Simple Ways to Ditch the Kibble and Feed Your Dog a Fresh Diet

There are different options than kibble
An absolute smorgasbord for many dogs.

You’ve done your research. You’re learning about the insidious and harmful ingredients in your Best Friend’s kibble. Now that you’re aware, all you see are beautiful raw feeding posts on your Instagram feed. You pore over the raw feeding groups on Facebook. You want to get your dog off the kibble, but don’t know where to start. Here are a few ways to ditch the kibble and feed your dog a fresh diet.

Te begin, kibble is convienent as heck; for us. But feeding your dog, your Best Friend, a highly processed, dry diet, virtually devoid of living nutrients, day in and day out, for EVERY SINGLE MEAL isn’t the best for him.

Feeding a fresh diet is not as difficult as it sounds. However, transitioning your dog off kibble takes dedication, time and effort. Pursuing the DIY route is well worth it. Your dog’s health and longevity will likely improve as a result of ditching the kibble and feeding a fresh diet.

Transition Options

These are some options for beginning, listed from least to most intensive.

  • Supplementing dry food with fresh
  • Commercially produced raw or fresh diet
  • 1 fresh meal + 1 kibble meal each day
  • DIY raw or fresh diet

Supplementing Dry with Fresh

This is a great place to start. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about balance as long as you keep the additions to 20% or less of the total diet. Some heatlhy, whole-food, immune boosters to include:

  • Ground or pureed vegetables (pureeing makes them more bioavailable and easier to absorb)
  • Fresh meats: Chicken, ground turkey, lean ground beef. Lighter meat is blander and easier to digest if feeding raw. Many raw feeders recommend beginning with white meats.
  • Organs: Chicken or turkey livers, gizzards and hearts, and beef liver are all easy to find at regular stores
  • Of course, if you’re not yet ready to fully transition to raw, feel free to lightly cook meats and organs. NEVER feed cooked bones though.

One thing to keep in mind is that fresh food has much more moisture than dry. Ounce for ounce, dry food is denser in calories, so feed twice as much fresh food. For example, if your dog eats 5 cups of dry food each day, subtract one cup of dry (20%). To offset the moisture, you would replace that cup of dry food with 2 cups of whole, real food.

Don’t worry! This doesn’t have to be an exact science. Plus, fresh, bioavailable food has far more benefits than dry, so don’t worry too much about 100% balance all the time. Many raw feeders employ a “balance over time” strategy by rotating vegetables and proteins. You WILL learn as you go.

One Fresh + One Kibble Meal Each Day

This is also a good option for starting out. To be honest, this is what I do with my dogs when we’re traveling or simply when I don’t feel like cooking their breakfast. We typically enjoy a kibble breakfast with a variety of toppers. I tend to cycle through different toppers depending on the grocery list each week.

Keep in mind, when doing this the 20% rule above is kind of out the window. At this point, you probably have amassed some raw or cooked recipes your dog enjoys and are easy for you to make or get ahold of. You will likely have a pretty good idea of meals and supplements to feed as part of this diet by now.

Commercially Produced Raw

This is a fine route if budget isn’t as much of an issue, you have a smaller dog, or you’re short on time. Some of the following are solid, well-established companies:

Darwins: good reviews and more complete and balanced than many other raw diets.

Stella and Chewy, Primal: We’ve tried both of these. The nuggets are a weird gray color and unidentifiable matter, but the dogs enjoyed them!

You can also feed a commercially produced lightly cooked diet such as Ollie or the Farmer’s Dog. Check out our blog post regarding fresh food options!


This takes the most work, especially at the beginning. However, like anything, the more you do it, the easier and quicker it gets. Plus, once you figure out a routine that works for you, it’s pretty straightforward to batch prep and freeze meals.

B.A.R.F Diets
Fresh meat in a dog dish. A Biologically Appropriate Raw Diet (BARF Diet).
What a typical BARF diet may look like, although this dish is lacking some vegetable matter.

I love this acronym for raw diets! It stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding or Bones and Raw Food. This diet was developed by Dr. Ian Billinghurst as a premise that we should feed our dogs the way they evolved to eat.

  • High protein
  • Moderate fat
  • Minimal carbohydrates (remember, dogs don’t have a carbohydrate requirement according to the NRC)
  • BARF diets are mainly muscle meat, raw meaty bones, veggies, fruits, and of course, supplements
  • A perfect BARF diet is 70% muscle meat, 10% raw, edible bone, 10% secreting organs (liver, spleen, kidneys), 7% vegetables, 2% seeds or nuts, and 1% fruits
Benefits of BARF/Raw Diets

A biologically appropriate raw diet has numerous benefits. I’ve noted firsthand in my own dogs-their body composition is lean and muscular. Often, kibble fed dogs tend to have a little chunkier body composition.

Also, dogs fed raw diets have virtually NO glysophate in their bloodstream! The lack of grains and processed carbohydrate crops account for this. Additionally, raw fed dogs have low homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is an inflammation marker linked to diseases.

How to Transition to Raw

Gone are the days of feeding your dog the same food day in and day out, for… forever! I remember thinking the last time I ran out of kibble and was in no hurry to buy more, “At least we know these dogs can eat anyting without stomach issues!”

Like any transition, begin slowly. Especially if your dog is accustomed to eating the same food each day. The last thing you want to do is commit wholeheartedly only to subject your poor dog to gastrointestinal distress!

A full transition can take place over about a week. Many raw feeders recommend fasting your dog for 1/2 to a full day so that he’s hungry at mealtime. Fasting your dog is actually OK and works as a solid reset for his digestive system.

To begin, feed a small amount of raw mixed in with regular meals. Replace a little more at each meal. Watch your dog’s stools. Yes, I know it sounds icky, but the proof is in the poop! If your dog has runny stools, back off and wait until they’re firmer to continue your transition.

Raw fed dogs generally eat 2-4% of their body weight in raw food each day. That means if your dog weighs 60 pounds, he should eat about 2-2.5 pounds of raw food per day. Here is a handy feeding calculator from Raw Bistro.

Good Foods to Begin With

  • Ground, blended, dog-friendly veggies
  • Chicken livers, gizzards, hearts
  • Ground turkey (Watch that it’s not seasoned. Tried this once and was rewarded with room-clearing flatulance)
  • Lean white meat like chicken or rabbit. White meats are blander and help your dog’s system adapt to raw foods.

Raw, Meaty Bones in a BARF Diet

This is the scariest part! Many people are not familiar with dogs eating and digesting small raw bones. It helps to pound or pre-break the bone with a meat hammer. You can also put raw meaty bones like turkey necks, chicken legs, or chicken wings through a meat grinder. Many dogs will not know what to do with a full raw, meaty bone. Our fella, Oliver prefers having his turkey necks processed through the grinder first.

Meaty bones have huge benefits such as cleaning teeth and are a primary calcium source in raw diets. Most of the calcium in raw diets comes from raw meaty bones, however you can add a calcium supplement at first as you acclimate to this new diet if you prefer not to feed raw bones. Just make sure the diet has proper amounts of calcium. This is the place where raw diets tend to go awry.

Also, a couple of pieces of advice in regards to raw meaty bones; NEVER feed cooked bones. They can break, splinter, and cause terrible damage to your dog’s digestive system. Finally, make sure that raw meaty bones are not weight-bearing bones from large herbivores-think bovine leg bones. While these are OK as recreational chews (under supervision), your dog should not be ingesting them.

Ready to Make the Leap?!

I challenge you to add some fresh food to your dog’s diet. You don’t have to jump in headfirst and embrace the full-raw lifestyle! Even just a few pieces of meat (even cooked!) and some vegetables will bring a whole world of health benefits to your Best Friend! Plus, if he loves you now, just watch and learn! What are you waiting for?

Ready to ditch the kibble and feed your dog a fresh or raw diet but don’t know where to start? Feel free to contact me for some meal plans, recipe ideas, or just a general consult of some healthy additions!

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