Raw feeding is a highly debated topic among pet owners and pet care providers alike. No matter where you look for information you will likely find many who recommend raw feeding and many who do not, so who is right? The short answer is both!
There are certainly advantages to Raw feeding but it is not without risk or detailed thought. Below, we have broken down some of the advantages and disadvantages of Raw feeding and our recommendations should you choose to offer your furbaby Raw food.
- Extremely palatable.
- Reduced faecal output compared to pets on a dry food diet.
- Can be beneficial for pets with allergies and food sensitivities as it is usually grain free and problem protein sources can often be easily avoided.
- High moisture content can be useful for animals who don’t consume enough water.
- Feeding Raw bones can assist in maintaining dental health.
- Difficult to achieve properly balanced diet for both cats and dogs and hence many pets fed a raw diet will not consume the appropriate levels of nutrients to ensure they remain happy and healthy. (Cats in particular require specific amino acids in their diet so incorrect raw feeding can be life threatening).
- Higher risk of exposure to pathogens or parasites compared to feeding a commercial dry or canned diet.
- Requires cooled storage (fridge or freezer) which can be a considerable amount of space given most pets will need a far larger volume of Raw food than they would dry food each day.
- Larger volume meals due to higher moisture content than dry food.
- Many commercially available raw diets do not meet AAFCO or WSAVA nutritional requirements.
- Pet grade raw food is not legally required to meet the same standards as human grade meat products and is therefore not usually as good quality and more likely to be contaminated.
- Often costly to feed a high quality balanced raw diet in comparison to a high-quality raw diet.
- Growing animals (especially large breed puppies) can be extremely difficult to feed a solely raw diet as meeting their nutritional requirements for growth is different to that of an adult animal and there are very few commercially available raw diets that are specifically made for puppies and kittens.
- Often it is tricky to find care for your pet when you go away that will be able to provide raw food for your pet. Most kennels and catteries don’t routinely cater for pets fed raw diets so these pets will often need to transition to another food source (dry/canned) prior to their stay then transition back to their raw diet which is not always well tolerated by the pet and a hassle for owners.
- Feed human grade meat/ingredients where possible, even better if it’s organic too.
- When choosing a commercially prepared diet, choose one that meets AAFCO or WSAVA nutritional standards.
- A complete Raw diet must include muscle meat, organs, and bone in the correct ratios to be considered nutritionally complete. Simply feeding ‘pet mince’ or mince from the supermarket is not nutritionally complete and can cause significant nutritional deficits leading to illness.
- Engaging an animal nutritionist can help create a raw diet plan for those who wish to create their own raw rations.
- If you like the idea of raw food but it seems too complicated then offering raw meat as a ‘topper’ in addition to a quality dry food can be an option, and often suits fussy eaters well.
- Take care with storage of raw pet food – ideally meals/ingredients should be frozen for a period of 3 days prior to defrosting and feeding, this reduces the risk of some pathogens and parasites.
- Don’t feed your pet meat that is off, smells or looks yucky, it sounds like common sense, but many people will offer their pets meat they wouldn’t eat themselves which is a recipe for an unwell pet.
- Introduce new raw food or new raw ingredients slowly, not all pets will tolerate raw meat or bones, especially those who have been on a dry or canned food diet for years.
- If you like the idea of Raw food but prefer the convenience and lower contamination of a dry food then products like PrimeAir 100 (available at Lynbrook Vet), Ziwi Peak, Frontier Pets, Balanced Life or similar air dried or freeze-dried raw rations might be an option for you.
- Another alternative that saves time but offers some of the same benefits as raw feeding would be a high quality cooked or pasteurised roll of food such as Prime 100 (available at Lynbrook Vet).
- Keep in mind that we wash our hands after handling raw meat to prevent illness, our pets do not usually wash their faces after consuming raw meat, yet we will often pat them or cuddle/kiss them without a second thought. This is an especially important consideration for young families or vulnerable individuals.
Ultimately the best diet for your pet is the highest quality, nutritionally complete diet you can afford to feed your pet and that your pet will remain happy and healthy on.
Remember, not all diets will suit all pets and all diet changes should be made slowly over 10-14 days.