Benefits of Raw Pet Food: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Raw pet food can have benefits but also health risks for your dog or cat

Raw pet food is a trend that has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years – but what are the benefits of raw pet food? With our pets’ health on the line, we can’t afford to simply trend hop with their diets. Dr. Stobaeus and Kasra Farsad are with us again to answer our questions about the benefits of raw pet food.

The Good: Benefits of Raw Pet Food

Chief Food Scientist Kasra Farsad asserts that “raw foods are believed to be unaltered and undenatured to allow for better digestion.” Raw freeze dried, a type of raw diet, has become a very popular raw diet. This is because it allows the food to be preserved without exposing the proteins to heat. Heat is the leading cause of nutrient damage during the cooking process, so cold temperature processing is preferred.

In addition, Dr. Stobaeus mentions that raw foods tend to have no preservatives. So if your pet has a sensitive gastrointestinal tract, raw foods may benefit them.

Also, if you choose to prepare the raw food diet instead of purchasing it, you know exactly what your pet is eating. Unfortunately not all pet food labels, even raw food labels, are transparent. If you want to change something in their diet because you think they’re bored with it, then you can simply change an ingredient in the diet.

So more nutrient availability, lower preservatives, and complete transparency can be benefits of raw pet food diets. But it isn’t all roses when it comes to raw pet food diets.

The Bad: Downsides of Raw Pet Food

“Converting your pet to raw food can be very challenging,” Farsad warns, “the biggest challenges is ensuring a raw food diet meets all of your pets nutritional needs.”

Dr. Stobaeus says that if you make the raw food diet yourself, they can be time consuming to prepare properly. If you prepare the meal yourself, make sure to research exactly what nutrients your pet needs to balance their nutritional requirements. This research should include protein, calories, electrolytes and other vital ingredients.

To do this, you can consult some veterinary dermatologists or veterinary schools for information regarding a balanced nutritional diet for your pet. Farsad also recommends to supplement their diet with off the shelf vitamins and minerals that they may not be getting in the right proportions.  Nutrient-rich treats can also help you here.

While raw pet food diets have their advantages, they can also be time consuming. Also, if you choose to make them yourself, you are solely responsible for getting the nutrients your pet needs each day.

The Ugly: Health Risks of Raw Pet Food

As you’ve probably guessed, a raw pet food diet is not as simple as giving your pet a raw steak. There are health risks in any form of raw food diets, especially the kinds you prepare yourself.

For one thing, raw diets tend to have more protein, calcium and phosphorous in them. Small and medium sized dogs tend not to handle these in high amounts well. Cats, large dogs and working dogs tend to be able to handle the higher protein, calcium and phosphorous levels.

In addition to this, making sure the food is free of any harmful bacteria or viruses is a huge task. Dr. Stobaeus warns that if you make the diet yourself, there is always the possibility of undercooking the meats and potentially causing E. coli or Salmonella infections. These are typically mitigated during the cooking process, but in raw food diets, obviously, the cooking process isn’t present.

Still Have Questions?

As always, when considering a large diet change for your pet, PetMio suggests you talk to your veterinarian.

If you have any other questions about raw pet food, feel free to shoot us an email at hello@petmio.com.