Origin of Raw Food Diet for Pets

By PetMD Editorial on Sep. 24, 2012

History of Raw Pet Food

By Patrick Mahaney, VMD

You may not realize but raw pet foods have a long history. In fact, raw foods are biologically comparable to the diets dogs and cats would consume before being domesticated by man.

For thousands of years, there were few choices available to undomesticated dogs and cats. They had no option to be finicky or refuse a particular food source. Dogs and cats ate to survive and consumed whatever foods were attainable whenever the opportunity presented.

These primordial pets would gorge themselves, graze as they roamed the plains, or go hungry for hours to days at a time. Hunting, killing, and consuming live prey was an option for able bodied canines and felines. For less proficient hunters, carcasses, fresh vegetation, even eggs were all fair game for scavenging. Pending the season, climate, or geography, food would be plentiful or scarce. And of course none of the nutrient sources discovered by these primordial dogs and cats were conventionally cooked — they were consumed raw.

Modern Raw Pet Food

Raw diets today emulate the way dogs and cats ate before commercial kibble was created. They contain beneficial enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and other energetic qualities inherent to meat proteins such as chicken, beef, and bison as well as grains, fruits, and vegetables in their natural, unprocessed forms which are often denatured or destroyed upon high heat cooking. The meats and the fruits, grains, and vegetables all serve vital roles in nourishing the dog or cat. However, it is important that the raw food diet be complete and balanced and that it be properly handled, prepared, and served. Many experts, for example, recommend storing the raw food in the freezer and thoroughly cleaning any surface that comes in contact with the raw food with soap and water.

If you are interested in feeding your pet raw foods, consult with a veterinarian to see if your dog or cat is a suitable candidate. Your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist may also provide you with brand recommendations you are already familiar with. Some pet food brands even use processes, such as High Pressure Processing, that are said to kill pathogenic bacteria while allowing the raw food to preserve its nutritional content and beneficial enzymes.

Image: Yutilova Elena / Shutterstock

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