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The interest in feeding pets with a raw diet is increasing worldwide.
However, is a raw food diet safe for dogs?
Does it pose a health risk to our furry friends?.
Does it pose a health risk to the household?
Let’s get down to the basics of frozen raw dog food and address your safety concerns.
Frozen raw dog food is made from uncooked meat of animals, ranging from the common chicken to the atypical kangaroo flesh. At times, there are pet-friendly vegetables mixed in to provide a varied and balanced diet.
Interestingly, to preserve the freshness of raw foods, flash freezing technology is used where the food is frozen instantaneously in commercial refrigerators using ultracold circulating air. This is different from freezing it (slowly) with consumer refrigerators.
As a prudent pet owner, you should be looking for flash frozen raw dog food that is made from human-grade fresh cuts of meat.
Read 'What is Flash Frozen Dog Food?' for a better understanding of this canine raw food option.
Eating (thawed) raw food does come with the possibility of foodborne pathogens but there are safety precautions that we can adopt to minimize the risk, for our pets and ourselves.
It is also noteworthy that the ancestors of dogs have been eating raw since time immemorial. It is only when dogs became domesticated that they started eating diets similar to humans.
A raw food diet for dogs consists of uncooked meat, raw eggs, and whole bones. Many dogs thrive on what is known as the "Biologically Appropriate Raw Food" or “Bones and Raw Food” (“BARF”) diet.
Far from being dangerous, it is a natural diet with no fillers and preservatives, easily digestible, and comes with a whole load of health benefits for your pets.
As with many things in life, there are always differing opinions. Some people swear by the raw food diet, and some wouldn’t touch it even with a 10-foot-pole. We believe in being informed, and the following are what you should pay attention to.
There are concerns that foodborne pathogens from raw pet foods may transmit to the animal as well as humans living in the household. Such pathogens can contaminate cooked diets as well, but the risk is significantly higher for raw food.
In a paper first published on 30 November 2019, entitled “Owners’ perception of acquiring infections through raw pet food: a comprehensive internet-based survey”1, the result indicates that feeding raw food to pets does not raise infection risk in the household.
A total of 16,475 households from 81 countries responded to the survey. In total, 99.6% of households feeding their pets raw food did not report any pathogens being transmitted from raw food to humans. Only 39 households, equivalent to 0.24%, reported raw food being a contaminant in their households.
However, just as with raw meat preparation in cooking, there are safety guidelines that we need to adhere to. Avoid touching your face or mouth when handling uncooked meat, wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly when you are done, and clean and disinfect all surfaces that come in contact with the raw meat.
Raw food may not be suitable for animals who are very young as they require specific amounts of nutrients to develop and grow properly. For pet parents who prepare their own raw food without proper guidance, they may unwittingly prepare a diet that lacks the nutrients needed by growing pets.
As such, it is better to speak to your veterinarian before coming up with meal plans. Alternatively, buy flash frozen raw dog food from reputable suppliers that have done the work for you.
At Petcubes Singapore, our raw dog foods are formulated by one of Asia’s top wildlife nutritionists, Dr Francis Cabana so you can be rest assured that your canines are getting a complete and balanced diet.
A lot of owners are scared of feeding bones to their pets for fear of bone splinters as a choking hazard. However, raw meaty bones are soft and chewable and are a major source of calcium and phosphorus required by dogs. The motion of chewing on the bones prevents plaque build-up and brings enjoyment to your pets.
The risk of choking comes when the bones are cooked and become brittle. Hence, it is important to serve uncooked bones and select appropriate types of bones according to the size of your pets. Focusing on raw meaty bones are the safest option.
Frozen fresh dog food has no fillers or preservatives, is easier to digest, ideal for sensitive stomachs, and often creates less waste. These are the make-ups of a healthy and wholesome diet.
These are but just a few of the many benefits. Find out more about how flash frozen raw dog food is good for your pets.
The best method to prepare frozen raw dog food is to defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, never at the sink or countertops.
Frozen raw dog food should not be cooked or heated in a microwave. To maintain its nutritional value, it should be served in a natural thawed state.
If you insist on serving it warm, you can put it in a tray of hot water for a short while before giving it to your dog.
Cultures all over the world consume raw meat. The Japanese have their sushi, the Inuit have their frozen raw caribou, the Italians have their carpaccio, and so on. None of them are going to give up their cuisine just because it is deemed unsafe.
Choosing to feed your pets raw dog food may mean a higher risk of contamination but the most important thing is to know how to prepare, handle and serve the food correctly. When you see your furry friends reaping the rewards of a natural and healthy diet, it is totally worth the extra effort.
Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.
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