What is a Raw Diet?

An ever growing number of pet foods are marketed as primal, biologically appropriate, natural, holistic, fresh, and on and on. But these terms (which are often no more than marketing buzzwords) should not be confused with a raw diet.

Quite simply: raw diets are products produced (or prepared at home) for dogs and cats that are designed to mimic what their ancestors would have consumed in their natural environments.

As you may have gathered from previous reading here, the primary attributes include:

Quality animal proteins not only make up a plurality (just over 50% pre-cooked weight) of the ingredients, but the overwhelming majority (at least 80%) of the ingredients.

Because so much of the diet is comprised of quality proteins and fats, there is little to no carbohydrate content--eliminating the potential for countless health problems related to excess carb consumption in carnivores. (Even omnivorous humans are eating far too many carbs: with devastating consequences.)

As you surely guessed: the food isn't cooked; it's completely raw. Thus the maximum nutritional value (including good bacteria and enzymatic activity) are preserved. This can be achieved both through freezing and freeze-drying for shelf stability.

Common Concerns:

When we discuss the benefits of feeding a raw diet with our customers, their concerns or objections typically fall into two categories: objections raised by their veterinarian, and the customer’s own questions regarding their ability to properly execute it. We’ll tackle the veterinary category first:

Veterinarians' Objections:

Raw diets are unsafe - The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is so convinced that they even went public with an official statement opposing raw diets. But are they really unsafe? Millions of pet owners regularly enjoy eating grilled, seared, or in the case of sushi, even entirely raw meats with their meals. In each case, raw meats are handled in the preparation process.

What’s more, dry kibble foods have been recalled far more often than raw diets, http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/vet-raw-food-prescription-dog-diet, often for the same problems that veterinarians typically cite when declaring raw diets to be ‘risky’.

Pathogen risk - Expanding on the salmonella issue in particular: the AVMA cites the risk of exposing pet owners to salmonella and other pathogens as their main objection to raw diets. But as the article above notes: no confirmed cases of salmonellosis have ever been associated with raw pet diets. There have, however, been cases where pet owners contracted salmonellosis after feeding raw meat purchased at the grocery store to their pets. Perhaps it’s our own food supply that should scare us?

Perhaps the AVMA knows that citing risk to pets would be disingenuous given that dry kibble foods test positive for salmonella far more often, and that studies have shown similar levels of such pathogens in examinations of both raw-fed and kibble-fed dogs (i.e. normal levels of such pathogens exist in normal, healthy animals).

They’re not ‘complete and balanced’ - This one’s easy; vets love to reference AAFCO standards for pet food when advising their clients. What’s particularly disingenuous (or even ignorant) about suggesting that raw diets aren’t complete and balanced is that raw diets sold in pet supply stores like Joey’s adhere to the same AAFCO standards that veterinarians trust when evaluating dry kibble foods. Sometimes mention will be made of the supposedly more ‘stringent’ feeding trials--as compared to the more frequently used nutrient profiles--that many dry foods have completed, but this is a farce, http://rawfed.com/myths/standards.html. 

Customer Concerns:

It’s inconvenient - Several companies now offer kibble shaped raw diets that can be poured and served--thawing in minutes! Examples include: Stella & Chewy’s Dinner Morsels, Vital Essentials Niblets, Primal Pronto, and Instinct Raw Bites.

Handling raw meat around children or dogs with compromised immune systems - Many raw food companies also offer foods treated with a process called High Pressure Processing/Pasteurization (HPP). This kills pathogens without cooking the food (another reason why veterinarians don’t have a leg to stand on with the ‘safety’ argument).

It’s too expensive - Not compared to prescription diets! Seriously though: you’ll no longer be purchasing all of those bags of empty calories, so your food budget will go much further. Plus, your dog won’t need those thousand dollar vet bills anymore!


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