Five Raw Pet Food Myths Busted
Many pet parents are divided on raw dog food and raw cat food diets. With so much colliding information on raw pet food, we get it! Every pet and pawrent is different, but I think we can all agree everyone wants the best for their pet.
So, let's debunk five raw feeding myths so you can make an informed decision for your specific pet’s health and wellness.
First, what is a raw food diet?
A raw food diet (sometimes termed B.A.R.F diet for 'Biologically Appropriate Raw Food' or "'Bones and Raw Food') is a combination of uncooked, raw meat, organs, and bones from whole proteins mixed with fresh foods, veggies, and seeds for a complete and balanced diet for pets.
While it is a common dog food, raw pet food is available for both dogs and cats and can be formulated for specific breeds, age ranges, and health issues - just like kibble!
Five Raw Pet Food Diet Myths
#1 "It's raw or nothing."
The big question: "How much raw food?" It’s a myth that you have to feed your cat or dog all raw or none at all. Any addition of high-quality animal protein or organic whole foods is going to add benefit to their bowl.
For example, a balanced and wholesome kibble is a great base food. But, dry food inherently lacks an important list of nutrients and benefits. Achieving this balance of nutritional compounds is key to your pet's health.
Don't fret, including biologically appropriate raw food into their diet (whether that be 100% or 25%) will provide those missing nutrients along with extra moisture and appropriate levels of bones, organs, vegetables, vitamins and minerals.
#2 "There are too many options!"
Because it's a newly popular category, the many options of raw diets can look daunting to pet owners. But, it's simpler than you think.
Raw food can be found in two options: frozen raw or freeze-dried raw. The nutritional differences in these are minimal (if any at all). The main difference is one is ready-to-serve and the other needs added moisture.
- Frozen raw dog food can come in many shapes and sizes, including nuggets, patties, tubs and rolls.
- These must be frozen, refrigerated, and thawed prior to feeding.
- Freeze-dried is a shelf stable form of raw pet food and is more cost effective. While it is still raw, the moisture has been removed in a freeze dryer using extremely cold temperatures. This means harmful bacteria won't grow due to lack of moisture.
- While it isn't necessary for treats, it's recommended you rehydrate freeze-dried formulas with broth or water.
Whether you go freeze-dried raw or frozen raw, these diets pack in more protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients than your traditional kibble or wet food. Based on your pet's needs and your budget, you can supplement a portion of their meal(s) with our favorite fresh, raw foods to create a better bowl for them.
#2 "Raw food isn't balanced."
You may notice the phrase ‘complete and balanced’ or ‘biologically appropriate’ on many packages of raw pet food. This means that your pet isn’t only getting the benefits of protein from raw meat; they’re also getting the appropriate levels of bones, organs, vegetables, vitamins and minerals.
This is also why it's important to avoid homemade raw diets: raw pet food companies very carefully and thoughtfully craft their formulas to ensure that your pet is getting the correct ratio of nutrients they need.
Since dog's and cat's are carnivores by nature, a complete and balanced raw formula starts with raw meat, organ & bones to provide the macro and micro nutrients your dog or cat needs. Based on many factors, formulas will incorporate a blend of certified organic fruits, veggies, seeds, and oils to fill in the gaps and make every meal thoughtly balanced.
These fresh foods (without the overly processed foods, extra fillers, and meals) are easier for our pet’s bodies to process and digest. Each nutrient in your pets food has its own digestibility, some are more digestible than others. A raw diet offers well above AFFCO’s standard digestibility of 80% - with some reaching upwards of 94%.
It’s simple really, more fresh food = more vital nutrients = more energy.
#3 "A raw diet isn't sanitary."
When feeding raw, do not use grocery bought raw meats. Instead, purchase from a pet food vendor who inspects their raw recipes vigorously. One of the benefits of feeding raw is the inclusion of “good bacteria”. But, how do they get rid of the bad bacteria, like salmonella, e-coli, or listeria? Two ways: High-Pressure Processing (HPP) & Human-Grade Facilities.
High-Pressure Processing (HPP)
This unique certification is a cold water pressure food preservation method that keeps food free of pathogens/harmful bacteria without cooking. It is both FDA and USDA approved. We DO NOT recommend feeding raw food from the grocery store to your pet as it is not safe for consumption prior to cooking and is not prepared using HPP.
By AAFCO's definition, the feed term specifies that every ingredient and the resulting product must be stored, handled, processed, and transported in a manner that is consistent and compliant with applicable FDA human food regulations. The final product product from thuman-grade facilities must be labeled as "ready-to-eat".
To achieve these high standards, pet food made in these facilities have a much lower chance of having bad bacteria like E-Coli or salmonella.
Handle with care
To avoid cross contamination, you should always handle frozen raw in the same manner that you’d handle any raw meat; by washing your hands, work surfaces, utensils, bowls and any other items that come in contact with frozen raw with hot, soapy water.
#4 "There is a lot of meal prep involved."
Feeding raw doesn’t have to include lots of prep work or freezer space. We offer easy-to-scoop nuggets, pre-measured patties, gently cooked, and freeze-dried formulas all ready for your pet to devour!
For bulk purchasing, and full dinner feeding, you’ll want a patty or large nugget formula. A customer favorite brand is Steve’s Real Food.
If you don’t have room in your freezer or would like a more cost effective option, freeze-dried raw has all the benefits of raw in a shelf staple form. Just add water (or not, my pup loves the crunch) and you’re in business. Stella & Chewy’s has a large variety for flavors and formulas.
Not sure about raw food but want to make the switch to fresh food for your pet? We totally understand. Both Open Farm and A Pup Above have gently cooked diets that our pets can’t get enough of. A gently cooked diet ensures your pet receives a healthy and balanced array of nutrients in a limited ingredient formula.
#5 "Transitioning pet food is hard."
It's all about time and consistency. Here is how to easily and safety transition your pet's food to a balanced raw diet:
Step 1: Use a stainless steel bowl and be prepared to clean it often.
Step 2: Only thaw what your pet will eat for one meal. NEVER thaw using the microwave.
Step 3: Start slow. Over the course of 1-2 weeks, build their bowl up to the desired feeding amount little by little. Be sure to mix the old with the new foods as it is the best way to ensure an easy diet change.
Step 4: Monitor! On a raw diet, your pet's stool size will become small, firm and void of any offensive odor. If your pet's stool is soft or loose as a result of the transition, introduce the raw food more slowly.
When making any adjustments or additions to your pet’s diet, we recommend chatting with your vet before making the switch. Transitioning to a raw diet takes time for your pet to adjust.
Why we love feeding raw: Benefits of a Raw Diet
Now that we got those myths out of the way, let's talk about why Team Tomlinson's loves a raw diet for pets.
Seasonal & Food Allergies
Raw fed dogs and cats experience less food related allergic reactions due to its limited ingredient list and grass fed proteins. In addition, raw foods develop a pet's immune system to stay strong and protect them from environmental allergens.
Joint & Bone Health
Buying food that includes joint supporting ingredients is important for senior dogs. The inclusion of muscle meat, organs, and ground bone in raw food will result in leaner muscles and stronger joints for both cats and dogs.
Shinier Skin & Coat
A healthier skin and coat comes with a good ratio of fats to proteins, specifically Omega-3 fatty acids. By topping your pet’s kibble off with fresh foods or transitioning to a raw diet packed with coconut oil, salmon oil, or green-lipped mussels, you’ll see a noticeable difference in the shine and softness of their coat.
Raw bones are nature’s toothbrush 🦷🪥 but so is raw food!
A raw diet's inclusion of good bacteria and natural enzymes (think of yogurt - it’s full of good bacteria) work together to promote clean teeth and healthy gyms. Ground bone works as a mild abrasive to help remove plaque in your pet’s mouth. Cats and small dogs, who are prone to dental issues, will benefit the most from this.
Looking for more Pet Parenting tips?
Tomlinson's is your go-to pet supply store for natural, healthy pet products in Austin and the Central Texas region. Come shop in-store and we will help you create the perfect diet specifically for your dog or cat!
Visit our shop full of products sold through team members trained in animal nutrition.
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