How do you feel about raw food for your dog or cat? Before I became a raw pet food believer, I was a little unsure. You hear so many negative things about it in the media—that it’s expensive, difficult to prepare, dangerous to humans and animals due to the risk of salmonella and other pathogens, that a lot of vets don’t recommend it and so on. But then, my beloved dog Dakota entered his golden years, and a host of medical issues began to creep up. Could changing his diet help? I liked the idea of switching him to a minimally processed food and was willing to try almost anything to improve his quality of life.

With a little trepidation, we decided to try My Natural K9. I’m so glad we did! He loved it and did so well for his last three years—his coat was shiny, and his energy improved. I really believe the raw, grain-free diet had a lot to do with it. (If you’re new to the idea of raw pet food and need guidance, check out this article on how to make nutritious home-prepared dog food.)

Apparently, I’m not the only one with such a positive experience. In 2011 (the most recent year for which I can find figures), raw pet food sales totaled $100 million. And in 2013, U.S. sales of raw and refrigerated pet food grew a healthy 25 percent. It’s no wonder why: Users often report improved health in their animals and fewer allergies.

In 2012, Robert Mueller, vice president and raw pet food guru at BARF World, spoke at one of our SARA member meetings. (BARF stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food; the company sells frozen raw meat patties, supplements and treats for dogs and cats.) He was wonderful and had so much to say about raw food diets.

Even BrightHaven, the holistic animal hospice where I teach my animal Reiki classes, feeds their cats and dogs a raw food diet using Feline Instincts. They’ve reported to me that people who are usually very allergic seem to do OK when visiting BrightHaven: amazing!

I’ve heard good things about these raw food brands as well: Nature’s Variety and Stella & Chewy’s; both use high-pressure technology to prevent bacterial contamination, in case you are concerned about that.

What about you? What are your thoughts and experiences regarding raw pet food?

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