Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Raw Diets For Pets vs. Kibble

Raw Frozen Diets

When it comes to pet food, commercially prepared raw frozen diets are the gold standard. Raw frozen diets contain fresh protein (meat, poultry, etc) combined with vegetables and omega oils giving pets easily digestible, optimal nutrition that is low in carbohydrates. Some major brands include: Stella and Chewys, Instinct, Primal for example. Raw frozen diets can be especially helpful for pets with allergies, digestive problems and young, active pets. These are high protein diets containing real meat and poultry, organ meats, vegetables, omega oils and assorted nutrients. The ingredients are well balanced and speak for themselves.

Raw frozen diets are expensive and some cats won't eat them. Raw frozen diets don't have to be an all or nothing part of the pet's diet. Mixing a portion of raw frozen diets into your pet's food is a great option and is far better than not mixing in any at all. Many brands have tasty raw "mixers" and freeze dried raw options that pets will eat readily.

Pets that eat a raw frozen diet are getting a high moisture content which promotes overall health. This is why pets that eat raw frozen diets drink less water. The food is highly digestible so the stool size is often much smaller especially when compared to dry kibble. Since raw frozen diets are low in carbohydrates, they are an excellent choice for pets with allergies and/or yeast.

Dry Kibble Diets

Dry kibble is highly processed pet food made with carbohydrates to form the food along with a limited amount of protein. A portion of the protein percentage reported on the label is often derived from the starchy carbohydrates (e.g. potatoes) rather than from meat, fish or poultry. The primary reason dry kibble is produced is for convenience--not for your pet's nutrition. Carbohydrates used to make kibble range from grain-free legumes and potatoes to the less healthy grains such as rice and barley. Dry kibble can lead to bloat, yeast, itching, poor digestion since their ingredients are made for ease of administration. It can also contribute to autoimmune disorders in both cats and dogs.

Dry kibble is affordable and processed with preservatives to ensure a long shelf-life. Pets eating dry kibble often have large stools since many of the ingredients are not well digested. Cats are carnivores and have no need for dry kibble and yet, most cat foods are made with them. If you do choose to feed your pet dry kibble, please consider adding some raw frozen, canned or homemade food to their diet (NOT tablescraps!). Including lean protein, crumbled raw freeze dried or some raw frozen nuggets will add to their overall nutrition and good health. At the very least, consider adding green beans and other fresh vegetables to a dog's dry kibble to add enzymes and fresh nutrients to the diet.

When You Have To Leave Food Out

Dry kibble is a convenient way to leave food out for pets especially for working professionals. While free feeding is not optimal, sometimes it is a necessity when you are working long hours. We love our pets but we have to work. If this is your current situation, consider feeding dry kibble when you are not home and raw when you are OR as an even better alternative - consider RAW FREEZE DRIED. Raw freeze dried food is made with the same ingredients as the raw frozen diets but cooked slightly at low temperatures to make it a stable food that can be left out (if your pet doesn't devour it). Brands such as Stella and Chewys and Instinct offer companion freeze dried foods to their raw frozen diets for just this reason.

Finally, dehydrated food is made to appear as a "homemade alternative" and is also made with carbohydrates but these diets generally contain more nutritious ingredients and can be mixed with raw frozen diets. Due to the carbohydrates in most dehydrated food, these diets are not nearly as beneficial as raw frozen diets, but their convenience makes them a healthier option than over processed dry kibble.

Why Are Too Many Carbohydrates A Problem?

Why are too many carbohydrates a problem? Carbohydrates convert to sugar and can lead to yeast, diabetes and even cancer. Most notably they can affect immunity and worsen autoimmune disorders. Many cat owners with autoimmune disorders such as stomatitis are feeding their cats dry food not realizing that the carbohydrates in the food are worsening their cat's condition---the carbohydrates convert to sugar feeding the bacteria in the mouth. Moreover, while protein and fats are slow to be digested, the sugar from carbohydrates are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, spiking (and then dropping) insulin making pets hungry faster. Is your dog always acting starved? Could be that your dog is eating a kibble diet loaded with carbohydrates.

In summary, finding the right balance that works for your lifestyle, budget and your pet's well being can be accomplished by choosing different forms of food. If at all possible, try to incorporate something fresh (vegetables or lean protein) into your pet's diet.