The less-processed way to feed your pet
Many pet parents are turning to freshly-prepared meals comprised of foods that have been freeze-dried or gently dehydrated to retain nutrition and flavor. This minimal processing at low temperatures preserves the molecular structure of the proteins, fats, vitamins, and enzymes which are inactivated or damaged by high heat and extrusion, the process used to make kibble. Freeze-dried and dehydrated dog and cat foods are highly nutritious options, and because so much of the water is removed, they are shelf-stable without refrigeration or added preservatives.
Raw without the thaw
Freeze-dried diets are shelf-stable versions of high-meat, low-carb raw diets, typically made of 80% or more meat, ground bone, and organs and only small amounts of carbs from vegetables and fruits. They can be truly transforming for overweight or older dogs, who often thrive on portion-controlled, low-carb regimens. They also work well for itchy, sensitive, finicky, or small dogs. Just add water, goat milk, or broth for a raw meal in minutes, or crumble on top of kibble or canned food for an easy boost of raw nutrition. These higher protein diets are especially ideal for cats, who are obligate carnivores.
A tasty stew
Many dehydrated foods resemble a meaty porridge, featuring moderate amounts of meat along with carbohydrates from a variety of wholesome ingredients—potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, oats, or other low gluten grains. Dogs who can benefit include the picky, the allergy-prone, the digestively challenged, and dogs who have trouble keeping weight on with low-carb raw diets. Often, animals who exhibit sensitivities to certain ingredients in kibble don’t seem to have the same reaction from a less processed form.
Scoop and serve
Especially high in meat, some dehydrated foods are air-dried into pieces of soft jerky. Air-dried foods are ready to feed right from the bag as a meal or a topper.
Design your own make-at-home food
Dehydrated, meat-free pre-mixes give you the freedom to add the protein of your choice. Use any raw meat or raw grind (a mix containing meat, organ, and bone), cooked meat, canned fish, eggs, or cottage cheese along with warm water or goat milk to make a balanced meal. More vegetables such as Great Greens (our own whole-food veggie blend), fruits, fish oils, and supplements are all optional mix-ins. Or combine a pre-mix with ROAR Ground Turkey Necks, Ground Chicken Backs, or Ground Chicken Leg Quarters.
High in moisture
Freshly-prepared freeze-dried and dehydrated foods look, smell, and taste like real food with identifiable ingredients. What’s left out (fillers, low-quality proteins, grain fractions) is almost as important as what’s included. Most are designed to be re-hydrated with warm water at feeding time because hydration is so crucial to an animal’s health. Fresh food, our nutritional benchmark, is always high in moisture, and it’s far easier for the body to digest wet food than dry food. Adding warm water releases delicious aromas that add to your pet’s enjoyment.
Lightly Cooked Foods
Feed your dog fresher foods
Offering fresher foods is one of the best things that you can do for your pet’s overall health. Fresh foods provide more bioavailable nutrients than overly processed commercial foods which endure high-heat cooking processes. Whether you feed a little each day or convert to a 100% lightly cooked diet, your pet will experience a number of healthful benefits.
- highly digestible, producing small, firm stools
- appealing, home-cooked aroma for finicky dogs
- nourishing recovery meal for older dogs or immune-compromised pups
History of feeding cooked diets
Our pets’ wild ancestors were adapted to catching prey and consuming it raw. As dogs became domesticated, humans began to supplement their ancestral diet of wild prey with scraps from the table. As a result, dogs have developed the ability to efficiently utilize a modest amount of carbohydrates in their diets. They also have a long history of eating cooked food along with the raw.
When it’s not preferable or feasible to feed a completely raw diet to a dog, lightly cooked is an excellent alternative. It’s made of the same fresh ingredients, cooked lightly to showcase the food’s natural flavors and maintain vital nutrients – much like our own home-cooked food.
Think outside of the bag
Lightly cooked diets are a simple, wholesome, and nutritious way to enhance dry kibble diets. These less-processed diets provide highly absorbable intracellular moisture, aiding in the breakdown of nutrients in the digestive tract.
Lightly cooked meals are highly palatable and are available in a variety of easy-to-thaw and dish-up options such as scoop-and-serve, pre-portioned medallions, or patties.
Not all cooked foods are created equal
Unless a pet food is advertised as “raw,” chances are it is cooked. What sets a lightly cooked, frozen dog food apart from canned food or dry kibble is the degree of processing. Kibble and canned dog food are subjected to long cooking times, high heat, and high pressure. In contrast, lightly cooked frozen food has simply been heated just enough to destroy bacteria and create an enticing aroma. This minimal processing results in an appetizing food that retains more of its natural vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants.
Replacing just a portion of your dog’s kibble with lightly cooked food is a great way of introducing whole-food magic to their bowl, adding:
- muscle-building protein
- healthy fats for a radiant coat
- antioxidants to fight the effects of aging
Getting started with lightly cooked dog food
Because lightly cooked dog food is sold frozen, you will need to thaw it before feeding. The best way to do this is overnight in the refrigerator. Select a leak-proof dish or bowl and thaw up to five days’ worth at a time.
If your dog is not accustomed to eating fresh foods, we recommend introducing a lightly cooked food slowly to your dog’s current diet. Start by replacing a little bit of your dog’s dry food each day with an equivalent amount of thawed or slightly warmed lightly cooked food. Your dog will love the delicious boost of nutrition!