Dog sounded by raw food and question marks to illustrate controversy around the raw food diet.

An in-depth look at the pros and cons of feeding a raw food diet to your pets.

When it comes to pet food, there are more varieties available now than there ever have been. Between dry kibble, canned food, freeze-dried, air-dried, gently cooked, and raw it can be overwhelming to choose what is right for your pet. In this article, we will focus strictly on raw food and whether or not it is a good fit for your family pet(s).

Pet owner putting on glove as they prepare raw food for their pet

Do you have somewhere to store raw food?

The first consideration is storage. Whether you decide to embark on making your own raw food, or you are buying it from one of the Benson’s Pet Center locations (or having it delivered), you’ll need a place to store and thaw it. If purchasing commercial raw frozen food, the amount you’ll buy at one time will depend on a few factors.

  1. How many animals are you feeding?
  2. How much will they consume per day?
  3. How often do you plan to go to the store?

Here’s an example: 2 small dogs (25 lbs and 15lbs) go through roughly (1) 6-pound bag of Instinct Raw per week. I can fit (2) 6-pound bags in the freezer comfortably. Therefore I will need to go to the store every 2 weeks. This is reasonable for me and no chest freezer is needed.

Those who choose to make their own raw food typically need a chest freezer as the process can be a big project that gets done as a large batch and stored so it doesn’t have to be done as often. It’s also more cost-effective to buy larger quantities of some ingredients (especially the meat), to get the most bang for your buck, a larger batch is usually the way to go.

You’ll also need space and container(s) to thaw the next meal of raw food. Glass containers are great as they are the easiest to get completely clean as plastic has very small pores that can hold bacteria. If you choose to use plastic containers just make sure they are washed thoroughly with very hot water. We recommend thawing raw food in the refrigerator rather than the countertop.

Use extra care when portioning and feeding raw food as salmonella and other illnesses can occur if handled improperly. You may choose to wear gloves when portioning and feeding, or to simply wash your hands with hot soapy water once you are done handling raw food. Be sure to use an anti-bacterial agent to wipe down countertops, refrigerator and freezer handles, and anything else you touch during the process.

Dog chewing on a $100 bill

What is your budget?

If you’ve discovered that you do, in fact, have room to store and thaw raw frozen food, the next thing to consider is your budget. Though raw food is the closest thing your pets will get to the diet their bodies were made to eat, it can be costly. We can certainly make an argument for investing money in the healthiest foods to eliminate or at least reduce funds spent at the vet due to medical problems caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and poor nutrition. However, it’s hard to argue with an empty bank account. There are numerous brands of commercial raw food, and they range in price. If even the most cost-effective brand doesn’t work for you, you might consider pricing the ingredients to make your own raw food. The process can be pretty involved and is certainly more than just buying meat and giving it to your pets. You’ll need to supplement the meat with other ingredients to make up the required nutrients to keep your pets healthy. Cats and dogs need complete and balanced meals (just like humans) and that’s a big pro when it comes to commercially prepared food. We pay for the convenience of not having to source each individual ingredient.

Dog chewing on raw meat

Some is better than none

If you have concluded that you don’t have the space and/or budget for a fully raw diet for your pets, you can always do a combination of raw and dry or canned food. You can purchase frozen raw food and replace a small amount of kibble or canned food with raw. There are also several brands of kibble that do a freeze-dried raw food coating on their dry food. If space is the issue, then freeze-dried or air-dried food might be the solution. It is the same quality as frozen raw, just without the water so it’s much smaller and shelf-stable. Or maybe you’ve read this whole article as a vegetarian human and you’re totally grossed out at the thought of raw meat. We get it. The good news is, some brands are a lot easier to pretend that they aren’t what they really are and are formed into patties or nibblets that resemble kibble. The sight can be a little easier to handle than a floppy raw turkey neck staring at you from the freezer. But if animal parts don’t phase you we have great news! We sell a wide variety of raw and dried animal parts for your pets to enjoy.

Whether you decide raw food is right for your pets or not, the most important thing is that your pets are fed regularly, they have access to fresh water, and that they feel safe and cared for.

Have Questions About Raw Food?

Benson’s has been helping pet owners in the Capital Region and Western Massachusetts with all their pet care needs. Our experts work with pet owners, answering all your questions and offering recommendations based on your needs.

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