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Feeding Raw On A Budget: The Real Cost Of Feeding Your Pet

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

Balanced raw? Rotating proteins? Bones? DIY?! Listen, we get it—the nuances of switching over to raw can seem overwhelming at first, especially when it comes to the “bottom line”: that’s right, we’re talking about the dreaded budget planning. Don’t let the idea of a budget switch-up deter you, though—the logistics and cost of feeding raw aren’t as insurmountable as they first appear. We’re here to help you understand the long-term benefits of raw and how you can conquer the hurdles you need to get there!

Feeding Raw Food On A Budget: The Real Cost Of Feeding Your Pet

Topic Index

  • Making The Switch With the Right Frame of Mind

  • 7 Ways To Save Money When Feeding A Raw Food Diet

For most of us, the switch to raw comes when we realize conventional pet food products just aren’t working for our pet—it could be allergies, chronic illnesses, an aversion to processed foods, or maybe they just plain old won’t eat! Traditionally treating these issues comes with costs of their own: hypoallergenic prescription diets, topical creams, antihistamines, antibiotics, even steroids can run up bills quickly, and they’re often only a “band-aid solution”—they’re treating the symptoms, not the root cause. Even just finicky pets who are tired of the same-old-same-old can be expensive: cracking open can after can of wet food and bags of kibble only to have your pet snub it can frustrate even the most patient of pet parents.

In contrast, fresh food and other holistic treatment options could potentially address many underlying issues directly. Removing allergens from your pet’s diet may revert or relieve allergy symptoms they may be experiencing, or possibly prevent an escalation of symptoms. Even picky pets—if you switch them over slowly enough—can usually fall in love with the taste of raw food before they have the chance to snub the new food solely on the merit of it being new. It may be surprising, but often the long-term costs of feeding raw end up being less expensive than treating allergies and other chronic conditions that may be attributed to a lower-end diet and poor quality nutrition!

Making The Switch With the Right Frame of Mind

We’re so thrilled you’re even considering changing over to raw, but we’ll give it to you straight: the process of switching can take time, patience, extra observation, and yes, possibly a little extra money, depending on what diet your pet was on before. We went and averaged out the cost of our meals for your pet’s size, and it turns out it’s comparable to a daily latte! Small dog or cat? About the cost of a small latte. Medium dog? Medium latte! Big dog? Well, you get the idea.

Daily Budget For Feeding Raw Food To Cats and Dogs

​​Before you recoil and crack open another can of dollar store wet food, let us explain. There is no such thing as truly 100% “cheap” food: you’ll be paying the cost somewhere, and if it’s not in your time, stress, or environmental impact, then it can manifest as a cost to your pet’s health and longevity. We get it: there are so many factors rolling around when it comes to doing what’s best for your pet, but we’ve gone and broken down what exactly you’re paying for when it comes to a raw diet with Red Dog Blue Kat.

  1. Not just quality, but ethical quality: if you’re looking for sustainable, ethical food, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better than RDBK. We’re very selective about our sources, so we choose to use only humanely raised, human-grade meats, and whole, unprocessed vegetables (in fact, our Complete meals feature 100% organic veggies)! Because we also include ground organs and bones, your pet is actually getting the benefit of the animal as nature intended with a more biologically appropriate mixture, in addition to all those vegetables chosen specifically for the vitamins, minerals, fibre, and other nutrients they provide for your cat or dog.

  2. The highest standards of food safety: once we have all our top-notch you-could-eat-it-at-your-own-table ingredients, we take it a step further. We don’t think it’s fair to ask you to “just trust us” when we say we’re doing everything we can to make your raw journey as safe and sustainable as possible. Therefore, every year we apply for (and have passed!) our HACCP—Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points—audit to ensure we’re doing everything possible to prevent cross-contamination, pathogens, and spoilage in our facility. This is the gold standard in the human food industry, and we believe that your pets deserve this level of food safety and quality standards as well. We even have a microbiologist on staff checking every single batch for bacteria and molds!

Whatever your reason for switching to raw is, we want to help put your mind at ease—no matter the cost. We do all this and more because we’re serious about our mission to help your pet live the longest, happiest life possible by providing them with the best possible food.

Need to know more? We don’t blame you. Let’s take a deeper look at the raw journey and the options for different budgets.

Learn about transitioning your pet to raw in our blog


7 Ways To Save Money When Feeding A Raw Food Diet

We wish it were as easy as slapping down a raw meal in the morning and sitting back with a self-satisfied coffee in your World’s Best Pet Parent mug (in all seriousness, you’re switching to raw? You should get yourself one of those mugs). While it may become that easy eventually, there are some intermediate steps and logistics to consider when making your raw journey as budget-friendly as possible.

1. The First Month Cuts the Deepest (to your wallet)

Fair warning in advance: the first month is usually the most expensive. Don’t be discouraged—we’ve found this is because it’s easier to switch a pet from a commercial food diet to a ground, pre-mixed raw diet, which will cost more than preparing it yourself.

Buying smaller, individual packages of different raw protein meals will likely be the most significant contributor to your budget in the first month of switching. It’s for a good reason, though: until you figure out which proteins your pet enjoys the most, it’s best to have a selection available on hand. Above all, you should avoid fasting your pet for extended periods (i.e. over 24 hours). Dogs can tolerate this, so you can stand your ground for a few meals and see if they get hungry enough to give it a go, but the health consequences of denying a cat their food can have a quick onset and cause serious medical issues (and no, we don’t mean the strain on their vocal cords when they’re screaming for different food). So, if your cat doesn’t eat within two meals, you can concede some ground, give them a meal you know they will tuck into, and try again next time.

While it may be frustrating switching out proteins until you find the winner-winner (not always chicken dinner), it’ll be worth it when you figure out what your pet likes best, and you can start buying in bulk sizes; thereby reducing the impact on your wallet. After a month or so of raw feeding, you can begin introducing more whole foods and start chipping away at your overhead costs.

2. Budget Friendly Proteins & Meals

There’s nothing wrong with price hunting through menus when we eat outside our regular haunts—it’s entirely possible to enjoy a good meal without gouging your bank account! Even when we shell out the minimum for a good dinner, higher-end meals are generally more satisfying and provide longer-lasting sating effects than a drive-thru burger.

The same principle applies to your pet’s protein choices. Any species-appropriate raw proteins will be a step up from a carb-heavy kibble diet, but that doesn’t mean you have to make it rain for higher-end proteins like buffalo or venison. The most cost-effective proteins are chicken, tripe, turkey, beef, and lamb; by using a rotation, you can ensure your pet never gets tired of their meals, gets all the nutrients they need over time, and continues to eat readily—meaning less wasted food in the long run! If you’re making the switch for a canine friend, Red Dog Blue Kat also has Everyday Raw and ECO lines for dogs that can shave a few more bucks off of your expenses!

Still wondering how variety fits into your pricing plan? Never fear: your Red Dog Blue Kat retailer can help you stay within your budget, so don’t be afraid to ask them to help price things out and make a plan that works for you.

3. Stay Organized: Freezer Space

The amount of available storage in your freezer will factor in how much you can buy at one time. If you have a large dog or a multi-pet household, it’s a great idea to invest in a deep freezer—this way you can buy 2 lb meals or bulk boxes, which will significantly reduce your costs. Mini freezers for apartments or small spaces are great, affordable investments that you can tuck into a corner and dedicate to your pet’s meals, so you never have to choose between your pet’s variety of meals and your variety of ice cream pints.

4. Fewer Grocery Store Runs: Bulk Packages

Once you’ve found the proteins your pet loves the most, you can start bulking up. Bulk packages are cheaper than single meal packs, provided you can use a large (2 lb) package in under 48 hours. RDBK also makes bulk variety boxes of 24 x 1 lb packs of our Everyday Raw line for dogs to cut the cost back even more! Some of our bones come in bulk packs too, including buffalo bones and chicken necks, so you (and your pet) don’t need to worry about your stock when it comes to their favourite day of the week: bone day.

Everyday Raw Variety Box

5. Feeding Bones For Health While Also Cutting Costs

Speaking of bones, once your furry roommate is comfortable on a raw diet (it can take longer than you might think—we recommend waiting until you’ve done about a month of ground raw feeding), you can start adding a variety of whole bones! Not only can bones help you save anywhere between 10–14% by cutting back the amount of pre-mixed food you need to use, but they’re also a great source of minerals like calcium; they improve dental hygiene, and release endorphins that only a good chew can provide! For these reasons, we recommend adding bones to your pet’s diet around 2–3 times a week for puppies and kittens, and 1–2 times per week for adult pets, with at least one day in between. You can experiment with giving your dog or cat bones (under close supervision) to determine what kind of chewing they love—are they gentle nibblers, hard chompers or gulpers? The difference matters!

Learn the best bone feeding practices and how to choose the right bone for your pet!

6. Get Creative: DIY Base Mixes

If you don’t mind doing a bit of meal prep, Red Dog Blue Kat’s Base Mixes are here to help you stay on budget. These mixes stick with the basics: they’re made of ground meat, organs, bones, and nothing else—they’re an amazing tool to use when creating homemade, custom recipes for your pet! Despite being a “bare-bones” version of our fully-incorporated meals (pardon the pun), these still have the same ethically sourced, human-grade meats that we pride ourselves on. All that’s needed is some vegetables, supplements, and your own creativity and enthusiasm!

Need some tips to get started? See our blog Should Carnivores Get Vegetables to learn the do’s and don’ts of which vegetables to feed your pet.

Red Dog Blue Kat Base Meals For Dogs

Going the Extra Mile: Full DIY Raw

If you’re making your own raw meals from scratch, keep your eyes peeled for fresh food price drops at your local grocer or butcher. When you see a sale, you can take advantage and stock up (another great use for an extra freezer). The season and supply of foods will affect prices significantly, so we recommend figuring out what’s in season in your area and focusing your attention there—those will be the fresh fruit and vegetable deals that will make the biggest difference in your budgeting! Just remember that foods intended for the human market are meant to be cooked, and you shouldn’t feed some meats (e.g. pork, fish, among others) completely fresh/raw due to possible parasites or pathogens. Be sure that the meat you purchase for your pet is frozen at sufficient temperatures (far below those that your home freezer can achieve!) for the appropriate amount of time to reduce the risks before serving it up to your pet. This is where we shine: we take care of this important safety step for you at our facility with our commercial freezers.

For more information on balancing the raw diet and food options, check out our blog on Complete & Balanced (Part 2): Building A Balanced Raw Diet

7. Comparing Costs: Food vs Vet Bills

At its core, the investments you’re making aren’t really about a new freezer or types and amounts of food you buy: you’re investing in your pet’s health. By focusing on health at a basic, fundamental level, you could reduce the risk of unplanned veterinary bills. Take it from us, feeding raw is way less stressful than chronic vet visits. Whether your pet struggles with health issues now or you’re looking to prevent them in the future, a balanced, raw, and biologically appropriate diet can be your first line of defence. The chances of serious illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, and cancers can all be reduced by ensuring your pet receives optimal nutrition for disease prevention. Even when your pet is recovering from an illness, a raw diet can assist their recovery by supporting cellular functions such as cellular regeneration and intracellular moisture and reducing and managing inflammation. With that in mind, however, you shouldn’t try and make the switch to raw food if your pet is in the throes of battling an illness; always follow your veterinarian’s advice, and wait until there’s less stress on their body before you start introducing them to the flavorful joys of raw meals.

As your pet’s health improves on a raw diet, your trips to the vet with any nutrition-related ailments will decrease correspondingly. Not only will that make your bank account happy, but it’ll make your vet happy too: a great vet wants to see you and your pet as little as possible, so an annual wellness check to be sure they are in tip-top shape may be all they require—after all, vets are just as dedicated as you are to seeing your pets healthy and happy!

It’s a Team Effort: Find A Balance

We know we talk a lot about what’s best for pets, but your needs matter too. We firmly believe in balance: we’re not out here on our soapbox demanding every pet household undergoes a radical change overnight, but we do subscribe to the 1% better method. By doing 1% better every day—getting your cats off kibble, adding even just 20% of fresh foods or to your pet’s diet and trying new, species-appropriate raw proteins when you can—your results will grow exponentially without drastically impacting your bottom line. We hope these tips have helped you find the balance you’re looking for in your lifestyle and your pet’s health, but if you need any help with your diet planning, feel free to fill out our Feeding Guide to get detailed feeding advice for your pet.

Once again, congratulations on starting your raw journey. We’re always here to help! Happy feeding!

Feeding Raw on a Budget


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