Raw/Other Pet Foods


Good Quality Cat & Dog Food
Feeding Raw Food to Pets
Feeding Raw Pet Food – the Safest Products
Can You Feed Raw and Dry Food to Your Dog or Cat?
Dietary Sources of Fibre
Taurine and Dog Food
Cat Food, Chronic Kidney Disease and Protein

Article about Feeding Raw Food to Pets Published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal

Lea closeup 2018 compressed

Dr Lea Stogdale’s article “One veterinarian’s experience with owners who are feeding raw meat to their pets” has been published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal’s  June 2019 issue. In it, she suggests that veterinarians should be better informed about the advantages and disadvantages of feeding raw meat based diets to dogs and cats.

Below is the summary of the article. The original article is referenced and peer reviewed.

Feeding Raw Food to Pets

by Dr. Lea Stogdale, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM small breed

Raw food page cp

A growing number of pet owners are choosing to feed raw meat-based diets to their dogs and cats. Raw pet foods do not suit most owners or all pets. However, some dogs and cats do better on raw diets, solving some medical problems, especially food allergies or gastrointestinal dysfunction, or resolving lack of appetite, obesity, poor hair coat or lowered activity. Our pets’ problems are often complex, subtle interactions of inheritance, life-style, infection, toxins, nutrition and unknown factors. We take safety for the family and the pet, cost and time into consideration when selecting a diet. Every pet diet needs to be complete and balanced, and to suit both the owner and the pet. Nutrition and exercise are essential components of each of our pet’s quality and quantity of life, and of our enjoyment of our pet companions.

options 2 cpAt Aesops Veterinary Care our pet feeding recommendations include the following options:

  • Feed a good quality commercial dog/cat food, dry and/or canned;
  • Feed a home-prepared complete and balanced (C&B) cooked diet;
  • Feed a commercial raw meat C&B diet;
  • Feed a home-prepared raw meat C&B diet;
  • To any of these diets, add in some real/people food, often fibre as vegetables;
  • Any combination of these options.

Our recommendations depend upon a thorough discussion with the client. Considerations include:

  • What the client wants to feed;
  • Family situations such as pregnancy, children under the age of 5 years, any family member who is immuno-compromised;
  • Pet facial hair length;
  • The pet’s nutritional history including which diets and foods the pet wants to eat;
  • Pet health conditions such as significant disease or immune-mediated disease history, and current medications;
  • Owner financial concerns;
  • Client time constraints.

The final decision is always made by the pet owner. Then we put together a complete and balanced diet appropriate for that pet. At the end of the appointment, all of the notes are printed and sent home with the owner. A copy of the medical record can be emailed to their regular veterinary practice.

prosThe advantages of feeding a raw meat, complete and balanced diet to dogs and cats include:

  • A raw diet is often considered to be the ancestry diet of our pets. Historically, genetically and physiologically this is true for our carnivorous cats. Four mice a day is the ideal diet for each of our feline friends – not going to happen. However, dogs are omnivorous, carnivorous scavengers – they are physiologically adapted to eat everything, raw or cooked, meat, grain, vegetables, rotten food, usually after rolling in it.
  • Raw meat diets have better protein digestibility (about 10% higher) than dry extruded pet food. Plant protein availability is improved with cooking.
  • Raw meat diets may result in improved immune function. 
  • Some pets do better, much better, on raw diets. They become happier and more active; they have normal bowel movements and shiny coats.
  • Most dogs and cats fed raw meat diets have a good, healthy body condition; they are not overweight.
  • Raw food diets solve some medical problems in some pets such as chronic diarrhea or soft feces, or allergy signs such as scratching or recurrent ear infections.

consThe disadvantages of feeding a raw meat, complete and balanced diet to dogs and cats include:

  • Concerns over whether the diet is complete and balanced.
  • Concerns over safety. These days, with the industrialization of our food production, we have to assume that all meat and eggs carry micro-organisms all the time, and this is especially true of ground meat. This is of real concerns if the household includes, or is planning, pregnancy, children under five years of age, the elderly, or any person who is immuno-suppressed. The latter includes any severe disease such as heart, kidney or liver dysfunction, cancer and so on.
  • Concerns over cost. All raw pet foods, whether home-prepared or commercial, are more expensive than commercial dry or canned dog or cat food. The price varies greatly from increased but affordable to very expensive.
  • Concerns over all raw pet food feeding requires more time than simply putting a cup or two of dry food in the pet’s bowl.
  • Not all pets can tolerate raw diets, even with some vegetables added. No one diet suits all dogs or all cats.

Some dogs and cats do much better on raw meat diets. These diets do require more time and money. The chosen diet needs to be complete and balanced. Safety for the family needs to be the first consideration. Information about safe meat handling can be found at this website:

food safety cpWith regard to safety concerns over bacteria in meat – freezing halts bacterial growth but does not kill the organisms. Dehydration reduces but does not eliminate bacteria. Freeze-drying and High Pressure Pasteurization (HPP) kills most bacteria. These are the preferred options when safety is a concern for the owner, the family or the pet, but a raw diet is preferred.

Want to Know More About Feeding Raw Food to Pets? Dr. Stogdale talks about that topic in these videos:

watch-these-videos cp
The Vet’s View – Cats are Carnivores
The Vet’s View – Raw Feeding the Healthy Dog
The Vet’s View – Raw Feeding Dogs with Allergies & Other Medical Concerns

Feeding Raw Pet Food – the Safest Products

The safest raw pet diets are complete and balanced, and High Pressure Processed / Pasteurized (HPP). The food is subjected to very high pressure. This kills most bacteria HPP cpthat contaminate ground meat or fish without decreasing the nutritional quality. These diets are sold frozen as they look and are raw.

Currently in Winnipeg, HPP raw frozen dog and cat foods are available in some pet stores.

To discover whether a raw frozen pet food is HPP is not easy. You need to read the very fine print in an obscure box on the packet or website. Hopefully producers will soon make it easier to find, but for now check the fine print.

Can You Feed Raw and Dry Food to Your Dog or Cat?

Our mantra: There is no one food that suits every pet.

Some dogs or cats that are doing well on a raw food diet have either food allergies or cat & dog for food cpfood intolerances. This may be due to the meat protein or the carbohydrate or the processing or the chemical additives to processed dry or canned pet food. Some pets just “do better” on some raw food. If your pet has an allergy or intolerance, then your canine or feline friend will not do well when processed pet food is added to their diet. If your pet can handle either raw or cooked or canned or dry pet food, then there is no problem in feeding a variety. In fact, for healthy dogs or cats, we recommend that the care giver feed a wide variety of pet and people food.

If your dog or cat tolerates raw or cooked or canned or dry pet food, we do recommend that dry food, which takes longer for the stomach to handle, be fed separately from raw / cooked / canned pet food. This is a general recommendation as each pet’s digestion is different. However, many pets, when they are looked after by a pet sitter or boarding kennel, are fed a good quality dry or canned pet food. And they do just fine. They may have some soft bowel movements for a day or two, but they generally do well. Remember: Just like people, there is no one food that suits every pet. 

Good Quality Cat & Dog Food

The brands, types, flavours and ingredients are changing frequently.

You, as your pet’s manager, need to observe your pet and decide which food is the best nutrition for your individual pet friend. NO ONE FOOD SUITS EVERY DOG OR CAT.

Aesops Veterinary Care does not sell pet food. We recommend:

  • the pet foods that we have found benefit most dogs or cats;
  • purchasing pet foods and treats and chews from a pet store rather than from a supermarket;
  • we are less enthusiastic about the company pet store house brands, and even less happy about the supermarket house brands;
  • that the food, treats or chews be sourced and processed in North America (rather than from unknown sources or from China);
  • that the pet food be no grain, which really means low in simple carbohydrate sources such as wheat or corn (rice or sweet potato may or may not be okay; oatmeal is usually not a problem);
  • that treats be dehydrated meats, liver, lungs, etc, and that they look like dehydrated meats. They should not look like identical processed cookie treats. There are no controls on pet treats. Most processed pet treats should be assumed to be high in fat, salt, flavouring, chemicals and “I-don’t-want-to-know”;
  • that cats eat predominantly canned/raw/dehydrated cat food rather than dry cat kibble (four mice a day or one rabbit is ideal).

Categories of Pet Foods

  • Raw Frozen High Pressure Pasteurized (HPP): Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw (High Pressure Pasteurized = safe but expensive)
  • Raw Frozen
  • Dehydrated or Freeze Dried
  • Dry Kibble and Canned

Dental health depends upon your dog or cat chewing – See “Keeping Your Dog’s / Cat’s Teeth Clean” on the Client Info page. Your cat should be chewing bones at least twice a week, while your dog should be chewing daily upon:

  • Bull pizzles, or
  • Greenies Grain-free,
  • Knuckle bones (not antlers or marrow bones),
  • Turkey necks (frozen),
  • Whimzees (grain-free and vegetarian).

Some no chicken options, (but you need to read the ingredient list in small print) include:

  • raw frozen pet foods
  • dry kibble that is labelled LID (limited ingredient diet) or Simple – however these foods are made in large manufacturing plants and may be cross-contaminated with chicken or beef, etc. Also you must ensure that the treats and chews and other foods do not contain the chicken or beef or whichever protein you are trying to eliminate;

Low fat dry dog foods suitable for dogs that need to lose weight or have had pancreatitis (most dry dog foods contain 15% fat or more). Check for dry dog foods with fat at or <10%.

  • Natural Balance Low Calorie (fat 7.5%)
  • Wellness Core Reduced Fat (fat 10%)
  • Other

Senior dog foods – most reputable companies do not produce “senior” pet foods. “Senior” dog or cat foods is a marketing ploy; it has nothing, none, nada to do with pet health. In the senior years of our pets we need to respond to their individual needs – to lose weight, to gain weight, to increase their protein intake, to, rarely, decrease their protein intake, and so on.

For cats or small dogs who are fussy about their foods:

  1. find out if there is a medical problem underlying their eating reluctance;
  2. feed them dry or canned cat food that they like (this includes small dogs);
  3. add into their diet soaked dehydrated cat food: Honest Kitchen or Primal Freeze Dried Nuggets;
  4. if necessary, offer them any canned cat food including supermarket brands Whiskas or Fancy Feast;
  5. find out if there is a medical problem underlying their eating reluctance.

Dietary Sources of Fibre

We often suggest that pumpkin be added to a dog’s food for fibre. Our clients often ask us if they can use sweet potato. Potatoes are inexpensive but consider lentils or chia seeds.

The carbohydrates in these foods are predominantly complex, ie. slowly digested and absorbed.

The lower the Glycemic Index (GI) the better. Lower GI indicates less simple carbohydrates or sugars. Low GI foods rate 55 or below.

Chia seeds are the best dietary source of fibre but contain virtually no other nutrients in significant amounts. Also, dogs may not be thrilled with the taste of either lentils or chia seeds. You may need to mix them into your pet’s food and/or flavour them with some broth or tuna/salmon juice.

The amount to give depends upon your pet and their medical problem, but, as in people, it’s hard to overdo fibre.

The best foods for adding fibre to your pet’s meals, assuming that the main portion of the diet is complete and balanced, are well soaked Chia seeds, then lentils, spinach (or other leafy greens), and green peas. Lentils and peas have the added benefit of containing resistant starch which is beneficial to large bowel function.

Each pet is unique in its character, life style, activity and nutritional requirements. We always need to work out what suits each individual dog or cat.

Taurine and Dog Food

Reports of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) with consequent heart failure and death have Congestive-Heart-Failure-in-Dogs Black Lab with heartbeen reported in some dog breeds that were not considered to be genetically predisposed. Affected dogs often have a low blood taurine level, and this is most likely the cause of the heart problem. Dogs make their own taurine from protein. There has been much discussion about affected dogs being fed no-grain dry dog foods.

Note: On June 27, 2019 the US Food and Drug Administration released a report listing 16 dog food brands most commonly involved in official reports of DCM. These were no-grain formulations.

Recommendation: If your dog is over 50 lbs and eating a mainly no grain dog kibble, until this situation is clarified, please supplement with 1000 mg TAURINE each day. For dogs weighing less than 50 lbs give 500 mg each day.

Where to buy Taurine: Health food stores do not seem to be reliably stocking Taurine. Sports supplement stores do have Taurine e.g. Popeye’s Supplements. These are human grade products. Go to https://www.popeyescanada.com/loc_manitoba_winnipeg.html  or enter “winnipeg sports supplement store” into Google Maps. You may want to phone the store first to ensure that they have Taurine in stock.

An excellent, informative, referenced article on “DCM in Dog’s: Taurine’s Role in the Canine Diet” in the “Whole Dog Journal” can be found at: https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/food/dog_food/dcm-in-dogs-taurines-role-in-the-canine-diet/

Predisposing factors in dogs:
Large adult size with lower metabolic rate
A naturally occurring higher requirement for taurine
A metabolic abnormality that affects their taurine synthesis or utilization

Nutritional factors that reduce taurine absorption
The level and type of dietary protein – low levels of protein and/or plant-based protein
The degree of heat that was used during food processing
The amount and type of dietary fiber – some fibre types can decrease taurine absorption especially rice bran, barley, cellulose and beet pulp.

Lower blood taurine levels in dogs has been associated with:
Feeding lamb meal and rice diets
Soybean-based diets
Rice bran, beet pulp, and high fiber diets.

There are multiple dietary and genetic factors involved.

If you are concerned about your dog’s taurine level, we can have the level tested. Or you can purchase taurine and supplement your dog. Give 500 mg daily to dogs weighing less than 50 lb or 22 kg and 1000 mg daily to large dogs.

Cat Food, Chronic Kidney Disease and Protein

A recent, excellent, well documented article by Dr/Prof Debra Zoran about protein and fluid requirements in cats emphasizes the importance of feeding high quality meat or fish, high quantity amounts of protein to your kitty companions, especially as they age. Phantom and Jingko cpThis prevents muscle wasting, anemia and decreased food intake. If your senior feline friend has kidney disease, we can control the phosphorus and potassium levels with medication powders that can be mixed into the canned food. Adding Vitamin B12 and Omega 3’s in the active forms are important such as adding “Rx Essentials for Cats (multi-vitamin) or “Nutritional Support for Dogs and Cats”, which are available over the counter (no prescription or veterinary input required) from Aesops Veterinary Care or your regular veterinarian (may be a special order). This is exactly what Lea does for her feline companions, Phantom (on the right) who lived to be 19 years of age, and Jingko (left) who is 15 years. 

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