THE REAL COST OF FEEDING A BALANCED RAW DIET
When we help pet owners successfully transition their dogs and/or cats onto a raw diet, the feedback we get is fairly consistent:
“My dog loves the food. Gobbles it up in no time.”
“The poops are so small, firm AND don’t stink.”
“I can already feel a difference in his/her coat.”
“My pet is drinking much less water.”
“You know, this raw diet doesn’t cost as much as I thought it would”
Let us have a look at a cost comparison. We will look at the cost of feeding a balanced raw diet versus a “good quality” processed kibble and a popular vet-prescribed kibble.
Here I am looking at feeding a 50lb adult dog with an average activity level. I am not going to use the specific brand names here but I will include the ingredient lists for each so you can see the protein comparison.
This is a vet prescribed Gastro Intestinal Diet (first five ingredients):
Chicken, Cracked Pearled Barley, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn
Carbohydrate Content: 52%
This is a well-regarded and popular high-end kibble (First five ingredients):
Fresh ranch-raised beef meat (11%), fresh wild boar meat (4%), fresh plains bison meat (4%), fresh grass-fed lamb meat (4%), fresh Yorkshire pork meat (4%).
Carbohydrate content: 18%
The raw diet we have chosen to use is The Raw Performance Alpha Variety pack. It is a 30lb box that consists of 3 2lb tubs each of Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Performance Blend and Turkey Salmon Blend. You can view the ingredients of each meal here.
Carbohydrate content: 0%
Diet Daily Cost*
Vet Prescribed $3.21
High End Kibble $3.15
*Before tax, Canadian dollars
** The variety packs we sell will range in price from $2.54 to $4.12 per day for a 50lb adult dog.
Most vet-prescribed diets are intended to deal with a specific health issue. Some are dental, some are for urinary tract issues, gastro issues, weight management issues, and the list goes on. These diets are generally more expensive. The higher-end kibble may not be quite as expensive but does contain an ingredient list that tends to be more species-appropriate (good quality protein sources). One thing I did include in the ingredient list is the % of Carbohydrates. Carbs are not friendly to our dogs and cats, who are carnivores. However, carbs need to be included in processed pet food for one reason only. It gives the kibble shelf life. Carbs are also a very inexpensive ingredient. A properly balanced raw meal will contain very little or no carbs at all. In fact, come in to one of our stores and I dare you to finds any raw food we carry that has significant carbs.
You can certainly feed you dog or cat for less. Most of the grocery store brands and the majority of heat-extruded and highly processed kibble can definitely be purchased for much less than $2.00 per day for a 50lb dog. If you are feeding a food to a carnivore that is heavily laden with inexpensive carbs and suspect protein sources, you know you will be asking for trouble. Trouble in the form of health issue that will most like require a visit to the vet. If budget is one of the most important factors in your decision as to what you feed your dog or cat, I can safely say that it only takes one visit to a vet’s office (caused by low quality feed) to more than offset any perceived savings one gets by feeding your pet a cheaper and lower quality food.
What about buying in bulk from a local butcher? There is no doubt you can source the meat and bone and organ meat at less expensive prices. Now you need to put together the food that meets the correct amount of muscle meat, bone content, organ meat content and phyto nutrient ingredients to make sure it all meets the vitamin and mineral requirements for a dog and cat.
There are also small enterprises that promote their raw food mixtures at very low prices, usually less than $2 per lb. I have investigated many of these products and have lumped them under a title of Franken prey. Franken prey is usually a mixture of different proteins, contains high fat content and or poor calcium to phosphorous ratios (due to incorrect bone content). Most importantly, I am unable to say for certain that the ingredients are human grade. Think of it this way. Are you able to purchase human grade chicken or turkey or beef at less than $2 per pound? Quality of ingredients is definitely the most important component of a properly balanced raw meal for our pets. We are very meticulous about all of the products we carry. All of the raw foods we carry contain ingredients that are all sourced from human grade facilities (with the exception of green tripe). Does it cost more, sure it can! But our furry friends are worth it, that, and we truly believe investing in proper diet leads to less bills in issues for your pet. Food is our fuel.
How to stretch the budget out a little further when feeding raw!
You can incorporate some great and healthy meal replacement bones into you dog’s or cat’s meals. This allows you to use a good chew (which mentally and physically stimulates them, PLUS amazing for dental health) as a component of their diet on occasion. It’s like a treat to them, but counts towards nutrition!
For the larger dogs, turkey necks and chicken carcasses are great to give once or twice per week.
For the medium sized dogs, and some smaller breeds, consider using whole quail, duck necks and chicken neck and spine.
For cats and smaller dogs, chicken necks, duck feet and chicken feet can be great additions to the bowl.
For dogs, consider adding leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens. It is best if these are previously frozen or gently steamed to make it digestible.
Bonus savings shopping with us! We have an ongoing loyalty program, you earn points every dollar you spend and when your points add up you can redeem for cash value off your purchase in-store or online shopping. Also variety packs are a very budget friendly option, and we have a wide variety of these! You’ll also notice when shopping in-store lots of our suppliers offer Frequent Buyer Programs that we keep track of on in-store purchases, so every so often a freebie comes your way!
At the end of the day, we just want to do what is best for our pets.
One of the biggest challenges we face each day is dealing with the perception that one can care for a pet’s nutritional needs on a dollar or two a day. This is a scam that the big pet food manufacturers have pulled off over the last few decades. The big kibble manufacturers have created the illusion that you can feed a companion animal for cheap, it is a con pulled off by years of manufacturers making poor quality feed.
Think of it this way, a study stated it costs approximately $13 CAD per day to feed an adult in Canada on a 2400 calorie per day diet. If you convert that same rationale, on a cost per calorie level, and a 75lb dog consuming a 1400 calorie per day diet, you end up with $7.58 per day ($235 per month). Some eat more expensive and some eat less. The quality of fruits, veggies, meats, etc. will all play into it. We truly need to consider the quality of the calories being consumed if we are trying to provide proper care and nutrition for another life form when considering costs.