As a pet owner, you must be aware of the importance of providing your furry friends with the best possible nutrition. However, what if a traditional diet and canned food aren’t fulfilling the demand? That’s where raw diets come in. It consists of fresh, whole foods that are nutrient-dense and easily digestible.
Although this approach may seem intimidating initially, there are numerous advantages to feeding your pet a raw diet. In this post, we'll cover safety precautions, evaluate all the benefits of a raw diet for dogs and cats and we'll also briefly discuss a traditional way of preparing raw food diets for pets known as sous vide.
Is a raw diet safe for my dog?
If you have never fed raw, you probably have safety concerns with raw diets. The most important thing to understand is that reputable brands will always have safety in mind for your pet. Not only for your pets health but if they have food that causes sickness, then no one would buy from them. That's a good reason to continue to make food that is safe and healthy for your pet.
There are several steps these businesses take to ensure the diet is safe from food-borne pathogens.
Test and Hold - Testing the product to be negative for pathogens before releasing for public sale.
High-Pressure Processing (HPP) - A process by using cold water with high pressure to kill pathogens like salmonella. Cold water is used because it can't cook the meat, thus allowing to keep the food nutrient rich. This method is FDA and USDA approved.
Sourcing - Most companies can source locally to ensure high-quality ingredients. Some companies even make sure that the food is sustainably sourced.
State and Federal Regulations - Remember to buy from a reputable company. They will be following the regulations that are set forth by USDA and FDA.
The second most important thing to understand is that our pets have a stronger digestive system than we do. They are physically designed to eat raw meat. We can see this from the shape of their teeth. Their teeth are designed to shred prey and chew tough bone and cartilage. Providing our dogs and cats with raw food will support their natural feeding instincts. We always see them as our little babies, but they are still animals and still have natural instincts.
In short, a raw diet is safe for your pet if you buy from a reputable company.
Handling Raw Dog Food
Handle the raw food like you would any raw food. Make sure to clean surfaces, your hands, bowls and utensils with hot soapy water after contact with any raw food. Also, be sure to keep raw food away from children and other food to reduce contamination.
Introducing Raw Food
Like all food changes, it should be a slow transition to prevent digestion upsets. Most companies will have a transition chart on their website or the product bag. The transitions will always depend on your animal as well. Some may have more sensitive stomachs than others. If you notice soft stools or throwing up, slow down on the transition. If these digestive upsets continue to occur, we recommend you bring your pet to the vet.
You should also make sure that your pet finds the food palatable. All animals have particular tastes for different things. You want to make sure they enjoy the flavor before you start to buy more. Most pet stores will accept returns if your pet doesn't like the food.
Making Your Own Raw Food
We do not recommend all pet owners to make their own food. It's not as easy as just throwing them a raw chicken breast. There are certain nutritional requirements that need to be met for our pets. Unless you know and understand these requirements, we suggest you buy your raw food from reputable places.
Pet diets should always be complete. If your pet lacks part of their nutritional requirements, your pet will have health problems. For example, if a cats diet lacks taurine, they can develop retinal degeneration, cardiomyopathy, and have abnormal growth and development. This is why it's important to understand their nutritional requirements. If you are adding raw as a topper or separate meal, then make sure your other food is a complete formula.
However, if you do your research and would like to put the time and commitment to your pets diet, go ahead! There are so many benefits of raw diets and we will mention a few below!
Top 9 Health Benefits of a Raw Diet
Including raw food in your pet’s diet can offer many health benefits, including:
Stronger Immune System
An unprocessed diet can boost your pet's immune system. It's rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can keep them healthy in all seasons and fight off infections effectively. Moreover, it also helps improve overall digestion and reduce inflammation in their bodies.
Less Allergic Reactions
Does your dog constantly lick her paws? Have itchy, red skin? This may be signs of allergies. One of the biggest factors creating allergic reactions is food!
If you have a dog with allergies, feeding raw allows you to select the meat proteins that your dog is not allergic to. Thus, reducing the allergic reactions: dry, itchy skin, and inflammation. Your dog or cat will be so much more happier and more comfortable on a limited protein diet.
Clearer, Healthier, Skin and Coat
One of the most notable advantages of feeding a raw diet to pets is the evident improvement in their skin and coat. Raw diets contain nutrients that keep the skin clear and healthy. It also enhances the shine of your pet's coat, keeping it shiny and free of dandruff or dryness.
Not only will your pet's skin and coat look better, but they'll also stay protected from various skin conditions.
Improved Dental Health
Besides overall health, raw diets for dogs and cats also benefit your pet’s oral betterment. By eating uncooked meat, bones, and organs, pets can keep their teeth clean and free of tartar and plaque. The chewing action required to eat a natural diet promotes strong jaw muscles and healthy gums.
Increased Energy and Vitality
Out of all the benefits of a raw diet, increased energy and vitality are the most important. Uncooked food is typically higher in protein and fat than kibble diets, which leads to increased energy levels.
In addition, raw diets often contain more bioavailable nutrients so that your pet's body can absorb and use better.
High Protein Content
A raw diet for dogs and cats is packed with protein. It is a vital nutrient for all animals but is especially important for growing puppies and kittens. They need lots of protein to grow into strong, healthy adults.
Also, protein-rich food helps build muscle, repair tissue, and produce beneficial enzymes and hormones. It is also a significant source of energy. Pets who eat a high-protein diet tend to be more active and have more stamina than those who do not.
Protein is found in several resources, including meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and plant foods. The best protein sources for pets are raw bones and organ meats. These foods contain all the nutrients your pets need to thrive.
No Added Preservatives
Raw pet diets are growing in popularity as people are becoming more aware of the benefits of feeding their animals whole foods. This diet closely resembles what your furry friends would eat in the wild.
Another major benefit of feeding your pet a raw diet is that there are no added preservatives. Commercial pet food often contains harmful chemicals that can harm your pet's health. By feeding them a raw diet, you can be sure they're getting all the nutrients they need without any health-harming junk.
Better GI Health
Another benefit of a raw diet is that it's easier for pets to digest. Cooked and processed foods can be hard on their stomachs. Since a raw diet is closer to what they would eat in the wild, their bodies can handle it better. It leads to fewer gastrointestinal upset events and fewer trips to the vet.
Improved Digestion and Absorption of Food
A raw diet for pets can also improve their digestion and absorption of food. The cooking process destroys enzymes that help animals break down and digest their food. It also alters the structure of proteins, making them less digestible. Moreover, fat's bioavailability also gets lower when cooked. As a result, your pets may be unable to access all the nutrients in their food if you give them a processed diet.
Better Stool Quality
Raw food can also lead to improved stool quality in animals. Cooked diets often contain fillers and other ingredients that can produce firm stools. These ingredients can also irritate the digestive tract, leading to inflammation.
On the other hand, a raw diet is typically made up of meat, organs, and bones, which leads to softer, smaller and easily passable stools.
Forms of Raw Food for Pets
Raw diets come in many forms. Deciding the right diet is up to you and your pet!
Frozen - Frozen raw food can be stored for a good bit of time but, may be pricy depending on brand and packaging.
Freeze Dried - Raw food that has had the moisture removed. It is nutritionally equal to frozen raw, but you need to rehydrate before you feed. Can be stored for a long period of time and can be a cheaper raw diet option.
Fresh - Usually refrigerated or frozen quickly after formulated. Can be pricy or cheaper depending on where it's sourced.
Sous Vide - Slightly cooked raw food. Can be pricy depending on brand.
Sous Vide - An Easy Technique for Preparing Raw Food Recipes for Pets
Sous vide is a cooking methodology that includes preparing food in a sealed bag or container at a low temperature for an extended period. This cooking method allows food to retain its natural flavors and nutrients, making it a healthier option for your pet.
You can use this technique to prepare a variety of pet-friendly dishes. These recipes can help your pet get the most out of their meals, providing them with the necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
In addition to being healthy, sous vide food can also be very flavorful. Preparing the food properly can offer your pet a variety of exciting and complex flavors that they may not be able to get from traditional options.
If you're looking for a way to add variety to your pet's diet, sous vide cuisine is definitely worth considering.
Ways to Serve Raw Diets to Our Pets
Feeding raw is often times more expensive than kibble or canned food, but we think the benefits are just too good to be ignored! If you are still on the fence about raw diets or find raw is too expensive, you can serve smaller portions as treats, meal toppers, or complementary meals.
You should be careful to use raw food as treats but, it can be a great enrichment for your dog or cat. Like us, our pets get bored of the mundane life. Putting a little bit of raw food in a puzzle bowl can stimulate mental activity. It may even be fun watching them as they lick the healthy treat from the bowls!
Using raw food as a meal topper is a great way to add additional nutrition to your pets diet. Boosting their nutritional intake will help encourage the benefits that we mentioned above. Adding as a topper can boost the palatability of their regular kibble meal. This is helpful for picky eaters and senior pets.
Feeding raw as a second meal can provide all the benefits of raw but also help reduce the cost for you. Be sure to feed a healthy amount of food and do not over feed. Overweight animals can develop health problems. If your pet is gaining weight, reduce the amount of food you feed.
Acupressure for Minor GI Upsets
Sometimes, our pets get human food as treats or "one time" snacks. These foods are harder for the body to process and break down. The hard substances are complicated and take time to break down, disrupting chi in the body. We can also see disruptions when we transition our pets foods too quickly.
All animals have chi and when it's moving smoothly through the body, the animal is healthy. When we have disruption or chi blockages, we see things like emotional upsets, digestive issues, low immune system and other harmful conditions.
Acupressure is an effective method for aiding minor stomach upsets, relieving gastric pains, and support their digestive tract. Acupressure practitioners use specific points in the body that regulate the organ systems. These specific points are called acupoints. We recommend having regular acupressure point work by a practitioner or learning points for your pup!
Raw diets for dogs and cats offer numerous health benefits you can't find in traditional kibble. That is why many pet owners are now preferring raw diets. They want to provide their pets with the nutrition they need while avoiding harmful chemicals and preservatives.
If you're looking for an alternative diet option for your pet, a raw diet could be just what they need to get the most out of their meals. With quality ingredients and careful monitoring, these diets can help keep your pets fit and joyful.
Remember to always research the company you are buying from, look at the nutritional adequacy claims, nutrient analysis, and pasteurization process (the HPP, etc.).
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