Things to consider before putting your pet on raw diet

Things to consider before putting your pet on raw diet

Raw diets have grown in popularity in recent years as more owners have discovered the benefits that raw feeding provides. If you’re considering swapping your pet over to a raw diet, there are a few things you need to consider.

Lots of our customers feed their dogs, cats, and ferrets a raw diet. But the learning curve can be quite significant, both in terms of learning how to feed raw properly, and other practical realizations which occur only after feeding a raw diet has started. Here at Peejay Pets, we’ve been able to speak to our existing raw customers and discover what these are so that you can start raw feeding knowing what to expect.


This is by far one of the most important considerations of anyone wanting to feed a raw diet. If you don’t store your pet’s meat properly, it can cause them to become seriously ill.

Whilst one option is to make several small trips throughout the week to collect a couple of days’ food at a time, this can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Most people benefit from storing one to two week’s worth of raw and making the occasional top-up journey in-between.

To place this into context, if you have one moderately active dog fed at 2% of their body weight daily, then the average storage space you’ll require per week would be 1,750g raw for a 10kg jack russel or 5,250g raw for a 30kg labrador. If you’re planning to feed blocks of meat, can use this handy table to work out approximately how much room you’ll need to store your pet’s dinners here.


A raw diet can be really easy to prepare – as simple as taking it out of the freezer first thing in the morning before going to work, and last thing on the night. Many people when they first start out on a raw diet worry about what would happen if they forgot to take their meat out of the freezer. The answer to this is relatively simple – simply pop your raw food into a zip-lock bag or tupperware container and leave it in some warm water for a couple of hours (swapping the water over a couple of times to keep it a nice temperature).

But it is important to remember: you can never microwave or oven-cook your pet’s raw mince. Raw mince designed for consumption by dogs, cats, and ferrets contains bone (which is required for a nutritionally fulfilling diet) – which is soft when uncooked. When cooked in an oven or microwave, however, this bone solidifies and becomes sharp shards which risk becoming lodged in your pet’s digestive tract or oesophagus.

Waiting a couple of hours for your pet’s food to defrost when you forget to get it out of the freezer on the night/morning is okay for many people, but if you work a tight schedule then this may cause you some problems when it comes to managing time on an evening or in a morning before work. Therefore if you work uncertain hours, you may need to consider whether this would be the easiest diet to manage or not.

Food poisoning

Whilst your pet’s digestive system has stronger stomach acids which enable them to digest raw meat, there are not immune from food poisoning or salmonella. Making sure you handle their raw dinner properly is essential to ensuring their health.

The following should always be kept in mind…

  • Never feed your dog minces that have been defrosted for more than 24 hours;
  • Don’t defrost and then re-freeze raw meat;
  • Don’t give your dog meat that has developed a layer of fur or mould.

The majority of raw pet foods will also undergo a deep-freeze treatment to help kill harmful bacteria. Minces from the supermarket, however, do not (as we generally kill the bacteria by cooking it). This is one reason why feeding minces from supermarkets is not recommended (with the other reason being that they do not contain the required offal and bone components that dogs need as part of a healthy diet).

Nutritional imbalance

Another large concern is ensuring that your dog’s dinner is properly balanced – if it is not then you could make your dog very ill. Nutritional balances are particularly risky for puppies and younger dogs as their bodies are still developing – if they do not have enough of one element of their diet (like calcium, for instance), then this deficiency can have lifelong consequences.

You’ll already be aware of the 80:10:5:5 ratio of meat, bone, liver, and offal. Making sure you get the balance right is essential to ensuring the long-term health of your dog and ensuring they do not have difficulty going to the toilet. There are a couple of ways you can approach this…

  1. Daily balance: The first option you can consider is making sure that every single meal you feed your dog contains the right percentage of each component. This is a fairly easy way to ensure your dog’s overall health.
  2. Weekly balance: This option allows you to be a bit more adventurous by spreading their intake over the space of a week. This option tends to be easier if you are feeding raw treats (like knuckle bones, chicken wings, etc) alongside a complete mince. If you decide to feed a knuckle bone, for instance, you would reach an overall balance by feeding a meat-only mince.

Whilst either option is okay, you need to make sure you keep track of your pet’s overall intake. Feeding slightly more of one component won’t make much of a difference in the short term, but if you consistently fail to balance their diet then this can cause problems in the long-term. Take liver, for instance – whilst if you overfeed slightly every now and again it won’t make too much difference, but because of the really high levels of certain minerals overfeeding on a regular basis can lead to problems like Vitamin A Toxicicosis.

You should also remember that different meats contain micro and macro nutrients. To ensure a balanced diet for your pooch, you need to make sure that you are providing a variety of different proteins, and feeding oily fish at least once every ten days.


There is no denying that raw meat can be expensive as a long-term option. Before you commence a raw diet, you need to consider how much you are willing to spend on your dog’s food on a weekly/monthly basis, and from there make the decision as to whether it is worthwhile.

Whilst a raw diet is an excellent choice, if you can’t afford to do it properly then you risk putting your animal in danger. Trying to reduce costs by opting for supermarket minces which do not contain the required bone and offal content increases the risk of your dog suffering health problems.

Fussy eaters

Raw diets are brilliant at enticing even the fussiest eaters to their dinner. Because of its stronger smell and meaty flavour, many fussy pets will be able to be coaxed into eating.

But this goes two ways – if your pet will instantly devour anything raw, but reject other types of food, then you need to bear in mind that this could cause problems later on if you decide that you cannot feed a raw diet anymore.

Holidays, kennels/catteries, and relatives

Another consideration you should make is what will happen if you decide to go on holiday. Regardless of whether you are taking your dog camping in the Lake District, or leaving them in kennels/catteries or with a relative when you take a trip to Spain, you need to consider how you will accommodate their raw diet. This is something lots of people worry about before putting their pet on a raw diet.

Most kennels/catteries (and, indeed, relatives) will be more than happy to accommodate your pet’s raw diet – especially since it is becoming an increasingly popular way of feeding animals. But there are those that don’t.

There are alternatives suitable for raw-fed pets, however. We often recommend owners turn to the Natures Menu Country Hunter range of pouches and tinned foods when an alternative to raw is needed. As this range is lightly steamed, it is one of the closest alternatives you’ll get you a raw diet whilst maintaining the convenience of pre-prepared complete meals.

Where do you go from here?

If you don’t think that you could feed a raw diet properly, and devote the required time and money to it, then there are plenty of very good dry and wet options available on the market which we would recommend you considering first. If you’re sitting on the fence, or would like to look at the other options available, then feel free to pop in store to speak to one of our trained members of staff.

Preparing your pets for your return to work

Preparing your pets for your return to work

Lockdown, for many, has brought mixed emotions. Whilst some have carried on work as normal, others have had more chance to enjoy staying at home a bit more. But as more of us return to work and offices, the next few weeks may prove a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for our pets.

Over the past year your pet might have become accustomed to having you around more. The sudden return to work will mean a wave of changes all at once for your pet; not being able to come and go as they please, not enjoying those extra treats throughout the day, a change in how often they can use the toilet, and one of the biggest, not being able to see you. This completely altered routine can cause significant stress.

But there are things you can do to make it easier for your pet – keep reading for our top tips!

Separation anxiety: what it is, and how to tell if your pet is struggling

Common signs of separation anxiety in dogs include…

  • Pacing;
  • Howling or barking;
  • Chewing, digging or destruction;
  • Urinating;
  • Throwing up.

Common signs of separation anxiety in cats include…

  • Meowing, crying or yowling;
  • Urinating outside of the litterbox;
  • Excessive self-grooming;
  • Destructive behaviour (for instance, scratching or biting).

What can you do?

Because of the sheer number of changes involved in the return to work, the sooner you can start taking the following steps the better.

1 – Getting into a new routine

One of the first things that might come as a bit of a shock to both you and your pet is the change of routine. If you’ve been relishing those extra few minutes sleep in the morning, and working a little later into the night, then it might not be just your pet who struggles with the return of the early morning get-out-of-the-door routine.

To help address this, start getting back into a routine now whilst you’re still at home. Waking up a bit earlier and going for a morning walk will help both you and your pet get into the habit of getting up earlier and feeling more refreshed when the time comes to return to the workplace. Even if you have a cat or kitten, getting up and going for a short walk by yourself will help them get used to you leaving the house early in the morning.

Top Tip: If you have the time in a morning, try taking your dog for a long walk – even when you go back to the workplace. Not only will this fun activity tire them out, but the exercise will release endorphins that will make it easier for your dog to cope with your absence. If you have cats, try spending some time playing in the morning.

2 – Start small

If you have gotten a new puppy or kitten over lockdown, then the chances are there has always been somebody home with them up until this point. A sudden absence of everyone from the house, even for a period as small as half an hour, can be a source of stress for your pet.

It’s important that you begin building up your pet’s confidence by taking small steps and gradually increasing this over time. Start off by finding (or creating) a time when everybody but yourself is out of the house. Now calmly go to the door and go through your normal routine (get your shoes on, if you have a house alarm set it up – just make sure you switch off the rooms your pet will be staying in – etc) and leave the house and garden. Wait outside for a few minutes – you can always walk around the outside of the house or to the corner shop – and then come back in. Give your pet lots of attention and treats – which will positively reinforce their good behaviour. Then, wait a few minutes, before going through the process again.

The idea behind this is getting your pet used to you being out of the house, safe in the knowledge that you will come back to them. Separation anxiety often arises when pets feel abandoned or they can’t get to you. Also, particularly if you have young animals, you need to take great care to ensure that your pet’s first experience of being left alone is a good one – the first time your puppy or kitten experiences something will have a significant impact on how they experience that thing in the future. For example, if the first time your pet is left home alone they are scared and panicked, then they will remember this experience as a bad one every time they are left home alone in the future – and it can be really difficult to change their mind. Because of this, it’s really important that you get this step right to help put your pet’s mind completely at ease.

It’s not just puppies and kittens!
You might think that, because you have an older pet who has experienced being home alone for long periods in the past, your return to work won’t make much of a difference so this step can be avoided. We’d suggest otherwise. Whilst your pet may have grown used to your absence in the past, it may be the case that they have gone through an extended period of having someone in the house with them at all times which can alter the way they feel about being left alone.

Over time you’ll be able to increase the amount of time you leave your pet to their own devices – from five minutes to ten, to half an hour and an hour, etc. Because you’re building this time up slowly, it will really help reassure your pet that no matter how long you are gone you will come back.

Q: Should I give my puppy a bone when I leave the house to give them something to do?
A: As a general rule, we’d say no – particularly with younger puppies. Leaving your puppy unattended with a bone or other hard treat like an antler can be a serious choking hazard that could put their life in danger – particularly if you’re not home for long periods. Instead, you could consider trying a softer treat just before you leave the door (like a dog biscuit), or giving them a toy to keep them occupied – like a stuffed Kong or Grrrelli.

3 – Try a calming diffuser or atomiser

This is a really useful tool at any stage of your pet’s life and training. A happy, relaxed pet is more likely to learn new information quickly than a stressed and upset one – so this can be a great investment regardless of how old or well-trained your pet is.

If you’ve noticed your pet has been getting stressed when you’ve attempted either stage one or stage two, then a diffuser can be a really great investment to help calm your pet down and put them at ease. If your pet’s anxiety is really bad, you could also consider adding a couple of drops of valerian compound into their water leading up to you leaving the house – which will help relax your pet and reduce tension. In extreme cases, CBD oil could also be considered.

4 – Leave the radio or TV on

When you are at home, your pet has a constant source of stimulation and noises going on in the background. Whether it’s the sound of the washing machine running, the tv, typing or handwriting, etc – there’s always something going on. When you’re not home, though, all of that goes away and leaves your pet alone in an echoy home, with only the sound of their own paws clicking against the laminate to keep them company.

By leaving the radio on, you’re creating a source of stimulus for your pet. Don’t leave it on too loud, just loud enough for a bit of background noise during the day that can help your pet focus on something.

5 – Be patient!

It can be easy to become upset and flustered if your pet becomes stressed and destructive – urinating in the house, scratching, chewing and howling/crying are all signs that your pet is distressed. It’s important not to shout at your pet if this is the case, you need to try and correct their behaviour by addressing the source of the problem: the fear that they have been abandoned.

If your pet is struggling, it may be worthwhile speaking to a behaviouralist to see if they are able to help. Other options you could consider are leaving your pet at daycare, paying a dogwalker or pet-sitter to come visit your pet during the day, or leaving your pet with a relative.

Top tip
training is another idea which some owners find helpful. By creating a safe “den” for your pet, you can provide a safe place for them where they can go when they get stressed and upset – but it’s not wise to leave your pet in a crate for extended periods. If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch – we’ll be posting an article soon about this topic.