A series of educational pet nutrition blogs written by pet experts, just for pet parents.

Why Go Raw with Pet Food?

Posted on 01.26.2024

As raw diets and products for pets continue to increase in popularity and availability on the market, many pet owners have stopped to ask, “What makes a raw diet so different from a diet with more processed foods or kibble?”

A study by The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Equine and Small Animal Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland aimed to measure just that. They examined Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bone And Raw Food, both referred to as BARF, to study claims of potential health benefits.

A total of 632 dog owners shared the following outcomes after making the switch:

  • 91% saw improvement in skin conditions

  • 94% saw improvement in GI problems (digestive issues)

  • 97% saw improvement in eye issues

  • 66% saw improvement in urinary tract issues

Steve’s Real Food, a raw pet food company founded in 1998 and the first commercial raw diet to meet standards by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, maintains that a key component to raw food is the presence and preservation of enzymes which assist in the digestion and metabolic processes.

Many kibble varieties are produced at temperatures above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Raw foods contain numerous substances, including enzymes and phytochemicals, that humans and animals (including dogs and cats) need to function properly. These enzymes are deactivated or destroyed at temperatures above 118 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, and therefore are not present in processed dog foods.

Not all pets like the same format or type of food, processed or raw. So, Steve’s Real Food offers both frozen and freeze-fried options for both cats and dogs.

  • Steve’s Real Food Frozen Raw products come in tater-tot style nuggets and patties, and feature different diet types/flavors like pork, beef, and even fun flavors like turducken.

  • Steve’s Freeze-Dried Raw food features the same raw formulation, but flash-frozen to lock in the raw nutrition in a shelf-stable form. This formula doesn’t take up freezer space and can be taken on-the-go.

The impact of using human-grade ingredients free from pesticides, additives and preservatives is two-fold. Not only can whole ingredients be more gentle on a pet’s stomach or allergies, but toxins associated with processing are left out of the soil and groundwater. Utilization of local ingredients also cuts down on emissions associated with transporting ingredients or produce across countries or states.

Smallbatch Pets, family-owned company producing raw and gently-cooked food options for cats and dogs, also is known for utilizing organic produce and humanely-raised animals for the production of their raw and gently-cooked foods. 

Whole vegetables and herbs used in the recipes are certified organic, non-GMO and free of pesticides. Each protein is then supplemented with 20% of this organic produce and another 2% of natural supplements. This means that the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that pets of all ages and sizes need come from whole food sources. 

  • Smallbatch’s Raw Frozen Batch features a single-protein formula for each flavor (beef, turkey, lamb, rabbit, etc.) for both dogs and cats. 

  • Smallbatch Freeze-Dried flavors are the same raw formulation, but freeze-dried for easy travel, or to pair with another food during a transition, or even use as a nutritional topper.

Even with multiple raw food options, making the switch can feel intimidating. Those looking for help with starting a food switch can stop into your local Treats Unleashed for a free pet food consultation to help determine which food works best for your pet.

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