Raw vs. Processed Food: The Haves and the Have-Nots

Raw vs. Processed Food: The Haves and the Have-Nots Raw vs. Processed Food: The Haves and the Have-Nots
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What does raw food have that my pet is not getting from processed food? 

To answer this question, we have to look not only at what raw food does have, but also what processed food does not have. To put it simply, raw food offers three distinct nutritional advantages over processed food: enzymes, amino acids and intracellular moisture. In this post, we will break down the reasons why these components are important to raising a healthy, thriving pet!

The 3 Classes of Enzymes

Enzymes act as a catalyst for chemical reactions in various parts of the body, allowing it to function in the best possible manner. There are three classes of enzymes, those produced by the body — metabolic and digestive enzymes — and those found in raw foods. 

The pancreas produces many metabolic enzymes which perform a wide variety of functions, including the destruction and removal of toxins within the body. Metabolic enzymes also aid in the production of energy and aid in the repair of damaged and decaying tissues. Metabolic enzymes help the body to absorb oxygen, assisting in its delivery to all organs and cells.

Here’s the catch: if your pet does not eat enough raw food, he may become deficient in food-based enzymes, causing the body to draw from its own metabolic supply — of which only a finite amount is available throughout his lifetime. Once metabolic enzymes begin to deplete, the aging process is sped up and the door is opened for a variety of different illnesses to creep in.

And guess what? Since food-based enzymes are denatured at temperatures of 118 degrees Fahrenheit and kibble is extruded between 200-600 degrees, it does not contain any of these essential enzymes. Important food for thought if you’re considering switching to raw!

Body Builders: Amino Acids

Amino acids are builders: they build proteins which in turn build new cells in the body. They also repair damaged areas when tissue proteins break down during metabolism. Every inch of your pet grows and thrives on a cellular level with the help of amino acids.

There are 20 different amino acids, each with a specific function. As your pet eats a variety of different foods, he formulates them into the amino acids needed. Some of these varieties are designated as Essential Amino Acids, or ones that cannot be made by the body. A perfect example of this would be taurine for a cat. A cat lacks the ability to form this from other amino acids and must instead consume it through raw meat. 

When a protein is cooked, the long chain amino acids which make up the protein, become short chain amino acids, and become much more difficult for the stomach to digest and the liver to metabolize into energy. Protein amino acids in their raw form are far superior in quality and function than processed, short chain amino acids. Primal Pet Foods offer a variety of raw meats and vegetable sources, ensuring your pet is nourished on a complete, balanced diet. 

Think your pet might be deficient in amino acid? Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • A dry, dull coat
  • Excessive shedding
  • Poor dental health, due to unhealthy gums
  • Reduction in digestive health
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor heart health

    Intracellular Moisture

    Perhaps one of the biggest disparities between raw and processed food is intracellular moisture — the most effective way for our pets to absorb the moisture they need to maintain optimum health. When your pet consumes food, the moisture it contains is absorbed during the digestion process, effectively hydrating his body. Moisture content is naturally higher in raw meats, fruits and vegetables. Processed food is cooked, which destroys its intracellular moisture. Even though canned foods are wet, they do not provide the same moisture benefits of a raw diet on a cellular level. 

    Raw fed pets still need access to fresh, clean water, but if you’re a raw feeder,  you might notice your pet drinks very little water compared to their kibble-fed friends. Dogs — and especially cats — that do drink a lot of water should be checked for dehydration, as this can be a warning sign. Dehydration is a major contributor to many common illnesses that plague pets, and can present as urinary tract infections, struvite crystals, renal failure and many other common issues. A pet’s body cannot and will not operate at its fullest potential without the proper hydration level.

    On hot days, or when our pets exercise more than normal, they may drink more water than usual. But do not be surprised if your raw fed pet rarely drinks from the water bowl on an average day — it’s simply a sign that their needs have been met by a diet rich in intracellular moisture. A well hydrated pet, is a happy, healthy pet!