When we brought Bobby home at 8 weeks old nearly four years ago, we never assumed we’d one day be feeding him raw meat. However, life has a funny way of changing our philosophies and we’v since become a raw pet food household. While raw pet food is still a controversial diet, we’ve found that it was the right choice for Bobby these past two years.
The pet food industry is relatively new having only emerged over the past 60 years. Before mass-produced kibble, animals hunted for their food. Cats are rodent loving animals and dogs are by nature canis lupus, sharing the same digestive system as wolves who are designed to devour prey, bones and all.
Dogs and cats are carnivore by design, from lacking the ‘grinding’ teeth necessary for grain consumption to digesting food entirely in their stomachs (no digestive enzymes in their mouths).
Traditional Pet Foods
As new pet owners, we followed the food regimen provided by the breeder who used Eukanuba. However, we soon noticed Bobby experienced excessive itching and had frequent gas. Our veterinarian associated the problems with the grain content in our dog food. Once we met more Shiba Inu owners, it seems that grain allergies with the breed are not uncommon.
Traditional pet foods typically come in either a dry kibble or a wet canned form. And while some premium brands may use higher quality meats, many brands use waste byproducts non fit for human consumption. The protein is blended with filler grains and enriched with vitamins. All in all, it’s highly processed – chemicals, preservatives, coloring, etc. Once you learn what’s really in pet food and how it is processed, it can turn your stomach.
We tried several dry dog food brands including Natural Balance and Taste of the Wild which both offered grain-free options. While it solved our issue with grain content, it didn’t alleviate our concerns on the quality of meat nor processing methods used. Unfortunately, Bobby still had the gas problem.
We also noticed that Bobby was drinking a large amount of water as he reached adulthood. A veterinarian explained that dry dog food requires a large amount of water to hydrate the food for digestion. This excess water intake was also taxing his kidneys which could lead to issues in the future. We hadn’t really considered an alternative to dry food and knew little of raw food diets.
Raw Pet Food Benefits
Although research is only just beginning in this area, raw food diets are purported to improve a pet’s well-being. The Healthy Pet Journal cites that raw food diets have shown to improve flea infestations, hot spots, continual shedding, poor dental & gum health, allergies, gastro-intestinal problems, immune disorders and degenerative diseases.
Raw Pet Food Experimentation
It happened by chance that we walked into a new pet store one day only to discover the store was focused on raw food. We talked with the owner who provided us with literature on raw food benefits and sent us home with some samples to try.
Bobby was in heaven from the moment we put the food in front of him. Coming in a frozen pouch and resembling ground beef, the raw food we tried contained a veterinarian recommended blend of meat, organ meat, bone, and vegetables (75% meat mixture and 25% vegetables; the meat mixture contains 10% organs – 5% heart and 5% liver). Bobby ate it and practically begged for more. (and Bobby never asks for seconds of his dry food).
The brand we use is called Red Dog Blue Kat which is made locally and distributed across Canada. We like that it uses meat from non-medicated, free-range animals. As I’ve mentioned, the packets are easy to store and come pre-weighed by serving.
We evaluated the cost and it was nearly the same as what we had been paying for his previous food. And, with the additional savings on vet visits, we found it to actually be cost effective in the long run. After making the transition to raw food, Bobby’s water intake has decreased significantly (!) – no longer is he drinking two large bowls of water per day and more importantly there was no more gas! His stool has also decreased in size and quantity as he isn’t processing all of the filler starches found in most dog foods.
Red Dog Blue Kat provides two interesting resources on why raw food may be a beneficial choice for your dog or cat:
Although our current veterinarian isn’t necessarily on board with our raw dog food diet, she is mildly supportive. She warns us to be extremely cautious in handling the food for fear of spreading Salmonella or other bacteria. As with any raw meat, we make sure all kitchen surfaces are disinfected and our hands are properly washed after handling the food. We haven’t had any associated health issues.
For us, it’s turned out to be a good change for Bobby. He is healthier and happier which was the goal. We also discovered that raw food was easier to handle than one might think. No large bag of smelly dog food sitting in the closet. The raw food is frozen and basically odorless. It’s also a common enough feeding practice that the dog boarding facility we use is happy to store and feed raw food when we head out of town.