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Canned foods, raw meals, fresh meals, and kibble—there are tons of possible choices when it comes to your dog’s nutrition. However, while canned food and kibble are easily understood, there seems to be some confusion between raw and fresh—and why they’re not as easily available through your local pet store. Here’s what you should know:
Raw vs Fresh Dog Food—What’s the Difference?
The raw food diet is getting traction in the pet community as more and more dog owners look for ways to guarantee the health of their pets. A counterpart of the raw food is the fresh food option which also delivers high quality ingredients like meat certified by the USDA, organic greens, and even some supplements.
So if the content of raw dog food and fresh dog food are the same, what makes them different from each other?
The main difference is really on the preparation of the food. Fresh dog foods refer to freshly cooked dog food with zero preservatives or fillers added into the mix. This guarantees that your dog is getting the most basic and complete meal with zero processing in between.
Raw foods are different because there’s no cooked meat involved. Your dog’s food will be composed of uncooked meat, green beans, organ meats, and other ingredients recommended by veterinary nutritionists. They remain uncooked because the goal is to give your canine companions whole foods that’s as close as possible to their evolutionary meals. We Feed Raw is one brand that offers custom raw diets.
Raw Food vs. Fresh—Key Differences
If you’re choosing the best dog food available today, it’s easy enough to dismiss dry dog foods from the list. Why? Check our fresh dog food vs dry kibble comparison. The real battle happens between raw or cooked meat. Here are some key distinctions you need to keep in mind when considering pets food.
The main worry if you feed raw is the presence of pathogens in the pet’s meals. Pathogens happen if you handle raw food improperly. Harmful bacteria transfer onto the food and since the meal is not cooked, there’s no heat that eventually kills the bacteria. With fresh cooked food, the worry is no longer present.
Fortunately, there are dog food delivery providers today that supply pet parents with certified meals. These companies are able to prepare meals in USDA certified kitchens, freeze dried them, and essentially guarantee that the product is pathogen-free. With these commercial raw diets, the worry becomes less present.
In terms of digestibility, meat proteins are easier to absorb when they’re cooked. If you feed your dog cooked foods, there’s a higher chance of absorption directly into the system. However, raw diets aren’t that far back in the digestibility stakes. When offered in your dog’s bowl, you’ll find that raw feeds give your dog better digestion and firmer poops. Compared to kibble, raw and fresh feeds certainly come out as the winners.
On Nutritional Value
Nutrition-wise, there’s really no big difference in comparing raw and fresh. If they contain the same ingredients, the nutritional value would be the same and your pet will get the exact nutrients and minerals promised. The real difference lies in the content of meal themselves. You want to find a raw or fresh recipe that contains the ingredients your dog needs to live a healthy life. Whether it’s from a grass-fed source or raw meat, the meal has to conform with your dog’s personal situation. Although you can learn how to make fresh dog food or even start raw feeding, in this instance, the help of a veterinary nutritionist can go a long way in guaranteeing excellent health. These experts will also be able to tell you exactly how much fresh food to feed a dog.
Taste-wise, cooked food and raw diet are both appealing to dogs. At the end of the day, your pooch would be the one making the decision on what servings he likes best. For human consumption, cooked feeds usually have a stronger and more appetizing taste, but your dog may have other ideas!
On Ease of Buying
Raw dog diets and fresh meals can be made at home with the help of your dog trainer. You can also try looking for recipes online that you can follow. Both options however can be time consuming and for most owners, this is a deal breaker. Fortunately, your dog can go on a fresh and raw diet with the help of subscription services. These companies prepare the food themselves and simply deliver them to your home. The upside of these meals is that they prepare the feed using AAFCO and USDA  standards and under professional guidance. This way, each feed comes pre-packaged, complete, and with zero chances of food poisoning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is raw or fresh food better for dogs?
Both raw and fresh dog’s meals are the better option compared with kibble diets. Either options will encourage you to use fresh ingredients combined with human grade meat. Even better, both food diets give you complete control on what goes in your dog’s food. You can pick raw beef, turkey, chicken, or other raw or cooked meat and make adjustments as needed by your pet.
Do vets recommend a raw diet for dogs?
The vets are fairly divided when it comes to raw dog food. Most veterinary nutritionists recommend to lightly cook dog food to prevent bacterial contamination. This is because raw meals are more likely to contain pathogens which can wreak havoc on a dog’s digestive tract. This is a problem that doesn’t exist if your pet’s diet is fresh.
Is fresh the same as raw?
No. Fresh pet food usually refers to whole meals that underwent some cooking. It’s either steamed or baked depending on the preferred preparation of the food. Raw food diets mean feeding raw meals to your pooch. Zero cooking or very little cooking is involved with raw feeding.
Is raw dog food better than cooked dog food?
At the end of the day, pet parents have to choose which feeding guidelines offer optimal nutrition for their pet. Some dogs respond best to raw ingredients while others prefer their food lightly cooked. Pet owners are advised to watch your dog when introducing them to new whole food diets and make adjustments according to your dog’s health.