The idea of feeding raw food to pets has been around for ages, but it is only recently that it has really become popular with consumers and gone mainstream.
The pros and cons of a raw food diet have been debated throughout the pet industry.
“Some of the noticeable benefits raw-fed pets receive include better weight control, more energy, healthier skin, coats and teeth, better digestion and less smelly stools,” Bette Schubert, Bravo! co-founder and senior vice president of sales, new product development and education, said.
Raw diets lack an official definition from AAFCO, but Lucy Postins, founder of The Honest Kitchen, defines it as “… a product that has not undergone any high-heat processing or cooking.”
Most manufacturers seem to agree with this statement.
“We start with human-quality, grain-free, raw ingredients that are minimally processed in small batches for superior nutrition and freshness,” Stacy LaPoint, president and founder of Fresh Is Best Natural Pet Food, said. “All of our fresh, freeze-dried pet foods and treat products are made in Wisconsin, and we use only ingredients that are sourced and grown in the USA.”
Ease of Preparation
Raw food can require adequate freezer space, and on-time distribution to comply with shorter expiration dates, which can be challenging for retailers and distributors. But manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge, and now there are raw diets that afford ease of preparation as well as a raw, balanced diet.
This year, Primal Pet Foods added a new line of frozen foods to its list of frozen raw foods for dogs and cats. The new line is called Pronto and it’s specifically designed to be easily portioned and thawed.
“Small, bite-sized pieces make the frozen formula much easier to portion and it thaws in minutes, negating any reason to leave food out for long periods of time,” Matt Koss, founder and president of Primal Pet Foods, said.
Stewart Raw Naturals Freeze Dried Food and Treats offer bite-sized pieces made from raw meats, fruits and vegetables to provide superior quality, extreme palatability and ease of feeding. The company’s freeze-dried treats are available in lightweight resealable pouches to ensure freshness, provide longer shelf life and retain the nutrients of raw food.
Made of chicken, chicken liver, and organic fruits and vegetables, Lotus Raw Dog Food also comes in easy-to-serve frozen patties.
Companies are even working in conjunction with veterinarians to offer easy-to-manage servicing of pet food.
Darwin’s Pet Food has collaborated with Barbara Royal, DVM, to create Intelligent Design packaging. Royal is a pioneer in integrative medicine, nutrition and physical rehabilitation, as well as founder and owner of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center.
“Intelligent Design Veterinary meals for dogs, available with a prescription, are specialized formulas designed to provide extra support to dogs facing certain health issues,” according to the company. “Like Natural Selections, these highly palatable and nutritious meals use only hormone-free, antibiotic-free and pesticide-free meats and organic vegetables, with no grains, added fillers or chemical preservatives.”
Nature’s Variety offers complete and balanced, ready-to-serve raw diets for dogs and cats. According to the website, “Weight management, energy, and healthy skin and coat are just some of the amazing testimonials” they receive.
Stella & Chewy’s list of ingredients in their dinners read like a “who’s who” of wholesome, healthy ingredients like raw, naturally raised meat, poultry or fish, sourced from USDA-inspected facilities.
They offer both cat and dog products in a variety of protein sources, including venison, rabbit and lamb.
A raw food diet extends to the treat industry, and manufacturers who create raw diets often include natural and raw treats to augment a diet.
“Our recreational bones are more of a treat than a meal,” Justin Magnuson, director of sales and marketing for Raw Bistro, said. “Marrow is high-fat, so be aware of how often you’re giving bones to your pets to avoid digestive upset.”
Another bonus of raw treats is the ability to use them interchangeably as dog and cat treats.
“Our Wishes treats are suitable for both dogs and cats,” Postins said. “Smittens are especially for cats, and our other cookie treats (Nuzzles, Pecks and Smooches), as well as Quickies and Beams Pure Fish Treats, are for dogs.”