From coyotes to salamanders, Central Texas is home to some of the most amazing and unique wildlife in the country. And, as animal and pet lovers, it's important to know: If you find a vulnerable wild animal, how should you care...
Feeding Raw, Part 1: Why Raw Dog Food & Cat Food?
This fuzz ball is a raw convert! Photo: Bones & CoMany pet parents are divided on raw dog food and raw cat food diets: some wonder how feeding raw meat could possibly be sanitary, while others wonder how you could feed your pet anything but pure, unprocessed ingredients. So, we’re debunking raw diet myths so you can make an informed decision for your specific pet’s health and wellness. In Part One of our Feeding Raw series, we tackle the basics:
What is raw dog food and raw cat food?When you bring home raw dog food or cat food, it will either come frozen or freeze-dried:
- Raw dog food that is frozen can come in many shapes and sizes, including nuggets, patties, tubs and rolls. (More information about thawing frozen raw food in Part 2.)
- Freeze-dried is a shelf stable form of raw pet food. 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.
- It is recommended that you rehydrate freeze-dried formulas before serving to your pet, as this will help keep your furry friend hydrated.
- This step isn’t necessary if you’re using freeze-dried as small treats or a topper.
Why should I feed my pet a raw diet?First, it is very important to note that, like humans, every pet's digestive abilities and needs are different. What's best for one pet may not necessarily be best for another, and it's important to introduce dietary changes slowly, and observe your pet's digestion and energy levels to know if the new diet is optimal for your fur child. That said, there are many benefits to feeding a raw diet, including:
- Increased bioavailability, meaning your pet's body can better extract and utilize the food's ingredients
- Naturally improved dental health and breath
- Reduced allergies due to fewer ingredients
- Smaller, firmer stools with less odor--because his body is able to use more of the food, he has less waste
- Healthy weight management
- Great for gut health and improved digestion
- Improved skin and coat health
- Better overall health and wellness--meaning smaller vet bills in the long run
What are benefits of raw dog food and cat food compared to kibble or cans?Fans of raw dog foods and cat foods simply believe that a raw diet is best for their pets for a number of reasons:
- The number one reason pet parents chose to a raw diet is that it is closest to the diet of their wolf and big cat ancestors. Many believe it fulfills their natural carnivorous instinct to hunt and capture their prey.
- Raw diets provide a lower, healthier level of carbs. While dogs have developed a slight ability to break down and use carbohydrates, cats have no use for carbs as obligate carnivores and neither species is built to digest the high levels of carbohydrates found in many commercial pet foods.
- As our society becomes more health-conscious, we’re turning to more natural and organic foods. Raw pet food is the equivalent of that for our companion animals.
Will my pet be getting the proper nutrients?Kyra snacks on a turkey neck- a tasty yet budget-friendly way to incorporate raw. Photo: @renata_tan Certainly. 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 craft their formulas to ensure that your pet is getting the correct ratio of nutrients he needs. Also, because their product is intended to be handled and served raw, raw pet food manufacturers are held to much stricter hygiene standards than even facilities producing the raw chicken and meat you buy at the grocery store. Because the meat you buy at the grocery store is sold with the understanding that it will be cooked, a higher level of bacteria is allowed as it will be killed off in the cooking process. Raw dog food and raw cat foods will be handled and served raw, so they use tools like High-Pressure Processing to kill off harmful bacteria while maintaining the nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients.
Isn’t feeding raw expensive?High-quality raw diets are typically pricier than traditional extruded kibble. This is because you’re paying for sustainably sourced ingredients and strict food safety processes, which are of critically important in raw dog food and raw cat food. (More details on this in part two- coming next week.) Thankfully, many raw pet food companies have formulas that can easily be incorporated into your pet’s current diet as mixers or toppers. Using recreational bones as occasional treats are another affordable way to add raw to your normal routine. Check back next week, when we discuss raw food safety in Feeding Raw 101- Part 2. Don't forget to comment over on our Facebook page and share your new-found knowledge with fellow pet parents! Sources: The Bones & Co., Primal Pet Foods, Dog Food Advisor
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