Prey Based Diet

In searching for the absolute best diet for your dog, you may have come across information about a prey based diet. This is not as common in the United States but it is catching on for people who are willing to give it a try.

What is a prey based diet and what is it an alternative to? Today, we take a closer look.

What is a Prey Based Diet?

In general, a “prey based diet” is similar to what a dog would get if they were to actually hunt for food. If you were to recreate this in a commercially available diet, your dog would most likely get these components:

  • 80% raw meat
  • 10% bone
  • 10% organ meat

When referring to raw meat, diet experts generally mean meat from muscles, but they usually also like tongue, heart, and gizzards to be included.

Bones should be included, but dense bones should be avoided. Large, weight-bearing bones have a tendency to shatter. This can lodge them in your dog’s throat and cause problems down the line. Less dense bones are suggested. Your dog can get their bone allotment from fish, rabbit or small birds like chicken or quail. When it comes to bone, it’s more important that the bone is soft rather than what animal it came from.

Lastly, organ meat is an important part of a prey based diet. If a dog actually ate prey that they captured, they would probably start with the organs as this is one of the easiest places to access vitamins and minerals. Also, these vitamins and minerals are water-soluble, which means that your dog will get all the benefits they can from them. Organ meat your dog should get includes liver, kidney, and spleen.

We’ve gone through what a prey based diet would contain, let’s take a look at two specific and different prey based diets. These diets are overall different in their implementation but try to achieve a similar goal

Prey Model Raw Diet

A raw diet is just as it sounds. This diet contains only raw food. This doesn’t include fruits, vegetables, dairy or supplements. This diet is also called the “prey model.”

Basically, you would feed your dog whole animal parts. The easiest way to do this would be to simply throw your dog a whole chicken or other small mammals such as rabbits. Your dog will do all the work necessary to clean the animal and then devour the bits they want.

Feeding your dog a small animal like that might be easiest, but not everyone has access to whole animals in that way. Some people instead choose to piecemeal together what would be similar to a whole prey animal by using different animal bits. The important thing about this diet is that it is about as natural as it comes. There is no supplementation.


The BARF acronym stands for “bones and raw food” or “biologically appropriate raw food.” While the acronym may sound disgusting, it’s a more reasonable version of the previous diet.

Where the prey model encourages only animal-based food with no supplementation, the BARF diet allows for non-meat foods and supplements. Using the BARF method, you can give your dog occasional dairy, fruits and veggies.

Of course, the most important ingredient is muscle meat, which makes up about 70% of this diet. Then the remaining 30% is about equally split between bones, organ meat and non-animal products.

The BARF method is a little bit easier to make at home as well because it allows for ground meat. The Prey based diet doesn’t allow for that.

Basically, the BARF method says as long as you can hit the proper proportions, the diet is fine. There’s also a lot more flexibility in the diet as you can add or subtract ingredients as you see fit.

Commercial Dog Food

When you say “commercial dog food,” most people probably think of kibble. This has left a bad taste in many people’s mouths as many see a bag of dog food as unnatural. This doesn’t have to be the case, however. Many companies now produce prey based diet formulas.

You may not notice, but many pet supply stores will keep a small cooler full of different raw diet foods. These have been specially formulated to meet the needs of your dog while still following a more natural diet.

Next time you are at your local pet supply store, ask them if they carry foods that adhere to a prey based diet or if these dog foods are available.

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