The Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding a Raw Pet Food Diet

Written on Thursday, December 6th, 2012
The Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding a Raw Pet Food Diet

Making Good Choices

Feeding a raw diet to your pet is as natural as it gets and it's important to understand the safest way to go about it. Any diet has its health risks when fed incorrectly so it's crucial to educate yourself before getting started. Proper food handling & storage and monitoring your pets' health are important parts of being a responsible pet owner. Following the guidelines below will keep you and your pets safe, healthy and happy.

Quality Matters

Raw foods served to your pet should be guaranteed human-grade quality. It is unsafe to feed below human quality meats. You cannot compose a balanced diet if you are not certain of what you are feeding. Ensure that all raw foods that you provide to your pet came from healthy, human grade animals.

Handling Raw Food

Raw pet foods should be flash frozen after being packaged. When preparing raw meats for feeding, ensure that meats are served fresh and within 48 hours of being thawed. Food should be set down for your pet for no longer than 15-20 minutes at which time, they should be covered and stored in the refrigerator until the next feeding. If food smells rancid, it should be discarded. Wash all surfaces and dishes used with soap and water as you would after preparing your own meats.

Monitoring Your Pet

Your pets' health should be monitored by making note of his or her stools, urination, thirst, appetite and energy level. These signs will help you to determine the health status of your pet. If any of these become abnormal before, during or after switching to the raw diet, contact your veterinarian. During a switch from dry to raw diet, you might notice a decrease in thirst and stool size. These are healthy adjustments that will gradually happen over the course of the switch. Lethargy, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, and vomiting are abnormal and should be addressed with your veterinarian.

Additionally, monitor pets when they eat whole raw bones.

Switching Safely

Making the switch from commercial foods to a natural diet should be done gradually and with the help of your raw food provider or a holistic veterinarian. It can take up to one month for your pet to fully adjust to the new diet. Ensure that no whole bones are fed for the first month and that dry food and raw food are fed at separate meals.

Do's and Don'ts

Do's:

DO Ensure all raw foods are frozen fresh and of human-grade
DO Refrigerate all thawed raw foods and feed within 48 hours of being thawed
DO Wash surfaces and hands as you would after handling your own meats in the kitchen
DO Monitor your pet's stools, urine, thirst, appetite and energy level before, during and after the switch to raw
DO See your vet if you suspect illness of any kind
DO Wait 1 month after switching to introduce whole bones into the raw diet
DO Monitor your pet while they eat whole bones
DO Contact your raw food provider with any questions you may have about the diet

Don'ts:

DON'T Feed foul-smelling meat to your pet and discard such foods in a garbage can that is not accessible to your pet
DON'T Leave raw food out for pets to "nibble" & refrigerate in between feedings
DON'T Rapidly switch your pet from dry food to raw food or feed both at the same time
DON'T Feed bones to a pet that is newly switching to a raw diet or to a pets eating a dry food diet
DON'T Ignore signs of digestive disturbance such as diarrhea, vomiting, PU/PD (excess thirst & urination) and lethargy as these can be diet-related issues

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