Is your dog on the BARF diet? If so, you're one of many dog owners looking to provide a natural diet that mimics what your pup's ancestors ate. In the context of dog diets, BARF stands for "Bones and Raw Food."
It's a specialty diet plan that ditches commercial kibble in favor of raw, homemade meals.
The goal is to keep your dog's meals as natural as possible. While modern kibbles are undoubtedly healthy, they're vastly different from what wild canines consume daily.
Raw dog food lets you take matters into your own hands, replicating the rewards of a successful hunt from the comfort of home.
There's just one issue: Processing bones!
Bones are a critical part of a raw food diet. But, they can be a huge hassle to incorporate. They're big, cumbersome, and super hard to handle.
While you could give whole bones to your dogs like treats, grinding them up and adding them with other meat products lets you have better control over what your pup is eating.
So, how can you crush the bones up safely and efficiently?
That's where a meat grinder comes in! Meat grinders take care of the heavy lifting, turning a once arduous job into a piece of cake. Here are some of the best meat grinders for bones on the market today.
5 of the Best Pet Food Meat Grinders for Bones
1. STX Turboforce 3000 Heavy Duty 5-In-1 Powerful Size #12 Electric Meat Grinder
This versatile grinder can do it all! It has an average power rating between 800 and 1,200 watts when under load. However, it has a total locked wattage of 3,000. That means it can handle most meat and bone products without so much as a stutter.
In total, the grinder holds about three pounds of product, allowing you to process up to 240 pounds an hour. It's a heavy-duty machine that works well with both small and large batches.
The grinding head is made of aluminum, but the machine has steel cutting blades. It comes with three plates and several additional accessories.
2. ANBULL Meat Grinder Electric Meat Mincer Machine with Attachment
Here's a good universal choice that will serve most dog owners well when grinding bones. The motor produces 1,100 watts of power, making it robust enough to get through even the thickest bones. Overall, the machine is well-built and easy to clean. Disassembly is a cinch, which comes in handy when it comes time to clean the auger.
Many safety features are in place, too. There is a double safety switch. You have to press two buttons at the same time to turn it on. There's also built-in overload protection and a reverse function to fix clogs.
3. Sunmile SM-G50 ETL Electric Meat Grinder 1000W Heavy Duty Meat Mincer Sausage Grinder
This meat grinder from Sunmile is on the compact side. However, it's still fully capable of processing bones and meats. The motor provides 350 watts on load and 1,000 watts of locked power. Three cutting plates are available, making it easy to choose a texture that's right for your dog.
The exterior features easy-to-clean plastic. However, behind that outer layer is a metal gearbox. It protects the more intricate components and improves the capabilities of the grinder. There's also a built-in circuit breaker to prevent motor burnout.
4. Cuisinart Electric Meat Grinder, Stainless Steel
Cuisinart is a trusted name in kitchen gadgets, and this meat grinder shows why. It's a well-built machine that's compact and easy to use. The motor is on the weaker sound, providing an output of 300 watts. But make no mistake: The grinder is still surprisingly efficient at processing bones.
Two cutting plates are included. You also get a plastic pusher and some sausage tubes. The exterior has a beautiful stainless steel finish. The controls are pretty straightforward. While not the most complex machine, it still has built-in safety features and a reverse mode.
Most Quiet Raw Dog Food Grinder
5. LEM Products Stainless Steel Big Bite Electric Meat Grinder
Check out this beast of a grinder! It's an all-metal machine with stainless steel throughout. Everything from the pan on the hopper to the auger inside is steel, making this a grinder that's well-built and easy to clean.
In terms of performance, you can't go wrong with this model. It's a commercial-grade grinder that's tough enough to handle anything. The motor pushes out .75 horsepower! On top of all that, the gears are surprisingly quiet.
The internal components are insulated behind the thick steel walls. Plus, they're fine-tuned to operate smoothly and reduce noise as much as possible. While not entirely silent, there's a noticeable difference in operating volume.
Do You Need a Meat Grinder?
If you've ever attempted to grind up bones yourself, this question requires no elaboration! Grinders make quick work of dealing with tough bones.
Sure, you could do things manually with a knife. However, the job becomes instantly more challenging. Plus, there's a matter of safety to think about.
Injuries are more common than you think.
Most dog owners aren't proficient butchers. You can certainly pick up skills as you go, but your arsenal of tools is limited. Knives can slip, leading to ghastly injuries.
Grinders eliminate a lot of that worry.
They have their inherent risks, too. But if you follow the instructions to a tee and make use of all the included safety mechanisms, you shouldn't have any problem grinding up bones in a matter of minutes.
How Do They Work?
Grinders primarily work using an auger system. They rely on the process of mastication to physically grind down meat and bone.
Once you load the bones into the hopper, they go through a spinning screw-like auger. The auger acts like a belt, moving the bones further into the grinder to squash and mix the food.
Some models feature an endpiece to process the bones even more. A metal plate is helpful for creating a signature texture reminiscent of ground beef, while a funnel acts as a guide tube for making sausages.
Those features are unnecessary when grinding bones for dog food. But, they can come in handy if you're trying to achieve a specific texture. For example, senior dogs might require a more refined grind to minimize the need for chewing.
Either way, grinders give you the option to prepare the bones how you want. The processing machine offers far more flexibility than you ever had before!
Key Features to Consider
Meat grinders are complex kitchen tools that come in a wide variety of designs and specifications. On the lower end of the price spectrum, you'll find low-quality consumer machines. On the upper end, you can buy a commercial grinder with all the bells and whistles!
You don't have to shell out a fortune for a professional model, but paying attention to the machine's quality is a good idea. Here are the most critical factors to consider when buying a meat grinder for dog food.
The first thing to look into is the power ratings. Power dictates the overall machine's capabilities.
Generally, consumer-level grinders have a motor that produces less than 1,000 watts. That should be fine for most dog owners. Those wanting to process bones on a larger scale can turn to more robust options. Grinders are available with powerful 2,000 and 3,000-watt motors.
Manual vs. Electric
Some grinders don't come with motors at all! The go-to for most people is to invest in an electrical grinder. They're much quicker and don't require a ton of manual labor to get the job done.
On the downside, electrical grinders are more expensive. They also make more noise, which could end up startling your dog as you prepare food.
Manual models are great if you're on a budget. They are more challenging to use, as they rely on a hand crank to turn the meat-grinding auger. However, they can be a great way to save money without sacrificing efficiency.
Plate Size and Options
Remember how we mentioned that some grinders come with metal plates? Don't ignore those extra accessories. As we said earlier, the plate determines the texture and the size of individual bone pieces after they come out of the machine.
Many meat processors come with a set of grinding plates. You might see sizes ranging from two inches up to more than five. It's always good to have multiple options.
That said, always stick to plate sizes that are appropriate for your dog. Smaller breeds will benefit from smaller sizes and vise versa.
How much can your meat grinder handle? Smaller models are pretty limited when it comes to capacity. They have smaller augers and hopper funnels, making it difficult to process a large amount of food in one go. You can certainly still get the job done, but it'll take much longer.
Keep that in mind! If you have a big dog or you're preparing bones for more than one furry friend, you may benefit from getting a higher-capacity machine.
Don't forget about overall durability. The last thing you want is to invest in a cheap grinder that breaks after a couple of uses. It's not just a matter of frustration. Low-quality grinders can pose a health risk.
Suppose that pieces of the auger break off as you're trying to grind bones down. There's a good chance that you'll miss that damage.
So, it goes into the food and eventually into your dog's mouth. All of a sudden, you have a severe choking hazard that you didn't even realize existed.
Always go for high-quality meat grinders to grind bones. All-metal designs are the way to go!
One issue that holds many dog owners back from using grinders is the maintenance involved. These machines have a lot of moving parts that require regular cleaning and inspection.
To minimize the maintenance requirements, some manufacturers design the machine with easy cleaning in mind.
Suppose you're someone who doesn't like a lot of cleanup duties, spring for one of those models. Look for units that are easy to disassemble.
Finally, you can't gloss over safety. The fact of the matter is that meat grinders are dangerous. They turn bones and meat into nothing more than pulp! Imagine what it can do to your hand!
You need to invest in a product that has built-in safety measures. It should come with a hopper that makes it impossible to slip your hands or fingers in.
We also recommend using machines that have safety switches, a non-slip suction base, and reverse functionality. Those features can do wonders to make using the grinder a little less intimidating.
A meat grinder is a must-have accessory if your dog is on a raw food diet. It makes preparation a breeze and improves safety across the board.
Your dog deserves the very best, but many people are hesitant about going raw because of all the work involved. With a good meat grinder, those worries are a thing of the past.