Understanding raw food diets for dogs

raw food for dogs

It used to be that if you wanted to feed your companion a raw diet, you had to make it from scratch, and that meant buying all the ingredients, cutting up the meat, adding veggies and supplements, and putting it all together yourself.

A lot of people still prefer to do this, but it’s not the best solution for those who are strapped for time or just don’t like handling raw meat. Premium pet food manufacturers have responded to this issue by making frozen raw diets that offer the same quality nutrition as home-prepared raw food without the hassle and mess. Freezing not only keeps the diets fresher longer, but also helps preserve the nutrient value of the natural proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins in the ingredients.

Here’s a look at the benefits these tasty, convenient and healthful products give your dog or cat – and yourself!

1. Meat matters

As carnivores, dogs and cats need whole meat in order to thrive. Cheap commercial pet foods don’t offer enough of this valuable protein source. A raw frozen diet made by a premium manufacturer is guaranteed to include fresh whole meat as the food’s base, without the by-products and grain fillers that make up many commercial packaged foods (excepting canned and dry foods made by premium companies – turn to page xx for more on the today’s healthy dry diets).

Makes of raw frozen meat diets know the importance of variety, and draw on a range of protein sources, from chicken, turkey, lamb and beef to venison, duck and salmon. Organ meats and ground raw bones are also included in most complete frozen raw diets – wild carnivores consume organs and bones when they eat their prey, so including these ingredients in a raw diet makes good sense.

2. Complete nutrition

Even carnivores need some greens, not to mention other nutrients that raw meat on its own doesn’t offer, such as essential fatty acids and certain vitamins and minerals. Those who make raw diets at home need to educate themselves about canine and feline nutrition, and make sure they add the correct proportions of vegetables and supplements to the food to ensure optimum health.

Most frozen raw diets are formulated to include all or most of these additional nutrients, and in the right amounts, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not your companion is getting a balanced diet. Some do require you to add some extra supplements. Most diets usually include a variety of fresh vitamin-rich vegetables and fruit such as broccoli, carrots and berries, as well as fish or flax oil for EFAs, natural sources of vitamin E, herbs, and taurine in the case of cats.

3. Convenient and clean

One of the things people like most about frozen raw diets is the way they’re packaged. There are no slabs of raw meat to handle. The products come in a variety of convenient cleanly-wrapped or packaged forms such as tubes, medallions, patties and bite-sized nuggets. In most cases you hardly need to touch the meat at all, a welcome advantage for those who are squeamish about raw meat. (It’s important to realize, though, that as long as you practice good hygiene and thoroughly wash hands, bowls, utensils and surfaces afterwards, it’s okay to handle the meat.)

The packaging is especially designed to add to the convenience value of these diets. The foods are as easy to feed as any canned or dry diet – all you need to do is thaw and serve. There’s no prep time involved, apart from taking the package out of the freezer – a real boon for those who don’t have time to make meals from scratch but like the idea of feeding raw.

Frozen raw diets give us the best of both worlds. They offer dogs and cats the health benefits of fresh, whole raw foods, and their guardians the ultimate in convenience. Who says good nutrition has to be a hassle?

Shopping list

Frozen raw diets and dehydrate raw are more readily available than ever before. Check your pet supply retailer for these brands, or order online where offered.

LifeFORCE (www.lifeforcepet.ca)
Chicken, beef, lamb, carrots, squash, sweet potato, kale, broccoli, parsley, sui choi, parsnips, spinach, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, kelp.

Bravo! (bravorawdiet.com)  —
Chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork with green beans, acorn squash, broccoli, yellow squash, turnips, celery, yams, zucchini, Romaine lettuce, carrots, bok choy
Avail. in tubes, burgers

Northwest Naturals (nw-naturals.com) —
Beef, bison, chicken, salmon, turkey, lamb with broccoli, carrots, Romaine lettuce, apples, watermelon, cantaloupe, celery
Avail. in nuggets or bars

Paws-itively Raw Foods (paws-itivelyrawfoods.com) —
Chicken, turkey, pork, beef, duck, salmon, rabbit and herring with leafy green vegetables

Primal Pet Foods (primalpetfoods.com) —
Beef, buffalo, chicken, lamb, sardine, turkey, duck, pheasant, quail, venison, salmon with ale, carrots, yams, broccoli, apples, cranberries, blueberries, celery, squash, green beans, turnips, papaya, chard, mango
Avail. in nuggets, patties or chub rolls

Steve’s Real Food (stevesrealfood.com) —
Chicken, turkey, duck, beef with broccoli, Romaine lettuce, carrots, cantaloupe, celery, peppers, watermelon, apples
Avail. in nuggets or patties

N.B. These diets also include ground organ meats and raw bone, as well as added oils, herbs, vitamins and minerals.