The True Value of Raw Pet Food

true cost raw pet food

There are many perceived barriers to transitioning to a raw food diet from a standard kibble diet, but the one that we hear most consistently is in regard to cost – at first glance, raw pet food is more expensive than comparable kibble diets. In this article, we will be discussing why this perception might not be as accurate as it looks – essentially, why investing in a species-appropriate diet can actually save you money long term.

Raw Pet Food – The True Cost

raw pet food cost

There are three important distinctions to be made when determining the true cost of pet food (or any animal’s food). To arrive at a truly accurate assessment of cost, each of these factors must be considered.

Cost by Weight


This is the most common metric for considering the cost of a food or commodity item, as it is the easiest to gauge and recognize. Chicken costs $1.50 per pound, shampoo costs 0.50 per oz, etc.

Almost every consumable we encounter is sold by weight, and therefore, that is our immediate factor in determining cost.

Cost per Serving


While certainly a less recognized metric, this is a vastly more relevant one than cost by weight. While two items may cost the same per pound, one may require significantly less use, meaning that the cost per serving is less.

Practically speaking, this is the most useful qualifier for determining the actual cost of an item, as it shows what the “bang for your buck” is – how much you actually get out of your dollar.

Lifetime Cost


This is very complicated to measure accurately since it analyses the cost of an item over many years of use, and many costs are not associated with the item directly but rather with lifestyle changes or other purchases that result from its use. This could also be termed “vicarious costs”.

Poor Quality Caloric Food is Expensive

raw pet food dogs

The same equation used above gives us an average daily cost of the feeding of $5.20, which is obviously still higher than the kibble cost but only by $1.76 – half the cost of a good cup of coffee. So far, we have established that our raw dog food costs less than one cup of coffee per day extra to feed a 50lb dog.

Obviously, this number is variable based on your own dog (and on the price of a good cup of coffee in your area), but the difference in cost between a specialty kibble and our raw dog’s diet is not as immense as it originally seemed.

Periodontitis (gum disease)

dog teeth raw pet food

By far the most common affliction for household pets, symptoms include pickiness, bad breath, red and swollen gums, and yellow or brown teeth. Common treatments often include a “deep clean,” which many vets recommend sedation for, with regular touch-ups on a weekly basis.

Treatment may also include oral antibiotics and specialized dental “chews.” In many cases, tooth removal is necessary – this can cost as much as $2,000 per tooth. The average cost of this disease treatment is $700 for the initial cleaning and $250 for the follow-up visits. Assuming one extracted tooth and the typical 3 months’ worth of continued treatment, gum disease can cost $3,700.

This disease is widely known to be caused by high carbohydrate diets and therefore is commonly attributed to kibble.

Cancer

cancer raw pet food

Unfortunately, 1 in 4 dogs in the United States will die of cancer, making it one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in modern house pets. Treatment often includes an initial surgery to remove a tumor, which costs an average of $1,500. If cancer comes back, many vets recommend chemotherapy, which usually costs around $5,000. This is one of the more variable costs since there are so many types of cancer, and treatment can differ depending on what it is or how persistent it is. For the purposes of this article, we will give it an average cost of $6,500, which assumes one surgery and one round of chemo. This disease is also widely attributed to high carbohydrate diets, as well as certain carcinogens that occur in both animal and plant food processing.

Type II Diabetes

diabetes raw pet food

In simple terms, this disease is caused by an abundance of glucose, which causes the body to become resistant to its own insulin. Typical treatment requires insulin supplementation and can eventually lead to obesity, Alzheimer’s, heart failure, pancreatitis, fatty liver disease, and other more directly serious diseases.

Diabetes treatment costs an average of $80.00 per month and is usually diagnosed by age 6 – assuming no resulting complications and the average 13-year lifespan, total lifetime treatment would cost roughly $6,720. Unfortunately, most dogs would die from one of the previously mentioned illnesses well before age 13, typically only making it to 10 years old – this brings the cost down to $3,840.

Conclusion

pet owners raw pet food

While it is completely impossible to accurately predict how much you will spend on your dog over its lifetime, we hope that this article has shown you that raw feeding is not quite as comparably expensive as is generally thought. One thing to always keep in mind is that owning a dog is not cheap.

Dogs are living creatures who depend on us for health and happiness. Pet parents are bound to spend money either in the short term on food or in the long term at the vet. We believe that species-appropriate nutrition gives pets the best chance at a happy life. What more could anyone ask for than that?

For more information, please reach out to us! We would love to connect and help you however we can.

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BJ’s Raw Pet Food subscriptions save precious time, energy, and money while keeping your precious animals happy and healthy. Our subscription system allows you to set up a recurring order, based on your timetable, for any of the products in our store. Not only does this make sure that your pet food will always arrive on time, but we also offer a 5% discount on all subscriptions, giving you ongoing savings on all subscription orders!