Have you been hearing more about this “raw food” thing for pets? Maybe a neighbor or friend feeds raw and you’ve been curious. Maybe you’ve seen it in the store but don’t know enough about it to commit yet. Maybe you’d like a few questions answered before you’re ready to give it a try. Whatever the case may be, this post is intended to start at the very beginning and answer some of the most basic questions about raw pet food and get you excited about feeding what we consider the absolute best way to feed our pets.
What does “raw food” mean?
We all understand the basic concept of what raw means—a food that has not been altered by any type of cooking process such as baking, steaming, extruding (we’ll go over that one in a little bit), or frying. Referring to raw pet food, we mean the same thing. The raw pet food, including all ingredients used in the recipe, is all completely raw; meaning that it has not undergone any cooking process. The meats, produce, and supplemental ingredients are all in their basic raw form, as you would find in nature.
What does raw food look like?
Commercially available raw pet food comes in different forms, varying from brand to brand. Some of the most common forms are patties, nuggets, and pellets. Each company uses their own discretion as to the size and shape of their foods, but the basics are the same. Each form is designed to be easy to portion out and feed your pet. Whatever form the food may be in, it is commonly a mixture of raw meat (including bone, muscle meat, and organ), vegetables/fruits, and supplemental ingredients. After the chopping and forming of all of these raw ingredients, the food comes out looking somewhat like your familiar ground beef or turkey (with ground produce and bone).
How is raw food packaged?
Raw foods must be stored frozen or refrigerated, just as you would have to do with your own meat at home. Raw foods in the retail store are kept in a freezer, which not only extends the shelf-life of the product, but also makes it safe to handle and more convenient to transport. The size of the packages varies from brand to brand, but are most commonly found between 2 and 8lbs. Steve’s Real Food offers our food in two forms and 4 sizes. The smallest “nugget” form comes in 5lb bags and 9.75lb boxes, and the 8oz patties come in a 13.5lb box. (Select formulas are available in 20lb. boxes)
Where do I buy raw pet food?
You can find raw pet food at your local independent pet retail store. To make things convenient, you can visit stevesrealfood.com and use our store locator to find the retailer nearest you who carries our brand. At the store of your choice, ask for the raw food section or look around for the freezers. All of the store’s available raw frozen foods will be in the freezers. Make your selection(s) and bring it up to the checkout area to purchase!
How expensive is raw food?
Real talk: it may seem like raw food is a lot more expensive than what you’re currently feeding your pet. And sometimes, yes, it can get pretty pricey. Cost can vary greatly by brand, formula, or package size. At Steve’s Real Food, our greatest goal is to offer a very high quality product at reasonable and attainable prices so as many pets can benefit from raw food as possible. Comparatively, the price of raw pet food is often on par with the premium kibble or canned foods also found in independent pet specialty stores. The best thing to keep in mind though is that while it may be more of an upfront investment to feed raw food, pet owners can save on dental, pest control, and many vet costs because they are elevating the overall health of their pets. The goal is disease prevention, not treatment.
There are a lot of choices of brands and formulas. Which do I choose to start with?
A good bet would be to start with a protein source your pet is familiar with and does not have any known allergies to. If you currently feed your dog a food with chicken as the main ingredient, start with a raw chicken formula. (In fact, chicken is one of the most nutrient dense and easy-to-digest foods available for our pets, but more on that later). Also, pick a size that is most appropriate for the size of your pet. Big dog? Patties will probably work best for you. Teenie weenie? Try the nuggets. But one of the great things about raw pet food is that it is so soft and easy to tear or mush into small pieces that no matter what size product you buy, even the smallest-toothed pets can devour it with ease. As for which brand to choose, you have to make that decision based on what formula, size, and price sound best to you.