raw food

Raw Pet Food Explained

Why feed your pet raw food?

Raw dog food is a scary prospect. We love our dogs and don't want to get them sick, right? But is what we are feeding them every day making them sick? If could look past the initial fear and see a food source that is healthier, easier to digest, more natural, less processed, and contains less chemicals, doesn't that make sense?

Sure, raw dog food is more work and it requires some thinking on your part, but many (and a quickly increasing number of people) believe it's the right choice for the dogs in our lives.

Raw Pet Food Basics

Many people think of the raw food diet as being just for people, but it is actually a great diet for cats and dogs too! Pet food these days are filled of over-processed ingredients and unknown additives. If you are a pet owner and have a beloved furry friend that might have a sensitive stomach, skin issues, or you are just concerned about their overall well being, the raw food diet might be exactly what you are looking for! It has been linked to higher energy levels, shinier coats, cleaner teeth, and healthier skin.

This evolutionary diet is composed of all raw, unprocessed or lightly cooked foods. On this diet foods cannot be cooked above a temperature of 104-118 degrees Fahrenheit (40-48 degrees Celsius). It typically consists of raw muscle meat on the bone, ground or whole bones, raw eggs, organ meats, vegetables, some fruits such as apples and small amounts of dairy,. like yogurt The best vegetables for your dog are things like broccoli, spinach and celery, you can ditch the starches. The raw food philosophy believes that foods heated above 118 degrees is less vital as it has lost some if its major nutritional value due to the face that its natural enzymes are destroyed when heated above the mentioned temperature.

There are a few potential risks from the bacteria in the raw meat, so make sure all meat if of high quality and has been handled responsibly. Be cautious when giving your dog bones, so they do not choke, cause internal puncture or break teeth.

When embarking on this venture with your furry friends there are a few things to keep in mind...

  1. Make sure that your pets diet includes calcium and phosphorus (mainly found in bones!) To have a healthy balance of minerals in your pets diet it is said to have their food consist of about 15% bones
  2. Remember Organ Meat is a must- liver kidneys, heart, a variety is important
  3. Muscle meat is the foundation of this diet!
  4. Watch the fat content of foods. Fat is good but animals are subject to the rules of caloric intake as well
  5. Make sure to add in some fruit and vegetables too
  6. Offer fish about once a week

Other people recommend a mix of 80% meat, 10% organs, and 10% bones. Do the research and decide for yourself.

When switching your dog to this diet, they may have loose stool for a short bit while their body is acclimating to the change, I think that it is best to start off slowly. If your pet is eating conventional food, slowly introduce this diet to them over the course on a month. Knowing that by the end of the month your dog will be happier, healthier and more energized!

Know that this change can also be very time consuming for you, but it is a labor of love and your dogs health will thank you!

Commercial Raw Pet Food

Pet food is like people food - we can make it ourselves or we can go out and buy it. Homemade is often the best, but time and knowledge is available in short supply for most people, so purchasing pre-made food is often the best option. Don't worry, high-quality, affordable raw food is available!

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Best Raw Dog Food

Raw pet food available online frequently sells out or are available in limited quantities (especially frozen items), but here are some links from well-regarded vendors that might help you see what's available.

Raw Pet Food FAQs

Is freeze-dried raw?

Freeze-drying is a new option to the raw food world. While it's not right-from-the-butcher raw, freeze-dried raw food has nood been cooked, but it has been vacuum-sealed after having almost alll of the moisture removed from it. The lack of moisture will kill, or at least deactivate, any existing bacteria or other potentially harmful contaminants. As the food hasn't been cooked, the nutrional value as been preserved to the greatest extent possible while still being a practical way to feed your pet. Freeze-dried raw pet food is shelf stable and available without being frozen, so it's highly versatile and available through online sellers.

Other people would contest that freeze-dried and dehydrated food is not truly raw because it's "processed" and proteins, enzymes, and other vital nutrients could be degraded or in some way diminished. This isn't a popular opinion but if you are information gathering it's worth noting that there is not perfect consensus around everything in the pet food world.

Note: Freeze-dried food needs to be hydrated before it's used, so it's not like you are giving your pet a dried, flaky mix!

What is a dog food chub?

Have you seen the word "chub" thrown around and have no idea what it means? A chub is a tube of meat that looks like a large, plastic-wrapped sausage. Chubs are commonly sold frozen and are often found in 2- to 5-pound sizes. Chubs are usually cost-effective because while the meat is raw, it's shipped frozen and can be made in bulk. An advantage of chubs is that they are usually formulated so that your pet food can have a tested and vet-approved mix without you having to do all the work. The contents normally includes a mix of muscle tissue (the foundational ingredient) as well as organs, bones, and then supplements for vitamin content (fruits, vegetables, vitamins, etc.). Popular options for chubs are Northwest Naturals and Instinct, but they are far from the only options.

How much do they cost? A 5-pound chub of "Instinct by Nature's Variety Frozen Raw Chub" costs $20 (beef or chicken).

How much does raw dog food diet cost?

Instinct recommends 6 ounces for every 15 pounds of body weight for a normal adult dog (this can vary greatly based on activity, pregnancy, etc.). This means a 50-pound dog would require 20 ounces or 1.25 pounds of food a day. Assuming you only use their chub that would mean a cost of $5 a day given that a 5-pound (80 ounce) chub costs $20.

A vendor like WeFeedRaw.com estimates a 50-pound dog who eats 2.5% of her body weight (1.25 pounds) costs $6.77 a day. That might not seem like much more than chub, but it's a 35% increase, so you'll definitely see a difference over time.

How do I switch to raw dog food?

Almost everyone agrees: just go cold turkey! Raw food and pre-made "kibble" digest differently so you don't want to transition from commercial food over to raw. Just make the switch. Chances are that the change will be much more dramatic for you than for your pet. Start with one meat for the entire first week, so your pet can get used to the new style of food. Expect loose stool and possibly some shedding the first week, but understand that this is normal and it should resolve itself quickly.

Helpful Links

Disclaimer

Do your own research. Talk to your vetinarian. You and your vet known that's best for your pet. Vendors, resellers, pet stores, labels, and online resources are great but no one cares for your pet like you do.