The Raw Truth

The Raw Truth

In recent years, raw feeding has become an increasingly popular and controversial alternative to feeding kibble. Some pet medical professionals advise against raw food due to health risks from bacteria exposure, amongst others, while others argue that long before dogs and cats were domesticated, they ate raw meats and plants and they thrived in natural habitats using their instincts for survival. Both sides agree that the behaviors of dogs and cats have evolved, but their digestive systems, primarily, strong stomach acids and short digestive tracts, still fall close to their ancestors. To understand a facet of the controversy of raw feeding, it is important to know the history of pet feeding.     

Commercially made pet food has only been available for less than 100 years and early on gained popularity as the “civilized” alternative to feeding raw meat and table scraps. Marketing campaigns followed and convinced many consumers that kibble was the preferred way to feed a pet. Coincidentally, this trend corresponds directly to the popularity of convenience meals made available to people in the 50’s and 60’s. With the increasing awareness of the relationship between nutrition and disease, nutrition trends have changed for people and pets with a preference for non-processed, whole foods.

The purpose of this article is to provide a summary of the basics of raw feeding for dogs, along with the pros and cons to increase awareness of this subjective topic. 

What is raw feeding?

Simply, raw feeding is a diet that consists of food that is uncooked, whole, and without artificial additives and preservatives. Raw diets include organs, muscles, bones, and sometimes raw fruits, vegetables, and grains. There are two standard raw diet models: Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) and Prey Model Raw (PMR). Let us explore the differences and similarities between these two models.

Raw Diet Models


BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. Named accordingly for the principle that domesticated dogs are genetically like their ancestors, grey wolves, and their beneficial diet mimics the wild diet of their ancestors.

The general formulation of the BARF model:

  • 70% muscle meat
  • 10% bone
  • 7% vegetables
  • 5% offal
  • 5% liver
  • 2% seeds and nuts
  • 1% fruit

Further research into the BARF diet model will result in formulation ranges that adjust for the specific needs of the dog, based on their age, weight, activity level, and other health conditions, making this a customizable feeding plan.


PMR Diet stands for Prey Model Raw. Like the BARF model, PMR’s primary goal is to eliminate processed foods and mimic a dog’s ancestral diet but considers small prey animals a complete meal and excludes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and dairy. Prey animals are fed in their entirety from head to tail. The PMR model consists of two feeding methods:

Whole Prey: Whole prey animals such as rabbits, quail, duck, and small rodents, including their internal organs, with fur/feather attached, is fed. The whole prey model considers prey animals as the guideline for the formulation ratio requirements:

  • 78% muscle meat
  • 10% bone
  • 5% offal
  • 5% liver
  • 2% feathers/fur

Franken Prey: A variety of animal parts are incorporated into a single meal as ingredients to accomplish the PMR diet ratio guidelines. Meals include a variety of proteins or ingredients in a single feed, such as duck heart, beef muscle, muscles, and quail eggs. Franken models do not feed whole animals. 

Franken Prey diet ratios: 

  • 75-80% muscle meat
  • 10% raw edible bone
  • 5% liver
  • 5% offal
  • 0-5% animal-based fiber

Benefits of Feeding Raw

Raw feeding is gaining increased market share in pet feeding because it is credited for restoring and optimizing the health of cats and dogs. Globally, pet parents have reported outstanding benefits - aiding pets' recovery from health conditions such as allergies, asthma, digestive issues, urinary tract problems, dental disease, epilepsy, immune disorders, and more. Aside from the health benefits, you know exactly what is going into your pet's meal and it excludes harmful preservatives and artificial supplements. Some of the notable advantages are:

  • Ingredients are highly digestible and palatable.
  • Less pet waste, from packaging to poop.
  • No nutrients are lost from heating.
  • Healthy skin and coat.
  • High in moisture.
  • Cleaner teeth.
  • Better weigh management.

Downsides to Feeding Raw

A primary concern for many when considering raw feeding is harmful bacteria. The truth is that all meat, fruits, and vegetables potentially have harmful bacteria. A vast majority of pet parents feed their companions cooked or pre-made meals with the promise that it eliminates harmful bacteria, and the diet ratios are pre-set, which gives them quick and simple feeding. The cons of raw feeding:

  • If ratio guidelines are fed without specific raw ingredients, the diet will be deficient in a few essential nutrients.
  • It costs more than commercially prepared pet food.
  • Time-consuming meal preparation.
  • Not every dog is suited for a raw diet.
  • Required proper handling to avoid cross-contamination of harmful bacteria.
  • Some people do not like the idea of feeding raw meat or dead animals.
  • Designated space for refrigerated and frozen food storage.

Considerations for raw feeding

While some people exclusively feed their pets raw diets, others use it to supplement commercially prepared meals. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when serving raw foods:

  • Purchase from reputable and reliable manufacturers and retailers.
  • Ensure proper temperature storage.
  • Follow proper thaw guides before serving.
  • Use stainless steel, glass, or ceramic feeding bowls.
  • Wash your hands and surfaces before and after handling to prevent cross-contamination.


Can I feed raw and kibble?

Digestion rates of kibble and raw food differ but the idea that raw and cooked food cannot be combined is a myth. Some have likened it to the example of eating a sandwich. A sandwich consists of bread that has a high starch content, it also can include vegetables and meat. When we eat a sandwich, each component is broken down differently and a dog's digestion works similarly.


Raw Feeding Guide and Tips

When considering any diet for your pet, consult a veterinarian or pet nutritionist first. Between the options of kibble, canned, and raw, no one diet is 100% safe for all dogs and cats. Regular check-ups and taking a deeper dive into your pet’s medical history are essential before any diet transition. It is essential when starting a raw diet to know that your pet’s immune system is up for the task. When changing your pet’s meals, it is always best to make any diet changes gradually, so their bodies have time to adjust.

  • If your companion is currently kibble-fed, a great guide is to look at its base meat. For example, beef would be a great raw food to start with if your kibble is beef-based.
  • For new puppies, it depends on your dog’s individual preferences. Experts recommend leaner meats like raw turkey or chicken, whereas beef is a richer product. Going for leaner meat is a terrific way to ease your companion into a raw diet.
  • To minimize your pet’s exposure to harmful pesticides, the best option would feed your pet certified GMO and organic dog-friendly vegetables and fruits. 
  • For most dogs and cats, it is advised to balance over time with gradual feeding. 1-2 weeks, not every day.
  • Monitor your pet’s stools for digestion, and adjust ingredients as needed.
  • Supplements and probiotics are recommended to add nutrients that their raw diet may lack.

In Summary

Recent research and safe handling practices make feeding raw, safer, and healthier than ever. Numerous organic and sustainable pet companies offer diet plans tailored to fit your pet’s lifestyle with no additives, are minimally processed, come from ethical farms, and contain high moisture content making the raw choice easier than ever. Whether you want to transition to an exclusively raw diet or use it to supplement your pet’s existing diet, there are many benefits that your companions can reap by going back to their natural origins and eating raw. Again, and importantly, consult with your vet and/or pet nutritionist to aid you in your decision to determine if raw is right for your pet.

Regardless of which diet you choose for your pet, here are our recommendations for treats and supplements to support your dog's digestive health:

 La Pet-isserie - Canine Candies La Pet-isserie - Canine Candies 
Earth Animal - Raw Supplement Earth Animal - Daily Raw Food Nutritional Supplement 
The Honest Kitchen - Herbal Digestive Supplement The Honest Kitchen - Perfect Form Herbal Digestive Supplement for Dogs and Cats 
Side by Side - Belly Balance Supplement Side by Side - Belly Balance Supplement for Prebiotic & Probiotic Digestive Support 
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