Feeding raw isn’t just about raising healthy dogs (though that’s the #1 priority!). It’s also about saving money.
I hear this a lot “I can’t afford to feed my dog raw.”
Of course you can! In fact, the opposite is true. You can’t afford NOT to feed your dog raw.
Use these money-saving tips and you’ll save more money than you ever thought possible. And not only will you save month to month, you’ll also save thousands on vet visits and medical care throughout your healthy, raw fed dog’s life.
1. Buy in bulk.
Buying prepackaged meats and organs from the supermarket is costly. Instead, you should be buying in bulk from your local meat market.
2. Order frozen meats.
Always specify that the items you order in bulk be frozen. Meats that have never been frozen or are already thawed when you pick them up will cost you more.
3. Buy inexpensive cuts.
Filets are for birthdays. For every other day of the year focus on buying inexpensive cuts of meat.
4. Buy from local farmers.
Local, small-scale farmers who sell directly to the public often do their own butchering and because of this, some of them are willing to supply raw feeders with pieces and parts that would normally be discarded.
5. Contact local butchers.
Butchers toss out trash bag after trash bag of scraps on a daily basis, and may be willing you let you in on some freebies. They may also have organs, bones and fat trim that a customer didn’t want back.
6. Get to know local homesteaders.
Homesteaders understand the desire to break away from the status quo in order to feed healthier foods. They also have a strong belief (one that we should all have) that nothing should go to waste. When they butcher a rabbit or chicken, homesteaders would much rather see the heads and feet (etc.) go to someone who can use them vs tossing them in the trash.
7. Create relationships with local hunters.
This is a must in my book! Hunters love what they do and if they can share their kills with someone who can make good use of them, most are more than happy to do so. Many hunters will field gut an animal, leaving the organs behind. In this case, you’ll only be able to get your hands on bones and unwanted scraps. But if they do bring the whole animal back you may be able to get your hands on unwanted organs as well.
8. Add fat.
If you have a dog who isn’t keeping weight on (whether he’s very active or has a higher metabolism), instead of upping his food (if you’re already feeding 2.5-3%) try adding fat to his diet. This will give him the added calories he needs without overfeeding him. And it will also save you money.
9. Weigh meals.
A lean dog is a healthy dog. Weighing meals not only keeps your dogs light and fit, it also keeps you from wasting money on overfeeding. There’s nothing wrong with eyeballing meals, but if you’re trying to stick to a budget it’s best to weight them.
10. Pre-portion meals.
Pre-portioning meals will help you make the most of what’s in your freezer. If you’ve been feeding raw for a little while, you know that things get lost in a freezer (or two) full of meats, bones and organs. And when you come across 20 lbs. of forgotten chicken feet, you may not be able to feed them until you go out and buy more meat to even out the ratio.
11. Ask friends for unwanted/freezer-burned meat.
Yes, freezer burn does diminish the quality of the meat, but there’s no real harm in feeding it to your dogs. Plus, it’s free!
12. Buy odds and ends.
Things like duck heads aren’t on the average person’s grocery list. Anything that isn’t in high demand will be far less expensive, maybe a little harder to get your hands on, but worth calling around about.
13. Connect with other raw feeders in your area.
Trading with other raw feeders will help you keep a nice variety in your freezer. Plus, as raw feeders you both understand that budgeting is a must and will be able to help each other out.
14. Purchase livestock on sale.
“Everything must go.” is an unfortunate situation some small-scale farmers find themselves in. Though it’s an unfortunate situation for a farmer, it’s an opportunity for you to get your hands on animals for butchering. If you’re not comfortable butchering an animal yourself, you can take it to someone local for processing.
15. Take up fishing and hunting.
Taking up fishing and hunting will fill your freezer with some of the healthiest meats out there. Even just a couple of fishing trips can save you a good chunk of change.
16. Place an add on Craigslist.
Place an ad on Craigslist for unwanted/freezer-burned meat. You’ll get emails from people who are curious about why you want it (and you may get a mean email or two), but an ad like this can put you in contact with generous people who are getting ready to spring-clean their freezers. Just be careful when meeting people you don’t know. Always meet in a public place and if you don’t feel comfortable feeding your dog meat from a particular person (if you’re worried about someone having ill intensions) then go with your gut and toss it in the trash.
17. Raise your dogs’ meat.
Our food system is extremely fragile these days. Not only that, but factory-farmed animals live unimaginably horrible lives and the end result is a less healthy meat. Raising your dogs’ meat (and your own) is rewarding and incredibly beneficial for your dogs’ health. This is a big step to take, but well worth every bit of energy you put into it.