You’ve been hearing about feeding pets a raw food diet everywhere. Your neighbor swears his dog has never been healthier, your coworker raves about her older cat’s new energy levels—but really, what is all the hype?
FIRST, THE BASICS.
What is a raw food diet? It’s exactly what it sounds like. Our pets’ ancestors obviously didn’t cook their own food, they ate it raw and they ate what was available: a mixture of meat, bones, organs and even fruits and vegetables.
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to raw diets: the PREY model and the BARF diet.
This model of raw feeding imitates what a dog would eat in the wild: prey animals. The Prey model mimics the actual ratios found in whole prey animals: 80-85% muscle meat, 10-15% edible bone, and 5-10% organs. Another feature of this diet is that the pets are fed whole pieces (not ground or chopped) of meat and organs when possible. For large dogs, things like whole eggs, including the shell, can also be added.
Feeding your pet whole organs may seem intense, but it’s what most closely mimics what your dog or cat would be eating in the wild!
The BARF—Biologically Appropriate Raw Food—Diet is the more well-known school of thought when it comes to raw diets. The BARF diet pretty closely resembles the Prey model, with one exception. This diet also includes some additional fruits, vegetables, or supplements. The reasoning behind adding the produce is simple: these are things that would likely be found in the gut of the prey animal being consumed, so our pets’ ancestors would have consumed them as well!
Did you know that feeding your pet a raw food diet makes their breath smell better and their poops much smaller? It’s true! Those are just two of the many benefits you will notice if you switch your pet to a raw food diet. Some other noticeable benefits include:
- Cleaner, whiter teeth
- Healthier, shiner coat
- Relief of skin irritations
- Higher energy levels
BUT WAIT, ISN’T RAW MEAT DANGEROUS?
It’s true, raw meat contains potentially harmful bacteria. Has this ever stopped you from fixing a nice steak or chicken dinner for yourself or your family? The same risks apply, so you should take the same precautions when preparing raw foods for your pet. Thoroughly clean your countertop, cutting boards, hands, utensils and any and all bowls or plates that come into contact with the raw meat and you should be fine.
As for your furry friend, they have the digestive system to handle raw food! Dogs and cats have much shorter digestive tracts (16-36 INCHES versus our 30 FEET!). It also takes dogs and cats a much shorter time to digest their food, even shorter than the time it takes for bacteria to generate in the intestines.
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO TOUCH THE MEAT?
We get it—handling raw meat can be kind of gross. Lucky for you (and thanks to the popularity of the raw food diet) there are many pre-made, commercial options now available.
Come in and ask one of our Pack Members about some of our favorite raw options:
Stella & Chewy’s offers a large variety of both cat and dog foods. They have frozen and freeze-dried foods for cats. For dogs, they not only offer frozen and freeze-dried foods, but they also have kibble, blends of kibble and freeze-dried foods, mixers you can add to kibble, and even treats.
Primal Pet Foods also offers both cat and dog foods. They have frozen, quick thaw frozen, and freeze-dried foods from a variety of proteins for both cats and dogs.
Rad Cat offers frozen cat food in six delicious varieties: Free-Range Chicken, Free-Range Turkey, Grass-Fed Beef, Pasture-Raised Venison, Pasture-Raised Lamb, and Natural Pork.
Vital Essentials has many options to choose from for both dogs and cats. From frozen patties to chubs and nibblets, and up to seven protein flavors, you are sure to find a raw food option your pet will love!