Pet Nutrition: Raw Diets For Pets: Health Benefits--Pros and Cons

Pet Nutrition: Raw Frozen Diets

Pros and Cons of Feeding Your Dog or Cat a Raw Food Diet

 By Susan Blake Davis, Pet Nutritionist

 raw frozen

While raw frozen pet food diets have become an increasingly popular form of pet nutrition, there still seems to be considerable controversy about the diets.  A good deal of the controversy arises from a lack of understanding about the commercial diets available.  Raw food can be very beneficial and for many pets, it can be the long-awaited answer that finally helps a pet get well.  But, raw diets aren't appropriate for every pet.  Depending upon your lifestyle issues, a pet's food preferences and health concerns, a raw frozen diet may or may not be the right form of nutrition for your pet.  Here are just a few of the pros/cons to consider regarding commercially prepared** raw frozen diets: 


1) Raw frozen diets can be especially helpful for pets with allergies, digestive problems and young, active pets.  These are high protein diets containing real meat and poultry, organ meats, vegetables, omega oils and assorted nutrients.  Some are especially well-balanced diets. The freshness and high quality ingredients (e.g. hormone-free meats or organic vegetables) deliver exceptional results.  The ingredients speak for themselves. Many times, raw frozen diets are the best form of pet nutrition available.

2) Raw frozen diets can be incorporated as a portion of your pet's diet. Pets don't have to eat an ALL-RAW diet.  You can mix some raw into your pet's food with ease.  There is a misnomer that pets can't mix raw with canned or dry.   Pets can properly digest a mixture of foods and using even a small amount of raw provide valuable nutrition for your pet.

3) Pets that eat raw frozen diets are getting a high moisture content which promotes overall health.  The food is highly digestible so stool size is often substantially decreased when compared to dry food in particular.  Pets eating dry food often have large stools because the food lacks nutrition and the ingredients are not absorbed by the pet.

4) Some veterinarians are now supporting the use of raw frozen pet food diets as an excellent form of pet nutrition.  Natures Variety features a "find a vet" national locator.


1) Depending upon the health conditions and dietary preferences of your pet, raw food may not be an appropriate choice.  Some very finicky pets may not like the taste.  Converting a pet from a grocery store brand (some even contain sugar) to raw food can be as difficult as trying to teach a child that a fresh apple is better than cotton candy---it takes time and a lot of patience.  You may need to start by simply upgrading your pet to a grain-free, canned food first.

2) Raw food may not be convenient for your lifestyle.  It cannot be left sitting out for very long.  If your pet likes to graze, raw food needs to be given when you can supervise and pick up the bowl while still fresh.

3) Raw frozen diets require "safe handling" for your protection and your pets' protection.  Pet manufacturers clearly indicate safe handling guidelines on the package. When the safe handling guidelines are not followed, you and your pet could become ill.  For example, leaving a bag of frozen raw food on the counter to defrost (should defrost in the refrigerator as you would any meat) can lead to pancreatitis and/or intestinal infections in your pet.  The directions are easy to follow to avoid potential problems.
In summary, raw food diets are an excellent form of pet nutrition for most pets.  With patience and planning, most pet owners can incorporate some raw frozen commercially prepared food into their pet's nutrition regimen.

**Homemade raw diets may be unbalanced, too high in fat and lacking in essential vitamins and nutrients.  This commentary reviews  commercially prepared pet food.