Cost of Feeding Raw Dog Food + Raw Food Co-Op List

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The Cost of Raw Dog Food

A to Z Challenge – C – Sponsored by Natural Pet Pantry

One of the appeals to feeding raw dog food was the cost.  I kept hearing that feeding raw is so much cheaper than feeding kibble.  I met people who either spent $200 a month feeding 3 or more dogs.  Or people would tell me that the investment I make today in their nutrition means that I won’t have a hefty vet bill tomorrow.

I get it.  But it kind of sucks for those of us who can’t afford to feed raw today OR pay the vet bill tomorrow.  So, let’s just cut to the chase.

Feeding raw CAN BE VERY EXPENSIVE.

It doesn’t have to be, but it is for most people who are new to raw and that’s because we haven’t found ways to save money yet.

Well, I’ve found a way to save money and although I hate discussing the details of making money, I’m going to make an exception here, because it’s important.

Our kibble budget = $350 / month (3 dogs)

  • High end kibble
  • Toppings to keep the dogs interested in the kibble
  • For 4 dogs, the budget would increase to $467/month

Our premade raw food budget = $860 / month (4 dogs)

  • This is a BARF (bones and raw food) diet that includes meat, bones, offal (organ meat), fruits and veggies – delivered 2x a month
  • Proteins include beef, chicken, turkey and duck (although we get little chicken)
  • $87.50 of the above budget is shipping

Our current raw food budget = $500 / month (4 dogs)

  • Raw Food Co-Op – we’re able to get traditional (beef, chicken, turkey, duck) and non-traditional  (rabbit, venison, buffalo, etc) proteins at cost instead of paying retail prices
  • J found a butcher who can get us beef at cost – they won’t grind it up for us and it won’t contain ground bone, but we can add bone meal
  • We switched to a new raw food company who is able to deliver us duck and turkey (variety is key) with no shipping; the savings can be redirected to more food
  • Researching each of these options, we believe that over time, the monthly cost will decrease to $350, because we can stock up quarterly and simply supplement with Natural Pet Pantry (the local raw food company)

Other costs to feeding raw (these aren’t monthly costs)

  • Freezer – we purchased one from an appliance recycling outlet store.  It was a store model that they fixed up and we got a 1 year warranty on it.
  • Meat Grinder – I’d love a Hobart meat grinder, but we purchased one for $150 off of eBay and it works great for what we’re doing.
  • Stainless steel mixing bowls – we purchased 4 huge ones and they are great for mixing up all the food.
  • Rubbermaid – don’t go cheap here; we got a ton of
  • Stainless steel feeding dishes* – easier to clean and keep clean and we purchased a set of slow feeder ones for the puppies
  • Mixing spoons
  • Meat cleaver – a good one can cut through bone and costs about $180; we picked one up at Costco for $45 (a guy had a display); I wouldn’t have spent that much before I knew how much they really cost.  You can pick one up for $15 at Target – it’ll break in about a month or so.
  • Salmon oil, coconut oil and Megga Dog camelina oil
  • Ground parsley, kelp, tumeric, bone (not the gardening stuff), and green lipped mussels

*My friend, Terri, has a dog that gets startled by his reflection in a stainless steel dish – if you can relate to this, try ceramic, but take care on where it’s made and what’s in the glazing.  I’m not certain if that will someone rub off into the food.

Tomorrow is D for Detox

Yesterday was B for Books and Blogs

Update!

Since writing this post, we’ve switched from getting most of our food through our raw food co-op and our monthly bill is about $400-450/month and this includes supplements, eggs, and raw goats milk.  Some months are higher, because I’ve started trying to stock up our freezer, which saves us even more money down the line.

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28 Comments

    • Since you buy in bulk, I’m curious if you save loads. We’re working our way up to buying every other month. So far, it’s monthly.
      Kimberly recently published..Cost of Feeding Raw Dog FoodMy Profile
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  1. WOW. Feeding dogs is pricey! I love my dogs, but the family grocery budget for five adults for us is only about $500. That would kill us. My mom bought livers and gizzards by the pound from our local fried chicken shop when we were kids, fed the livers to our puppy. Wondering how many other ways there are to get things on the cheap.
    Flea recently published..C is for Chicken, A to Z ChallengeMy Profile
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    • I know that there are people who spend half what we spend. They get meat from hunters or work directly with farms. They don’t mind processing it themselves. When I started looking into raw, I didn’t know that this was how many people were saving money. We don’t know any hunters soooo…

      Of course, I’m saving money down the line with health stuff, but I wish I had been warned about the sticker shock in the beginning; maybe we would have start searching for more affordable ways a year ago :)
      Kimberly recently published..Cost of Feeding Raw Dog FoodMy Profile
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  2. Other California resources (both Bay Area CA):
    FeedThis (what we use): http://www.feedthis.com/
    Silicon Valley Raw Feeders: http://siliconvalleyrawfeeders.com/
    (There are also local hunters and so forth that actually provide parts they don’t use to local dogs for free… but I think this is a word of mouth thing mostly!)

    Oregon resource: http://beefforpets.com/ (and I think they might also serve Sacramento/Reno).

    Our cost is just over $200 for about 70lbs of animal combined. This is bulk grind and bones for 3 animals – all pre-prepared, portioned into 1 pound increments, delivered to my door. Each month is switched up so the dogs don’t get exactly the same thing all the time (supplemental herbs, protein, etc).

    Pros: Extremely high quality meat sources – local farms, organic, and regularly monitored for top quality. Company works with a professional animal nutritionist. Company has been in business for almost 15 years. Delivered to my door. I can email or call and change things up whenever I want. This has been really helpful when figuring out the perfect amount for each animal, and through this (unrelated to raw) IBD mess we’re currently having… They’re also a great source for treats and other supplements (oil, natural dewormers, etc) – so kind of a one-stop-shop.
    Cons: Might be able to do it a tiny bit cheaper myself, but not positive if I could find the meat quality for this price on my own. Factor in driving and time and I think we’re doing OK :)

    I recently switched from portioned and labeled (holy luxury, I know!) to “bulk” and measure it myself.

    And no affiliation, just a fan. :) (and a stalker)
    Jen deHaan recently published..Dog books: show me some good ones for #ThrowbackThursdayMy Profile
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  3. Yep, sounds about right.
    If you make the switch to raw, you’ll probably pay more in regular food costs – espeically if all you feed is crappy grocery store kibble. If you already feed quality kibble, it will probably cost more, but not THAT much more.
    It’s what you make of it. Our dogs have healthy digestive systems, teeth, shiny coats… Moses last blood test came back with perfect results.
    But it’s not cheap.
    We buy monthly in bulk, and our last bill was $277 – for one month of food for 2 Newfs and 2 cats. (To buy retail here would be double that.) Add raw bones ($12), coconut oil ($15), and joint supplements (> $50), as well as any miscellaneous treats and bully sticks… we’re looking at >$350/month just to feed our animals.
    Yikes. Scary when you add it up like that.
    Jen K recently published..Monday Mischief 22: Good Morning!My Profile
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  4. Thanks for the cost breakdown and what equipment you need to switch to this. My dog loves fruit so depending on what it is, we share with him. He likes his veggies, too.

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    • Our dogs are fans of fruits and veggies too – we keep them on hand as a snack. Especially carrots.
      Kimberly recently published..Cost of Feeding Raw Dog FoodMy Profile
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  5. You really filled in the gaps for me with this one. I wondered about the cost and comparisons. Feeding dogs/pets – with health conscience concerns first on the list – will be costly. For us here in Doodleville, lifestyles for the humans changed drastically to afford what we knew would be best for the Boys. It is scary when you look at it on paper, but in the long run, we know we’re doing the right thing for them. Thanks
    Cathy Bennett recently published..BLOGGING FROM A TO Z APRIL CHALLENGE | CHAPEAUMy Profile
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    • It’s definitely something that we forget to consider when we get excited about a something that will help us with our dogs. I got excited and jumped in and then we had four dogs – yikes!
      Kimberly recently published..Cost of Feeding Raw Dog FoodMy Profile
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  6. I have four 75lb Labs and used to feed a premium kibble…so my food bill was probably $225.00…plus salmon oil, topping dressing food (cooked pre-made),yogurt, minced fruit pieces. Before switching to raw, my bloaty/IBS pup needed two cans of premium canned food in addition to his regular kibble daily…at a cost of $180 a month.

    I made the switch to raw to see if it would help this pup in particular, but also to save money. I just did the math…and I’m spending right at $300 a month to feed all four.

    They eat a homemade mix of chicken, turkey, beef or pork (only occasionally) along with kale, parsley, carrots, apple cider vinegar, carob powder, coconut oil, garlic and parsley. I still top one meal daily with salmon oil. They also get a good serving of beef liver, chicken liver, chicken hearts and sardines weekly.

    I just joined a co-op and will be adding green tripe and a pre-made beef mix soon, but I’m still hoping to cut my bill further. I buy bulk from a local butcher, so that helps cut costs, too.

    When I started feeding raw, I was already saving money by cutting out the canned food for my bloaty pup, so I’m already ahead of the game…but I’d like to spend about $200 monthly.

    I do know I’ve saved money at the vet over the past year since I started feeding raw…add that to the wonderful coats, clean ears, clean teeth and lower insulin requirements (for my diabetic pup) my pups are enjoying the switch, too.

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    • Isn’t the co-op amazing? Do you just love me soooo much? I can’t believe how much we’re saving and as time goes we will be able to stock up when they have deals come through – saving even more!!!
      Kimberly recently published..Cost of Feeding Raw Dog FoodMy Profile
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      • Yes, I love (LOVE) you for discovering co-ops…because I never would have thought of buying that way. :)

        I found another co-op in the northeast, so a bit far from me here in Florida…but I emailed them and they responded to say they are considering moving towards Florida in the next few weeks.

        Check out their prices! Amazing…no?

        http://www.farmdograw.com/

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        • Hi Tina,

          I see you are in FL. Me too! What area? I live in Apopka(central Florida). What co-op do you order from?

          Thanks,
          Caroline

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          • Hey, Caroline…

            I’m in Central Florida on the Gulf Coast in Citrus County…not far from you, actually.

            I placed my first order with https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/CentralFLRawFoodCo-op/info at the end of March. The order is supposed to arrive on the 20th. I’m anxious to see how it works out. Have you ordered with them? Or any other co-ops?

            Tina

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            • Tina,

              I’ve been thinking about ordering from them for a long time, but I’m just not sure about the pick-up. It’s just me and my dog and I don’t fancy driving almost an hour after work one day to pick up food. I’m going to check out Hopkins Meat Packing in Sanford that was listed in the database under local meat sources. Please let me know how it works out for you and if you think it’s worth it. I’ll share any good deals I find at Hopkins.

              Thanks,
              Caroline

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              • I hear you about the travel time, my drive will be about an hour as well. But….I hope to only make the drive every other month…so that won’t be as bad.

                I have a local butcher shop where I can get chicken backs for .50 cents a pound and leg quarters for .75 cents a pound. I get my chicken livers, beef livers and chicken hearts from the same place. I’m hoping they can order my sardines in bulk to cut my food bill even more.

                Oh, I priced the other place listed in the co-op database (Clearwater Egg). The price list they have listed on the co-op site had me excited!! Until I talked to the company, come to find out the list is 7 years old…needless to say the prices have changed (a lot). lol Clearwater Egg prices are the same as my local butcher when buying bulk.

                Send me your email, and I’ll let you know how the first go ’round with the co-op goes. I don’t expect any issues.

                Tina

                tinab158 at hot mail dot com

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    • For us, the freezer was a requirement, because part of saving money is buying in bulk. We feed our dogs 8# a day. We got a great deal on a freezer, but that doesn’t really help if you don’t have the room.
      Kimberly recently published..Cost of Feeding Raw Dog FoodMy Profile
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  7. The extra work involved has stopped me from trying a raw diet. I had a friend who feed BARF and she really worked at it. She bought in bulk and ground her own meat so she was able to do it affordably. Because she saved, she had to work at it more.
    I wish I could do it but I do not have the time for all the extra work and cannot afford to pay retail. It’s great for them but it is not an option for us right now.
    Stacey recently published..The Elvis and Kong Extreme Giveaway!My Profile
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    • I know what you mean, Stacey

      When J came on board (after he saw the benefits) it became much easier, because it was two of us doing the work and research. When it was just me, it was a lot harder to keep up. What I didn’t anticipate was in order to save money, we would be giving up one Saturday or Sunday a week while we prepared food. We could make it 2x a month, but that makes the day longer – he did the chopping, I did the grinding, mixing, packaging and then off to the freezer. We it down to 2 movies every weekend – pop in a couple DVDs and then get to work.

      So I don’t blame you. It’s definitely something I didn’t anticipate until I met someone who shared their process. It was nice to have a heads up.
      Kimberly recently published..Cost of Feeding Raw Dog FoodMy Profile
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  8. Impressive how doing research and a few good investments brought your feeding costs down. Good for you.

    You should teach a class on this. I bet you’d find a bunch of takers.
    Pamela recently published..Top 12 Ways To Ruin Your Dog’s RecallMy Profile
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    • Funny that you mentioned that; I’ve been invited to share our experience reading raw at a local pet center where they hold classes for dog and cat owners.
      Kimberly recently published..Cost of Feeding Raw Dog FoodMy Profile
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  9. It can be a bit shocking, initially. I try to keep my food budget at around $200 per month. I just looked back, and in the last 12 months, I have went over $200 four times, one time was over $300. But, there were 3 months in which I spent less than $100. I sometimes splurge a bit on “exotic” proteins and such for a bit of variety, but I also try to stay within my means. I would go through three large bags of kibble (at $50-$80 per bag) and 20-30 cans of food (at approximately $2.25 per can) if I was feeding kibble. So I am saving money, I feel. I feel it is awesome to see a blogger with such a large following blogging about raw. I have met quite a few people who are curious about it, and have been referring them to you.
    Rebekah recently published..Recent Raw MealsMy Profile

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  10. I had no idea that feeding raw could be so expensive. Thanks for the great info, as always. I found the link to your post about camelina oil really useful. I’ve been looking for something to put on Sadie’s kibble to encourage her to eat it, and that seems like a great alternative to salmon, which I’m allergic to.
    Mary from YourDesignerDog recently published..C is for Catch – #atozchallengeMy Profile
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    • Ahhhh great! I’m waiting for a special so I can stock up on the Camelina oil.

      There are cheaper ways to feed raw, I know people who spend $250-$350/month for several dogs, but they can also feed chicken, which is so cheap. Since Rodrigo is allergic and after we had two issues with store bought chicken at the store, we just don’t buy it anymore, which increased our cost.
      Kimberly recently published..Cost of Feeding Raw Dog FoodMy Profile
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