The purpose of feeding a raw food diet to a dog or cat is to promote the very best of health, so that they can live the healthiest and happiest life possible.
To do this a raw food needs to:
- Provide a rich and balanced supply of the nutrients the body needs to function as effectively as it can, in an easy to assimilate form.
- Leave out anything which is potentially harmful to health.
To help you choose the best product for your pet, we’ve compiled a simple checklist of what to look for in a raw food and why.
1. Source of the Ingredients
Animals reared and slaughtered in the UK are the freshest source of meat, bone and offal.
For this reason, raw food made from recently slaughtered animals reared in the UK will tend to be more nutritious than those made from frozen meat, and animal by-products imported from Europe.
Look out for: ‘Manufactured in the UK’ is NOT the same as stating that the meat, bone and offal used comes from UK farmed animals.
2. Defra Approved
For it to be legal (and safe), commercially produced raw food for pets has to be made by a Defra approved manufacturer.
This is to ensure that only meat, bone and offal which has been passed fit for human consumption are used, and that strict hygiene measures are adhered to – which includes regular microbiological testing for potential pathogens, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.
This helps to protect pets from the risks posed by unregulated products sold from the back of a van or elsewhere.
Look out for: an approved manufacturer number should be visible on the label or sleeve to show that the product is legally made.
3. Nutritional Analysis
In addition to displaying the Defra approved manufacturer number, a raw pet food label should also provide the following nutritional information:
% moisture; % protein; % fat, % ash and % fibre
This is important, because it shows that the food has been correctly analysed by a food laboratory. It also helps with choosing the best food for a pet, particularly those with health problems, such as poor body condition, kidney disease, digestive disturbances or pancreatitis, for example.
Look out for: if nutritional analysis figures aren’t displayed, the product doesn’t conform to animal feed regulations put in place for the protection of pets, and is therefore, best avoided.
Dogs and cats need a high percentage of good quality protein in the diet.
Lean muscle meat is the best source, as it supplies high quality protein which is easy to digest and provides a rich supply of the amino acids the body needs for optimum health.
Heart supplies less protein than lean meat and is harder to digest, but it is often used because it is a much cheaper alternative. The drawback with this however, is that if too much is fed (typically more than 10% of the raw food) it can cause diarrhoea and other problems – particularly in pets with health issues.
Tripe is the poorest source of protein out of the three, and the hardest to digest. Because of this, around twice as much needs to be fed to provide a similar amount of protein as muscle meat. It’s commonly used because it is cheap.
Look out for: a high percentage of lean muscle meat is the best choice (Vince the Vet Superfood Raw lamb and beef recipes for example, contain 70% of the highest grade meat, and our poultry recipes have extra muscle meat added).
If a lower grade meat is used (lots of gristle etc.) or a large proportion of heart and / or tripe, the nourishment provided by the food will be significantly less.
Organs are an important source of:
- essential fatty acids
- fat soluble vitamins
- trace elements
and other nutrients vital for nerve function, the immune system and the body’s natural healing mechanisms. And the 3 most nutritious are the heart, liver and kidneys, which is why these are best included – but in the correct amounts.
Look out for: if heart, liver or kidney are missing or are replaced by less nutritious organs such as tripe, lung or spleen, important nutrients may be in short supply and the benefits of feeding raw reduced.
Bone is a good source of calcium and other minerals for healthy teeth, bones and nerves. Also important for good bowel function and for emptying the anal glands.
Although the exact percentage in the diet which suits each pet varies, around 10% is good for most.
Look out for: too little or no bone can contribute to musculoskeletal, heart, nerve and bowel problems, whereas too much can cause constipation.
7. Vegetables, Fruits and Grains
There are 7 compelling reasons (these will be listed in an upcoming blog this week) not to include these or similar ingredients (such as herbs, botanicals and plant / fish oils, for example) in raw food for dogs and cats (or any other pet food for that matter – including tinned and dried).
Look out for: the more vegetables, fruits, grains and other ingredients there are, the higher the likelihood that a pet will experience health issues as a result – particularly if these are fed every day for long periods.
In addition to this, because they act as indigestible ‘fillers’ the higher the percentage of these in a food, the more has to be fed to compensate for the reduction in nutrient content. This increases the daily cost of feeding a pet in some cases, by 10%, 20% or even 30%.
A ‘complete’ raw pet food in theory, is one that supplies a dog or cat with ALL the nutrients they need to be healthy.
In reality however, it’s impossible to create such a food because:
The only way to truly ensure that a dog or cat receives a diet that is healthy, balanced and complete, AND promotes the very best of health, is to feed a high quality core raw food and to supplement with a small number of other, highly nutritious foods – as detailed here.
Look out for: don’t be misled by the word ‘complete’ on a product. It simply means that the raw food concerned satisfies EU regulations regarding the minimum levels of certain nutrients, and it is NOT a guarantee that is supplies all a pet needs nutritionally to be healthy.
And ‘complementary’ simply means that other foods need to be fed in addition to the product for a dog or cat to receive the nutrients necessary for optimum health – which is in fact true for all raw pet foods.
The make up of a raw food can markedly affect quality and whether it has a positive or negative impact on health.
The more ingredients there are for example, the greater the number of potential allergens present, and the higher the risk one or more of these will trigger problems in sensitive dogs and cats. These can include skin eruptions, itching, digestive disturbances, ear infections, anal sac problems and self-trauma to name but a few.
The inclusion of vegetables, fruits, grains and other additions exposes pets unnecessarily to potentially harmful pesticide residues, as explained earlier.
Poor quality ingredients lower nutritional value significantly along with the health benefits of feeding raw.
Unbalanced formulations such as too much or too little bone or the absence of high quality offal in the right proportions for example, can result in nutritional deficiencies and other problems
Look out for: a healthy blend of high quality meat, bone and offal is the best core raw diet. It’s easy to add other highly nutritious foods to this, to suit the individual needs of each particular pet.
The more finely ground a raw food is, the more the nutrients it contains are exposed to air and break down, and the quicker nutritional value declines.
Coarsely mincing on the other hand, preserves nutrient content for longer, slows eating down (for most pets!) which aids digestion, and for many dogs and cats is more pleasing than pate-like food.
Look out for: easily identifiable pieces of meat, bone and offal.
11. Nutritional Expertise
Feeding raw if done correctly, can promote the very best of health and help a pet live the healthiest and happiest life possible.
To achieve this, it’s important not only to feed a high quality core raw food, but to supplement to ensure that the diet:
- is completely baklanced
- supplies all the nutrients necessary for optimum well-being
- takes into account the individual needs and circumstances of a dog or cat
This means taking into account genetic make up, breed, age, sex, medical history, activity, temperament, environment and many other factors.
This isn’t always easy – but with 30+ years clinical expertise, we’re experts at it.
And so, when you purchase Vince the Vet Superfood Raw, you have the reassurance of knowing that not only are you giving your pet the highest quality raw food, which is specially formulated to promote the very best of health, you also have access to nutritional advice provided by an expert Holistic Vet.
‘Yes’ for each of the following is best.
1. UK farmed animals = Yes / No
2. Defra approved number = Yes / No
3. Nutritional analysis figures = Yes / No
4. Protein – high lean meat content = Yes / No
5. Offal – heart, liver and kidney = Yes / No
6. Bone – approximately 10% = Yes / No
7. Vegetable, fruit and grain free = Yes / No
8. Meat, bone and offal 80 / 10 / 10 = Yes / No (ignore ‘complete’)
9. Ingredients = low in number high in quality = Yes / No
10.Texture = coarsely ground = Yes / No
11. Nutritional Expertise = Yes / No
Vince the Vet Superfood Raw – request your FREE bespoke feeding plan today by emailing ‘Raw Diet’ to firstname.lastname@example.org