One of the best decisions I made for Ref was taking the leap and changing his diet. It was a decision I didn’t take lightly and it is something I had been considering for more than 12 months before I took the leap. And let me tell you, it was definitely worth it.

Going Raw... Why I'm Stoked I Did |

So what was I feeding Ref before the change? From a puppy, I took the vet’s advice and fed him kibble. That way he would get the nutrition he needs to be a healthy dog. But I actually just gave him kibble for one meal. I have always fed Ref twice a day as he got so used to the routine. So kibble was his breakfast and then I cooked up some fresh meat like beef mince, chicken or turkey mince along with a stack of veggies. I’d bag up half a cup of this and freeze it. This would be his dinner every night along with a whole carrot and a Dentastix. I always thought this was a great diet for him. He didn’t get a lot of treats either but when he did, they were usually ones I bought from the supermarket or pet store.

I lost count of the times that the vet told me that Ref needed to lose weight. I tried reducing his dinner portion size but it made no difference. So with this, I had to find a better solution for him. I read a bit about the raw diet but never really knew the best way to take on the raw diet especially since vets always recommend kibble as the main diet option for dogs. I was ready to make the change but where to start was a different story. How did I know how much to feed Ref, what ingredients to do I include and how did I know he was going to get all the nutrients he needs to be a healthy boy. Now that is where a professional comes in to it.

Going Raw... Why I'm Stoked I Did |

I had a consultation with a pet nutritionist. Yep, a pet nutritionist. They do exist and it was exactly what I needed to go in the right direction. We discussed Ref’s current eating habits, any health problems he has and how we would make changes to his diet. The information I learnt in that hour phone consultation and in the following emails was incredible. So here are some things I learnt:

– Kibble does not clean teeth! Considering I have yet to meet a dog who chews their kibble, it is just not possible for inhaling kibble to clean teeth.

– Ear infections can be caused by too much sugar or grain in their diet.

– Human grade foods are the best option. If you can’t eat it, then neither should your dog.

– Bones, like chicken necks, chicken wings and other raw bones are an important part of a dogs diet.

– There is a list of super foods for dogs that include coconut oil, carrots, sweet potato and kale. Check out these Pretty Fluffy articles here and here for a superfood list and their benefits.

– The leanest cut of human grade meat is kangaroo. This is readily available in Australian supermarkets in mince form and for cheaper than most other minced meats. *Update –  Variety is key and you should feed 3-4 different proteins over the course of each week or one a week on rotation over 3-4 weeks.

Going Raw... Why I'm Stoked I Did | www.thepugdiary.comHow I like to see things now is that dogs are just like humans and thrive on the freshest meats, fruit and vegetables. Just think how you feel eating junk food every meal, every day, every week of the year. And then think how awesome you feel when you eat the fresh meat, fruit and vegetables. It is the same for dogs. So I can hear you asking, but what are you feeding Ref exactly? Let’s get to it then.

On the advice of the pet nutritionist, Ref’s diet consists of 35% meat, 30% bone, 10% offal and 25% fruit & vegetables. *Update – I now feed 60% meat, 10% bone, 10% offal and 20% fruit & veggies. It is a variation of the BARF diet which consists of 70% meat, 10% bone, 10% offal and 10% fruit & veggies. The previous 30% bone incorporated the meat value making it closer to the meat/bone ratio I feed now. So what are the options for each of these components?

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did |

– Meat: Human grade mince such as kangaroo, chicken, beef or turkey. The key to choosing the best meat is one that contains no more than 5% fat. I go with Kangaroo mince because it has only 2% fat content. *Update – Kangaroo has become to rich of a meat to feed ongoing. I now choose wild caught meat like venison, buffalo, lamb and duck. Though we are looking at expanding our protein range once we have Ref’s allergy test results.

– Bone: bones must not be cooked  as they are dangerous for dogs to eat. And these bones don’t have to be those big meaty bones you don’t want hanging around and stinking out the house. Chicken necks, chicken wings and beef brisket are great to choose from. I chose chicken necks as they aren’t too big, they are a soft bone and Ref does actually chew them. If your pug doesn’t chew chicken necks, stay away from them as they can easily choke on them. Always supervise them when eating raw bones. *Update – As pugs are prone to inhaling their food, I no longer feed whole chicken necks, wings or beef brisket but I do feed duck feet as they are less likely to choke on them. This needs to be tailored to each pug and always under supervision.

– Offal: This can be liver, heart, kidney, brain and more. I have gone with chicken liver as it is very cheap and readily available.

– Fruit & vegetables: Choose from fruits like strawberries, apple, pear, blueberries and a whole lot more. Good vegetables to include are carrot, zucchini, green beans, kale, celery, red capsicum, steamed sweet potato and pumpkin. Popping in some fresh herbs like mint and parsley is also great. Check out the Om Nom? app for what fruits and vegetables you can and cannot feed your pug. *Update – I avoid starchy vegetables like sweet potato. Pumpkin is great for soothing upset tummies. We love leafy green veggies like kale and spinach and broccoli. Be sure to puree / process veggies down as much as possible so they can be digested fully and nutrients absorbed.

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did |

– Supplements: I add supplements to Ref’s diet to ensure he is getting all the vitamins and minerals he needs. This includes a vitamin supplement, atlantic kelp powder, coconut crunch and fish oil or coconut oil. *Update – I no longer feed fish oil as it can go rancid very quick and do more damage then good so I choose to provide fish oil through food such as sardines and salmon. Coconut crunch is no longer fed as it is not needed as a filler. A general Superboost supplement is used from Augustine Approved along with a couple of other supplements of theirs like Faith. Turmericle powder is a daily supplement for both but Serina needs it for her joint care and Ref gets it as a general health booster.

So every fortnight I make up Ref’s food based on the above ingredients. I choose a mix of fruit & veg, wash it, put it through the processor along with the chicken liver & herbs so it is nice and fine and mix it through the mince. I bag it up and store it in the freezer in meal size portions.  None of this is cooked so it is prepared and into the freezer in half an hour. I also buy the chicken necks in bulk and freeze them.

Every morning, Ref gets one chicken neck and one portion of his fresh food mix. I add his vitamin supplement, atlantic kale (for his teeth) and fish oil (or coconut oil) to his food and mix it through. His dinner consists of one portion of fresh food 5 nights a week with some coconut crunch. The other 2 nights he has half a tin of sardines with the coconut crunch. He also gets a carrot and a kangaroo tendon every night.

Going Raw... Why I'm Stoked I Did |

I changed Ref over to this diet in November 2014 and at that time he weight 9.9kg. 6 months later and he now weighs 9kg. His coat is shinier and softer than before. He barely passes wind now and when he does, it doesn’t stink the place out. And the biggest change I noticed was his behaviour. He is now much calmer, in particular when we have visitors. He used to be crazy excited and took an hour to calm down when visitors came. Now he is still excited to see people but he calms down in about 5 minutes. These are just the most noticeable benefits of going raw. I am so glad I did and I know Ref is too. He enjoys his food more than before and doesn’t miss the kibble one bit. A healthy pug is a happy pug mum. And that I am.

Please note that I didn’t include measurements and quantities of food as this really needs to be tailored to each dog and their needs. You should definitely seek the advice of a profession like a pet nutritionist or a vet who is open to the raw feeding method. My recommendation for a pet nutritionist is Alla from Foodie Pooch who is based in Melbourne.

Going Raw... Why I'm Stoked I Did |
What do you feed your pug? If you don’t feed them a raw diet, are you considering changing them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

***Update – October 5th 2017***

It has been nearly 3 years since I switched Ref over to a biologically appropriate raw food diet. I have learnt so much since then. And I have switched Serina over to a raw diet too. I am still happy that I made the change. Ref’s weight has been kept at a steady amount for quite some time. I have not been able to clear up his itchiness which leads me to believe that it is not food related but we are continuing to work it our for him so he can be itchy free. By feeding Ref raw meaty bones, since he last had his dental clean in January 2016, we have been able to keep his teeth clean and healthy without having to brush them or have another dental clean. And that alone makes me very happy.

Serina is a very happy & healthy girl. If it wasn’t for feeding her a raw diet, I honestly don’t think I would be able to keep her weight below 10kg to help her hips and keep her full. With a raw diet, I can feed her 2.5% of her body weight to keep her full and lean. Just what she needs to help take pressure off her hips. And I have never seen girl who was so excited to get her meals.

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did |

Both Ref & Serina’s coats have never looked so good. They are soft and shiny. They also aren’t smelly. I will bath them once every 3 months or so. The last bath they had was 4 months after the previous one and they still weren’t smelly. They just needed a freshen up.

Food choices have changed quite a bit too. I no longer feed chicken, beef or kangaroo as a main source of meat. Chicken and beef can be filled with too many hormones and what not and are also 2 of the most common proteins for dogs to have allergies to. I source high quality wild caught meat as well as other high quality human grade meat. Veggies are not the standard 10% as in the BARF diet as I find to help keep my two lean, they need a little more. But as long as we do not exceed 30% veggies, then we are good though I wouldn’t go for that much either. I am constantly learning and changing up their food as much as I can. I find new things to try like our recent addition of homemade kefir which is an amazing source of probiotic.

I can no longer recommend a specific pet nutritionist as I have not used one since I first used Foodie Pooch. Instead, I do a lot of research myself. I have some go to websites that I like to read and then there are the Facebook groups for raw feeding that I am in and learn a lot from. I definitely recommend that you check out Rodney Habib’s Planet Paws, Dr Karen Becker, Dogs Naturally Magazine and Dr Jean Dodds. On Facebook, one of my favourite pages to follow besides the previously mentioned, is Canine Ascension. There are many other great groups and pages on Facebook but I will save those for another post.

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did |

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Kristy Beck

Kristy Beck

Owner & Content Producer at The Pug Diary
Kristy is the founder and editor of The Pug Diary, a photographer and pug mum extraordinaire to Ref. Kristy has combined her passion for photography with the love of pugs to bring you all of her knowledge of pugs and more to you through The Pug Diary.
  • Amy

    Thanks for sharing! There is so much debate but I love how you have shared your own opinion. Being black it is noticeable that Ref does have a lovely shiny coat and clearly meat would be incredibly tasty for him 🙂 I feed kibble because both the dogs are healthy and I have never had any negative diet related issues with them. I spend a fortune to get the best quality but perhaps that money could be better invested in raw food.

    The supplements are what intimidates me though!

    • I have never had any negative diet related issues with Ref other than he needed to lose about a kilo. And I honestly can’t justify the large amount of money on kibble that no matter what anyone says about it, it is still processed and not the best for them. But it is always completely up to the individual owner in what they do for their dog. All I know is that I have seen so many benefits to feeding raw and any dog I own will only ever be fed raw.

      The supplements… in all honesty, you can probably get away with not using them. It is somewhat like us taking multivitamins just to make sure we get all the vitamins & minerals we need. And when you buy supplements, it does have recommended quantities on it for a guideline. It isn’t really all that scary. Just a multivitamin like the one I posted in one of the photos and some coconut oil and you are all good. Ref gets the coconut crunch as we won a pack that had it in it and he enjoys it and there are some good benefits to it.

      Thanks for reading the article Amy. If you ever have any more questions about it, feel free to ask.

  • Janice PauliePugHamilton)

    Thank you for this article! I’ve read so much about this and I believe raw is best. But the same thing always comes up for me: Where and how do I begin? And I know I’m not going to get ANY support from a vet! I appreciate everything you wrote because it sounds like you thought the same as I do now. I will be re-reading this a few more times! I want Paul to be as healthy and happy as possible and this is the direction I need to go!

    • Thanks for stopping by Janice. I know that Paul will love being fed raw. If you want a more tailored and professional advice, look up to see if there are pet nutritionists in your state or even just in the country. I’m sure they’ll be plenty around that could always set up a guide for you.

  • Daniella D

    Thanks so much for this!

    I have a very healthy and happy little 8 month old pug and I wanna keep her that way! I’ve always struggled with what to feed her. So many different products and advise, I’ve gone through cooking her meals myself to pet boutique minces and now that dehydrated raw meat diet which seems great in theory but still feels a little wrong for some reason.

    I’ve just bought all the health food products, the coconut crunch and omega 3 suppliment and can’t wait to make my pug Peaches meals again, I feel much better making her food myself. She does get treats and a chicken neck every second day or so.

    Just a question, should she get small amounts of all the suppliments, kelp, omega and coconut crunch every day? I was planning on making a big bowl to last about 3 days with the mince, fruit and vege, offal and suppliments mixing it all together and giving her amounts of that at night for dinners.

    Thanks again I’m so looking forward to feeding my little Peaches such great healthy food.

    • Hi Daniella! Thanks for stopping by. So glad to hear you are going to making Peaches food again. It really is the best. To answer your question about the supplements… These are added just at meal time. There are directions on each of the packaging as to how much per day you should give. Ref’s daily recommendation for the vitamin is ¼ of a scoop each day and since it is difficult to measure out ⅛ of a scoop morning and night, I just give him the ¼ scoop in the morning along with the daily dose of fish oil and atlantic kelp. They are mixed in just at brekkie. At night he gets the coconut crunch added to his dinner. I give him roughly 10g of dry then rehydrate it with warm water which brings it up to the daily recommendation. So definitely don’t add it to the pre made mix until you go to serve it up. That way you know they are getting what they need each day. I hope that helps you.

  • Ronnie Duncanson

    Hi there. My 7 month old pug has been fed Ivory Coat dry food since he was 8 weeks old. He has developed a sensitivity allergy and I would like to begin feeding him a raw diet. How did you go about introducing it? I need to be very careful with any change in diet due to his sensitive tummy. Thanks!

    • Hi there Ronnie! The best thing I can suggest is the speak with a dog nutritionist about changing your pugs diet as they will have all the knowledge and experience to develop the right diet for your pug based on their needs and current situation. A lot of dog nutritionist will do consults via phone so even if there isn’t one local to you, you should still be able to get the right help you need. A holistic vet is also a good option if you have one nearby. This is definitely advice you need from a professional rather than just a fellow pug parent. Good luck and let us know how you go with it.

  • Great post Kristy.

    Indy has been fed a raw, organic diet since he was a pup. It was a light bulb moment for me, consciously considering what dogs were designed to eat. The book “Give Your Dog a Bone’ by Dr Ian Billinghurst also helped us to learn about raw feeding.

    When I think of dogs being fed a diet that solely consists of kibble I liken it to humans consuming only meal replacements (like diet shakes) for the rest of their life. It may be scientifically balanced but…

    We buy a lot of Indy’s bones from The Complete Pete Company as they have a good organic selection, roo tail is a favourite. In addition to bones we blend up a greens mix and add omega oils, kelp powder and brewer’s yeast. On occasion he’s given organic raw patties which may be a good place to start for those new to raw feeding.

    It is a little scary the first few times you watch your dog swallowing bones, but now I love watching Indy eat they way a dog should and he has the most beautiful white teeth!

    • Thanks for stopping by Vanessa! I know exactly what you mean. It has been a huge eye opener for me and it really is the best thing I have done for Ref. And I am so stoked that he is down to 8.7kg. The lightest he has been as an adult pug 😀

      When people talk to me about raw being bad and kibble being good, I explain that kibble is like having McDonalds for every meal.

      When it comes to bones, Ref has chicken necks but I have to chop them up as he nearly choked on one. It’s a bit different for small dogs but at least that way he is getting the bone he needs in his diet along with his meat, offal, veg, herbs & supplements. We have a number of ways to keep his teeth clean that he doesn’t get from chewing on bones. I am keen to check out The Complete Pet Company.

  • lili

    Hi Kristy I’m from Ecuador and I need some advice about my pug diet and health. He is 3 and a half years old and he has some skin problems, the vet said that is because of food (I used to feed him with Purina Dog Chow for puppies) he said that some pugs are alergic to chicken so I completely remove the chicken from his diet, now I cook veggies, beef, rice, fruits and supplement (Equilibriun ages) but the skin problems return. I don’t know if it’s a alergic reaction or what is the real cause. Unfortunately where I live there isn’t a pet nutritionist. I think that is a good idea to make a blood analysis to finally discover the cause, it is advisable or you know of any other method? I definitely want to try the raw diet!!!
    Apologizes for misspellings, I’m trying to learn more English. Thank you!

    • Hi there Lili. I’m sorry to hear that your pug has skin problems. I hope I can help with some information to point you in the right direction with your vet as I always recommend consulting with your vet on health and diet matters.

      The 2 most common food allergies in dogs are chicken and beef. If you have completely removed chicken from your pug’s diet then I would next suggest removing beef entirely from the diet too. Be sure to make sure it is hidden in any treats too. You will need to do this for at least 4 weeks to determine if there is any change in the diet. I would also suggest removing carbohydrates like rice as there is no nutritional value in adding things like rice, potato and pasta. Dogs are not designed to eat carbohydrates.

      I also recommend feeding raw, uncooked meat and vegetables as once meat and vegetables are cooked, they loose most of their nutritional value. Slowly introduce the raw food so it doesn’t upset your pugs tummy but make sure it is also balanced. There are many great websites that can help with this. Search for BARF diet as it is a really good guide to feeding raw meat, bone, vegetables and offal. And vegetables are best processed by dogs when they have been blended or juiced with the pulp mixed in.

      If you find that a change in food doesn’t make a difference, it is very likely that it is an environmental allergy. Ask your vet about a blood test for allergies to help with this.

      I hope this helps you. I have written a post on allergies too if you haven’t read it already. Check it out here:
      I hope I didn’t make it too complicated for you. Feel free to email me at

  • Lisa Geyer

    Excellent post. A year on and it would be great if you could post an update. I’ve been feeding my 2 pugs pre made barf patties for dinner and kibble for breakfast, for over a year now. I’m thinking I’m ready to make the jump to preparing my own after reading this post a couple of months ago and since then doing lots of research.

  • Pippa coates

    We’ve got a nearly 5 year old pug and I would really love to change her diet to a raw food diet, it sounds amazing, but I’m quite nervous about where to begin, all her life she’s eaten biscuits and cooked chicken 2 X a day and I know she’s overweight. Please could somebody advise me I’m worried in case she takes one look and won’t eat. I’d be grateful for any advice.

    • Hi Pippa. Thanks for reading this raw food article. I totally understand how daunting it can be taking on the change from processed food to raw food. I know I was concerned but with the right guidance, it actually was pretty easy. If you would like to email me at I can give you some tailored advice via email. I am more than happy to help and answer any questions you have about raw feeding.

  • We’ve been considering a raw diet for Holly as she’s really struggled with the kibble we use. The company only use human grade food so it’s not rubbish but it’s still affecting her. I always thought raw would be so time consuming but I love how you make it up in one go making it really quick and easy! I’ll be finding a pet nutritionalist this weekend! Thank you!! love & pug hugs xo