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COVER STORY

What exactly is the raw food diet and is it right for your pup? Tips and guidelines from leaders of the local raw movement can help you decide.

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aw diets for dogs and cats are now readily available in most urban areas, and a good many consumers are starting to hear about the benefits of feeding a raw diet. It is important first to understand what comprises a whole, balanced, raw diet for dogs and cats, and then to know the benefits and risks, and how to safely transition them over.

What is the Raw Diet? By Pennye Jones-Napier Optimally, whether preparing a balanced raw diet at home or using a whole, balanced commercial raw diet, the same ingredients must be present in order to make a good raw diet a whole raw diet: n raw meaty bones n muscle meat and organ meat n eggs, dairy, and micronutrients n fruits and vegetables in a limited amount. People who feed their pets significant amounts of raw meat must ensure the diets are properly balanced, or the animals could be at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Today, pet owners have many more options available for feeding their pets a good, whole commercial raw diet than there were a decade ago. Every commercial diet contains the above ingredients in varying percentages to create a balanced formula, based on the company’s internal animal nutritionist’s guidelines.

Why Feed Raw? Since the 1890s, the use of dry foods has become more and more prevalent for a variety of reasons, so why the change back to a more traditional way of feeding your companion animals? First, we have to travel back in time to nutritional studies done on cats by Dr. Francis M. Pottenger. These nutritional studies showed a regular diet of cooked or canned foods caused the development of chronic degenerative diseases and premature mortality, while the “control” group of felines in the study thrived on a raw food diet and their offspring were healthier with less initial losses at the birthing. This was followed in the early 1980s by a recommendation from Dr. Richard Pitcairn, who suggested a diet of raw and whole foods for your pets versus the commercial dry dog and cat foods on the market. He states, “All processed pet foods—whether sold in cans, bags, or frozen packages, in either giant supermarket chains or local health food stores—are missing something that seems to me to be one of the most important ‘nutrients’ of all. This key ingredient is something nutritional scientists have practically ignored. But when it’s there, you and I

WHERE DID IT COME FROM? “After the tragic deaths in 2007 of thousands of dogs and cats due to tainted pet food ingredients, safe ingredient sourcing needed to become a priority, says Carole King, owner of Pawgevity Food for Pets. “Fortunately, there is a growing movement of consumers looking not only for quality, human grade ingredients for their beloved companions but for foods made from ingredients that are locally sourced, grown and raised using organic methods,” says King. Traceability is a major factor— when ingredients are grown and raised locally and aren’t traveling around the world or being shipped and passing through multiple hands, a manufacturer can have a better and more thorough tracking system—from farm to bowl.

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NOVADog Magazine Winter 2012