Pet owners are often in a dilemma when deciding whether to feed commercial raw food or to prepare raw diet for their pets. We have never been able to recommend a commercial raw brand available locally for other pet owners. When asked why, our answer is always, if we don’t feed it we can’t recommend it. Below we list some of our concerns with both types of raw feeding and again, we urge you to read with an open mind. The post is not intended to pinpoint any one brand or tarnish any brand’s image, this post is based solely on our opinion.
*For convenient purposes, self-prepared raw will be referred to as DIY raw.
The one good thing about commercial raw is of course, convenience. The food is readily prepared and supposedly balanced for our dogs. Very often all you need to do is defrost, or add water to rehydrate the freeze-dried edition. It saves a lot of time and effort.
Commercial Raw brands are absurdly expensive in our opinion. Most of the brands available here cost at least one time more than the original price. And this is what you have to pay for in exchange for convenience. If you own only one dog, arguably its not that expensive. If you own big dogs or many small dogs, you know that commercial raw is no way feasible for most of us.
We do not include vegetables and fruits our dogs’ staple diet. Many commercial raw brands include fruits, vegetables and egg into their food. The way we see it, they are trying to please consumers more than mimicking what dogs will eat in the wild. Dogs and wolves alike are opportunistic carnivores, they thrive on meat. When given the chance, they might enjoy a few berries, seeds and nuts in the wild and probably a certain amount of green tripe (the stomach content of their prey). Do they get access to berries everyday in the wild? No. In most commercial brands you find apples, oranges, lettuce, cabbage and all kinds of vegetables in the ingredient lists. Do cows get whole apples or lettuce or cabbage? We hardly think so. In our opinion, green tripe mostly consists of grass and herbs probably and most of the time wolves and wild dogs shake the stomach content and devour the stomach lining instead. Therefore, in our opinion, while occasionally feeding is acceptable, fruits, vegetables and eggs should not make up a permanent percentage in our dogs’ food.
Grass Fed and Grass finished
Grass fed meat and Grass finished meat, are they the same? Many commercial raw offers grass fed meat. But grass fed does not meat grass finished. Grass finished can also mean grain or corn fed but finished on grass. Grass fed livestocks are often fattened before slaughtering with grains and corns. Only Grass fed AND finished meat are truly raised and finished on grass. Honestly, we don’t think its a big deal unless specific allergies shows up when you feed supermarket-bought-meat of course.
Jaw Exercise and Breath
By eating healthy and balance food, the dog’s mouth should not smell, or so we thought. We were surprised by so many dogs that we have met with terrible breaths even though they are fed with premium food. When searching for the problem, the answer was clear. With commercial raw, the food is almost always grounded. Dogs hardly need to move their jaws, all they need to do is swallow. On the other hand, dogs on kibbles have significantly better breath, at the very least, they get to chomp on the kibbles. One of the causes of bad breath is cause by plagues and tartar. By feeding your dog with bones that are not grounded, it helps to keep those teeth clean. Dogs have canines and premolars to carry and tear their food. They rarely chew on their food, which is why if you give a dog grounded food, they are just going to swallow it. Young healthy dogs are fully capable of tearing their own food and chomping into swallowable size. It give those jaws good workouts and it keeps them stimulated. At the same time, it keeps their teeth clean.
Ratios and Proportions
Many commercial raw brands will list their ratios between meat and vegetables on their packaging. For example, 75% meat, 25% vegetables or 90% meat, 10% others. Did you know, balancing the meat-to-bone-to-organ ratio is far more important than one might think. In general, 80% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, 5% other organs is the right balance. And this important ratio is mostly missing from commercial raw brands. How much of that 75% or 90% meat is bone? and how much is liver? Liver is a non replaceable organ in raw diet. Heart on the other hand, although listed by many brands as organ, is NOT an organ in raw diet dictionary. Heart does not secrete any fluids and it is considered a muscle meat. So we dare say that if the brand that you are feeding lists Heart as an organ, you feed an imbalanced organ ratio for your dog.
Are you really feeding a balanced and proportionated diet with the commercial raw?
Know Thy Stools
Some dogs need more bones than others. Some dogs do well on pork and some on mutton. Some do well on lean meat. With commercial raw, you will never know this. All you know is that this brand gives a good solid stool to your dog. Not only to your dog, the food probably gives good solid stool to 99% of dogs on the diet. How much bone content does it need to get a solid stool from so many dogs? More than 10% we presume? Whatever that is passed out from the dog is what they did not digest and absorb. We have seen a dog passing a whole slice of orange with flesh intact. Most of our dogs do not poop everyday, its safe to say that we now understand what kind of meat they are able to absorb and what kind of meat they will most likely poop the remainder out.
Risk of D.I.Y Raw
Feeding D.I.Y raw takes a little knowledge and a little guts. Every dog is different, before you find the perfect formula for your dog, you need to understand the basic needs and ratios to balance. Then you have to adjust it according to your own convenience and your dog’s needs. Not all dogs will react well when you first start and many owners will give up after seeing how their dogs get diarrheas and vets too will discourage you from it. While preparing your own raw diet comes with a string of benefits, if you do not balance it well, you will take the risk of feeding your dog an imbalance diet.
By preparing our own raw diet for our dogs, we are able to make sure of what they have ate and in what proportion and we get to rotate their food every single day. Different meat, different parts of meat, different organs, different bones. Every one of our dogs is slightly different. Some need more bone content, some are able to devour a whole meal of organs, some need 2% of their weight, some needs 4%. Adjusting a little everyday base on their needs helps us understand them more each day. Although it is highly impossible to be 100% accurate on the ratios and proportions, we believe in balance over time. Meat shopping has become a hobby and we find raw feeding a pleasure. Last but not very least, it saves a ton of money.