Well, it is the last day of July and what month is next?? August, but our furry friends they call it “Rawgust”. What does that mean? It means it is Raw Diet Appreciation month! Let’s talk about the raw diet and why it could be a great diet for your dog or cat.

Whether you are feeding raw already, heard about it or are interested in feeding raw, a raw diet is great for many dogs and cats, but not for every dog and cat. It not only needs to muscle test as the right diet for your dog or cat, but it also has to be a good fit for you and your lifestyle.

If a raw diet muscle tests for your animals, it might seem intimidating and while there is more time involved with preparing a raw diet, the nutritional benefits can out-weigh the prep work. Here are a few benefits of the raw diet:

  • The number one benefit to feeding raw is that raw food provides the moisture needed for dogs and cats that kibble cannot provide. They need around 70-80% moisture in their daily diet. It is important to know that most dry food not only contains grains, but only provides around 12-15% moisture. Without the right amount of hydration in their diets, they can be susceptible to certain illnesses such as kidney disease. Once these conditions are present, they tend to be chronic, but on a fresh food or raw diet these issues can be avoided.
  • The number two benefit of a raw diet is that the nutrients are not completely cooked out as they are in a kibble food. Raw provides all the nutritional enzymes that work in the body to provide value for the body with very little waste. Kibble cooks all the natural nutrients out during the heat process, and then they add the vitamins and minerals back into the kibble, so the animals get a second-hand source of each vitamin.
  • The number three benefit of a raw diet – no sugars, no grains and no fillers or chemicals are present in the diet that can lead to a number of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cushings, etc.

Keep in mind when creating a raw diet, you do not need to be a perfectionist. While you do need to muscle test for the right proteins, your feeding plan can be flexible. It is very important to rotate proteins, don’t just feed the same protein or just one protein EVERY DAY. We don’t eat the same protein every day, do we? Rotating proteins helps to keep the fats balanced so they won’t develop allergies or skin issues. There are many choices out there for raw feeding:

  • Fresh, whole raw food: There are many local and online raw food companies or local butcher to choose from. These foods can be frozen or refrigerated. When creating your own raw mix, remember to use a raw food formula (2-3% of the animal’s weight) and the 80-10-10 prey formula is the most common to get the correct percentages of bone, raw meat, organs ratio. If you choose to tackle this, don’t get caught up on “exacts” over the span of a week, simply create what would consist of an entire prey carcass. Some muscle meat 80% (breast, thighs, heart) some organs 10% (kidney, liver, pancreas, lungs) and 10% bone/calcium content. You can add some veggies/fruit (pureed is best for digestibility) if desired – 10%.
  • Commercial frozen raw dog food:These foods are already created according to the raw formula and just need to be thawed before offering. These are available in many forms such as small bites, patties, tubes of ground meat or pouches. This is how I (Allison) feed and is pretty hassle-free because it is already formulated, but can be a pain when you are traveling or on the road.
  • Freeze-dried or dehydrated raw food: Freeze-drying retains all the nutrients of the raw food while making it easy to store (no freezer needed) and to travel with. These come in patties, almost kibble-sized bites. Just add warm water to rehydrate it and serve. There are many great companies who offer high-quality freeze-dried raw foods.

The price to feed raw can be a little costly, depending on the animal and where you are getting your raw food from, but it is a huge investment on your animal’s health and well-being, and can dramatically cut down on vet bills when feeding a raw diet.

These are the things you will avoid when feeding a raw diet that are almost always present in some form in a commercial kibble food that can keep your dog or cat from visiting the vet:

  • Chemicals and preservatives like BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, menadione (dimethylprimidionol sulfate), propylene glycol and propyl gallate.
  • Other foods such as artificial colors, flavors, corn syrup, sugars and salt.
  • By-products that are the meat product that is left over like hooves, heads, feet, beaks, etc.
  • General ingredients like “animal” fat or “animal” meal that don’t have a known source like beef.
  • Dogs and cats can’t digest corn in any form and many animals have sensitivities to it.
  • Soy is not good for animals or people the way it is cultivated and many are allergic, also.

Feeding a raw diet has many health benefits, and there are so many different ways to incorporate raw into your dog and cat’s meals. Don’t get hung up on the percentages and formulas – remember we don’t eat a perfectly balanced diet every day either, so as long as your animal gets the equivalent of a whole prey animal (muscle meat, bones, organs, some veggies fruits or tripe) over the course of a week, you are good. I like to tell people to create a cow, build a bunny or produce a pig over the course of a week. “Thaat’s All Folks!”

Whatever raw form works for you, the bottom line is that adding fresh, whole foods can be beneficial to your dog and cat’s health on every level.

Rawgust Blessings!

Kim & Allison

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