Raw food diets by definition are diets comprised of nothing but raw food. These can take many forms and the most popular of these is a BARF diet. BARF stands for biologically appropriate raw food or bones and raw food. This dietary model is based on the evolutionary diet animals would have eaten in the wild. Evolutionary raw diets are made up of fresh raw meat, offal, crushed meaty bones, vegetables, fruits and other healthy ingredients.
Raw food diets are different for dogs and cats as they have different and unique dietary requirements.
Big Dog has a range of raw food diets in our range:
Core Range – this is a flavour based raw food diet comprising of many different protein types. Using different protein sources allows for a wide variety of amino acids and is the range that best mimics an evolutionary diet where animals would have consumed varied types of prey.
Single Protein Allergy Range – this range is for pets with allergies to certain proteins including beef or chicken and each product is made only from one protein source.
Scientific Range – these products are for pets with specific health requirements and contain specific proteins and additional ingredients for pets with health issues.
Small Dog – smaller portion sizes and finer mincing for smaller digestive systems make this product perfect for puppies and small dogs.
Cat Range – specifically designed for cats with higher protein levels and taurine, an essential amino acid for cats.
All Big Dog raw diets are 100% natural, no synthetic vitamins and minerals, artificial chemicals, colours, flavours or preservatives are present. All Big Dog diets are raw and uncooked to best preserve the quality and nutritional value of the proteins.
For more information on each product, see our products page.
We always recommend slowly introducing raw diets over 2 weeks. The reason for this is to minimise any potential for stomach upsets which can happen if a change in diet is sudden. Some pets will have no issues with a quick changeover in diet, however to be sure, we do recommend slowly introducing the new food.
Day 1-3: 20% New 80% Old
Day 4-6: 40% New 60% Old
Day 7-9: 60% New 40% Old
Day 10-12: 80% New 20% Old
Day 12+: 100% New Diet
We have a useful feeding calculator on our website which will help guide portion sizes based on weight and allow the calculation of the % of new and old diet during the transition period.
We recommend feeding adult dogs (12 months +) 2% of their body weight daily. We recommend puppies (generally 12 months and younger), pregnant and lactating dogs or working dogs 4% of their body weight daily. This is based on the nutritional content of our foods.
We recommend feeding adult cats 2-3% of their body weight daily (this is based on an average sized 4kg cat) and kittens 4-6%.
However, our feeding guidelines are a guide and your pets’ metabolism, breed, size, age and activity level may affect their overall nutritional requirements. Many people wish to replace a raw meal with an appropriate serve of meaty bones for dental health which is an important part of ensuring a healthy raw fed pet. Also taking into account treats as part of the daily energy from food being provided to your pet has an impact.
The important thing to focus on ultimately is that your pet is within a healthy weight range.
It is fine for younger animals (especially puppies) to have extra fat (aka puppy fat) sub 6 months of age. As they grow into adults, it’s more important to fine tune their diet to suit a healthy weight. A healthy weight can be measured in a number of simple physical ways. Ribs shouldn’t be prominent but should be able to be felt with a thin covering of fat over the top. There should be a visible abdominal tuck and when you look at your pet from above, they should have a visible waist. If the ribs can be seen, increase their daily food allowance, if they no longer have a waist and look like a log from above, decrease their daily food allowance until their waist returns.
Cats are obligate carnivores, Big Dog Raw Food Diets for Cats are formulated to be higher in meat and lower in plant material. Big Dog Cat Food is also higher in amino acids that are essential for cats, meaning they need these solely from their diet. Arginine and taurine are the key essential amino acids to ensure are in cat food in appropriate amounts. Because cats don’t produce these amino acids the way dogs do; which is why they need higher levels in their diets. Big Dog Raw Diets for Cats are formulated with ample arginine and taurine for healthy growth and development in cats,
We wouldn’t recommend this in the long term. Whilst it is fine in the short term, cats require additional taurine (as essential amino acid for cats) in their diet and Big Dog Food for Cats has been specifically formulated with ingredients high in taurine to ensure adequate amounts.
If your cat prefers our dog food, you can continue to feed this, however we would recommend adding a few chicken hearts to their meal every day to ensure dietary tauring is aqequate.
Taurine is an essential amino acid in cats and must be obtained in adequate amounts in the diet to prevent deficiency.
According to the Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats by the National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life Studies, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Committee on Animal Nutrition, Subcommittee on Dog and Cat Nutrition, the daily dietary taurine requirements for cats for growth and health maintenance is 320mg/kg of food per day and we easily meet these needs.
Big Dog Raw Diets for Cats are formulated with the following levels of Taurine per kg of food and easily meet these requirements.
Rabbit – 381.7 mg/kg
Kangaroo – 411 mg/kg
Turkey – 440.5 mg/kg
The only time you may wish to supplement with additional Taurine would be during gestation and lactation where requirements increase to 450mg of Taurine per kg or food. Feeding a few chicken hearts additionally per day is a great natural way to achieve this.
Garlic in appropriate amounts is perfectly fine for dogs. In fact, it’s an amazingly healthy inclusion in dog’s diets. Like many things, garlic in large amounts can certainly lead to toxicity, but the amounts we add to our food are well below levels that can cause issues and is very safe and beneficial.
Garlic is included for its tremendous health benefits which include:
When it comes to the controversy regarding garlic, this is because it belongs to the Allium family and it contains a substance called thiosulphate, the ingestion of which has been known to be harmful to dogs. The key though, is in the quantity required to do any harm. In fact, there have been studies that show that a 34 kg Labrador would need to eat five full heads of garlic or about 75 cloves of garlic in each meal before there would be any adverse effect on the red blood cells. Similarly, a dog weighing a mere 4.5kg would need to eat 25 grams of garlic – about half an entire head of garlic, or about 6 to 8 garlic cloves in every meal to experience any adverse effects.
Dogs Naturally Magazine has an interesting article on this topic for further reading http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/garlic-for-dogs-poison-or-medicine/ or check out a podcast with our resident food scientist on this very topic. https://bigdogpetfoods.com/resources/
Absolutely not, at Big Dog, when we say 100% natural we mean 100% natural. This means no added preservatives, no modern preservation methods like irradiation which impact the nutritional quality of the food nor do we add any synthetic additives such as vitamins and minerals, colours or flavours.
Our preservation method for our food is freezing and once our product has been thawed ready to serve to your pet, it will last up to 3 days when kept in the fridge.
Whilst our food may last longer than 3 days, be sure to keep an eye out for signs of deterioration of the product like ballooning of the packaging. If this occurs, do not serve your pet and dispose of the product.