How much does it cost to feed raw?

A poll was taken to determine the average cost per pound of raw food members of The Raw Feeding Community were spending. 224 members participated in the poll. Here are the results:

average raw pet food price
As you can see, it was basically a tie between those that spend from $1.00 to $1.50 per pound and those that spend from $1.50 to $2.00 per pound.

The table below is based on a dog eating 2.5% body weight and assumes the entire diet consists of meat/bone/organ. Monthly costs will vary depending on whether or not your dog will need to eat more or less than 2.5%, or if a portion of the diet consists of fruits, veggies, eggs, grain, supplements, etc..

cost table

Costs can also vary based on location, available resources, whether or not someone can buy in bulk or participate in a co-op, and the content of the diet each owner is feeding (for example, owners will probably end up spending more if their dog has a poultry allergy).

You will also need to take miscellaneous costs into account, such as supplements, bags or containers, freezers (if needed), grinders (if needed), travel and labor associated with driving to pick up dog food orders, etc.

Calculating your own cost estimate

Determine how much meat you will feed per month

For most dogs, 2-3% of their ideal adult body weight is best (but some couch potatoes might need less and working dogs or hard keepers might need more). To take 2% of your dog’s weight, just multiply the weight of your dog by 0.02. For 2.5% multiply by 0.025, for 3% multiply by 0.03, and so on. Your result will be how much your dog should eat per day. Divide that by how many meals you feed per day.

Whatever unit of weight you used for your dog’s weight is the unit of weight your result will be in.

For example, if you took 2% of your 50 lb dog’s weight, your result will be 1 lb.  If you want to convert that to ounces, simply multiply by 16.

Using our 50 lb dog eating 2% of their body weight as the example again, that would mean they would eat about 30 lbs per month. 10% of that would be bone, or 3 lbs per month. 5%, or 1.5 lbs, of liver would be fed per month, and the same amount of other secreting organs (like kidney or spleen). The remaining amount would be muscle meats and extras: heart, gizzard, breast, and other boneless meats, plus fish, eggs, veggies, dairy, and so on.

Do some price shopping

This step will require a little more leg work than just plugging some numbers into a calculator. Since costs vary widely depending on location, you will need to investigate how much you will likely spend in your area.

Big chain grocery stores like WalMart typically have chicken leg quarters, chicken wings, whole chickens, chicken livers, chicken gizzards/hearts, calf livers, turkey necks, and pork shoulder/picnic for reasonable prices. It is always worth checking for meat in the clearance section too!

Ethnic grocery stores like asian, mexican, or middle eastern markets can have more variety and good prices too; they are great places to find organ meats you might not see at WalMart (like kidney, spleen, or sweetbreads), better fish options (like smelt and mackerel), and more protein variety. But while protein variety is important, things like rabbit, duck, lamb, or goat will almost always be more expensive than chicken and pork.

One of the very best ways to get the best deals will be to get involved in a raw feeding co-op, if you have one in your area. Co-ops get a group of raw feeders to order in bulk from companies like Ross Wells all together in one big order, which allows co-op members to benefit from wholesale prices. The downside to this is that you usually have to buy by the case – typically 30 to 50 pound boxes. While you might be able to work something out like splitting a case with another co op member, you might want to consider investing in a freezer to store bulk pet food orders. If there isn’t a raw feeding co-op in your area, you could consider getting together with some local raw feeders and starting one!

You could also contact local butchers, farmers, hunters, or processors for “scraps” or off-cuts that they might not generally use for human consumption.