Fresh Food: The Cost to Feed and Why It’s Worth It

This is why I feed my dog fresh food (and exactly how much I spent on dog food last month.)

At The Happy Beast, we believe in feeding minimally processed, whole foods and species-appropriate diets for our dogs and cats. We promote nutrition plans that benefit healthy animals and ones that compliment veterinary care in animals with health complications.

The role of diet and nutrition is powerful. We believe that what we feed our animals greatly affects their ability to maintain health, fight off disease, recover from illness and can influence the development of certain conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.

Many pet food companies use inexpensive ingredients like corn, wheat and animal by-products and flavor enhancers like artificial flavorings and sugar. Kibble (dry dog food) is processed with pressure and extreme heat (a process called extrusion). Sure, dogs have been surviving on these diets for years, but they certainly aren’t thriving. At The Happy Beast, we routinely see dogs suffering from food allergies, obesity and cancer.

Fortunately the fresh food market is rising to meet the need for convenient and affordable foods. These are available in both frozen food or shelf-stable options. Some require more prep- defrosting or rehydrating with water, and others offer the same “scoop and go” convenience of kibble dog food.

Pirate - The Happy Beast

Pi in a furry hat.

My dog, Pi, has been raw-fed since the day I brought her home. In the last five years, I’ve fed her most of the prepared raw foods on the market: every kind of frozen raw, air-dried, freeze-dried and dehydrated. For a six-month stint, I spent every Sunday afternoon preparing a homemade diet by chopping vegetables and weighing chunks of meat. Now we’ve settled in on a combination of prepared frozen raw, some air-dried meat and raw meaty bones.

Feeding Pi fresh food is important to me for two key reasons:

  • Daily Health: Pi has a soft shiny coat, her teeth are clean and white, she stays at a healthy weight, her urine doesn’t kill the grass and her stools are small and don’t stink.
  • Long Term Health: Her diet is her health insurance. She stays healthy, so we don’t go to the vet except for wellness exams and vaccinations.

Pi is a 48lb, fairly active, 5 year old super-mutt.

   Last month she ate:

2 – 6lb Bags SmallBatch Frozen Raw $60

3 – 2lb Chubs SmallBatch Frozen Raw $25

1 – 2lb Bag RealMeat Air-Dried Food $23

1 – 6pack Raw Marrow Bones $16

TOTAL: $124

   Last year, our vet bills total $72.

I attribute my dog’s health and low vet bills partly to genetics (lucky mutt!), partly to ample exercise, but primarily to a healthy diet.

See this chart to get an idea of what it would cost to feed your dog fresh food.

*Remember that every dog has a different metabolism. For example, growing puppies require more calories than an older dog and a super active working breed typically needs more food than a couch dwelling bulldog.

Calories Per Day Frozen Raw 2lb Chubs Frozen Raw

8oz patties

6lb Bag

Air-Dried 10lb Bag Freeze-Dried 8lb Bag
20lb Dog 400 $42 $60 $60 $65
50lb Dog 1000 $110 $150 $150 $162
80lb Dog 1600 $170 $240 $240 $262
100lb Dog 2000 $220 $300 $300 $325