Though dogs and cats have been domesticated for thousands of years, the feeding of commercially made pet foods have been available for less than 100 years. Before then, pets were fed table-scraps or they hunted and ate live prey. Our pets have evolved, but their digestive systems and nutrient requirements are still very similar to their ancestors.
Commercial raw food diets are generally a mix of raw muscle and organ meats, ground raw bones, raw vegetables and fruits, and fish or plant-based oils. These are formed in small bites, nuggets, chubs or patties that are sold in frozen and/or freeze-dried form. It’s a convenient way to feed a nutritionally complete and highly digestible diet.
Advantages of Feeding Raw:
- No nutrients lost due to heat processing
- Ingredients are easily digestible
- Less waste
- High moisture content for better hydration
- Enzymes aid in digestion and dental health
- Low carbohydrate and grain-free
- Extremely palatable
Pets That May Benefit From a Raw Diet.
All pets can benefit from raw feeding, even as an additive to their normal diet. Some pet owners in particular should consider raw feeding for these types of pets:
- Picky Eaters
- Bladder stones or urinary tract issues
- Skin Allergies or Digestive Sensitivities
- IBD (particularly cats)
Transitioning to a Raw Diet.
There are a number of ways to add raw to diets. Some choose to add it to their pet’s diet as a supplement rather than feed raw exclusively. Others feed kibble one feeding and then raw the next feeding, while, a few feed raw a few times a week.
If using as a topper or mix-in to your pet’s current diet, just add a small amount on top of your regular kibble. Decrease the amount of kibble so you don’t add additional calories.
If transitioning to an entirely raw diet, do it gradually using the 25/75, 50/50, 75/25 method outlined in our Transitioning Your Pet’s Food brochure. Sometimes digestive upset can occur when mixing raw with kibble. If this happens, fast your pet for a day, then introduce a small meal of raw food, gradually increasing the amount over 2-3 days. During the transition phase a pet may have digestive upset. If so, a probiotic supplement like raw goats milk may help resolve the digestive upset.
How to Feed.
Defrost prior to serving by placing in the refrigerator for a few hours. For a quicker thaw, place in a Ziploc bag and float it in room temperature water. Do NOT defrost in a microwave. It will cook the food and destroy many of the raw benefits.
Many raw options are sold freeze-dried. They’re great for on-the-go feeding because they don’t require thawing before serving and are easy to prepare by re-hydrating with water, bone broths or raw goat’s milk.
What to feed.
Raw Meaty Bones.
In addition to food, raw meaty bones are a healthy, durable and long-lasting chew option. Raw bones are more flexible and less likely to crack or splinter into harmful shards than cooked or smoked bones . They also contain enzymes that along with the mechanical action chewing are helpful in maintaining excellent oral health. Supervise pets when they are given a toy or chew to reduce the risk of choking.
Raw Goat’s Milk.
Goat’s Milk is great for hydration and is loaded with probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that aids digestion among other health benefits. Goats Milk for pet consumption is unpasteurized so it retains all of the nutritional benefits of the milk as well as hundreds of enzymes that are still present and active.
Common Raw Feeding Concerns.
Frozen Raw Safety.
Unlike humans who aren’t equipped to handle foodborne bacteria like e.coli and salmonella, pets have acidic digestive systems which decreases risks from bacteria in raw meat. To minimize the chance of foodborne illness in humans, take the following steps:
- Purchase food from a reputable manufacturer and retailer
- Ensure proper temperature storage
- Use within 48 hours of thawing
- Wash your hands and any surfaces or bowls before and after handling
- Use stainless steel, glass, ceramic, or other easy to clean bowls when feeding
- Consider purchasing a brand who utilizes HPP, or high-pressure pasteurization.
Complete and Balanced
Most commercially available pre-made raw diets are complete and balanced. These foods have either gone through feeding trials, or meet the nutrient requirements put forth by AAFCO, and include the AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement on their bag.
New research and technology makes feeding raw healthier and safer than ever before. Commercially prepared raw diets are made with whole foods that are minimally processed, highly digestible, and high in moisture content. Whether feeding raw or freeze-dried food as a topper, or as an exclusive diet, all pets can reap the health benefits of this biologically appropriate diet.
Not Sure What Food Your Pet Will Like? We’re Here to Help.
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