The Fresh Food Revolution | A Beginner's Guide to Raw Feeding for Pets
Hey Fetch family! Whether you're a newbie embarking on your Fresh Food Feeding adventure or you've been curious about Raw Feeding and the BARF Diet, you've landed in the perfect spot. We understand that with so many differing viewpoints out there, it can get a tad bewildering. But let us assure you, Fresh Food Feeding has made a world of difference in the lives of our own beloved pets, and we're thrilled to open up about our journey and discoveries for those of you contemplating the shift to Raw Feeding.
What is Raw Feeding?
Think of it as a return to our pets' roots, a journey towards making healthier, more wholesome choices for your furry companions. Raw feeding is all about nourishing them in a way that mirrors the diet of their wild ancestors – fresh and unprocessed.
Picture your dog or cat roaming the wilderness, foraging for their sustenance. Raw feeding brings them a step closer to that natural diet.
Benefits of Raw Feeding
Raw feeding isn't just about giving your pet a varied and delicious diet. It comes with clear health benefits – like improved digestion, a shinier coat, and better dental health. It's also a great choice for pets with allergies because it has fewer ingredients and no fillers, all while keeping essential nutrients intact without the high heat used in processed foods.
Fresh food means more high-quality protein and fewer hidden carbs than typical kibble, which means more energy and a healthier weight for your furry friend. So, when you choose Raw feeding, you're not only treating your pet to great meals but also making a smart and wholesome choice for their well-being.
What is 'BARF'?
BARF, which stands for 'Biologically Appropriate Raw Food' or 'Bones and Raw Food,' is a pet feeding approach gaining popularity. A typical BARF diet consists of 75% muscle meat, 5% organ meat (offal), 10% raw bone, 5% fresh fruits and vegetables, and 5% other nutritious elements.
This diet is adaptable, tailored to suit your pet's changing requirements based on age and activity level. Just like we humans thrive on dietary variety, your pet benefits from diverse protein sources and plant-based nutrients, ensuring their lifelong well-being
Getting Started with Raw Feeding
Choosing the Right Meat Sources
The foundation of raw feeding is, of course, the meat. It's essential to select high-quality meat sources. Look for trusted butchers or meat suppliers who provide fresh and clean cuts of meat. Your choices can include chicken, beef, lamb, pork, and even game meats like kangaroo.
It's a good idea to vary the protein sources to ensure your pet gets a well-rounded diet, as after all, Variety Is the Spice of Life. Different meats offer different nutrients, so mixing it up can be beneficial.Though some people advocate for providing a single type of protein per meal - again resembling more of what your pets diet might have been like back in the day.
Portion control is essential to avoid overfeeding or underfeeding your pet. A general rule of thumb is to feed your pet about 2-3% of their body weight per day. However, this can vary depending on your pet's age, activity level, and specific dietary needs.
Proper Food Preparation
When it comes to food preparation, cleanliness is crucial. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat, and use separate utensils and cutting boards for pet food to prevent cross-contamination.
Balancing the Diet
A balanced diet is the key to your pet's well-being. In addition to meat, include other essential components like bones, organs, and vegetables. Bones can help keep your pet's teeth clean and provide essential minerals. Organs are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Vegetables offer fibre and additional nutrients. Balance is the name of the game.
Consult with a Professional
It's always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist. They can offer personalised guidance based on your pet's unique needs and help you create a diet plan that ensures your pet gets the right mix of nutrients for optimal health.
As you get started on your raw feeding journey, remember that patience is key. It might take some time for your pet to fully adjust to their new diet, so gradual transitions can help minimise any digestive issues.
Raw feeding undoubtedly offers a wealth of benefits, but like anything worth doing, it's not without its concerns. It's important to be aware of these and take the necessary precautions to keep your pet safe and healthy.
While raw feeding can provide a wide range of nutrients, there's the possibility of nutritional imbalances if not done correctly. It's essential to ensure that your pet's diet is well-rounded, which includes providing a variety of proteins and supplementing as needed. Consult with a veterinarian or pet nutritionist to create a balanced diet plan that suits your pet's specific needs.
Dental Health Precautions
Contrary to what you might expect, feeding your pet a raw diet doesn't automatically mean better dental health. While chewing on raw bones can help keep teeth clean, it's important to do so cautiously to prevent dental issues or injuries.
Selecting an appropriate size and type of bone for your dog is important. In the raw feeding community a lot of people opt to not feed weight bearing bones such as legs etc. This is because these bones are much more dense and can possibly lead to teeth fractures.
Do your own research to decide what is right for your dog. Most other bones however are fantastic for teeth cleaning, you want to aim for a bone that lasts your dog 20 minutes or more so that they can fully experience the benefits of flossing and gum massaging as well!
Handling Raw Food Safely
Safe handling of raw food is paramount. Be mindful of the temperature, storage, and sanitation to prevent contamination. Thoroughly wash your hands, pet's food bowls, and food preparation equipment after handling raw meat. It's also advisable to freeze or refrigerate raw pet food promptly to slow bacterial growth.
Preparing Homemade vs. Commercial Raw Food
One of the key decisions you'll face when considering raw feeding is whether to prepare your pet's meals at home or opt for commercial raw food products. Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, and your choice will depend on various factors, including your lifestyle, budget, and your pet's specific needs.
Homemade Raw Food
- Savings: Preparing raw food at home can be cost-effective, especially if you can buy ingredients in bulk or take advantage of deals at local stores or butchers. You have more control over the cost, allowing you to tailor the diet to your budget.
- Quality Assurance: You have complete control over the quality and sourcing of ingredients. You can choose the freshest, highest-quality meat, organs, bones and vegetables.
- Tailored Diet: Homemade raw food allows you to create a diet specifically tailored to your pet's unique dietary needs. You can easily adjust the protein sources, portion sizes, and any necessary supplements.
- Preparation Time: Preparing homemade raw meals can be time-consuming. It involves sourcing ingredients, food preparation, portioning, and storage. This may not be ideal for those with busy schedules.
- Need for Expertise: Ensuring a well-balanced diet requires research and expertise. You may need to consult with a veterinarian or pet nutritionist to get it right.
Commercial Raw Food
- Ready-Made Meals: Commercial raw food products are convenient and save time. They come in pre-packaged portions, eliminating the need for meal preparation.
- Formulated Diets: Many commercial raw food brands offer complete and balanced meals, eliminating the need for meticulous recipe planning. They've done the nutritional math for you.
- Diverse Options: Commercial raw food brands often offer a variety of protein sources and formulations, making it easier to provide a balanced diet for your pet. Some also include added supplements for complete nutrition.
- Higher Cost: Commercial raw food products can be more expensive than preparing homemade meals. The convenience of pre-packaged meals often comes with a higher price tag.
- Quality Variation: While commercial brands strive for high-quality ingredients, you have limited control over ingredient sourcing and quality compared to preparing food at home.
- Less Flexibility: Commercial products may not offer the same level of customisation as homemade meals. This can be a disadvantage if your pet has specific dietary requirements.
In the end, the choice between homemade and commercial raw food depends on your personal preferences, lifestyle, and what works best for your pet. Some pet owners prefer the convenience and assurance of commercial raw food, while others enjoy the hands-on approach and cost savings of homemade meals. Whichever path you choose, what's most important is providing a nutritious and balanced diet for your furry friend.
Trusted Brands We Support
Here at Fetch Collective, we've done some legwork to find a selection of high-quality raw food options that deliver on their promises. We've researched, consulted with local experts, and now we're proud to support and stock brands that we believe in:
- Why We Love It: Organic Paws focuses on providing organic, ethically sourced ingredients in their raw food. If you're looking for high-quality, certified organic options, this is a brand we highly recommend. And another Australian owned business to support.
- Why We Love It: The Saltiest Dog offers a diverse range of raw food options, ensuring a balanced diet for your pet. Their dedication to providing variety and nutrition is something we truly admire. Developed locally, right here in Melbourne, our dog's absolutely love their range and they're constantly looking for delicious balance and exciting options to incorporate into their collection.
- Why We Love It: Big Dog Raw Diet is all about crafting meals that mimic a natural, wild diet using 100% natural ingredients following the BARF principles. Convenient pre-portioned options as well as a range that caters for the more sensitive pooches with allergies or skin sensitivities. We like that they are a good mix of convenience and affordability.
- Why We Love It: K9 Rawsome offers a selection of nutritious raw food options and creates human grade meals for canines and felines. They work together closely with canine nutrition scientists and focus on sourcing Australian ingredients to create diverse and balance options in accordance with AAFCO standards.
More Than Just Meals
While we're passionate about these trusted brands, we offer more than just complete and balanced meals. At our pet boutique, you'll also find an array of other options, including:
- Frozen Bones: Perfect for dental health and a great way to provide your pet with natural chewing satisfaction.
- Offcuts: Ideal for adding variety to your pet's diet and reducing food waste.
- Chicken or Duck Necks: A tasty and nutritious snack option that your pet will adore.
- Loose Dried Treats: A wide range of wholesome and tasty treats to pamper your pet.
Our Journey Into Fresh Food Feeding
We've embarked on this journey ourselves, inspired by the loss of one of our beloved girls to cancer. After delving into the world of raw feeding, the benefits were undeniable. Healthy coats, sparkling teeth, and incredible energy levels became the norm for our pets. We're passionate about sharing our success story because we want to keep our furry family members, and yours, around for as long as possible.
In a nutshell, raw feeding is the way forward for your pets. The benefits are substantial, and the transition can be a breeze with the right guidance. We encourage you to consider raw feeding as a natural and nutritious option for your furry friends. Do your research, talk to the fresh food feeding community, and always consult with your vet to ensure the best for your pet.
Additional Tips and Resources
- We greatly love the Facebook Fresh Food Feeding Community with many helpful discussions , tips and regular updates and discussions on the latest info and studies as they come out.
- We also love to follow local Vet Nicole Rous from Shy Tiger as she advocates for fresh food feeding and regularly shared the latest from within her field