Raw-dy, set, go
I’m currently using freeze-dried meat as a topper for my three dogs’ kibble. I wish to put them on a full freeze-dried raw diet, but I find it very expensive to do so. How can I put my furkids on a convenient raw diet without breaking the bank?
Congratulations on making the choice to upgrade to a raw diet for your dogs—this will provide them with the absolute best nutrition and optimal health. Unfortunately, the processes involved in stabilising raw diets, like freeze-drying, are quite expensive, and do make the end product relatively pricey. There are new raw food diets that use air-drying techniques and are even more userfriendly in terms of preparing and serving, but they are also expensive.
The main issue with a raw diet is convenience, as you have pointed out. To eliminate the need for refrigeration or freezing meats, you need to create a shelf-stable food that doesn’t require heat processing (cooking). Only air-drying (at low temperatures) or freeze-drying can currently achieve this, hence the price point. This is the dilemma that raw food manufacturers face.
One option to overcome the cost issue is to add fresh raw meat and vegetables to freeze-dried or air-dried pet food to bulk out the meal. The fresh raw ingredients can make up to 50 percent of the diet without having any significant impact on the nutritional balance. Some owners will add a supplement or multivitamin to ensure the entire meal is nutritionally balanced. If you are prepared to be more involved, you can actually make up a great quality raw diet at home using some basic ingredients. Naturally you will need to source and keep the raw meat, but the other ingredients needed to create a balanced diet—like supplements—can be purchased from pet food stores.
Another option is to use one of the frozen complete raw diets available, like K9 Natural’s frozen food range. It gives all the benefits of a total raw diet, but you do sacrifice some convenience as you need to store the product frozen and defrost before serving. Personally, I think that making the extra effort to go all raw is well and truly worth it, and the extra money you may spend upfront on food bills, is most often saved in the long-term by reduced vet bills and the joy of healthy pets living a long and active life.
Expert: Dr Bruce Sy me BVSc(Hons) Founder of Vets All Natural P/L