Yesterday I started discussing raw food diets. Today I will talk about some options for those wishing to use raw food diets. Two main things to consider with raw food diets are the need to supplement your animals and the safety of raw meats. Many veterinary organizations including the American Veterinary Medical Association discourage the use of raw diets due to these issues. You or your animals can get sick if raw diets are not handled properly. This is why it’s important to talk about raw diets with the vet.
Homemade Raw Food Diets
If you’re the type of person who will take all the necessary steps to make sure you’re feeding the right amount of nutrients and handle raw meat diets properly (And what if you go on vacation? Do you have someone who can feed this diet for you?), then raw meat diets may be an option for you and your pet.
The nice thing about homemade diets is that you know everything that went into your pet’s food. The downside is that it can be a lot of work. Raw foods must be at the proper temperatures, cannot sit in the refrigerator for too long, and you must wash your pets’ food bowls, your hands and the surfaces where the food is being handled. And as I mentioned yesterday, Dr. Kerr’s study points to the fact that we should supplement our cats depending on the meat source we chose.
Commercial Raw Food Diets
If you’re not ready to make the commitment to making food for your pet (I understand, it’s hard enough for me to make food for myself and my family let alone my demanding cat), but still want to try raw foods you could consider commercial raw food diets. Keep in mind, although these are commercially produced you still must maintain them at the proper temperatures, and exercise good hygiene as you would with the homemade raw diets.
Although there have been recent recalls of some raw pet foods, I still think that commercial raw food producers make sure their food is safe for your pet to eat (which is why they are recalling the food, because they don’t want you pet to get sick).
Raw diets are growing in the pet food industry and I expect more companies will start making raw diets for cats. There are two important things to remember:
- The company making the food – I recommend buying a brand with a name you recognize. This can be hard for someone not in the veterinary world (to be honest, it’s hard for those in the veterinary world too). Your vet may know of some good brands, producing raw foods so if you’re interested, they may be able to give you some recommendations.
- The AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement – Read the bag/can of your pet food and you should find a statement that talks about what life stage the food is designed for (such as adult, kitten); and how to feed the food (such as for maintenance, growth or supplemental feeding). This statement will also tell you if the food has gone through feeding trials (tested on animals) or is formulated (ingredients are chosen based on guidelines, but has not been tested on animals) to meet the nutritional needs of animals. The FDA has more information on pet food labels you may be interested in. When in doubt, talk to a veterinary technician or your vet, they can help you sort out what all the language on pet food labels mean.