Feeding raw meat to pets like cats and dogs is considered by many to be the ultimate biologically appropriate, primal diet. Unfortunately, DIY raw feeding can be messy and time consuming. Combine that with the challenge of providing a balanced diet, and many pet parents give up on raw pet food altogether.
Thankfully, innovative entrepreneurs have addressed the need for convenient raw pet food solutions. You can now purchase nutritionally complete blends that meet AAFCO standards. These blends may include supplements or provide a mix based on the popular 80-10-10 recommendation (80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organs). They are most often known as “complete diets” and are the key to making raw feeding easy.
When deciding on a complete diet, it’s important to understand the dietary requirements of cats and dogs, while also considering any conditions your pet may suffer from. Cats are relatively easy to feed raw because they’re obligate carnivores. Dogs, however, are often identified as carnivores when technically they are carno-omnivores.
“Dogs are carno-omnivorous animals, adapted to eat a varied diet, whereas cats are carnivorous and naturally eat a diet of principally protein and fat, with very little carbohydrate. Cats may suffer from carbohydrate malabsorption following ingestion of high-carbohydrate meals. However, dogs have a digestive ability to cope with diets containing significant levels of carbohydrate,” states the study, Sodium/Glucose Cotransporter-1, Sweet Receptor, and Disaccharidase Expression in the Intestine of the Domestic Dog and Cat: Two Species of Different Dietary Habit. “Dogs and cats are from separate branches within the order Carnivora. This order contains more than 260 species, most of which are omnivores, despite their name. Dogs are carno-omnivorous animals, adapted to eat a varied diet, whereas cats are carnivorous and naturally eat a diet of principally protein and fat, with very little carbohydrate.”
Work with your veterinarian to determine the best homemade diet for your particular pet.
More pet stores are now carrying frozen and refrigerated raw pet food, including some complete diet selections. For even more convenience, you can find stores online that will deliver frozen raw pet food right to your door.
Freeze-dried and DIY Dehydrating
The freeze drying process preserves nutrients better than any other means of preservation today, including freezing. The shelf-life is beyond compare, which has made it feasible to offer raw meat options in virtually any store. It’s light, resulting in shipping costs that are much lower than canned and dry pet food.
While freeze-dried raw treats are the most commonly seen, you can also purchase freeze-dried pet meals and “toppers”.
Natural freeze-dried whole food supplements offer far more benefits than even natural extracts. You’ll get the nutrient you intend to supplement, along with all of the nutrients that accompany it in its natural form. Freeze-dried Krill is a perfect example, with it’s long list of benefits that extend well beyond the Omega 3 that Krill oil offers. Add seaweed and you’re tapping into the richest vegetation source of vitamins and minerals on the planet, with a side serving of healing properties.
It’s also surprisingly simple to dry your own raw foods and treats for your pets. You can quickly pop a tray of whole foods into a good dehydrator and have healthy snacks in no time. Alternately, you can puree a bunch of healthy ingredients together, spread the mixture onto parchment paper and dehydrate it into your own “jerky” treats.
You don’t have to feed raw all the time. You can use unseasoned meat, drippings or vegetables that are left over from family meals as part of a complete diet. While cooking can destroy some vitamins, it also makes vegetables more digestible and improves the bio-availability of some minerals. You can puree leftovers with added supplements to make them more palatable and then add them to raw meat as a “topper”.
Work with your supplier
Many brands and suppliers will work with you to create a balanced, appropriate diet for your dog or cat. For example, Raw Paw offers consultations with raw feeding experts who will help you design a meal plan customized for your pet. You can also use their free tool to calculate serving sizes. Don’t hesitate to contact a brand if you have any questions.
For more information about feeding a raw, natural diet to dogs, check out Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs, Revised Edition: The Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals, by Lew Olson, LMSW, PhD.
Have you tried feeding a raw food diet to your cat or dog? Do you have any tips to share?
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Safely Dehydrating Meat Pet Treats
Roll ’ems: How to Naturally Supplement DIY Dehydrated Pet Treats
Heart Health for Natural Pets (with Recipe)
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