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Preparing raw dog food for large dogs can be intimidating, but with this EASY step-by-step method, you can begin confidently raw feeding dogs in bulk.
Do you feel you are too busy for raw dog food meal prep for your large dog every day?
Or perhaps you are thinking, “There is no way I can feed my large dogs a raw food diet as fast and easy as feeding kibble.” Large dogs eat a lot and homemade raw dog food meals take way too much time to prepare.
Fortunately, there is a way to make the entire process of bulk raw dog food meal prep EASY and the daily feeding of a natural DIY raw diet to your large dogs as fast and efficient as scooping kibble into a bowl!
Believe me, it can be done!
In this post, you will learn:
- Prioritization in raw feeding – you simply can’t do it all, so what’s most important?
- A quick and easy way to calculate how many calories you should be feeding your large dog per day
- How to calculate how much raw food to feed your dog and how much raw meat to order
- My step-by-step process for planning and meal-prepping 15 days of raw dog food for two Mastiffs
- The use case for this method of meal prep for raw feeding
- Critical caveats to this (and any other) homemade dog food diet
Let’s dive in…
Raw Feeding Dogs for Beginners – Know Your Priorities
As I set out to bulk meal prep 15 days of raw food for my dogs, I started with my list of priorities.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have time for this, I just want to know how to feed my dog a raw diet.”
We will get there, my little grasshopper!
First, what I want you to do is sit down and consider what your priorities are for raw feeding your large dog.
These priorities will determine the WHAT and HOW you will proceed with planning out your bulk raw food order and the raw dog food recipe you use for your meals.
While not all of these items will apply to you, the following is an example for you to use as a guide.
This was my priority list for the 15 days of raw meals you see me prepare in the video below.
1. Nutritional Goals
My goal right now for Sulley and Juinor is to adjust their caloric intake to account for their advanced age and lower activity level.
While neither boy is obese, both are aging, somewhat sedentary, neutered adult male Mastiffs.
Keeping them at a lighter weight will improve their mobility over time by relieving stress on their bones and joints, particularly hips, as they age.
In addition, a lower, more ideal weight will improve their cardiovascular health and overall longevity.
In just a minute I will walk you through how this goal affected my calculations for their daily energy needs (calories) and thus, how much raw food to feed per day.
When it comes to nutritional goals, yours might be the growth of a puppy or the maintenance of an active working breed adult dog.
In the references section below you will find some terrific resources that will help you determine your goals and how to structure your dog’s raw diet accordingly.
2. Variety is Key
As I shared in Balance, Bones & Barf, OH MY! Raw Diet For Dogs Made Simple [10 Tips], variety is essential in feeding a raw diet to your dog.
We’ve all heard stories of people mistakenly believing a diet of whole or ground chicken is a complete and balanced raw diet. The truth is a raw diet of just chicken is neither complete nor balanced.
The key is providing multiple protein sources and varying this monthly or as you are placing your bulk raw food orders.
For this particular meal prep and bulk order, I already had some beef on hand, and sardines were out of stock when I placed my order.
So, in order to vary my protein sources, while being mindful of cost, I ordered turkey, pork, and dark meat chicken (it was on sale), and decided to feed salmon on the backend versus prepping the sardine with each meal.
3. Freezer Space for Raw Food
Freezer space is a huge factor if you are meal-prepping or purchasing raw dog food in bulk for large dogs.
You will want to consider the following:
- How much space do you have in your freezer that you can dedicate to your dogs?
- How many days of raw food can you fit in your freezer? Most raw food co-ops do monthly bulk orders, so you will want space for 30 days of raw meals.
- If you choose to prep meals ahead of time, do you have space for the containers?
- And, how much space do you have in your refrigerator to thaw frozen raw dog food?
I have a small white upright freezer that is mostly dedicated to the dog’s raw meat.
If you have the space and room in your budget, I highly recommend buying a dedicated freezer for your dog’s raw food.
You can pick them up fairly inexpensively on places like Facebook Marketplace, Craig’s List, or local marketplaces.
4. Dog Food Budget
Raw-feeding large dogs can definitely break the bank if you aren’t careful. Here are a few tips as you think about your dog food budget each month.
When it comes to bulk purchasing raw meat for my dogs, I always price shop.
In both cities we have lived (West Michigan and Phoenix, AZ), I have had two different raw food co-ops from which to purchase the dog’s food.
In addition to price shopping, I generally don’t feed the more expensive cuts/proteins given the size of my dogs and how much they eat. Unfortunately, this includes some cuts of beef, all lamb, and some pork as well.
I pick and choose and always calculate the price I am paying per pound. I try to keep my average price per pound under $2.00 if at all possible!
5. Current Inventory of Raw Meat & FREE Scores!
The last factor I consider is my current inventory of raw meat and whether I can find a FREE source of anything here locally.
As far as inventory, for this particular raw meal prep, I already had kidney, tripe, liver, and plenty of raw meaty bones on hand.
The kidney and tripe I had left over from my previous raw order, while the liver came from the cow we got from my husband’s brother. They threw the liver in for FREE when we ordered the cow.
The raw meaty bones came from the local Amish farm I buy raw milk and eggs from. Those were FREE as well. I let them know I raw feed my dogs and they love saving scraps for me that they would normally discard.
Another great option is to befriend a local butcher. They are always tossing what isn’t sold for human consumption – 90% of which is perfect for your dogs!
How To Calculate Your Dog’s Daily Energy Requirement (Calories)
It is absolutely critical that you pay attention to the number of calories you are feeding your dog each day. Raw feeding can feel more like an art than a science.
But it really isn’t that difficult and there are some fantastic guides, linked below, that walk you through it.
Here is a quick explanation of how to calculate how many calories you should be feeding your dog per day.
- Your dog’s current weight /2.2 = your dog’s weight in KG
- Your dog’s weight in KG raised to the .75 power x 70
- Now you will multiply that number times a factor that is determined based on your particular dog and his or her energy needs.
|Activity Level||Energy Needs|
|Inactive & Obese Prone||1.2|
|Neutered & Low Activity||1.6|
|Intact & Low Activity||1.8|
|Young Adult & Average Activity||2|
|Above Average Activity (3hrs daily activity)||3|
So when I do the math for Sulley, using a starting weight of 200 lbs (his ideal weight is closer to 195 lbs), and a factor of 1.4 for inactive, his daily energy needs are 2,885 calories.
Junior, on the other hand, while I would like to see him lose a few pounds to reduce the stress on his hips, he is actually at the right weight for his bone and frame.
He is neutered and, when not crazy chasing a ball or playing, he’s pretty low activity. So, for him, his starting weight is 235 (with a goal closer to 225) I used a factor of 1.6 and got a daily energy need of 3,721 calories.
Now, to transfer the daily energy needs into how much raw food to feed, you will need this conversion:
19-20 ounces of raw food equates to 1000 calories.
While you certainly could simply use this conversion and calculate the weight of raw food needed per day based on this, most raw feeders use another method – the percentage of body weight method.
If you choose to use this method only, DO NOT rely on the prevailing standard of 2.5% of body weight, which is what most raw feeding websites and raw feeders will tell you.
If you do that, it is very likely you will be WAY overfeeding your dog!
Let’s take Junior and Sulley as an example.
If I fed both of them this 2.5% of body weight, Junior would be getting 1.1 POUNDS more than he should be! And Sulley would be getting 1.6 POUNDS more than he should be!
This would roughly exceed their daily caloric requirement by over 1000 calories on average!
That kind of excess is a recipe for obesity guaranteed!
VIDEO: How to Meal Prep 2 Weeks of Raw Dog Food | Raw Feeding Large Dogs For Beginners | RAW DIET MADE EASY
The latest on Youtube:
How to Meal Prep 2 Weeks of Homemade Raw Dog Food – My Step-by-Step Method
1. Determine % of Body Weight to Feed
Remember, my goal is maintenance and a little weight loss for both Junior and Sulley, therefore I am feeding 2.0% of body weight for Junior and 1.7% for Sulley. I have found these percentages to be about right for my boys’ age and activity level.
These percentages come very close to the right amount in terms of their daily energy requirement (calories).
When raw feeding I do the math BOTH ways – using a % of weight AND their daily calorie amount. I then double-check that these two numbers are close.
I err on the side of underfeeding versus overfeeding according to these numbers.
In other words, I want my weights for raw meat, bone, and organ to fall UNDER what my calorie calculations say they should be. Not by a huge amount. Just a little under is fine with me.
Since I am adding the bone as I feed it, my weights fluctuate and I like a little wiggle room.
2. Determine the Number of Days You Are Prepping Raw Meals For
Now that I have the amount of total raw dog food I need to feed (in pounds/ounces) for both dogs, I can multiply this by the number of days I would like meals prepped for.
This gives you one big number to work from – the total weight of raw food needed for X days.
At this stage, I also break the total amount of raw food needed per dog down into how much meat, bone, liver, and other secreting organs that will be (80:10:5:5).
3. Subtract Current Inventory and FREE Scores
Now that I know the total of what I needed for meat, bone, and organ, I went to my freezer to assess what I had on hand and what I still needed to order.
With this particular raw meal prep, I had enough organs, liver, tripe, heart, and bone for both dogs, so I knew I didn’t need to order those items.
4. Place Order With Raw Pet Food Co-Op or Bulk Raw Dog Food Supplier
In my experience, every raw food co-op operates a little differently, however, there are some consistencies.
First, orders are usually placed monthly.
While I am able to get some raw through other sources throughout the month as needed, my big order is done monthly.
That said, I try to order enough raw food for more than a month if I have the space and the prices are right.
The co-op I order through now is a little more inconsistent with their delivery dates, so I need to make sure the boys always have what they need.
For the record, if I have to supplement with kibble on occasion to fill the gap between raw orders, I don’t beat myself up.
So, for this raw food order, all I needed was the meat and sardines. Unfortunately, the supplier was out of sardines, but they were having a huge sale on dark meat chicken.
I don’t normally feed chicken, so I was happy to try this new item for a few weeks – again, variety is key!
5. Purchase and/or Prep Raw Meal Containers
You can see in the video below I am using 64 oz plastic containers for these meals. I purchased mine from Walmart and Amazon, but there are probably higher-quality options. That said, these work perfectly for me and they are inexpensive.
Since I added the raw meaty bone, fatty fish, and supplements on the back end (on the day of feeding), these size containers work perfectly.
I would love to meal prep an entire month of raw meals for my two Mastiffs, but 60 64oz containers take up A LOT of space! Maybe one day…
6. Raw Dog Food Pick-Up Day
My monthly bulk raw meat pick-up day is usually on a Saturday.
I block my entire day to travel, unload my car, partially thaw so I can break it all down, and then prepare the raw meals for my dogs in bulk.
These are Junior and Sulley’s absolute favorite days!
7. Raw Dog Food Meal Prep
Ok, this is where the fun begins!
I laid out all of the containers for Junior and Sulley – you will see Junior’s stash throughout the video. Sulley’s raw meals are behind me on the other counter.
Since I knew how much total meat I needed to add across all 15 days of meals, I broke down my bulk raw meat and began to separate it between both dogs – so that 54 pounds went to Junior and approximately 40 pounds went to Sulley.
Since I ordered 106 pounds of meat and had tripe and heart on hand, I had more than enough.
Now, let me be clear. This is just one way of doing this.
In the past, I weighed everything that I put in the container to make sure my daily rations of each ingredient were precise.
In this case, however, I figured that as long as the total across 15 days was accurate, what the boys received each day was less critical – some days they would get a little more, some days a little less.
I subtracted 20 pounds of meat from what I got from the co-op which left me with approximately 8 pounds of heart and tripe to add to their meals. Again, I separated this between Junior and Sulley and put a little into each meal.
Secreting organs and the liver are added in a similar fashion. I started with the total amount of kidneys and livers needed for each dog and then added an even amount to each meal.
Keep in mind, the kidney is NOT the only secreting organ I feed. It was just what I had on hand for this meal prep.
I feed spleen and thymus as well and throw in gizzards as I have them. Spleen, thymus, and kidney are the secreting organs I use most often based on what I can regularly source through my co-op.
8. Label Raw Meal Containers
If you are prepping raw food meals for someone else to feed, you will want to be sure to label them with what will need to be added to each meal to make it complete.
**Remember, these meals AS-IS are NOT complete until you add a few other things, the bone being the most important.
I highly recommend purchasing some sort of sticky labels for your containers!
I used a Sharpie for the raw meals I made in the video since I knew what was in there and who it was for.
But if you are going to prepare more containers before these are used, or if someone else is going to be feeding your dog, you will want to be much more detailed in what you write on the container.
Include the following information on your labels:
- Dog’s Name
- Date Prepared
- Total Weight
- What Else Needs To Be Added For Completion
9. Thaw Raw Dog Food
You will want to be prepared for this to take a couple of days or more.
I normally keep two or three days’ worth of food (this is 4- 6 containers since I’m feeding my Mastiffs once a day now) in my refrigerator and rotate more from the freezer as I use what is thawed using a first-in, first-out method.
You will also want to make sure you have a rotation of raw meaty bones thawing as well which you will be adding to your dog’s raw meals.
10. Complete Raw Meals With Bone, Add-Ins, & Supplements
Remember, these meals are not complete AS-IS!
You will want to try and keep your bone percentage to about 10 – 15% of your dog’s total raw food intake. In my experience, this is not an exact science, so I don’t overthink it.
If they get a little more bone one day, I give them a little less the next. I watch their stool and adjust how much I’m feeding as needed.
Now, if you are feeding a growing large or giant breed puppy, I want you to be more careful with this. Too little bone will throw off your Calcium (bone) to Phosphorus (Meat) ratio (Ca:Ph) and this can be extremely detrimental to a growing large breed puppy. You want this ratio to be as close to 1:1.2 as possible.
Additionally, you NEVER want to over-feed your puppy!
A diet that is too calorically dense (high in fat) can make a giant breed puppy grow faster than his bones can accommodate resulting in skeletal abnormalities such as hip dysplasia, OCD, and elbow dysplasia.
I am putting two resources in the references below to help you confidently feed a raw diet to your rapidly growing puppy without the risk of orthopedic growth disorders.
You can see in the table above that I add in quite a few things in order to complete my dog’s raw meals. This is NOT an all-inclusive list.
Again, I don’t overthink this part. Moderation is key.
When You Might Use This Method of Raw Feeding
There are several use cases for this method of raw feeding a dog. Here are just a few of the situations when you may want to consider a similar raw meal prep in bulk versus a daily raw meal prep system.
1. Travel Convenience
Whether your dog is going with you or she will be in the care of a friend or dog-sitter, this method can quickly help ensure your dog is well-fed while you are on the go.
You can use this method for as many days as you need. Just figure out how much your dog needs per day and then go from there.
2. Time saver! Great for Multi-Big Dog Households
Raw dog food meal prep can be extremely time-consuming, a common reason many big dog owners opt for a quality processed kibble diet. Convenience is everything.
This method is similar to taking a Sunday afternoon and prepping a week’s or month’s worth of freezer meals for your family. It’s the same idea.
This method can be a huge daily time saver as the raw fed meals are simply dump, add the raw meaty bone and extras, and go.
3. Cleanliness – Reduce Mess & Spread of Bacteria
Because you are only dealing with raw meat in bulk one time, this method reduces the mess that must be cleaned up each day as you are feeding a raw diet.
This, in turn, reduces the spread of bacteria and the risk of infection (anytime you are dealing with raw meat, there are bacteria).
When prepping raw food for dogs in bulk ahead of time, you are only thawing an enclosed container, not bags of each ingredient in your raw dog food recipe.
This dramatically cuts down on the mess in your refrigerator and on your counter each day – especially if you are feeding your dog more than once a day, which most dog owners do.
No matter what method you use, you will want to ensure you are sanitizing your counters, containers, and dog bowls and wiping your dogs when they are done.
All of these tasks should be considered S.O.P. – Standard Operating Procedure – when it comes to raw feeding your dog.
4. Raw Feeding Space Saver
Beyond cleanliness and daily efficiency, one of my absolute favorite aspects of this method is that it takes up less space in my refrigerator.
When I don’t take the time to meal prep in bulk, I end up having numerous bags of each item in a huge silver bowl in my refrigerator thawing all the time. I rotate freezer bags of raw ingredients in and out as my Mastiffs eat each day, so that ginormous bowl is always there.
It inevitably gets dirty and must be cleaned daily, it is heavy to carry in and out of our outdoor refrigerator, and it takes up nearly an entire shelf of space, much to the dismay of my entire family who also must use that refrigerator.
Having a steady rotation of nice little containers that are clean and prepped ahead of time makes my routine as a raw-feeding big dog mom a MILLION times easier!
5. Expiration Date Extender
And lastly, by prepping raw food for your large dogs with this method, you will be able to keep ready-to-go meals on hand for when you need them.
These meals can be your daily drivers or your backup meals. You get to choose.
When kept frozen, these nutritious raw dog food meals can be preserved for at least a year or longer.
Be sure to label your containers!
Critical Caveats To This (and Any Other) Dog Food Recipe or Method
Put simply, there is NO one-size-fits-all dog food recipe or raw feeding method that will work for all dog owners.
The fact is, NO raw food for dogs recipe is perfect or perfectly balanced no matter which method you use to prepare it.
But that said, I do have 5 really important caveats you MUST read to put this full blog post and video into perspective.
❌ This is NOT a raw food menu plan or a raw dog food recipe intended for you to follow.
This is me simply sharing ONE quick METHOD of making 15 days of raw meals in bulk for two adult Mastiffs.
❌ This is just ONE way to do it. If you ask 100 raw feeders how to make raw dog food, I promise you will get 100 other ways to do it. You have to do what is best for you and your dog.
❌ These meals are NOT complete! The containers of raw meat and organ as shown lack quite a few essential nutrients, therefore they are NOT fed as is.
❌ I am only showing a process for preparing one meal a day for my large dogs.
Most dog owners will split their calculated daily totals (weight and calories) into two or more meals per day depending on the age of your dog/puppy.
❌ The amount of bone I am feeding is an approximation. I shoot for 10-15% of my boys’ diet to be raw meaty bones.
The most obvious way to tell if dogs aren’t getting enough bone or getting too much bone is to observe their stools daily.
Depending on stool color and consistency, you will increase or decrease the amount of bone you are feeding accordingly.
Homemade Raw Dog Food – Is It For You?
So, what do you think? If you are just starting to learn how to make raw food for dogs, is this a method you would like to try?
If you are an experienced raw feeder, what do you think? What is your preferred method of making your dog’s raw food? Please share any tips you’ve learned in the comments below.
Remember, there is more than one way to skin a cat. [sorry cat lovers ]
My sincere prayer is that you take this information not as gospel, but as food for thought.
Happy Raw Meal Prepping!
- Homemade Dog Food: Is Balance Possible (or a Pipe Dream?)
- Raw Food Diet For Dogs: 5 Undeniable Truths Experts Conceal
- Puppy Raw Feeding Guidelines
- Calculate Meal Amounts and Daily Calories for Puppies
- Feeding Giant Breed Puppies for Dummies – The Protein Myth & More
- NRC Nutritional Requirements for Puppies
- Adult Dog Raw Feeding Guidelines
- Calculate Meal Amounts and Daily Calories for Adult Dogs