FAQ on Raw Food for Dogs

Answers to frequently asked questions

Why should dog food be raw?

Every species on earth should be eating a biologically appropriate diet. That is why cows eat grass and pandas eat bamboo. Dogs are so closely related to wolves that they can interbreed and they share the identical digestive system. Their biologically appropriate diet is prey and they eat the lot – meat, bones, innards, you name it.

Moreover, they don’t cook it first. Cooking alters a food’s molecular structure and destroys much of its nutritional value. Cooked food is actually rather unhealthy for dogs. There is a lot of information about this subject – including the results of scientific research – in the Raw Feeding area of the website.


What are the benefits of feeding a raw food diet?

There is considerable evidence to show that a natural, raw food diet results in numerous benefits including a glossy coat, healthy skin, lean muscle tone, robust immune system, sweet smelling breath, healthy teeth and gums, increased energy, better digestion and a strong heart. A specially formulated raw food diet is especially beneficial for working dogs as it helps performance and healing. Its advantages cannot be overstated

Dogs eating a raw food diet can be expected to live longer and to suffer less illness and disease.

Indeed, if your dog has any health issues now (even minor problems such as allergies, dry skin, bad breath and what the Americans refer to, euphemistically, as ‘gas’) it is quite likely that a switch to a raw food diet will clear them up.

There is a lot of information about this subject – including the results of scientific research – in the Raw Feeding and Health Advice areas of the website.


Can raw food help with weight loss?

Raw food is the easiest, healthiest way to help your dog return to his or her correct weight without feeling hungry. We specialise in helping dogs to lose weight without feeling hungry (if only it was as easy and pleasant for humans). Please call or email us for more details.


Could a dog choke on a bone or suffer from an obstruction?

Thanks to decades of misinformation by the dog food industry and others there is a perception that a dog’s digestive system is too sensitive to deal with raw bones. This is not true. In the same way that it is perfectly safe for a boa constrictor to swallow its prey whole, it is perfectly safe for dogs to chew and swallow bones. They have been doing it for over a million years, after all.

If you go online you will find a number of erroneous and generally untraceable stories from dog owners who claim that their dogs have had problems with bones.

Three points. Firstly, it is more than possible that manufacturers of processed dog food – a £1 billion industry in the UK alone – are behind these stories. They know that if dog owners begin to realise that inexpensive raw, meaty bones are good for their dogs they will probably stop buying processed food.

Secondly, the bones that dogs do occasionally choke on tend to be cooked. A cooked bone is much harder and may splinter. Dogs should never be fed cooked bones.

Thirdly, very, very rarely something will go down the wrong way or be too much for the digestive system. It hardly ever happens and when it does it could be caused by anything including, of course, dried dog food. In short, raw bones are the natural thing for dogs to eat. It is what they eat in the wild. If you would like to know more about the benefits of raw bones then visit the Raw Feeding area of this website.


Is it safe for dogs to eat raw meat?

It is 100% safe for dogs to eat raw meat. After all, dogs don’t cook in the wild. It is also probably worth mentioning that our meat is extremely fresh – fresher than much of the meat you find in your local supermarket. (The same is true of our vegetables, too).

Of course, dogs will happily eat unrefrigerated meat that is several weeks old without any ill effects. They’ll bury it and dig it up, too! However, we believe in erring well within the recommended rules for human consumption.


Are dogs fed with raw meat more prone to worms?

Dogs eating raw meat don’t suffer from worms any more than dogs on other diets. All dogs are prone to worms and should be treated regularly. Note that we use the highest quality meat, anyway. Meat that is perfectly suitable to eat yourself and thus considered 100% safe by the food safety authorities.


What about the bacteria on raw meat?

Dogs have the most amazing immune system. Consider what they sniff, lick and eat during the course of a typical walk in a park! The bacteria found on fresh meat poses no threats to them whatsoever.

Humans also have a high tolerance to bacteria. There is, after all, likely to be more bacteria on the handle of a shopping trolley than on a piece of fresh chicken. Of course, this doesn’t mean one shouldn’t be careful. If you handle raw meat or bones (although with Honey’s you don’t actually have to) it is advisable to wash your hands and anything else they have come into contact with.

When serving Honey’s we certainly recommend you follow your usual hygiene routine (in other words: ‘Now wash your hands!).


How do you switch a dog from processed food to raw food?

It is generally fine to switch from your usual food to a balanced, raw food diet without any transition period. However, it is worth bearing in mind that in the wild dogs do not eat every day! Indeed, many vets recommend fasting a dog once a week to give their digestive systems a rest. A day of fasting before you switch to a raw diet has much to be said for it.


I have been told raw food can make dogs aggressive. Is this true?

Raw food, far from making dogs aggressive, frequently makes them much calmer and happier. It is worth remembering that a growing number of vets believe that processed, cooked dog food is the canine equivalent to junk food.

Even dog food made using organic ingredients. In the same way that sugar, fats, food dyes and so forth affects human mental health (see the film Supersize Me for stark evidence of this) so manufactured dog food can affect canine mental health. The idea that – somehow – eating raw, fresh meat will result in dogs suddenly wanting to go out and catch their own is fanciful and not based on fact.


What is wrong with manufactured dog food?

It doesn’t matter which brand of dog food you use or how much it costs it is never going to be as good for your dog as raw, fresh meat, bone and vegetable. This is what is wrong with manufactured dog food:

  • It is cooked. Cooking destroys most of the food’s nutritional value from a dog’s perspective.
  • It is treated. You may have noticed that dog food has an incredibly long shelf life. This is because it has been preserved in some way (chemically or otherwise).
  • It contains inappropriate and harmful chemicals. These are absorbed through the bowel wall and transported to other organs with a range of harmful effects.
  • The quality of the ingredients is poor. For instance, the meat is often unsuitable for human consumption. Even expensive dog food often has very, very low quality ingredients.
  • The ingredients are difficult for dogs to digest. For instance, most dog foods contain a high percentage of grain (including rice), which is unsuitable for the canine digestive system.
  • It fails to clean the dog’s teeth and gums allowing plaque bacteria to build up. This gives rise to periodontal disease and worse.
  • It can lead to all sorts of ailments including allergies, skin complaints, bad breath, flatulence and overweight.

The dog food industry is worth a staggering £1 billion in the UK alone.

Manufacturers spend a great deal of money on advertising and on sponsoring vets. Many people feel that in the near future the processed pet food industry is going to be exposed and brought to account for its misdemeanors, in the same way tobacco and pharmaceutical companies have been. In other words, they may have knowingly encouraged dog owners to feed their dogs food that is actually harmful.

A growing number of vets are starting to wake up to the fact that most of the research on food and diet for dogs is done by the dog food industry. Most of the professional bodies are funded by pet food manufacturers and have been reluctant to come out with any statements that criticise the industry. You will find lots more information about this in the Raw Feeding area of this website.


Questions about Honey’s

Were you called Darling’s before?

Yes, we were Darling’s and now we are Honey’s. We had to change the name of our dog food because we didn’t understand about trademarks when we started up and someone else owns the word ‘Darling’ in relation to pet food. True, they are only using it in Eastern Europe but we decided not to risk it. Incidentally, our company name is The Darling Experiment Limited and we also make Beautiful Joe’s Ethical Dog Treats (which are sold in aid of dogs in need).


What makes Honey’s working dog food different?

The core difference between us and other dog food companies is that we supply our dog food raw. We use different basic ingredients, too. Our emphasis is on lean, minced meat and bone with no more than a third of the food being vegetable.

We don’t use any ingredients our vets believe to be unhealthy for dogs, such as grain.

We are also concerned with the welfare of the farm animals that become our ingredients. Our meat is free-range and/or wild and/or certified organic, always fresh and always British. We know and trust the farmers we source from and buy as locally as possible. The ingredients we buy are of such a high quality that you could eat them (if you eat meat) yourself. There are no additives, preservatives, colourings or chemicals of any kind. Until Honey’s came along no one was offering working dogs a specially formulated raw food.


When you say your food is ‘seasonal’ what do you mean?

We try to buy ingredients from local farmers and, failing this, from as close to our kitchens as possible. Obviously different ingredients are available at different times of the year (lamb in spring, turkey at Christmas and so forth). This is why our food changes in appearance from batch to batch.

Indeed, no two batches are the same. This is much better for your dog’s health and it is better for the environment, too. After all, it would be crazy to use imported meat or vegetables when we can get such wonderful, fresh ingredients from much closer to home (sometimes just a field away!).


Why do you put emphasis on including bones in the diet?

Bones are important for two reasons. Firstly, they provide vital nutrients including calcium, complex (good) fats and vitamins. Secondly, the actual chewing of the bones is what keeps a dog’s teeth and gums healthy. Chewing and gnawing are also, believe it or not, excellent exercise and help a dog to stay fit. That’s why our food contains finely minced up bone and why we also encourage you to serve whole bones on the side.


Is there offal in Honey’s?

Yes, we do use offal in some of our recipes. For a full list of ingredients visit Range. We also sell offal separately if you prefer to make up your own food.


How is Honey’s food kept cold in transit?

We freeze food as soon as it is made and then send it to you frozen.

We pack it in insulated boxes and the food is fine out of the freezer for 48 hours.

Our courier will get it to you overnight so the longest it is out of the freezer is 24 hours and the average is about 14 hours. Incidentally, if it thaws a little in transit that is fine. Nowadays domestic freezers are so efficient food can be thawed and re-frozen several times without risk.

Occasionally, if we have just finished a batch of food, we may include it in your order fresh. This is safe, too, as it will be surrounded by lots of frozen food.


Can I feed expectant and new mothers on Honey’s?

Yes. Expectant mothers love Honey’s. If you have a pregnant dog just let us know the details and we will adjust the food quantities accordingly. As soon as they have whelped we will adjust the food again.

You can find out more here – feeding plan for mums and puppies.


Can I feed puppies on Honey’s?

Yes. It is the best food possible to feed puppies. We will work out a feeding schedule for you and make sure that your puppies get exactly the right nourishment as soon as they are old enough to start eating solids.

You can find out more here – feeding plan for mums and puppies.


Can I feed an elderly or unwell dog on Honey’s?

Yes. Elderly and unwell dogs adore Honey’s and it can make a huge difference to their health and welfare.

If your dog has health issues please let us know and we will adjust their diet as required.

NB: our vets are happy to offer advice on all health and diet issues.

Also, we are the only dog food company in the world that makes everything to order.

There’s information about feeding unwell dogs in the Health Advice area of this site along with lots of other useful health-related information.


Do you supply raw ingredients for diy raw dog food?

Yes. We can provide you with a wide range of ethically sourced butcher’s offcuts and other ingredients so that you can make up your own food – at home – quickly and easily. This should save you as much as 33% or more when compared to our own prepared recipes. Basically, our labour costs.

We offer made-up boxes of ingredients or, if you prefer, you can go a la carte. Either way, our prices are highly competitive.

The range of ingredients changes from day to day (depending on what ingredients are in the complete food) but generally includes such tasty morsels as: meaty chicken carcasses, meaty duck carcasses, washed tripe, lamb necks, lamb ribs, lamb heart, chicken necks, chicken wings, duck wings, pork trotters, whole rabbit, knuckle bones and ox heart. Please call or email for more details.


What is the connection between Honey’s and the BARF diet?

BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food and the BARF diet of fresh, raw meat, bone and vegetable is gaining popularity.

At Honey’s we have taken the BARF principles and used them to create a working dog food. We place great emphasis on the quality of ingredients and the fat element (vital for energy) in our formulas. The key difference is we save dog owners a great deal of time because:

  • There’s no need for you to do any nutritional research
  • There’s no need for you to source all the different ingredients, and
  • There’s no need for you to make the food up every day.

This last point shouldn’t be underestimated. It can be a yucky business preparing and serving raw dog food. With Honey’s, on the other hand, the food itself comes in neat little packages.

You may notice that we don’t make a big thing about BARF on this website. Why?

  1. It is a political and ethical movement and we don’t want to cash in on its goodwill.
  2. We are a little prudish about the acronym with all its associations.

What is the cost of Honey’s compared to other foods?

It costs less than you might expect to feed your dog with Honey’s. We keep costs down by dealing direct with our customers (so no profit to retailers or wholesalers) and by not advertising. The price is linked to the exact weight of your dog and will be supplied as part of the order process. Here are some typical examples:

Cocker Spaniel £1.65 a day
Beagle £2.10 a day
Pointer £2.50 a day
Labrador £2.75 a day
Golden Retriever £3.10 a day


Please note that all our food has been designed for working dogs.

Compare our raw food prices with most ranges of dry, wet or canned dog food and you’ll see excellent value for money.

Incidentally, Honey’s often works out cheaper than buying ingredients and making it up yourself!

Why? If you price the meats and vegetables we use in a shop you will see that they are very expensive. Because we buy direct from producers we pay considerably less.

Please call or email for a quotation. Remember, we are never knowingly undersold.


Why is it called ‘Working’ Dog Food?

Honey’s Working Dog Food has been specially formulated just for working dogs. We offer two ranges. Our Out of Season Working Dog Food is designed for working dogs that are resting or in low-level training. This has a lower fat content. Our Active Working Dog Food is designed for, well, active working dogs who are travelling a lot on business, doing long days at the office, running around like mad &c.. This has a higher fat content. We can advise you on what is suitable for your working dog.
If you are feeding a number of working dogs, incidentally, we will make up a tailor-made food to suit your requirements. All working dog food is available in our standard recipes: free-range chicken, free-range pork, free-range duck, free-range turkey, prime free-range beef, tender free-range lamb, and wild rabbit.

We also offer certified organic and prescription ranges of non-working dog food.


Can I buy food from you and sell it to my own customers?

We would love to supply raw food to independent pet shops, veterinary practices and other outlets but the problem is we use such high quality ingredients and work on such slim margins that it just isn’t feasible.

As it is, because of our introductory offer (designed to help people try raw feeding at minimal cost) we lose money on a new customer for the first five months or so. Our business model is based on keeping customers (both with two and four legs) happy for a long time.

Even though we can’t supply food for resale we will be pleased to help in any other way we can if you get in touch with us.


How do you support canine professionals?

If you are a vet, veterinary nurse, behaviourist, trainer, breeder, kennel owner or other canine professional (or if you run a canine charity or web site) please get in touch. There are lots of ways we may be able to support you including free copies of our books, free samples of food, support for your clients and support for causes you believe in. If you have any ideas we would love to hear from you.


Questions about ordering

Why do you need to know my dog’s weight?

Our diet recommendations for your dog depend on a variety of factors – the most important of which is the dog’s weight.


Why do you ask what my feeding objective is?

We work on the basis that the average dog should eat about 2% of its body weight in food every day. Some owners want their dogs to put on weight, others want them to lose weight, so we adjust the quantity and type of food accordingly.

Once you have placed your order, by the way, we will ask you supplementary questions about your dog and his or her lifestyle. This may raise other issues that could affect the amount of food we recommend. For instance, if your dog is taking a lot of exercise or pregnant we might suggest different types/quantities of food.


What should I do if my dog loses or gains weight on Honey’s?

Just call or email us and we will adjust the amount of food for your next order. If your dog is losing weight we may suggest that you feed him or her more, and we will bring the next order forward so that you don’t run out.


Can I set up a regular monthly order?

We will automatically remind you to reorder when we believe you are starting to run out of food. Also we are happy to arrange a regular monthly standing order for you. All you have to do is email or call us and we will do the rest. You can always adjust (or cancel) the order any time you want. And we will always give you plenty of warning before we send anything to you to make sure you are expecting delivery.


Can I order a sample of your food?

Yes, of course. We do taster boxes and can tailor them to your needs.


Which days do you deliver?

We are now able to offer delivery most days by arrangement (never a Sunday or Monday). Please remember to give as much notice as possible though. There is usually a few days’ gap between when you place your order and when we can deliver, although if you have an emergency situation we will always try to help out.


What time will the courier arrive?

Delivery will be between 9am and 5.30pm. Delivery before 1pm is also available at additional cost.


What if I can’t be home when you are delivering?

In case you aren’t at home when your food is booked to arrive we ask you to supply us with further instructions. For example, you might tell us to leave it in your garden shed or garage. Another option is to have it delivered somewhere nearby.

One of our customers always has it sent to his local pub, another to the home of her retired mother, a third to a nearby corner shop. Ideally it should be put straight into a fridge or freezer but for a few hours somewhere reasonably cool will do it no harm.


Are there any weight limits on my delivery?

We will calculate delivery for you when we produce a quotation for you. Please note our biggest box holds approximately 15g and can be lifted easily.


How should I store the food you send me?

Your food is made to order, frozen within minutes and then sent to you by courier overnight. What about once you have taken delivery? We recommend that you unpack the food from the insulated box (note that it is recyclable) and stack it in your freezer. Before going to bed at night just take out the following day’s food and it will be all ready and thawed in the morning. The advantage of this system is that you can be certain the food you are serving is as fresh as fresh can be. Incidentally, if your food thaws a little in transit that is fine. Nowadays domestic freezers are so efficient that food can be thawed and re-frozen several times without any health risk.


Can I freeze the bones?

It is quite OK to freeze any bones you order. You can then thaw them as needed although some dogs actually love chewing on frozen bones.


My freezer is quite small. Have you any tips?

Although we pack all our food and bones so that they take up as little space as possible you may find that your freezer is just not big enough for all the Honey’s you need. Different options include:

  • Ordering more frequently. We will despatch every 14 days although it does work out more expensive because of the extra packaging and delivery charges.
  • Asking a friend or relative to help by keeping some of the food for you in their freezer.
  • Keeping food for up to five days in your fridge.
  • Buying a new freezer. If the only other option is ordering more frequently it is actually more cost effective to buy an extra freezer.