Dog Owner Spends $350 A Month On Her Pet’s Diet—But, Is It Healthier?

Timothy Hill

When scrolling on social media, seeing someone’s breakfast, lunch or dinner isn’t unusual. But now, pet owners are using apps like TikTok and Instagram to showcase what their furry friends are eating, too.

But it isn’t photos of kibble that are being posted—it’s hearty bowls filled with raw meats like duck, beef liver, and turkey thighs that have taken over the internet. The hashtag “raw fed dog” has been viewed 1.8 billion times on TikTok to date.

In September 2022, Bark Bus, a mobile groomer, surveyed 1,000 dog owners and the results found 78 percent of Gen Z were most likely to prepare their dog’s food themselves and try a raw diet for their four-legged friend.

Newsweek spoke to a vet who listed the pros and cons of a raw diet and a pup owner who explained why she spends $350 per month on this diet as opposed to commercial dog food.

Dog Food
One dog owner has shared examples of what she feeds her canine. The elaborate bowls shown above include sardines, a duck’s head, bird feet, minced meat, raw eggs and fruit.

What’s Really In Dog Food?

In the survey mentioned above, Bark Bus, based in Los Angeles, analyzed ten popular brands such as Pedigree, Purina Pro Plan, and American Journey. There were three key findings:

  • 90 percent of the brands contained “meat meal” which is basically the scraps from animals that humans don’t consume.
  • Half of the brands added barley to the dog food which can be challenging for dogs to digest, causing them to absorb less of the food’s nutrients.
  • 80 percent contained salt which is fine in small amounts but large amounts can negatively impact dogs’ kidneys.

Despite these findings, 57 percent of the participants stated the ingredients list is the main reason for their dog’s current food.

Dog kibble
This undated stock image shows a brown dog lying next to a bone-shaped bowl full to the brim with kibble. Survey results from Bark Bus have revealed three problematic ingredients in dog food: salt, barley and meat meal.
Zontica/iStock/Getty Images Plus

What Is A Raw Fed Dog Diet?

This type of doggo diet includes organ and muscle meat, whole bones, plucked bird heads and feet, along with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Newsweek spoke to Cindy Ley, 32, a Cane Corso owner who frequently advocates this diet on TikTok. Cindy, from Boston, Massachusetts has dedicated her social media page to one-year-old Remi’s diet. One of her videos showcasing his meal was viewed over one million times.

The dog feeder shown in the video contained a plucked goose head, beef and chicken heart, canned oysters, chicken feet and thighs, along with steamed vegetables.

Is A Raw Fed Dog Diet Healthier?

Cindy listed the following improvements for her dog Remi, who has been eating this diet since she was 9 weeks old:

  • Increased energy levels
  • Healthy skin and a shiny coat
  • Easier to manage his weight
  • Reduced stool odor

Nell Ostermeier, an integrative veterinarian, told Newsweek about the advantages and disadvantages of the raw diet.

“One of the biggest pros of a raw food diet is that they are whole food based and contain little to no filler. These diets are also high in moisture which is good for keeping your dog hydrated. Some dogs with certain allergic or digestive issues will have fewer symptoms on raw food diets,” said Ostermeier, an AKC Pet Insurance spokesperson.

The Dangers Of Giving Your Dog A Raw Diet

Ostermeier says that a major con of the raw diet is that there is a risk of bacterial contamination and infection for both humans and dogs.

“Pet parents wishing to use raw food must be very diligent about how they store, thaw, and feed this diet,” he said. “In addition, dogs that are fed 100 percent raw food diets for a long period of time can eventually become intolerant to the formulation.”

Maximo’s Lady Remington
Cindy Ley, shown above with her dog Remi, $350 per month on a raw diet for the 100-pound dog. Remi has been on the raw food diet since she was 9 weeks old.

Cindy forks out $350 per month to ensure her dog has fresh meat, fish, and vegetables.

“It is very taboo to feed a dog raw,” she told Newsweek. “Many people think feeding a raw diet will make a dog bloodthirsty and dangerous but that’s false and is a myth. Raw food is of high value which causes resource guarding for some dogs. That’s more of a behavioral issue and not because of a dog’s diet.

“I’ve also faced backlash from strangers telling me that I shouldn’t waste money on a dog since it’s just a dog and who cares just feed kibble,” she added.

How Much Does A Raw Fed Dog Diet Cost?

Newsweek reached out to Jennifer Toth, 28, who owns food supplier “What The Raw?” based out of Chesterland, Ohio. She believes that the only con of the diet is the cost.

Cindy has shared a breakdown to show exactly what she buys and how much it costs per month:

  • Organs (kidney, liver, hearts, spleen): $50
  • Raw meaty bones (duck head, chicken head, chicken feet, duck necks): $85
  • Muscle meat (pork loin, chicken, ground beef, turkey): $150
  • Fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines): $30
  • Chicken eggs: $20
  • Supplements: $15

Total: $350 a month

Toth told Newsweek: “There are so many benefits to raw feeding the only con is the cost. However, there are affordable ways to raw feed and budget for it. Our pets are our family and deserve to be healthy and thrive!

“Our pets rely on us solely to provide species-appropriate diets for them. It’s part of being a pet owner. I get comments frequently about how gross it is to raw feed but if you actually look at what goes into kibble you will think differently about why fresh clean food is better than that.”

Is Dry Dog Food Healthy For Your Dog?

While the raw food diet is becoming increasingly popular, commercial pet food is still a first choice for many owners. In fact, pet food and treats made up the largest share of the market in the United States in 2021, according to Statista.

The data also revealed Nestle Purina Petcare Co. held the largest share of the market in 2022, generating over $2.2 billion in dry dog food sales.

This stock image shows a person pouring a bag of kibble into a steel dog food bowl. Newsweek spoke to a vet who revealed the pros and cons of feeding your dogs kibble.
Rawpixel/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Health Benefits Of Dry Dog Food

Kibble, ground-up ingredients like meat and grains shaped into pellets, is a popular choice for dog owners.

“The pros of kibble are that it is easy to feed, it’s calorie dense and it tends to be more cost-effective,” said Ostermeier.

Woof Whiskers, a website that provides pet information, has revealed dog food purchased in a store can range from $1.50 per pound to more than $3.50 per pound.

The Dangers Of Dry Dog Food

“The cons are that dry kibble is the most highly processed of the types of dog food formulations and contains the least amount of moisture,” Ostermeier said. “Because kibble is heated to such a high temperature, nutrients are lost, and in many cases must be sprayed onto the food or mixed back in.

“When choosing a dry kibble food for your dog, I recommend reading the label. Ideally, meat products and whole foods will make up the first several ingredients. I also recommend avoiding foods with an extensive ingredient list.”

How To Mix Wet And Dry Dog Food

The raw food diet may not be for everyone based on its appearance and cost. But you could give your dog the best of both worlds to see if the benefits are really true.

Cindy previously shared a video to her TikTok account @remithecanecorso that suggests mixing kibble with a selection of meats.

But, what diet do you follow for your dog? Let us know in the comments.

Do you have funny and adorable videos or pictures of your pet you want to share? Send them to [email protected] with some details about your best friend and they could appear in our Pet of the Week lineup.

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