Kudos to Dr. Karen Becker, Steve Brown and Mary Strauss for collaborating to write this much needed article on guidelines for evaluating commercial “complete and balanced” raw diets. The article is featured in the September 2015 issue of Whole Dog Journal.
We’ve been talking to our retailers, distributors and consumers for years about the benefits Raw Bistro offers over the competition and this article nails it in terms of things we talk about. I’ve always said that I would put up our ingredients against any one of our competitors, but it’s NOT just about the ingredients. If you don’t know what you are doing, even the best ingredients can do more harm than good.
I would argue that the most important guideline they discuss is to look for raw foods that are formulated on a caloric basis, not dry matter. From the beginning, Raw Bistro has always been formulated on a caloric basis. Due to the caloric density of virtually all raw diets, it's required that manufacturers formulate this way to insure the dog is getting all of her needed nutrients in the proper balance.
- A company that formulates on a dry matter basis, will fall well short on meeting caloric basis standards for many nutrients – including Calcium (Ca) and Phosphorous (P) which is the first item on their list of evaluating commercial raw diets.
- Additionally, the manufacturer that formulates on dry matter will also fall short of Manganese (Mn), Iodine (I) and Vitamin E – even if they have sources of these important nutrients on their ingredient panel.
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to know if a manufacturer is formulating on a caloric or dry matter basis. These 3 guidelines from the article are simple ways for you to quickly evaluate the raw food you are buying:
- Check the manufactuers feeding guidelines. Are they linear?
In other words does the company recommend a 40-lb dog be fed twice as much as a 20-lb dog and an 80-lb dog be fed twice as much as a 40-lb dog? "Their foods may still be good, but it's not a good sign that they don't understand the basic energy requirements of dogs." (Becker, Brown, & Strauss, 2015, p22)
Example of Linear Feeding Guidelines
At Raw Bistro, our feeding guidelines are Non-Linear and based on the dogs daily caloric intake. While every dog is going to be slightly different in their individual needs, we feel this is the best approach to providing you the proper guideance for a starting point. Refer to the back of our entree bags for additional information or to our online feeding calculator.
- Does the company add Copper (Cu) to a ruminant recipe? Check the ingredient panel.
Liver from ruminants (beef, bison, lamb, etc) is an extremely potent source of the nutrient Copper (Cu). A manufacturer adding liver from beef, bison or lamb to the recipe can easily meet North American and European minimum standards without adding a Cu supplement. Raw Bistro uses custom premixes in each of our entree's to insure we meet minimum standards on a caloric basis and do not exceed maximums. We do not add Cu to our beef or bison recipes, but we do add it to our turkey and chicken recipes.
- How many calories does the recipe contain?
Raw Bistro recipes fall between 33 kcal/oz and 48 kcal/oz. Several manufacturers have recipes that exceed 60 kcal/oz – these are much too high in fat which can lead to a number of health issues outlined in the article.
As it relates to the 6 guidelines covered in this Whole Dog Journal article, you can be assured Raw Bistro meets and exceeds them. As the first image on our homepage says, Raw Bistro is Raw Food, Done Right.
Our thanks to Dr. Karen Becker, Steve Brown and Mary Strauss for taking the time to write this important article on evaluating commercial raw diets. With so many food choices out there, it can be difficult to decide on which to purchase.
Becker, K., Brown, S., & Strauss, M. (2015). Cold, Raw Truth - Guidelines for evaluating commercial "complete and balanced" raw diets. Whole Dog Journal, 18(9), 7-22.