Top Benefits of a Raw Diet for Dogs & Cats | Happy RAWgust!

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As we learn more about how proper nutrition can benefit us as humans, the topic of our pets’ diets gains more attention as well. August has become know as RAWgust in the natural holistic health community. It originated as a holiday to encourage people to consume more raw foods themselves, and then it started gaining traction with the advocates of a raw diet for our pets.
This month is all about the benefits of a raw diet and the best way to safely transition your pets to this kind of feeding method! You could always join your pet on their raw food journey to optimal health and start consuming a raw diet suited for humans – try incorporating more raw nuts, fruits, and veggies into your diet – go for it! Any journey is always better with a buddy.

The Kibble Problem

Grain-based pet food that you buy in the grocery store is often full of preservatives and may be highly processed. Whole grains, in general, are not entirely unhealthy for dogs (or even for cats in small amounts), but a lot of generic pet food brands contain low-quality ingredients, artificial dyes, and flavors, and may have other chemicals that can lead to problems with digestion over time.   This is why more and more people are opting to put their pets on a raw feeding regimen. Raw feeding can lead to shinier coats due to healthier skin, help domesticated animals maintain a healthy weight more easily, support better breath and improved dental health, and increase energy levels!

Carnivorous Cats

As obligate carnivores, cats’ digestive tracts are made for meat. Raw diets can benefit our feline friends greatly, as it is often more difficult for them than it is for dogs to break down and absorb nutrients from the grains and vegetable proteins in many dry or processed foods.  
Obligate carnivores, depend only on meat for survival. Their bodies cannot digest plants properly. Plants do not provide enough nutrients for obligate carnivores. All cats, from small house cats to huge tigers, are obligate carnivores.
  feline_nutrition_foundation_taurine_infographic_printableTaurine is an essential nutrient that all cats need in their diet. Unlike herbivores or omnivores, cats are not able to synthesize the taurine they need from other amino acids like methionine and cysteine.   Taurine is found naturally in raw meat and organs, but it is water-soluble. So it leaches out when meats are cooked. This is just one reason why a raw diet is preferred to a cooked one when it comes to ensuring proper levels of usable taurine.   The Feline Nutrition Foundation is a fantastic resource for learning more about your cat’s digestive needs. For instance, they debunked the common pro-kibble argument that cats’ teeth benefit from a crunchy diet. “When in contact with the saliva, the high content of carbohydrates, or polysaccharides, in the pellet is released and adheres to the surface of the teeth, causing the first stage in the formation of tartar and periodontal disease, dental plaque.”   Those who make homemade raw food for their cats should be sure to include not only high-quality raw meat, but internal organs, ground bone for calcium and phosphorus, and other vitamin supplements.

Raw Diets for Dogs

Though dogs are omnivores and naturally have more grains and vegetables in their diet than cats, low-quality grains and other fillers can cause digestive and weight problems, among other health issues.   A raw diet for a dog should also include meat, ground bones or raw bones (never cooked bones, as they can splinter and injure your dog), and organs such as liver. Additionally, dogs can and should have some fresh vegetables such as carrots, green beans, and broccoli, as well as some safe fruits including bananas, apples, and blueberries.   Dr. Karen Becker interviews DogRisk founder Dr. Anna Hielm-Björkman about their special program and how, through their groundbreaking research, they strive to learn more about how nutritional, environmental, and genetic factors influence dogs’ health.  

Homemade vs. Commerical

Crafting a well-rounded and nutritious raw feeding diet for your dog or cat can be time-consuming, confusing, and expensive. You may also run the risk of your pet having vitamin and mineral deficiencies if their diet is not inclusive enough or if your ingredients or recipes change slightly over time.   For this reason, buying raw food from reputable sources is a great option for people that want to ensure that their pet receives proper nutrition. These pre-made raw diet foods are specially formulated to have all of the necessary nutrients, all while being completely fresh and natural. Your neighborhood pet health shop will be your best resource for finding and acquiring the diet that best suits your pet. Local shops often guarantee their foods and offer samples, making the matchmaking process a simple one. Bonus, many shops also offer Shop Local Frequent Buyer Programs and Astro Offers on their raw diets making them even more accessible!   Raw diets are also a great idea for pets that have grain allergies or seem to have food sensitivities in general. Added grains and plant sources aren’t the ends of the world, but transitioning from dry kibble and other processed foods to raw feeding may come with benefits to your furry friend’s health, happiness, and longevity.

About The Author

Katherine Carbonaro Kat lives in a spooky house surrounded by farmland in Hillsborough, NC, and couldn't be happier! Her two beloved cats, MeNow and Mr. Bumbles were both bottle-fed and raised by her. Huxley, her faithful companion, is estimated to be around 16 years old but still enjoys his daily mile-long walks and occasional hikes, a testament to the power of proper nutrition. Long live Neighborhood Pet!