Raw dog and cat food is the closest your pet can get to their ancestral diet. Keep reading to learn the benefits of a raw food diet and how to safely feed raw food to your pet.
What is a Raw Food Diet?
A raw food diet simply means that the food has not been cooked. The ancestors of cats and dogs lived off raw meat in the wild and it provided all the moisture and nutrients they needed to thrive. The healthiest, least-processed diet for your pet is still a raw diet that mirrors their ancestral diet (typically, 90-98% meat, organs, and bone).
Since raw pet food does not undergo any heat treatment that comes with baking or cooking, the food remains in its natural state and retains its nutritional value.
What are the Benefits of a Raw Food Diet for Dogs and Cats?
Healthy teeth & gums
Ground bone works as a mild abrasive to help remove plaque and natural enzymes work chemically in your pet’s mouth to promote clean teeth and healthy gums.
Minimally processed raw foods digest more gently and efficiently. Your pet may even have smaller, firmer, and less frequent stools due to their body utilizing so much of the food. Stella & Chewy’s raw diets also include added probiotics to promote optimal digestion and support optimal gut flora.
Vibrant skin & coat
The natural oils and omega fatty acids in raw foods support healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Stamina & vitality
A strong inclusion of meat organs, and ground bone support lean strong muscles.
What are Risks of Raw Food for Pets?
If you’re buying and feeding your pet raw meat straight from the store or butcher (not a raw diet specifically formulated for pets), it’s important to understand the potential risks. The best thing you can do as a pet parent to stay safe is to wash your hands with soap and water after preparing or handling the food.
Uncooked meats, particularly ones that aren’t human-grade, can carry infected eggs that can potentially lead to parasites, like worms, in your dog’s body.
Raw meat can carry bacteria such as E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella that can make you or your pet very sick. However, dogs and cats have a shorter digestive tract and a more acidic gut environment that makes them less susceptible to these bacteria than humans. This is why their ancestors eating raw prey didn’t go extinct from contracting bacteria.
If you’re creating your own diet for your pet using raw foods, you may not be fulfilling their nutritional needs. Pet foods are specifically formulated to meet AAFCO Nutrient Profiles to offer complete and balanced nutrition for your cat or dog that includes appropriate levels of vitamins, minerals, and other important nutrients. Your pet may be nutrient-deficient if you don’t take the necessary steps to ensure you’re feeding a balanced meal. Consult with your veterinarian or someone who formulates pet foods to determine if your pet is getting the nutrients they need.
How Do I Safely Feed Raw Food to My Dog or Cat?
Commercial Raw Pet Food
The easiest way to feed your cat or dog a real raw diet is to give them raw pet food that is biologically appropriate and specially formulated to meet their needs. Purchasing a pre-made raw pet food is not only convenient for you, but means your pet is getting complete and balanced nutrition. Many raw pet food brands also go to great lengths to ensure the safety of their raw foods which can eliminate that concern for you.
Stella & Chewy’s offers frozen raw and freeze-dried raw diets for both cats and dogs. We HPP (high-pressure process) all of our raw foods to effectively eliminate any harmful pathogens. We then send all batches to be tested for E.coli, Salmonella, and Listeria and list these results on our website so you can look up your product LOT number for peace of mind. Learn more about our food safety.
Frozen Raw Patties and Freeze-Dried Raw Patties for dogs mirror an ancestral diet with 85-95% meat, organs, and bone. Recipes offer complete and balanced nutrition and include certified organic fruits and vegetables, along with probiotics and antioxidants to support whole-body health.
Frozen Raw Morsels and Freeze-Dried Raw Morsels for cats mirror a feline’s ancestral diet with 98% meat, organs, and bone. These diets offer complete and balanced nutrition, along with probiotics and antioxidants to help your cat thrive.
FAQs About Raw Food Diets for Pets
As with any new food, you should always start with a slow transition over 7-10 days. Introducing a new food or new food type, like raw, too quickly can lead to stomach upset or diarrhea. Here are some tips for transitioning dogs to new food and tips for transitioning cats to new food.
Our frozen dinner patties or morsels should be gently defrosted overnight in a covered container in the refrigerator. If you are using our frozen dinner morsels, these can be defrosted in a bowl on your counter for 10-20 minutes. Please note that our products should never be cooked, heated, or microwaved.
Our Freeze-Dried Raw products for dogs or cats are a convenient, shelf-stable option for feeding raw without taking up space in your freezer or needing to be defrosted.
Our freeze-dried raw food can be fed dry or rehydrated prior to feeding. If you choose to use the products dry, please be sure your pet is drinking plenty of water at mealtime. If your pet is not a big drinker, or you are afraid that they may not get enough water, then we would suggest rehydrating the food with cool or warm (never hot) water or broth prior to feeding. If fed dry, the food can sit out for up to 12 hours prior to discarding. If fed rehydrated, the food can sit out for up to 2 hours.
If your dog doesn’t have any food allergies or sensitivities, switching proteins can be a good idea; it may help prevent intolerances and allergies from developing. We suggest feeding 1 flavor for 2-6 weeks, then switching to a different flavor for 2-6 weeks, etc. No transition is needed between proteins for most dogs.
Stella & Chewy’s Raw and Natural Pet Food
Want to learn more about the benefits of raw pet food? Read more about how to feed your dog or cat a raw and natural diet on Our Blog: For the Pet Obsessed.