What Makes Some Raw Dog Food Safer Than Others?

June 11, 2019 6 min read

What makes some raw dog food safer than others?

A factor that prevents many dog owners from embracing a raw diet is safety concerns about raw meat. It is true that uncooked meat can become contaminated by bacteria. However, rather than avoiding a raw diet entirely, the right move is simply to pick your raw dog food supplier with care.

The best raw food diet is one that is pre-made and formulated by a professional animal nutritionist to be complete and balanced. DIY raw diets are often deficient in essential nutrition unless you yourself are well schooled in dog nutrition. The majority of raw dog food on the market is considered supplemental. Dog nutrition is a science!

What to Look For in a Safe & Complete Raw Dog Food

It is extra important to choose well when you decide to opt for pre-made raw food. Commercially-prepared raw foods can be excellent for convenience and for ensuring that your dog receives a balanced diet — but only if you buy from a high-quality pet food company. There are a few factors to consider to ensure you make the right choice.

1. Lean Muscle Meat

The main ingredient in your dog’s raw diet will be muscle meat. For this reason, it is critical that you choose high-quality, human-grade meat that contains a minimal amount of fat.

You can often tell just by looking at meat if it is lean. Another way to check is by considering the texture — meat with high fat content will feel especially greasy.

In addition, check the nutritional analysis of the raw diet. Ideally, you want fat content as low as 2 percent, but anywhere up to 13 percent is still reasonably lean. Much more than that, though, and the meat is likely made up of a large amount of trim — i.e. the parts unwanted by human consumers. An exception is when the protein source is duck, as this meat is naturally high in fat and may contain 15 percent fat or more.

Another way to check if the food has too much fat is by checking your dog’s stool. His poop should never look or feel greasy.

Why does this matter? Obviously, feeding your dog too much fat will quickly make him obese. It also puts him at risk of other health problems, including liver and pancreas conditions.

2. Healthy Fats

Of course, not all fats are bad. In fact, your dog requires some fat in his diet — it just needs to be the right type of fat. For instance, it is essential that he also has a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Pre-made raw dog foods containing salmon oil have just the right amount of these fatty acids.

3. Organ and Bone Content

In addition to muscle meat, blended raw dog food should contain both organs and bones.

Sufficient organ meat will increase the amount of protein your dog gains from his raw meals and provide him with additional vitamins and minerals that are not present in muscle meat. Top organ meats include hearts and kidneys, but other organs like livers and spleens are also nutritious.

Whereas bone is essential, it is important that the food contains neither too much or too little. If you feed your dog too much bone, he could suffer from obstipation — chronic constipation. When he is able to poop, his stool will likely be chalky in color and texture. In contrast, if the food has too little or no bone, your dog will suffer from a deficiency of calcium and other trace minerals.

4. Low Carbohydrate Content

One of the main reasons you are leaving kibble behind is to avoid the high carbohydrate content that your dog never evolved to eat. Pre-made raw food that is high in carbs may be bolstered with wheat, corn, or soy. Avoid such foods to prevent your dog suffering from inflammation.

5. Ground Vegetables

Top raw diets do have some carbs due to the inclusion of finely-ground fruits and vegetables. These will help your dog regulate his blood sugar and provide him with a source of phytonutrients like antioxidants and enzymes. It is crucial that vegetables are ground, as this will allow dogs to absorb the maximum nutrients.

6. Complete & Balanced Formulations

It is always in your dog's best interest to receive a complete and balanced diet with enough of all the essential nutrients they need to be strong & healthy. AAFCO sets forth guidelines for these nutritional minimums, and even maximums for some factors. Whereas much of the raw dog food premade companies are supplemental in their nutrition, Cali Raw dog food is complete and balanced so that you don’t have to add any supplements.

7. Direct to Consumer Delivery

A pre-made raw diet that delivers direct to you means a shorter supply chain and therefore less risk of tainted product. When you buy frozen raw dog food at your local pet store, very often that food has traveled from a manufacturer to a distributor and then to that pet store before it sits on the shelf for who knows how long and then it travels with you on your errands and into your freezer.

With a direct home delivery pre-made raw diet, the chain of custody is controlled and efficient. For you this means a safer raw dog food and one that offers you a much better value.

8. HPP Treatment

Does your raw dog food supplier practice HPP? HPP stands for high pressure processing & it is a kill step in order to eliminate any potential pathogens in raw meat. HPP is not mandatory, yet. You’ll find the most reputable and established companies in the raw dog food market practicing HPP.  While there is no silver bullet, HPP is considered a best practice in the eyes of the FDA.

While we believe based on science that dogs have much higher tolerances to bacteria, such as salmonella, the FDA expects that

How to Serve Raw Dog Food Safely

In addition to choosing the right raw dog food supplier, you need to ensure that you handle and store meat appropriately. This will prevent the growth of bacteria after the food reaches your home.

1. Keep Meat Chilled

Meat needs to stay chilled up until the moment you feed it to your dog. As receive your frozen raw dog food put it in the freezer. Always defrost meat in the refrigerator for 1-2 days prior to feeding— not on your countertop or in the sink. (Just make sure that it is separated to avoid meat juices dripping onto other food.) If you were to defrost it at room temperature, the outermost parts of the meat would reach the danger temperature of 50 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. When this temperature is combined with moisture, you create the perfect conditions for bacteria to develop.

2. Disinfect Dishes and Utensils

Remnants of raw meat left on utensils, cutting boards, knives, and dog bowls also allow bacteria to grow. To prevent the spread of disease, you must disinfect everything that comes into contact with the raw meat.

There’s no need to do anything complicated — simply wash everything with hot water and soap. If you have items that are particularly difficult to clean, including porous wooden cutting boards, add some disinfectant to your dishwasher detergent. Finally, remember to wipe down all the surfaces near where you prepared your dog’s meal.

3. Keep Your Hands Clean

Most likely, washing your hands thoroughly before and after serving your dog his raw meal will be enough to keep you both safe. The exception is if you have a compromised immune system or if you have cuts on your hands that could become infected by bacteria. In these cases, it is a good idea to use plastic gloves.

One last thing to bear in mind is that if you allow raw pet food to defrost even slightly during the journey from the grocery store to your home, this could give pathogens the chance they need to reproduce. You can avoid this by purchasing raw dog food from a home delivery company. They will bring you frozen raw food that you can put it straight in your freezer.


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