Dr. Dodds and many veterinarians advocate feeding raw pet food to companion dogs and cats. We have discussed this topic numerous times before as in our article, Pet Foods: Raw Vs. Cooked Food Diets and Bacteria Concerns. We have noticed that the health and vigor of pets improve immensely when they are given these diets. Here is a quick list of what you need to know.
Raw pet food is less processed than kibble. It is what basically fed as is in the “raw” state. This, in part, means that dogs and cats are absorbing and assimilating more and unaltered nutrient ingredients from the food as compared to kibble diets.
However, some of the raw commercial diets available – that meet the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) minimum standards for a “complete and balanced diet” – are not in fact complete and balanced. These foods may actually exceed the amount of vitamins and minerals dogs and cats actually need and cause an overload and toxicity because the AAFCO provides few maximum standards.
To put it into context, kibble is overly processed by cooking and so the manufacturers must add vitamin and mineral coatings to supply the missing nutrients. Some manufacturers appear to add the vitamin/mineral pack without accounting for the nutrients coming from the raw food.
What should you do? Please carefully research the food before you give it.
Raw pet food is moisture-rich and this is a good thing. Moisture helps dogs and cats digest foods to receive optimal nutrition and this can reduce the chances of kidney, urinary and liver conditions. For instance, cats are prone to urinary tract infections (UTI), and one of the best ways to prevent UTIs is to give a moisture-rich diet to help ‘flush’ the kidneys and bladder.
Causes Less Reactions
It has been said that raw diets cure food sensitivities, which is an overstatement, although adverse food reactivities have been shown to be lower when the same food is fed in a raw vs cooked and processed diet. An actual food sensitivity is a specific reaction to a protein in any state – whether raw or cooked. If a pet’s health reactions are eliminated or significantly improved by switching to raw, it could be due to the effects of food processing which exposes more surface reactive antigens to the bowel.
Are You Worried About Bacteria
Due to a few contaminated and unsanitary raw food products, all raw pet foods have been getting a bad rap. But, remember: kibble, too, has been recalled for Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobactor spp. contamination and some poisonings. Food is never a sterile commodity!
We suggest avoiding any pet food product or company that has had multiple recalls, and please definitely stay alert. You can research if a company continues to have, and has not rectified the, problems. You can keep up-to-date with foodsafetynews.com and petfoodsafetynews.com.
The main thing is: just like the sanitary measures you take to prepare your foods, they should be followed when giving your pets raw diets.
Don’t Worry About the Poop
If you switch to raw, you will notice a remarkable difference in your pet’s feces. Don’t worry about it. This is normal. Your pet is actually absorbing the nutrients and food.
Raw food diets generally produce small, hard balls of poop that are easily passed, turn white and may even crumble.
If you feel a bit uneasy about it, you can add healthy treats like bananas, pears, apples or carrots to help things “move along”.
Most raw pet foods come in frozen patties.
Many pet companion parents think that they might forget to defrost the raw food patties in the refrigerator or they might defrost it for too long.
Choking is the reason defrosting is necessary. Technically, dogs can eat the raw food frozen. So long as you can get a knife through it to cut it up into bite size pieces, it is defrosted enough.
Now, many raw pet manufacturers are producing smaller, bite-sized pieces in case you forget to defrost. However, these options are significantly pricier than the patties. Nonetheless, it might be good to have a bag on hand as backup. Another option is to keep freeze-dried or dehydrated raw food as a backup plan.
When Not To Feed Raw
- Very young puppies
- Households with individuals who may have severely immune-compromised systems
- Dogs with liver or bowel cancers should be eating homecooked foods or possibly freeze dried or dehydrated raw foods. This is because bacteria in the food could multiply – especially if the contractions and relaxations (peristalsis) of bowel segments are irregular – thereby producing pockets of bowel stasis and promoting bacterial growth. The bacteria can then travel up the bile duct and further damage the remaining liver tissue.
Becker, Karen. “Common Raw Feeding Mistakes That Can Be Harmful to Your Pet.” Healthy Pets Mercola, 15 Apr. 2013, http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2013/04/15/raw-food-diet-part-3.aspx.
Dodds, Jean. “Commercial Raw Diets and Food Sensitivities.” Hemopet, 27 July 2015, http://www.hemopet.org/raw-diet-sensitivities/.
Dodds, Jean. “Homemade and Commercial Diets for Dogs with Health Conditions.” Hemopet, 6 Aug. 2017, http://www.hemopet.org/diets-dogs-health-conditions/.
Dodds, Jean. “Vitamins and Minerals – Supplementation and Overdoing It.” Hemopet, 31 May 2015, http://www.hemopet.org/vitamins-minerals-pet-foods/.