Your Neighborhood Store for Pets

Feeding raw

Feeding raw pet foods is quite simple.  If the food is frozen, simply defrost it prior to serving.  Do NOT defrost in a microwave, as that will cook the food and destroy many of the benefits of raw.  Simply place the appropriate amount in the refrigerator for a few hours or if needed, place it in a Ziploc bag and float it in room temperature water.  Some companies even make their diets in small bite-sized pieces that defrost very quickly.

Many high-quality prepared raw diets are currently available to feed cats and dogs a wholesome and nutritious meal.  These raw foods are generally a mix of raw muscle meat and organ meats, ground raw bones and raw vegetables that are formed into pieces that resemble a small hamburger patty.  They are available either frozen or freeze-dried and offer a convenient way to feed a nutritionally complete and digestible diet.  Oftentimes, organic ingredients are used and meats and poultry are free of antibiotics, steroids and hormones.

Raw diets for cats and dogs

Although our feline and canine family members may come in all shapes, sizes and colors, one thing remains the same- they are almost genetically identical to their wild counterparts and ancestors.  So much so, that the domestic dog (canis lupus familiaris) and the wild wolf (canis lupus) can actually be interbred!  Though our dogs and cats have been domesticated for thousands of years, the feeding of commercially-made pet foods has only been an option for the past 100 years or so.  Before then, our pets fed off of the table-scraps and of course any live prey items that they caught and ate.  Through breeding, our pets have evolved over the years but their digestive systems, nutrient requirements and bio-chemistry are still very much the same as their ancestors and wild cousins.

As the saying goes: “everything old is new again” and an emerging trend has filled the space between feeding current commercial kibble diets and feeding your cat a live mouse…prepared raw diets!! 

Why feed raw?

The benefits of feeding raw are many:


  • Because raw diets are not cooked and are minimally processed, the ingredients are easily digested and bio-available.
  • Raw meat triggers a naturally high level of acidity in the pet’s stomach, creating a perfect environment for complete digestibility and utilization of nutrients.
  • Because raw diets are so digestible, raw-fed pets leave very little waste compared to pets fed on traditional kibble diets.
  • Frozen raw diets add additional moisture into the diet, offering benefits to the kidneys and urinary system.  Pets with kidney/bladder stones, crystals and/or frequent urinary tract infections (UTI’s) can certainly benefit from this extra water intake.
  • Raw meat contains beneficial enzymes that aid in digestion and dental health.  These enzymes are destroyed during cooking so they are not available in kibble or canned diets.
  • Raw diets are very low in carbohydrates and are typically grain-free.  This results in a diet that is more species-appropriate and can help with a range of issues from avoiding diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.
  • Because they are high in meat content and moisture, raw diets are very palatable, even to picky eaters.

Raw Diets Made Easy

Raw meaty bones

Raw meaty bones are another great option when looking for a healthy, durable and long-lasting chew.  Raw bones are more flexible than cooked, smoked bones and are less likely to crack or splinter into harmful shards that could be swallowed.  Raw bones contain nutritious marrow and beneficial enzymes as well.  These enzymes, along with the mechanical action of the bone scraping the dog’s teeth, are helpful in maintaining excellent oral health.  Because these bones contain some bits of raw meat and marrow, it is advisable to feed them either outdoors or indoors on a surface that is easily cleaned, such as a tile or vinyl floor.  Lastly, PetPeople advises that a pet should always be supervised when given a bone or toy to chew.

Raw goat’s milk

Milk intended for human consumption is pasteurized to eradicate harmful bacteria.  This process subjects the milk to very high temperatures for a period of time in order to kill the bacteria.  However, this extreme heat also affects the nutritional quality of the milk as well as reducing enzymatic activity.  This destruction of the enzyme “lactase” is what makes some people (and pets) lactose intolerant.  Raw milk is currently not available legally for human consumption, however raw goat’s milk is becoming more popular as a healthy and nutritious food supplement for pets.

Being raw means that the goat’s milk still retains all of the nutritional benefits of the milk as well as hundreds of enzymes that are still present and active in the milk.  Dozens of different beneficial species of bacteria (known as “pro-biotics”) are present in the milk, offering digestive benefits as well. 

Who is raw food for?


Think of the benefits that raw provides and the answer is simple:  Practically every dog or cat will benefit from raw in their diet.  But there are many times when feeding raw will be most appropriate:

  • Picky eaters.  Raw is very palatable and therefore would be a great option for picky pets.
  • Pets with kidney/urinary tract issues.  Many pets, especially senior pets, have a need for more moisture in their diet.  Raw foods provide a way to get the pet to “eat” their water.  This is especially true for cats!
  • Pets with major allergies/sensitivities.  Because raw is so easily digested, is minimally processed and it has no artificial ingredients it would be an ideal option for pets that have extreme allergies and sensitivities.
  • Pets with illnesses.  Illnesses such as cancer or pancreatitis take a huge toll on a pet.  The superior nutrition in raw diets may play a role in ensuring that these pets get the nutrients they need.  Pets with pancreatitis, colitis, etc… may have difficulty in assimilating nutrients from food.  Raw provides some of the most digestible nutrients available and therefore would be an ideal choice.
  • Pets with poor dental health.  Because raw foods contain no grains and little to no starch, (sugars) this limits the amount of plaque buildup.  In addition, raw diets promote higher acidity and can help to prevent the buildup and growth of plaque and bacteria in the mouth.


 
Conclusion

Though at first it may seem like a “fad” or a new way to feed, the feeding of raw foods goes back thousands of years.  Feeding raw foods to dogs or cats is the most biologically appropriate way to feed and it is very healthy and quite safe.  Commercially prepared raw diets offer whole foods that are easily digested and absorbed into the body and are minimally processed.  “A little raw goes a long way” so why not try some for your pet today?

As an alternative, many raw diets are now offered in freeze-dried form.  These dry, biscuit-like bites can either be fed as-is, or with a small amount of water added to moisten the food.  Freeze-dried raw diets are convenient when on the go and do not need any preparation before feeding.

Many raw feeders do not feed raw exclusively, but they add it to their pet’s diet as a supplemental way to feed.  Some feed kibble during one feeding and then raw for the 2nd feeding of the day.  Others feed raw a few times a week to bring those benefits into their pet’s life.  As we like to say “a little raw is better than none!”

Safety concerns


  • When the subject of feeding raw comes up, a common concern is safety.  Raw pet foods are just as safe, if not more so, than preparing and cooking raw chicken from the grocery store.  As long as some simple guidelines are followed, there should be little need for concern:

  • Thoroughly wash all utensils, bowls and surfaces that come in contact with raw food using hot, soapy water.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after contact with the raw foods.
  • Use stainless steel, glass or ceramic bowls when feeding.  These surfaces are easy to clean and do not harbor pathogens.
  • Keep raw foods out of the reach of children.


Just as we handle raw chicken carefully before we cook up an evening’s dinner, handling raw pet food takes only a couple of steps to ensure safety in the household.

Many raw food manufacturers employ a technology known as “High Pressure Processing” as a USDA-approved and 100% natural way to kill harmful bacteria.  This non-thermal (no heat) process uses a water-based, extremely high pressure technology to basically crush any unwanted bacteria while leaving the rest of the product unharmed.