Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat Safely? 7 Rules For Feeding The Best Raw Dog Food Diet

October 30, 2019 8 min read

Can dogs eat raw meat safely?

"Is raw diet safe for dogs and what age can my dog eat raw meat?"
is a popular question of many pet owners who are considering to feed raw. 

Can Dogs Eat Raw Meat?

Dogs are natural carnivores and have evolved to thrive on a diet that primarily consists of raw meat. As a pet owner, it's essential to understand the benefits of feeding raw. Raw meat contains essential nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for maintaining your dog's health. By including raw meat in your dog's diet, you can improve their digestion, strengthen their immune system, and give them a shiny coat.

One of the most significant benefits of feeding your dog raw meat is the improved digestion. Raw meat contains enzymes that aid in the digestion process and help your dog absorb nutrients more efficiently. This is particularly beneficial for dogs that have sensitive stomachs or are prone to digestive issues.

Another benefit when your dogs eat raw meat is to reduce the risk of certain health conditions. Feeding your dog a diet that includes raw meat can help lower the risk of obesity, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. This is because raw meat is a natural, unprocessed food that does not contain any artificial additives or preservatives that can be harmful to your dog's health.

Dental health is another area where raw meat can make a difference. Chewing on raw bones can help scrape away plaque and tartar, keeping your dog's teeth clean and healthy.

At what age can dogs eat raw meat?

Starting your dog on a raw diet as soon as possible is the best decision you can make for their health. During their developmental stage, a well-rounded diet will help strengthen their immune system and prevent long-term health issues associated with kibble.

For under-16-weeks-old pup, we recommend lightly cooking the meat for 6 to 8 minutes with a small amount of water to ensure safety.

It is important to note that if your dog was previously fed kibble after weaning, transitioning them to a raw diet may require a gradual process (mentioned below).

In conclusion, eating raw meat is a natural and healthy diet for dogs. By including raw meat in your dog's diet, you can improve their overall wellbeing and reduce the risk of certain health conditions. 

7 Rules to Follow for Feeding Raw Dog Food

So, you are considering switching to raw dog food – that’s awesome! As we become more aware of what we are putting into our own bodies and work hard to avoid nutrition-devoid processed foods in our own diets, it's only natural for us to consider the same change for our four-legged friends as well.

As with most topics, the internet is flooded with information about a raw diet for dogs – some good, some not so good – so we figured we should break it down to the bone for you with Cali Raw’s 7 Simple Guidelines of Raw Feeding

RULE #1: Feed a Complete & Balanced B.A.R.F. Recipe

If you are just now seeing and hearing the B.A.R.F acronym being used to describe this exciting new way to feed your dogs, you might be wondering, “Why barf, of all words?”

The acronym stands for “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food”. You may also see it spelled out as “Bones and Raw Food”, but they mean the same thing – feeding your dog a species-appropriate ancestral diet of fresh, uncooked, and wild meats and greens just as they would find in nature.

Your dog’s new diet will be high in protein, moderate in fats, and minimal is carbohydrates which will lead to a stronger build, a healthier coat, cleaner teeth and fresher breath, more regular stools, and way more energy and mobility!

The B.A.R.F. diet provides: 


Ground meaty bones, an ingredient you can find in our Raw Beef Dog Food - Adult Formula, balances the high levels of phosphorus found in the meat and encourages good oral health for your dogs to eat.


Organ meats, like gizzards, livers, hearts, and kidneys, are perfectly safe for human consumption. Organ meats are typically not found in many refrigerators or on many menus, but by feeding them to our dogs we are reducing waste and providing a healthy, natural source for a variety of essential proteins and vitamins.

Read More: How Organ Meat Is Good For Dogs

Vegetables & Fruits

Cali Raw Dog Food is packed full of human-grade ingredients like farm-fresh broccoli, green beans, kale, and apple, along with Chicory Root Extract (Inulin), and Vitamin D supplements to help increase calcium absorption and regulate its levels.

Learn More: The Importance Of Adding Fruit & Vegetables To Your Dog's Diet

Meets AAFCO Guidelines

AAFCO, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, is a voluntary organization that is mostly made up of regulatory officials who bear some form of responsibility for enforcing their state’s laws and regulations concerning the safety of animal feeds.

Even the FDA regards AAFCO as “vital to the continued regulation of pet food products because the FDA has limited enforcement resources that are focused on human food safety issues.” Cali Raw Dog Food is always formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.

RULE #2: Feed Human-Grade, Responsibly Raised Meats

You know the old saying – "junk in, junk out." The same is not only true for how we choose to feed our dogs, but also how farmers choose to raise their livestock and poultry. Responsibly raised and ideally free-range cattle, chickens, and turkeys free from synthetic steroids and hormones produce the healthiest, most protein, and nutrient-packed meats possible and that is what you’ll find in all Cali Raw formulations.

Raw dog bone dogs can eat
Dogs can eats a raw meat bone too


Where AAFCO falls short is by not establishing a higher bar for where the protein source for your dog’s food actually comes from. It could be a free-range cow or it could be roadkill- AAFCO doesn’t want to know but you should!

This is why it is so important to TRUST YOUR SOURCE. Yes, there are cheaper alternatives out on the market but buyer beware! There is no worse way to waste money than switching to a raw dog food diet full of incorrect ingredients. Cali Raw uses only human-grade, USDA-inspected meats as our main protein source.

RULE #3: Transition Slowly & Expect an Adjustment Period

For many dogs, the complete transition from kibble to Cali Raw can often be accomplished within a week, BUT do not rush the process. Just like when we make a major dietary change in our own lives, the key is to take it slowly and be watchful for any signs of digestive problems.

Generally speaking, the older the dog, the longer it may take to transition to the new raw diet. But senior dogs can switch to raw too! 

Raw dog food for small and big breed dogs


When introducing the diet initially, consider a blend of your ready-to-serve Cali Raw Dog Food formulation and some of your dogs’ current kibble. Having your dog fast for half a day beforehand can also stimulate a more voracious appetite to help them acquire the new taste.

A looser stool than usual can be expected during this transition phase as you gradually ween them off of kibble completely and into a purely BARF diet. Simply slow the process when you notice this and keep kibble levels stable until things get a bit more solid back there! Then you can resume the transition. Before you know it, your dog will be licking the bowl clean!

Learn: How to Transition to Raw Feeding Guide 

RULE #4: Offer a Variety of Proteins Weekly

You might love a delicious, juicy cheeseburger once in a while, but no matter how much you like it, you may get tired of it if that was all you had to eat every single day. The same goes for your dog, but besides offering our dogs a bit more menu variety, there are real health benefits to mixing up your dog’s source of protein to ensure they are getting a complete and balanced diet.

Beef, for example, is a great source of not only protein, but also vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6, selenium, zinc, and phosphorus. It is also an excellent source of choline, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium, and vitamin B2.

Chicken, on the other hand, provides an excellent source of niacin and selenium. It is also a great source of vitamin B6 and phosphorus.

By mixing up your sources of protein you help to balance and regulate the types of fats that your dog is ingesting, avoid intolerances forming to any one source, and provide a healthy balance of white and red meats. Cali Raw Dog Food offers the variety you and your dog desire and we make it easy to organize your freezer based on the protein formulation.

No more guesswork, since Cali Raw makes it easy!

RULE #5: Monitor Your Dogs Weight & Adjust As Needed

Experts say that roughly 40-50% of all dogs are overweight or obese based on body condition scoring, which leads to a number of related conditions. Have you ever seen an overweight wolf or a fat coyote? No, that is not what nature intends for canines.

As a responsible pet owner, you should learn your dog’s ideal body weight and monitor it regularly. Note that anything up to 15% more than the ideal is considered over

Overweight dog on scale

weight, and more than 15% is considered obese. Also, when you look at your dog you do not want to see sharply protruding ribs, as that may indicate that your pooch is below their ideal weight. Conversely, if you cannot readily feel your dog’s ribs when petting them, chances are they are overweight. 

Fortunately, there is a solution and Cali Raw makes it so simple with a raw dog food subscription with delivery right to your door - Bone Appétit!

Does Your Dog Need To Lose Weight? How To Put My Dog On A Diet 

RULE #6: Wash & Sanitize All Surfaces & Utensils after Serving Raw Dog Food

One of the biggest fears that people have of switching to a raw dog food diet is the threat of bacterial contamination when handling or serving the food. This is a  legitimate concern for the DIY crowd that chooses to chop and mix all ingredients themselves, but perfectly packaged & portioned meals from Cali Raw Dog Food make the entire process clean, safe, and oh so easy.

Of course, it is always important to wash and thoroughly sanitize all bowls, dishes, surfaces, and utensils after handling raw food and before handling anything else. This will help prevent cross-contamination.

RULE #7: Shop The Best Raw Meat Dogs Can Eat!

To avoid bad food, shop the best for your dogs. Fresh food is healthy food and the freshest meats, fruits, and veggies are raised and grown locally.

California dogs

Ingredients optimized to thrive in your region will also boost your dog’s diet and fortify their gut biome. Aside from the health benefits, raw dog food diets are also environmentally friendly, utilizing far more eco-friendly manufacturing practices and standards than the big brand grocery store kibble options.

Cali Raw is based in Orange County, California and we are proudly improving the quality of life for hundreds of dogs right here in Southern California.

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