Raw Food – Good or Bad?

Like most things, raw diets are both good and bad. Good raw diets are excellent for most dogs and cats while poor raw diets are not safe for any pet. To understand why high-quality raw diets are superior to traditional commercial diets and how to choose a good raw diet, you need to consider the biological suitability of raw meat, the practicality of feeding raw meat and what makes a raw diet safe and healthy.

Biological Suitability

Raw Food - Good or Bad?

If you look at any cat or dog, you will see a creature adapted to eating raw meat. Cats and dogs have sharp teeth designed to rip and tear flesh and large forward-facing eyes to spot and track prey. Dogs have strong jaws to hold prey, and cats have sharp claws to catch and hold small game.

In addition to their outward adaptations, dogs and cats have internal adaptations that allow them to digest and use raw meat efficiently. When compared to humans, dogs and cats have shorter digestive tracts with fewer sacculations. These simple digestive tracts are well adapted to processing raw meat and poorly adapted to processing grains and other plants.

Because dogs and cats are well-adapted to eating raw meat, they cannot digest and process plant-based diets and diets comprised largely of poor-quality animal products unless these diets are heavily processed and supplemented. Such highly processed and supplemented diets are less satisfying and less nutritionally sound for cats and dogs than diets comprised primarily of raw meat.

Practicality

Raw Food - Good or Bad?

Feeding a raw diet to your pet can be a daunting task because to do it right, you need to make sure it is balanced, contains safe ingredients, is well prepared and has been appropriately stored. Because these things take time and the consequences of making a mistake can be severe, it is no surprise that many pet owners are reluctant to feed raw food. Recently, however, commercial raw diets have become more readily available, so raw feeding is now a practical option for more pet owners.

Safety

One of the biggest concerns owners, veterinarians and public health experts have about raw diets is safety. Like anything that offers great benefits, raw feeding has some risks. These risks, however, can be reduced or eliminated with proper attention to safety. In fact, when properly selected, sourced and balanced, raw diets are actually safer and healthier for pets than processed diets.

Quality

To avoid microbial contamination, a risk to the humans who handle the food as well as the pets that eat it, raw food must be fresh and handled carefully. This means it must come from trusted sources that adhere to the strictest standards of human food handling. As long as raw food is appropriately sourced, it is safe and healthy for pets.

Diversity

In the wild, cats and dogs rarely eat the same things every day. They might catch mice one day, hunt fish the next and scavenge eggs the day after that. Eating this type of varied diet is a great way to ensure diversity and avoid nutritional deficiencies and toxicities.

Unfortunately, many people who use raw food feed the same single-protein meal day after day. This means if there is even a tiny mistake in the recipe, the consequences can be devastating. To be safe and healthy, raw diets must be varied.

Nutritional Balance

Good raw diets, whether homemade or commercial, are complete and balanced. To make a balanced home diet, you need to either strictly follow expert recipes or consult a certified animal nutritionist.

If you choose a commercial diet, you should buy from a company you trust and choose a balanced diet based on the whole-prey concept. In the wild, cats and dogs eat whole carcasses. The best raw diets include a mix of organs, muscle meat and other ingredients that mimics the nutritional composition of an entire prey animal.

If you’re interested in raw food, take a look at the brands we offer and see why our clients recommend us to their pet owner friends.

Tiger attack photo credit to Claudio Gennari under cc 2.0

Claws photo credit to barockschloss under cc 2.0