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.
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.
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!”
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:
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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:
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?