- Is a raw meat diet safe to feed my pet
- How easy is the transition from an existing diet to a raw diet?
- How do I ensure my pet is getting a nutritionally balanced diet by feeding raw?
- Will my pet be hungry on a raw food diet?
- My vet doesn’t agree with raw feeding, what should I do?
- Will my pet become aggressive?
- Will a raw food diet be very expensive?
Today’s pet owner is faced with so many choices regarding diet and with the variety of foods available it can often become both confusing and at times quite daunting. Does a pet parent feed kibble or follow a natural feeding regime?
We all want to provide a balanced and palatable diet for our pets, but how should we decide what to feed? Dry food or wet food? The raw (BARF) diet?
We are going to look at the many considerations that face pet parents when they are contemplating feeding either a new pet a raw diet or an existing pet owner that is considering changing from an existing diet to a raw diet.
Overall, we all want to ensure that we are feeding our pets a nutritionally balanced diet; Many kibble, vegetarian and wet diets claim to be a complete food, the term complete leads us all to believe that this little biscuit or morsel contains entirely everything your pet needs to grow, thrive and live a long and happy life and to all good intentions a majority of them do so. However a large majority of these animals also suffer with painful and debilitating conditions; skin and coat, gastrointestinal, periodontal disease, diabetes and allergies are just a few. Processes such as heat treatment damage and reduce any nutrients that have been added to the recipe where many of the ingredients are synthetically produced. Often ingredients such a grain or beet pulp are used as fillers to bulk out the product, this is essentially what satisfies your dog’s hunger, it also makes the cost of making the meal much cheaper for the manufacturer.
The digestive system of a dog struggles with the make up of this kind of product, it is under extreme stress and is constantly working to try to breakdown and utilize as much of the product as possible. The truth is the canine digestive system is designed to breakdown and utilize primarily animal proteins, this is why a kibble fed dog for example will produce an increased amount of stools in comparison to a raw fed dog who produces a smaller, less frequent stool.
Here is a typical list of ingredients stated on a well know kibble:
Dehydrated poultry protein, maize flour, maize, wheat flour, animal fats, wheat, hydrolysed animal proteins, beet pulp, fish oil, minerals, soya oil, yeasts and parts thereof, hydrolysed yeast (source of manno-oligosaccharides (0.05%).
We ask how many of these ingredients actually benefit a pet and how many hinder the digestive and immune system? Do they look like they offer a naturally varied choice of nutrients?
Autoimmune diseases are increasing in our pets and today's modern world is in most parts accountable, one main factor is inappropriate diet. Diet and toxins are responsible for the downfall of many of our precious pets.
Fixing your pets diet will help their digestive system, immune system, overall body condition and well being. Once we repair and enhance these important vital areas we will also be increasing your pets longevity.
Some common concerns around feeding a raw food diet…
Raw meat diets are very safe, there are some ground rules to follow but they are the same as you would apply to your own feeding regime:
- Only feed raw meat from a reputable source; reputable suppliers source raw ingredients from approved suppliers and test for bacteria in line with their pet food license. They follow strict protocol and work closely with the APHA and Trading Standards, they will also be members of the PFMA.
- Do not feed rancid meat.
- Follow safe guidelines with regards to storing and defrosting raw meat.
- Handle raw meat appropriately; keep refrigerated when not being used, clean down work surfaces, wash bowls in warm soapy water and wash your hands after use.
- Use stainless steel or ceramic bowls.
- Do not feed cooked bones.
The transition for most pets is usually very smooth, there are some simple rules to follow…
- Be confident and enjoy the journey.
- Do not mix dry food and raw food together.
- Begin with only one or two proteins; green tripe is the most nutritional and digestive protein.
- Be prepared for some positive changes; a pets enthusiastic interest at mealtimes, lesser stool volume and frequency and less flatulence.
- Cats may take longer than dogs to transition.
Please refer to our full transition guide for further information.
The key points of raw feeding are to remember that we can obtain key nutrients from a variety of sources. We are not aiming to supply every nutrient in one bowl, we create balance over a period of time, your pet will also enjoy the varied menu. The food requirements should be provided with a range of ingredients principally raw meat with some simple natural additions.
You will need to make sure your pet is getting the following in his meals:
- Raw animal protein and fat.
- Include muscle meat, organ meat and offal.
- Include soft raw bones, these are the non-weight bearing bones of an animal that can be consumed and digested with ease. If you are worried about feeding whole bones then provide some meals that have ground bone included in them.
- Provide some essential fatty acids; salmon oil and flax seed oil are super sources.
- Sea kelp is a great addition and is full of essential minerals.
- Raw vegetables finely minced or pulped.
If we aim to provide a variety of foods that reach across the various food groups we can be assured that pets are receiving more than adequate nutrition and will not be subject to any deficiencies.
This question often comes up, mostly because a raw food diet looks less bulky. However the raw food diet is ‘nutrient’ dense rather than ‘filler’ dense. It may be of a lesser volume but it is a case of quality over quantity. A kibble fed dog or cat eats a large carbohydrate dense meal, feels satisfied but then feels hungrier sooner. A raw fed cat or dog eats a smaller sized meal that is nutrient dense and feels satisfied for longer. Your pet will soon get used to the smaller portion sizes, it is often the owners that struggle with this bit for longer.
Vets are to be valued, however many vets have had very little nutritional training and any they have had has been based around primarily highly processed kibble and prescription diets. The training has often been sponsored by large corporate pet food companies whom have made big profits over the many years of vet recommendations to feed a carbohydrate heavy diet to cats and dogs. Sadly the only cases of raw feeding that vets remember are those cases where it has gone wrong; inexperienced raw feeders, poorly sourced raw materials and poor hygiene. We are entering into a refreshing period of time where more vets appreciate an holistic approach to animal healthcare, they value food as a medicine and recognise that good nutrition is paramount to a healthy pet. These vets will tell you how improved your pets skin and coat looks, how much healthier their teeth and mouth are and that they are a healthy weight, the latter of which is very important in a modern world of obese pets and obesity related disease.
You can reassure your vet that you are feeding your pet a nutritious, safe and enjoyable diet. We welcome vets to contact us with their questions and concerns on your behalf.
This is a common myth around raw feeding. Quite simply no your pet will not become aggressive. Their temperaments are driven by their group identity, if they are a hound they may hunt, gun dogs will retrieve and terriers will seek out there prey. Genetics and nurture also play a part in the temperament of your pet. Food can and does play a factor however feeding a diet that does not include additives, chemicals and colours will only improve behaviour rather than feed negative behaviour.
How much the raw food diet will cost you is relative to several factors; the source, the age of your pet and the size of your pet. On the other hand we expect raw fed pets to visit the vet less frequently because they have a happier and healthier disposition. Long term, you may pay slightly more to feed your pet but will pay less to the vet.
If you still need more information or have further questions... then please feel free to call us on 01243 641 983 or send us an email via our contact page