Raw pet food started out as an unconventional choice for pet parents but has become a fast-growing trend with increasing scientific backing. Before going into the compelling reasons why to consider raw feeding, here’s a little background on what raw is.
First, raw pet food is what it sounds like – food that’s not been cooked. There are different ways to feed raw; some pet parents make their own raw diets, combining raw meat, organs, vegetables, and more – a true “DIY” approach. This method can be time-consuming, and it has its risks. Calculating proper nutrition for pets is no easy task! Also, there’s pathogen risk (with common culprits like salmonella and E. coli) because there’s not an anti-pathogen step in place.
An easier and typically safer route is feeding a pre-made raw diet; with pre-made raw, you can ensure your pet gets complete & balanced nutrition straight out of the bag. Instinct® is a trusted raw brand that has been making frozen and freeze-dried raw diets for nearly 20 years! With the best safety and quality measures in the raw industry and a team of experts crafting their recipes, pet parents can feel confident feeding Instinct®. In addition, all raw recipes from Instinct® are cold-pressured for quality and safety; Cold Pressure, also known as High Pressure Processing (HPP), is an anti-pathogen step that is 100% natural. It keeps the food safe from harmful bacteria while maintaining the nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients.
So, this brings us to the WHY – what are the benefits of raw and why would a pet parent feed raw? A full list would get long, so let’s look at the top five reasons from the raw experts at Instinct®:
More Nutrients Intact than Cooked Food
Raw, uncooked food has a wider array and greater number of nutrients than processed food, where nutrients are lost to heat. Raw retains natural flavors, valuable antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that pets need, in a bioavailable form their bodies can actually use. This means a more nutritious and healthy food that pets also love.
Real, Natural Ingredients
Simply put—it’s raw meat, fruits, vegetables, and the wholesome ingredients your pet needs in a complete & balanced meal. This is a welcome contrast to the long list of complicated ingredients and fillers often found in kibble. Real, responsibly sourced ingredients you can recognize can make a big impact on your pet’s wellbeing. And the fact that raw food is, well, raw, means even better nutrition from these whole-food ingredients.
3X’s More Real Meat and Organs than Most Kibble
Many kibble recipes are limited in the amount of real meat they include – protein can often come from processed meat meals or vegetable ingredients. On the other hand, raw food means more animal-based protein.
Animal protein is more digestible than plant-based protein and it includes beneficial compounds like amino acids, bioactive peptides, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Some of these healthy compounds are heat-sensitive (aka their benefits are diminished when cooked). This makes a raw diet all the more valuable.
Real, Tangible Benefits
Most raw feeding advocates became raw believers by seeing their pets’ improvements with their own eyes. The most common benefits pet parents feeding Instinct® Raw have reported include:
Increased energy & vitality
Improved skin & coat
Relief from food sensitivities
Smaller, firmer #2s
Picky eater approved
Increased mealtime excitement
Many pet parents start to feed raw because there’s a specific health issue they’re looking to improve – and oftentimes, raw can help. But rather than waiting until a health issue develops to try feeding raw, consider raw feeding as an investment in your pet’s overall health – at ANY life stage. Did you know that feeding raw to puppies can pay off later in life? Keep reading to learn more!
Backed by Science
We’ve walked through some of the nutritional differences between cooked and uncooked food, but is there evidence outside of testimonials that raw provides unique benefits for pets? Yes, there is!
The University of Helsinki’s independent research program, DogRisk, has been studying connections between health and disease in dogs, and how different types of diets (including raw) may influence both. DogRisk’s cruelty-free, observational study has been active for over 10 years and includes 16,000 dogs of all ages and breeds. Instinct® has partnered with DogRisk, led by Dr. Anna Hielm-Björkman (DVM, PhD, Principal Investigator) to quantify the impact of raw pet food on dogs’ health.
Published raw nutrition research from DogRisk has shown us:
Puppies fed raw have fewer environmental allergies as adults than puppies fed kibble.*
Why raw matters: Early life is a critical time window when one can influence allergy risk and/or prevention and raw diets protect the immune system from developing allergies later in life. Raw pet food is high in protein, has a broader range of functional compounds and no cooking toxins for a healthy option for our pets.
Did you know: Canine atopic dermatitis, often called “environmental allergies,” is caused by an allergic reaction (hypersensitivity) to one or more substances in the environment.
Symptoms of environmental allergies: itching, excessive scratching, hot spots, ear infections, greasy or flaky skin, hair loss and excessive chewing on the paws.
Puppies fed raw have a reduced risk of developing Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) later in life compared to puppies fed kibble, who are 61-85% more likely to develop IBD as adults**
Why raw matters: Raw diets help the immune system develop properly—significantly reducing the development of IBD later in life. It is thought that raw feeding beneficially educates the young immune system, forms a healthy microbiome, and influences the later production of gene products.
Did you know: IBD appears to be an abnormal immune response to (or because of) an abnormal gut microbiome, on a background of genetic predisposition.
Symptoms of IBD: chronic vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, or any combination of these signs.
Research continues to show how raw impacts a pet’s health versus eating a kibble-only diet. Studies still in progress include hip dysplasia/mobility issues, chronic ear infections, and cancer.