Primal Pet Foods: Reconsidering Perceptions of Raw

Lea Jaratz

In my early days as a dog caretaker, whenever I heard about someone feeding their dog raw dog food I assumed they were some hippy extremist with too much free time. I pictured them portioning out raw meat, bones and whatever else. There, I said it - I was a judgmental dog person. But, in the past few years, after doing more research and trial and error with dog foods, and after experiencing my own dog’s weight issues, cancer, and arthritis, I’ve changed my stance. Feeding a quality diet can add years to your dog’s life and it’s not just for pet parents with too much time on their hands. Just the opposite, in fact!

Primal Raw Pet Food

I’ve been working with Primal Pet Foods, testing two of their raw diets for Lyger and Kayden. (Primal provided about 5 weeks of food but did not pay us for this review.) Primal foods are made of organic, human-grade ingredients that are harvested in a healthful and humane way, including grass fed, free-range animals, most of whom were raised right in the U.S. The processing and packaging is also done in the U.S., meeting human-grade standards. They seem to have covered every food-safety and health concern a person could ask for - things I had never even considered (like the use of unrefined minerals). I also like to see things like coconut oil and salmon oil in the ingredients lists, which Primal displays quite proudly throughout their website. I could go on and on about the quality of Primal ingredients and their processing, but they’ve summed it up pretty well here.

Our representative suggested we try the duck complete diet as duck is considered to be a cooling protein and thus less inflammatory for dogs with arthritis. The first few days we tried the Freeze-Dried Duck Formula. Freeze-dried is what it sounds like. It reminds me of fish food, but in giant cubes. You could feed it to the dog as is, but I added some water and broke the cubes up.

Feeding freeze-dried is as easy as feeding plain kibble. No need for special storage and no freezing so there’s no problem with stocking up. That’s lucky because stocking up is something you’ll need to consider as my dogs ate about 20 cubes/day (a feeding calculator is available) and went through a bag every day and a half. However, I loved how little mess there was. No juicy gravy mess and no kibble left behind.

Next, we transitioned to the frozen raw patties, individually portioned slices of ground meat and other ingredients. My large boys got one and a half patties per meal so a bag lasted about 2 days. While a Freeze-dried pet foodbag lasts longer, there is the freezing to consider. If you don’t have a second freezer, you’ll probably find yourself picking up dog food on a bi-weekly basis.

Now, let me jump back into my judgmental pet parent mindset for a moment. Judgy, paranoid pet parent brain is thinking, “OMG! raw meat contains salmonella!” Well, it might. But so can processed dog food… and bagged salad… and peanut butter… and any other food. Do you need to be careful when handling raw food? Yes, of course. Do you need to wash your hands, bowls and utensils when feeding a dog processed foods? Yep. So, either way you look at it, it means:

  • washing your hands after you feed your dog
  • keeping kids away from dog foods and
  • washing the dog’s bowls after every use.

No biggie! (For a more analytical look at salmonella risks, complete with pie charts, I’d suggest this post from Dr. V. at Pawcurious.) If you’d have asked the dogs which they preferred, I’m sure they’d have said the patties, because feeding time was a real melee with juicy, raw meat involved. The bowls were licked clean in seconds. That is unprecedented here.

Since you can’t ask my dogs, I’ll tell you that I preferred freeze-dried. I loved feeding a quality food that didn’t tie up space in my freezer, didn’t require defrosting, and didn’t include oozing, raw meat liquids. Yes, I’m admittedly squeamish about handling raw meat, even for my own family, but the freeze-dried food looked more like dried veggies than dried meat. Really, that’s what it came down to. And since my dogs liked the freeze-dried cubes better than their regular kibble, it’s a great blend of practicality and healthfulness. Judgmental pet parent logic defeated!

Whether you find yourself to be on the traditional feeding end or the crunchy granola side of the pet parenting spectrum, I think Primal has something for you. We’ve got 25 vouchers for canine or feline starter kits, so you can give it a go and decide for yourself.

3 super-easy steps to get a voucher:

  1. Post a photo of your pet:
    • to Embrace's Facebook page with the caption “My pet wants to be a Primal Pet Foods pet.”
    • or on Twitter with the caption “Hey @EmbracePetIns! My pet wants to be a @primalpetfoods pet.”
  2. Email linking to your photo and including your mailing address.
  3. Do it now, so you can be one of the first 25 (contest ends 7/1/13)!