What's the Deal With Raw Meat?

About five years ago, I wrote an article for our newsletter that addressed this very question. In that article, titled “What’s The Deal With Raw Meat?”, I talked about how folks have been feeding raw meat to pets for decades, and that most of our customers feed raw dog food — some for as long as thirteen years. Five years have passed since that article was written and we remain strong advocates of raw pet food. In fact, we have yet to hear of a single negative digestive reaction to fresh, raw meat. Since I wrote that article, feeding raw meat to pets has become almost a mainstream phenomenon — something I would not have imagined back then! At that time, we were one of the only companies advocating a raw pet food. Now there are hundreds of companies across the country that market raw meat diets. And members of the American Holistic Veterinary Association have been recommending raw meat diets for nearly thirty years.

Why raw meat? We believe that a raw pet food diet provides the foundation for a healthy immune system resulting in healthier skin, teeth, and coat as well as a reduction in allergies, and an overall improvement in health and disposition. Simply put, raw meat contains an abundance of heat-sensitive nutrients, trace minerals, and amino acids that are otherwise destroyed in the cooking process. We see pets on raw diets having less dog health problems, living longer, visiting the vet less frequently, and even behaving better.

The concept is really quite simple. The dictionary definition of dog is, “A domesticated carnivorous mammal (Canis familiaris) related to foxes and wolves and raised in a wide variety of breeds.” Cat, according to the dictionary, is defined as being “A small carnivorous mammal (Felis catus or F. domesticus) domesticated since early times as a catcher of rats and mice and as a pet and existing in several distinctive breeds and varieties.” The key word in both of these definitions is “carnivorous”. Dogs and cats have been designed by nature to not only tolerate, but to thrive on raw meat. Humans (who don’t tolerate raw meat well) worry that their pets will get sick from the bacteria that has been found in raw meat — but actually the digestive system of a dog or cat is shorter and stronger than that of humans, and can withstand bacteria. Just because dogs and cats have been domesticated does not mean that their digestive systems have changed from those of their wild ancestors. If that were the case, dogs and cats would probably develop bacterial infections every time they “cleaned their bottoms”, ate feces, or showed up with dead critters proudly hanging from their mouths. Think about the world around you as it relates to diet in the animal kingdom. Bears eat raw elk, snakes eat raw mice, birds eat raw worms. Even the Zoo keeper throws raw steak to the lions and raw fish to the seals. In our experience over the last eighteen years, dogs and cats also thrive on raw meat, whether they live in the forest, on the family farm, or in your home.

Still, we are not a company that says you can only feed raw dog food. In fact, we carry a full line of baked all natural dog treats. We won’t twist your arm and say you can only use our holistic dog food mixed with raw meat. There will always be a certain percentage of people uncomfortable with the idea of feeding raw meat. For these folks we simply suggest replacing the nutrients lost in the cooking process with a natural vitamin/mineral supplement such as The Missing Link®, which we carry for our direct customers. And you can always sterilize meat with grapefruit seed extract or human-quality hydrogen peroxide if you’re still worried. Freezing meat solid can also help by rupturing the cell membranes of bacteria, weakening or killing them. For those who choose to feed raw, as the majority of our customers do, we recommend starting a pet very gradually if feeding raw meat for the first time. And we recommend following the same safe-food-handling procedures people follow when preparing meat for themselves (i.e. disinfecting the counter and cutting board, washing hands, etc.). When purchasing either cuts of meat or ground meat, make sure it is fresh and healthy-colored (though any store-bought meat is much higher in quality than the meat byproducts commonly used in traditional cooked dog foods). Also, always keep meat refrigerated or frozen. Raw meat will stay fresh in the fridge for about 4-5 days. Finally, if you have any lingering fears or problems, talk to a holistic veterinarian to help you decide what is best for your companion animal, or give us a call at 1-888-867-6567.