Freshly Cooked vs. Raw Food Diets for Dogs
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Freshly Cooked vs. Raw Food Diets for Dogs

 If you’ve studied up on the healthiest ways to feed your dog, you know a few things. For example, you know that a whole foods diet — meaning foods made with minimally processed ingredients — is best for your dog. Kibble and canned foods are highly processed, and include fillers and gums that can, well, gum up your dog’s digestion. 

You also know that trends like “grain-free” aren’t what really matter to your dog’s health. Instead, you look for a meat-forward food where most of the protein comes from meat. Why? Because while your dog can get protein from plants, your dog actually needs taurine which is only found in meat proteins.

You might even know that you want food that is labeled “human grade” — meaning every ingredient is a food safe for human consumption, and that is made in a human-grade facility — because feed-grade foods include meat byproducts from unhealthy animals. This can include tendons, organs, fats, and even meat from diseased animals or road kill.

But you may be confused as to whether raw or cooked meat is better for your dog. Since raw diets are often marketed as “fresh” or “frozen” many dog owners ask about the difference between cooked vs. raw dog food.

A dog owner also might say, “Do dogs prefer raw meat over cooked because it’s closer to a wolf-like diet?”

Though your dog is descended from wolves, you don’t want them to live EXACTLY like a wild wolf. At A Pup Above, we believe cooking meat-forward, human-grade whole food ingredients at low-heat is the best option for you and your pups’ health. We have two big reasons for that belief: 

1) Quality

2) Safety

What do you mean by quality and safety?

Many people assume that because a brand of dog food is marketed as raw, versus cooked, canned, or kibble, that it’s automatically made with higher quality ingredients. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. In fact, we see the same low-quality issues with raw foods as we do with any other feed-grade dog food.

Commercially made raw food diets are commonly made using ingredients that are not USDA certified for humans. Raw dog foods can include rejected carcasses or medicated animals — animals that died on the farm or were too sick, and were removed from the human food chain. 

You may be surprised to find out that even the most popular brands, which call themselves “premium” engage in these practices. Some manufacturers will hide the fact their meat is not fit for humans and say “USA meat” or “meat from a USDA facility.” Don’t be fooled. 

None of these statements mean USDA-certified, human-grade meat, so beware. These ingredients usually include flesh (muscle), internal organs, blended body parts and bones. They may also include untreated milk, or uncooked eggs, which leads us to our second point around safety.

Combining these low quality ingredients with the fact that the food is not cooked makes raw food even more dangerous for you and your pup. If you’re choosing between raw or cooked meat for dogs, remember that when you choose raw, there’s no cooking process to eliminate potential pathogens, which can sicken you or your pet. A recent string of raw dog food recalls due to Listeria and Salmonella highlights this point. You can see the recalls here on the FDA website.

A Pup Above solves for both quality and safety. They only use meat certified by the USDA for human consumption, because it goes through rigorous quality control tests, and results in cuts of meat commonly found on our plates. 

A Pup Above also makes food in a human food facility so all of our food is handled according to the same standards that human food is, guaranteeing higher safety and quality standards. This is not only good for your pet, it’s good for the humans who handle your dog’s food — meaning you and your family.

Digestibility of Raw vs. Cooked Meat for Dogs 

Raw food may claim to be closer to a dog’s natural diet, but when it comes to digestibility, there’s no research that either raw or cooked meat is more digestible for dogs. 

There is definitely research showing that animals better digest whole food diets than kibble, but those same studies failed to show any difference in digestibility between raw vs. cooked meat for dogs when the ingredients are the same.

Given these findings, we don’t think it makes sense to put you and your pup at risk by feeding raw food. And as a result, we strongly believe in providing our pups with whole food ingredients that are gently cooked in a human food facility.

Plus, if you’ve ever seen a dog getting ready to eat a dinner of A Pup Above, you’ll know what I know - regardless of if dogs do prefer cooked or raw meat, the delicious gravy that comes from our slow-cook process makes dogs super-de-duper happy. Why not order A Pup Above sampler pack and give it a try for yourself?