Raw or freeze-dried pet foods have increased in popularity in recent years, but are they good for your dog or cat?
On the Internet you will find diverse opinions that can confuse our final decision, we all want the best for our pets, but what information to trust? Are there studies that support raw food as a valid diet?
That is why we have prepared this article and shed some light on it, compiling the most popular pros and cons and thus reaching a final verdict.
What is a raw food diet?
First, some context, the diet based on raw food is which includes ingredients from animals with which both dogs and cats are used to eating and that depending on the brand or product line will be the method of preserving this meat, such as the freeze-drying process.
Many decide to prepare raw diets at home, but there are also those that are already prepared. The most common types of commercial food are frozen, lyophilized, dried and fresh, which are formulated to follow the appropriate nutritional guidelines for your dog or cat.
What are the benefits of a raw meat diet?
Many pet owners find that their cats or dogs prefer the taste of a raw meat diet and that picky eaters are easier to tempt. This is easy to imagine, and of course it’s more of a fact. While there has been research to suggest that dogs prefer to eat meat-rich diets over carbohydrate-rich diets, there hasn’t been the same level of research on whether raw meat is more flavorful than cooked meat or other types of food for pets. We are pleased to conclude that the palatability of a raw diet depends on the diet itself and your pet’s personal preferences.
Reflects the ancestral diet
Many believe that a raw diet is better because it is closer to your pet’s natural ancestral diet. The theory goes that dogs should be fed a diet that mirrors their wild ancestors, the gray wolf, due to DNA similarities. This “ancestral diet” theory holds that the dog’s anatomy (ie teeth designed for cutting and slicing, shorter intestinal tracts) is designed for a carnivorous diet.
This is a good thought, but if this idea is to be considered as a justification for a raw meat diet, there are some important points to consider:
A) Your dog is not a wolf. Dogs were domesticated by humans about 33,000 years ago and have evolved considerably as a result. While there is evidence to suggest that dogs do not need carbohydrates, they have certainly developed the ability to digest them. A life together with humans brought with it a much more varied diet, which over time saw dogs evolve a number of characteristics that allowed them to digest plant-based foods. Therefore, dogs are generally considered biologically omnivores. The first wolves did not have any of these genetic abilities.
B) Game meat is not the same as meat from your local store. There is a perception that feeding your dog raw meat from the butcher is only as good as eating freshly slaughtered prey.
Contrary to popular belief, dogs are just as likely to get food poisoning as we are. Dogs on raw meat diets often experience mild bouts of loose stools and have been found to shed much greater amounts of harmful bacteria in their stools, including Salmonella , Listeria Y Yersinia spp, which can be transmitted to humans.
Raw diets are believed to be easier to digest because essential nutrients such as enzymes, vitamins, and amino acids have not been destroyed by cooking.
About enzymes: Yes, it is true that certain enzymes found in food are destroyed during the cooking process. But, in general, these enzymes are not necessary for digestion. Cats and dogs already have all the enzymes they need within their gastrointestinal tract and pancreas, and they do not require exogenous enzymes for digestion. Also, most of the enzymes in raw foods are destroyed in the stomach anyway.
About digestibility: Regardless of enzyme activity, are raw diets even more digestible? Actually, there are a number of studies in different species of cats that have found raw food to be more digestible; however, one of these studies found that this is primarily in terms of protein (that is, digestibility did not improve for fat, carbohydrates, or energy).
What does improved digestibility mean? Ultimately, higher digestibility = smaller, firmer droppings.
Smaller, firmer stools with less odor.
Another proposed benefit of raw diets is that they create smaller, firmer, and less odorous stools. This is generally believed to be true, but it may not be due to whether the food is raw or cooked, but rather the carbohydrate content of the meat. (Generally, a higher protein diet produces smaller, firmer stools.)
What Causes Smaller Stools?
As mentioned, a high protein content can contribute to smaller stools. But generally, it all comes down to digestibility. If the diet has a high level of digestibility, this results in less digestion in the colon and therefore less production of stool.
But, Are smaller stools really good? Smaller feces are definitely better for the pet owner as it means that you will have smaller, less smelly landmines to collect in the yard. But Regarding your pet, small stool size does not automatically mean a happier tummy.
It’s easy to assume that the smaller stool size must mean that your dog has a healthier gut. For the most part, this is true; However, it is a bit more complicated, in particular, it is about the ingredient in question and whether the ingredient is of plant or animal origin.
Bulky stools can be due to undigested plant matter or undigested meat (or a combination of both). Undigested plant matter in the form of fiber has been shown to be beneficial to the gut as it feeds the ‘good bacteria’ present in the colon. (So some bulky poop might be good for your dog if it’s due to the high amounts of beneficial plant fiber!)
What are the dangers of a raw meat diet?
We have discussed the proposed benefits of eating raw, now let’s dive into the risks. Unlike some of the benefits, the risks of a raw meat diet are fairly well documented and largely supported by research. The two main risks of feeding raw meat are bacterial contamination and nutritional insufficiency. Let’s dive into what this means.
All raw meat can harbor harmful pathogensregardless of whether it is sold for humans or pets. Even when the best hygiene practices are followed, contamination can occur at any point in the meat production process, from slaughter to transport to handling. That is why we humans are very careful when eating raw meat!
In particular, the bacterium of the Salmonella in several studies investigating raw diets in pets. La Sauctioneer it is a common cause of food poisoning in both pets and humans. Also, even if your dog doesn’t get sick, he can still pose a risk to his family.
Raw meat is a zoonotic risk. The risk of bacterial contamination is not only a concern for your dog, it can affect the people in your home as well.
In fact, The risk of this bacteria spreading to humans is so high that the FDA strongly advises against feeding your dog a raw food diet if someone is immunosuppressed in the home., such as pregnant women, children or the elderly.
Nutritional adequacy is the second biggest concern with raw meat diets. Providing a complete and balanced diet is vital for your pet to live a long and happy life. Most pet foods are designed to be complete and balanced in terms of macronutrients such as energy, protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, and all vitamins and minerals. Also, a correct balance is important for all animals, but it is particularly vital for felines, who can face deadly diseases if their diet is deficient in certain nutrients such as taurine.
Unfortunately, home-cooked diets, regardless of whether they are raw or cooked, are often out of balance. Studies of home recipes, particularly those obtained from books or on the Internet, have found considerable concerns about deficiencies and excesses of essential nutrients, including the ratio of calcium to phosphorus, vitamin A and E, vitamin D, and fat.
If you are determined to prepare a raw diet at home for your dog, we strongly recommend that you consult with a veterinary nutritionist for a complete and balanced recipe that is adapted to the size and life stage of your pet.
What raw diets are the best?
How to avoid the risks of a raw meat diet, but still enjoy its benefits? There are now diets available that manage to retain the benefits of a raw diet, but remain nutritionally balanced Y prepared in such a way as to avoid bacterial contamination.
We have compiled our top recommendations for pet owners who want to feed a raw diet that is safe and nutritious. All of the diets below use high-quality ingredients with fewer grains and carbohydrates and a high meat content.
What is freeze drying or air drying? Many of the diets below are frozen or air dried. Freezing or air drying is a no-cook process that preserves food without destroying any of the raw nutrients. Food is dried under pressure, which removes the water content, but blocks natural nutrition. Frozen and air-dried foods are a much more hygienic alternative to traditional raw foods, due to the lower risk of contamination.