Raw food pet diets are a controversial subject for many people, but there is no doubt that their popularity keeps rising. For some, feeding dogs and cats with raw meat is a healthy alternative to commercially processed foods and a return to their natural eating habits. On the other hand, critics will argue that our modern day flurry friends have evolved beyond their wild origins and are more hurt than benefited by eating raw meat, bones, and vegetables.
However, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
The Key To A Good Raw Food Diet Is Balance
Scientists and veterinarians used to believe that domesticated dogs or cats had more or less adapted to an omnivorous diet as a result of thousands of years living among humans. However, recent studies have shown that, despite them being able to follow a human diet better than their wild ancestors, they still depend on meat as their main food source.
Processed dog and cat foods are rich in starch, a type of carbohydrate that is not easily processed by carnivore animals. This has caused a rise in diabetes in pets due to them not being able to process what is essentially a grain-based diet. But doing a U-turn and just feeding your pet raw meat isn’t the answer either, as meat doesn’t provide all the nutrients your pet needs to stay healthy.
Instead of simply throwing a pound of raw hamburger to your dog or cat what you should be doing is complementing it with other foods. Studies have found that pets that are fed with a balanced diet experience fewer health problems and have a smaller chance of suffering from diabetes, obesity, arthritis, inflammation, and urinary tract diseases than those fed on starch-heavy processed foods.
Use Additives To Supplement Your Pet’s Diet
While dogs and cats are carnivores by nature, adding small amounts of eggs, vegetables, and cooked grains to their meals is the best way to provide them with all the vitamins and minerals they need. A good example of this is that even commercially produced raw foods contain many additives.
According to the BARF diet, which is a formula commonly used among manufacturers, a meal should be 50% raw meat with the rest of it being additives and other ingredients. This includes animal-based ingredients like organs, bone, and eggs, but also smaller additions of foods like vegetables, which are more difficult to digest for dogs and cats.
This variety of ingredients guarantees that pets get the right amounts of crucial nutrients, such as Omega 3, that they otherwise wouldn’t get from a strictly meat-based diet. Using minced vegetables and cooking or juicing them also makes it easier for a dog or cat to process, helping your pet to get the most out of his diet.
Transitioning To A Raw Meat Diet
Switching a pet’s diet can be a difficult task for the owner. It’s pretty common to see animals suffering from diarrhea because they didn’t have the time they needed to accustom to the new diet. Unfortunately, after taking their pets to the vet, many owners end up going back to processed foods thinking that the new diet is the problem.
Most vets will actually blame diarrhea on bacteria instead of on the sudden change of food. Dogs and cats can be incredibly sensitive to changes in their diet, so making the transition step-by-step, rather than overnight will give your pet’s metabolism the time it needs to adapt.
The best way to start the transition is to introduce the new food as a treat, instead of mixing it with the old processed food. Dogs and cats digest processed and raw foods differently, so mixing them together will make your pet get inflammation. Instead, keep using raw food as a treat for several days while you also monitor the stool. If it remains normal you can keep increasing the quantities of raw food until you discontinue the old food completely.
As raw meat diets gain popularity, more and more pet owners learn about the limitations of processed foods. Raw foods can help your dog or cat feel more healthy and reduce the chances of suffering serious diseases, like diabetes. But if you want to make the most out of this change, it’s important that you consult with a professional who can advise you on what additives you need to feed your pet.