Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did | www.thepugdiary.com

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.

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.

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did | www.thepugdiary.com

Some typical ingredients included in Ref’s meals when I first started raw feeding in November 2014

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. 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 do I include and how did I know he was going to get all the nutrients he needs to be a healthy boy.

With some research and the help of a pet nutritionist, I got off to the right start. With raw feeding becoming more popular amongst pet parents who are wanting the best for their pets, finding someone to help you get started is easier now. There are a number of amazing websites that offer these services including Perfectly Rawsome and SoCal Raw Fed Dogs. I used a nutritionist that no longer practices in Australia but I learnt so much from speaking with her. 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 vegetables to add to your pug’s diet.
  • 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.
  • 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.com

Sardines, duck egg and goats milk kefir are popular in our house.

How 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.

We follow the BARF diet that consists of 70% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ and 10% fruit & veg. So what are the options for each of these components?

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did | www.thepugdiary.com

A typical breakfast includes meat, fruit, vegetables, coconut oil and Turmericle Powder

Meat: There are a variety of meats you can choose from. It is recommended that you feed one protein for 2 weeks to make sure there are no reactions for your pug. Then you can introduce one new protein at a time to know what works for them. Some good meat options include chicken, beef, lamb, kangaroo, turkey, goat, venison, pork, rabbit and some novelty proteins like crocodile, wallaby and possum. Some of our favourite proteins are beef, lamb, kangaroo, turkey and goat.

Bone: Fresh meaty bones are the best bones to feed. They also need to be soft edible bones so your pug can easily digest them. For small dogs like pugs, it is best to go with poultry bones like necks, wings, feet and frames from chicken, turkey, duck and quail. Chicken necks can be a good one to avoid with pugs though as they can easily choke on them. Since chicken is off the menu due to allergies for us, we like duck feet for bone content as they are chock full of collagen plus they are narrower than necks and less likely to be choked on.

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did | www.thepugdiary.com

A typical dinner includes duck feet for bone content, a mix of liver & kidney along with some goats milk kefir, bone broth, fruit, vegetables and their supplements

Offal: Offal is just as important to include in a balanced diet as bone is. It provides essential nutrients for your pug to survive. Offal should not be any more than 10% of their food intake. Liver is a must but also no more than 5% to ensure there isn’t too much Vitamin A being given. You can get liver from most animal sources such as chicken, beef, lamb, kangaroo and pork. It is best to rotate these as each animal provides different levels of nutrients. Now when it comes to other secreting organs, you can look for kidney, spleen, pancreas, testicles, brains, thymus and ovaries. Just like liver, if you can source different secreting organs from different animals, you are going to provide a great variety of nutrients for your pug. We have been able to source liver and kidney from beef, kangaroo, lamb and pork but that’s been it until recently being able to source goat spleen.

Fruit & vegetables: When choosing fruit & vegetables to include in your pug’s food, go for the lowest carb options possible. For fruits, it is best to stick to blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries on a regular basis with different fruits once or twice a week for variety. For vegetables, green leafy vegetables are the best but you can include in alternating mixes some other beneficial vegetables too. We like to choose from kale, spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, carrots, celery, parsley, mint, oregano, pumpkin, capsicum (bell peppers) and green beans. Vegetables and fruits are best digested when they have been pureed. This allows your pug to get as many nutrients out of them as possible. I like pureeing them and putting them into fun moulds to freeze and add to their meals. You can also mix the fruit & veg puree into their meat & organ mix which is especially good for fussy eaters.

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did | www.thepugdiary.com

Pureed red capsicum & asparagus frozen into moulds for easy adding at meal time

Supplements: Supplements should only be given for a specific reason though there are a few supplements that I would recommend for all pugs. A general vitamin supplement like Augustine Approved’s SuperBoost, which is great for itchy skin. If your pug is good with turmeric, I would look at adding Golden Paste for cancer fighting and health boosting benefits. Coconut oil is another great supplement especially when feeding low fat meats and to help improve skin. I see so many people recommending fish or krill oil as a supplement and I did initially do that until I read how quick they can go rancid so I choose to get fish oil into their system with actual fish like sardines, salmon and mackerel. There are so many supplements that can be added but finding the ones your pug needs is more important than including any just because someone else has.

Meal prepping will make life easier for you. I started by making up 2 weeks of a meat, offal, fruit & veg mix and freezing it in meal sized portions. Then I would add supplements and bone at meal time. 2 meals a week would be sardines. Nowadays, I prepare 4 weeks of food into containers for the pugs. I include everything they need for their day of meat, offal and bone. Sardines are fed 2 nights a week and salmon once a week. At meal time, I add supplements and their veggie mix that are kept in the freezer. Each morning, I grab the following days meal out to defrost in the fridge. It will take me a couple of hours every 4 weeks to prep meals. I find it relaxing but everyone is different. For those who really hate meal prepping, there are so many great ready to go raw options on the market. You just need to find one local to you that you and your pugs love and you’ll be good to go. Just keep in mind that whilst meal prepping can be time consuming for some, more often than not, it is much cheaper.

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did | www.thepugdiary.com

Cooked pumpkin & parsley frozen into moulds for easy adding at meal time

I changed Ref over to this diet in November 2014 and at that time he weight 9.9kg. 6 months later and he was down to 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. There are so many experience people out there who can guide you on how much to feed. You may like to search for a pet nutritionist to help guide you. If you want to give it a go yourself, check out my raw feeding for pugs series.

Going Raw… Why I’m Stoked I Did | www.thepugdiary.com

Ref loves eating his raw meals. It takes a lot of concentration from him to not eat the food whilst we take a pre-meal photo

Are you looking for some great information on raw feeding? Check out some of our favourite resources:

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.

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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 + Serina. 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.


  1. Avatar Amy on May 29, 2015 at 8:30 am

    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!

    • Kristy Beck Kristy Beck on May 30, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      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.

  2. Avatar Janice PauliePugHamilton) on May 29, 2015 at 10:36 am

    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!

    • Kristy Beck Kristy Beck on May 30, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      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.

  3. Avatar Daniella D on June 3, 2015 at 10:31 am

    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.

    • Kristy Beck Kristy Beck on June 3, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      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.

  4. Avatar Ronnie Duncanson on December 20, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    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!

    • Kristy Beck Kristy Beck on December 20, 2015 at 6:39 pm

      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.

  5. Avatar Vanessa O'Sh on January 5, 2016 at 10:15 am

    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!

    • Kristy Beck Kristy Beck on January 16, 2016 at 5:09 pm

      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.

  6. Avatar lili on May 5, 2016 at 1:39 am

    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!

    • Kristy | The Pug Diary Kristy | The Pug Diary on May 5, 2016 at 9:14 pm

      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: http://www.thepugdiary.com/signs-pug-may-allergy/
      I hope I didn’t make it too complicated for you. Feel free to email me at hello@thepugdiary.com

  7. Avatar Lisa Geyer on June 30, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    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.

  8. Avatar Pippa coates on July 10, 2017 at 8:18 am

    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.

    • Kristy | The Pug Diary Kristy | The Pug Diary on July 11, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      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 hello@thepugdiary.com 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.

  9. Avatar hugosadventures on July 12, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    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

  10. Avatar Fern Zazzetta on March 22, 2021 at 10:11 am

    Thank you so much for your article Kirsty! So very informative. But dose it apply to any breed of dog? I have a Maltes x Shih Tzu (12yrs) a Rhodesian Ridgeback x American Staffie (3yrs) & a Neapolitan Mastiff (6mths) I’m really hoping it does, because it sounds like a good idea! 😊

    • Kristy Beck Kristy Beck on March 26, 2021 at 6:58 pm

      It absolutely applies to any breed. The only thing that changes besides how much to feed different breeds based on their size is the types of bones you feed. They need to be appropriate to the size and eating habits of the dog.

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