Save yourself some money and ditch the expensive cuts of meat.
3: Don’t Buy The Leanest Option
It’s good to feed your dog lean meat if you can afford it, but you don’t have to find the leanest cuts. You can save some money by purchasing fattier options and trimming the fat yourself. Of course, this only works on meats that have trimmable fat. It won’t work on ground beef or ground turkey.
4: Make Turkey Legs a Staple
Turkey legs are big, lean, natural, and have a hard bone. The best part is this food requires practically no prep time. I’ve seen them for less than $1.35 per pound. Chicken breast is also a cheap option for protein, but that’s usually around $1.99 per pound and doesn’t come with a bone. If I could only choose one meat to feed my dog, it would be turkey legs.
5: Buy The “Gross” Stuff
Let’s be honest, when most of us see the food like raw chicken feet in the grocery store, we quickly walk by it and don’t look at it…but those foods contain the perfect ingredients for your dog! Not to mention the fact that they’re cheap. Look for chicken feet, pig heads, liver, lungs, hearts, and even eyes. Basically, all the stuff that will gross you out when purchasing it!
6: Get a Deal With The Local Butcher
Speaking of food we would consider gross, you can talk to the local butcher and see if they can “cut” you a deal on their leftover cuts (horrible pun, I know). You never know, they might have a pig head lying around that they were planning on throwing away. See what they do with the organs, feet, etc. Let them know you’re switching your pet to a raw diet and want to come to them for meat they were going to trash. Most butchers won’t charge too much since they were just going to throw it away anyways.
7: Buy In Bulk
Buying food in bulk will always be cheaper than buying individually. The problem is you might start running out of freezer room if you’re trying to freeze food for yourself and for your pup. This is where it might be worth investing in a separate freezer you can keep out in the garage.
8: Skip The Fish – Supplement With Omega 3
Fish is excellent for dogs, but it’s also expensive. To save money, you’re better off skipping the fish and instead supplementing with omega 3. That’s not to say you can’t find cheap cuts of natural fish, but you don’t want to get in the habit of feeding your dog farm-raised fish every night.
9: Don’t Forget About The Eggs
Yes, when a dog is on a natural raw diet, they can eat raw eggs…this includes the shell! The eggs are high in protein, and the shell contains plenty of calcium. Not to mention the fact that there are 27 different mineral elements in an eggshell.
Most dogs won’t eat the eggshell as is, so you’ll have to grind it up. We like to use a coffee grinder, but a blender will work just fine. For those afraid to feed your dog raw eggs, don’t forget that dogs used to steal eggs from birds nests and eat them raw..that includes the shell. Eggs are by far one of the cheapest ways to increase protein for your dog. And yes, if you have cats you can give them eggs, but they probably won’t eat the shell.
10: Shop At Asian Supermarkets
Most Asian supermarkets will sell the entire animal, not just parts of it. You can pick up organs such as the heart or kidneys of a large animal for a buck or two. Some of these hearts are huge, so you can chop it up and put it in the freezer. My favorite recipe to make for my dog includes heart. She loves it! We use these as snacks for our pets. Just take a few out of the freezer and place them in a ziplock bag overnight. By morning they’ll be defrosted and you can use them as healthy raw snacks.
11: Look For Deals at Night
Did you know when you shop for food at night, you can get some great deals? That’s because they need to get the meat off the shelf. If they don’t sell it, they’ll have to toss it. You can save a lot of money by buying in bulk on some of these deals. If you’re having trouble finding deals, ask someone who works there when they have manager specials on meat. We have saved a ton of cash by only purchasing manager specials.
12: Don’t Be Afraid to Let Them Eat The Bone
When it comes to nutrition, we typically only think about the meat. But bones contain a decent amount of calories, along with essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium. Buy meats that include the bone and let your pet eat the whole thing. This will not only increase the calorie count so you don’t have to buy as much food, but you won’t have to purchase calcium supplements.
With that said, you must never give your dog a cooked bone…especially cooked chicken bones. It changes the texture of the bone and can cause your dog to choke. When feeding meet with the bone on, make sure it’s raw.
13: Ease Into It With Half Raw, Half Kibble
If you’re just getting started and aren’t sure if this is a long term thing, ease into it by feeding your pet one raw meal and one kibble meal per day. It’ll cut the cost of raw feeding in half until you decide if you want to do it full time. The mix will also make the transition easier on your dog’s stomach if you ease them into a raw food diet over a 4-6 week period.
Change Your Financial Mindset
Remember, even though the cost of food is going to be more expensive, your vet bills should go down quite a bit since the raw food diet reduces the chances of serious illnesses. This is important to remember. A lot of times, we can get so caught up in the moment when comparing the price of raw food to dry kibble. But think about how expensive trips to the vet can be. By feeding your pet a well thought out raw diet, you can save a lot of money on veterinary bills. This means over a few years, you might actually be saving money on a raw diet. Plus, you can’t put a price on your pets health.
Don’t let the raw diet add to your financial stress. Dry kibble isn’t the worst thing in the world for your dog. So if you can’t afford a raw diet right now, stick to the kibble until you can afford raw.
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