What is Raw Dog Food?

In recent years, the dog food industry has transformed as more and more pet parents strive to feed their pups the most nutritious food possible. Natural dog food is now readily available from brands like James Wellbeloved, Natures Menu and Butcher’s, which champions natural, wholesome ingredients with minimal processing. Raw dog food is one form of natural dog food. In this blog, we’ll discuss what exactly raw dog food is, things to be aware of if you choose to feed it, and how to ensure your dog gets a complete and balanced diet with raw feeding.

What is Raw Dog Food?

Raw dog food consists of uncooked, fresh ingredients including meat, vegetables and fruit. It contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives and undergoes the minimum level of processing. It’s intended to more closely mimic what our dogs’ ancestors would have eaten.

As its popularity has increased in recent years, more and more commercial brands of raw dog food have become available. Raw dog food can also be prepared at home using individual ingredients selected by the dog’s owner. However, this form of raw feeding is not recommended as it’s difficult to get right, and it runs the risk of providing your dog with an unbalanced diet.

Is Raw Food Good for Dogs?

This really depends on the type of raw diet and how you feed it.

Raw dog food can provide lots of high-quality nutrients, as none are lost from the original, fresh ingredients through cooking or processing. Some people have cited benefits to their dog’s digestive, coat and skin health as well as increased energy levels from feeding a raw diet.

However, it’s worth noting that there is relatively little research on the health benefits of raw dog food as of yet. What’s more, not all raw diets are created equal, and some won’t necessarily be complete and balanced – which is essential for your dog’s health and wellbeing.

How to Make Sure a Raw Dog Food Diet is Complete and Balanced

A complete and balanced diet means that your dog’s food contains the right levels of all the different nutrients they require to stay healthy.

As mentioned, while it’s possible to prepare raw dog food at home with your own ingredients, this is unlikely to provide your dog with the right balance of everything they need. Not all commercially made raw dog food will be complete and balanced either, so it’s important to add in a mixer product in this case.

Can You Mix Raw and Kibble?

Yes! In fact, in many cases, it’s recommended.

If you choose to prepare your dog’s raw diet yourself at home, or the raw dog food you buy commercially does not state that it’s complete and balanced, you should consider adding a complementary mixer.

Natures Menu Mighty Mixer is made especially for owners who want to home-prepare a raw meat-based diet for their dog. A crunchy blend of oats, fruit and vegetables, these mixer biscuits are specially formulated with essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy complement to raw meat.

Similarly, Burns offers a Hypoallergenic Mixer that’s ideal for sensitive dogs. It can either be fed alongside Burns Complete wet foods, or as the perfect complement to a home-prepared raw meat diet. It’s free of common allergens like wheat and soya, and packed full with wholesome, natural ingredients like wholegrain brown rice, peas, seaweed, duck fat and vitamins.

Keeping Safe with Raw Dog Food

As with any raw meat you might handle at home, you should take some precautions when preparing raw dog food.

Raw meat is at risk of being contaminated by harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. These pose a threat to both humans and our dogs. It’s therefore very important to have good hygiene practices when handling and preparing raw dog food. You should:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and hot water immediately after preparing raw dog food
  • Clean all the surfaces the food may have touched
  • Keep raw dog food frozen until it’s needed
  • Store, defrost and prepare raw dog food away from where human food is stored and prepared
  • Always throw away any uneaten food as soon as possible – don’t leave it out in your dog’s bowl

Freeze Dried Dog Food: Raw Ingredients With The Convenience Of Kibble

Another option is freeze dried dog food. This is a revolutionary form of dog food that offers all the nutritional benefits of raw, with all the ease and convenience of dry.

Freeze dried dog food contains the same fresh, uncooked raw meat and vegetables that make up raw dog food, but it has had all the moisture removed from it. Without any water content, bacterial growth is inhibited so freeze dried dog food has a much longer shelf life, and doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge or freezer like raw dog food.

Note: While the freeze-drying process inhibits bacterial growth, it doesn’t kill it, so you should still practise good hygiene when handling freeze-dried food as outlined above.

The gentle process used to remove the moisture preserves all the goodness and nutrients of the raw meat and vegetables used, unlike cooking. The absence of moisture also means that freeze dried dog food has a deliciously intense flavour that dogs just love!

Nature’s Variety provides a range of delicious, nutritionally complete freeze dried diets for dogs – along with tasty meal toppers and treats too.

Check out our blog all about freeze dried dog food for more information.

Wrapping Up

Raw dog food is a way to provide your pup with wholesome ingredients prepared just as nature intended, like their wild ancestors would have enjoyed. However it’s important to remember that our dogs have come a long way from wolves, and so have their nutritional needs. While raw diets can provide your dog with the nutrients they need, and potentially offer benefits to skin, coat and digestive health, it’s important to ensure that you’re providing your pup with a diet that is complete and balanced. Introducing complementary mixers is a great way to do this. Alternatively, other forms of natural dog food, like Nature’s Variety Freeze-dried dog food can offer the best of both worlds. For more information about all the different kinds of natural dog food available, visit our dedicated landing page.

Read more about natural pet food:
What is Natural Dog Food?
What is Natural Cat Food?
What is Freeze-Dried Dog Food?
Are Natural Dog Treats Good for Dogs?
Grain Free Dog Food: Everything You Need to Know

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