Lots of people out there feed raw, whether it be whole prey, prey model (yours truly!), BARF, premade commercial, premade from a butcher….and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a method or two. Regardless of which method is chosen, one should pay particular attention to one thing in particular:
Ground meat, bones and organs
Why is grinding meat important to the overall diet? For several reasons. Think of a solid piece of foam about the size of a shoe box, now picture your dog shredding it (and having a blast of course). What happened to the surface area of the foam? It increased dramatically.
1) The process of grinding meat exposes most of the surface area to the destructive presence of oxygen. Since oxygen is a strong oxidizing agent, meaning it loves to bind to other compounds, it lends well to binding with enzymes, vitamins and minerals thus leading to degradation in quality. Does this mean that ground meats are completely devoid of nutrition? Of course not. BUT over long periods of time, if ground meats are all that is fed, then one *can* start to see the effects of feeding a ground diet.
2) The grinding process also exposes the meat to environmental contaminants. Bacteria, yeast, or mold can permeate ground meats easily because of increased surface area. While we generally don’t worry about exposure to environmental contaminants, prolonged exposure to these bugs can cause chronic imbalances of the good and bad intestinal gut flora. The intestinal tract is the largest organ in the body (besides the skin) and when it is constantly being stressed by unnatural levels of pathogens, it can take it’s toll on overall body health and function.
3) Loss in mentally stimulating meal times. Let’s face it, feeding time isn’t a dog’s favorite time of day just because of what they eat…HOW they eat it also plays a HUGE role in overall satisfaction. Gulp, swallow is what it takes for a ground raw meal. Chomp, chew, crunch, grind, gnaw, toss around, hold with paws, flip, flop, tear, rip, shred….swallow is what it takes to feed whole, unaltered pieces of meat/bones/organs. Which would you choose?
4) Absentee dental benefits with ground meats. Dental benefits are probably the most important health benefit from a raw diet. Why skip out on the added FREE bonus to raw feeding of clean, pearly white, perfect teeth?
All that said, there are some legit cases where a ground raw diet is really necessary. With those cases I always recommend investing in your own high quality, powerful meat grinder to grind meats just before being fed. The longer meat is exposed to oxygen, environmental changes (freezing, thawing, etc) and pathogens the greater the loss of overall nutrition. The best bet is to feed a ground meat meal directly from the grinder. Lots of work eh? Yep. But over time it’ll be worth it.
Why not something commercially produced? You know the first two reasons above? Commercially processed raw diets are exposed to oxygen and pathogens galore, processed, then frozen, shipped, stocked, thawed, and then fed. The exacerbation of oxygen exposure and pathogen exposure has it’s effects on their products (even if treated with preservatives). I’ve seen quite a few animals not do so hot on commercially processed diets. This is just an observation, not a law by any means. But something to absolutely be considered by the consumer. Certainly a premade commercial raw diet is more ideal than kibble! Not to mention it can be a good first step in the right direction.
Food for thought!