The SAFE way to feed our pets


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/09/2022 (267 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For the past 50 years or more, there have been underground groups and individuals who choose to bypass the commercial pet food industry and embrace cleaner, fresher foods. Until the past decade or so, most were afraid to announce what they feed their pets to friends, neighbours or even their veterinarians, for fear of rebuke, disdain or sparking the whole ‘raw vs. processed’ debate.

In the past few years, we have seen people come forward proudly, bragging that their happy, healthy, long-lived pets have benefitted from a species-appropriate fresh food diet. They still get pushback, but the results are clearly evident in their pets, and society as a whole has become a lot more accepting, even in the face of the disapproval of veterinary clinics, veterinary schools, and veterinary societies.

Still, even starting the conversation about such diets can be a problem. You can start with the idea of feeding raw meat to your pet, which can immediately bring to mind a lot of negative pictures of blood all over the pet or the kitchen. Another option is to use one of the commonly accepted acronyms, such as BARF (biologically appropriate raw foods), or SAD (species appropriate diets) or even RMB (raw meaty bones). But none of these acronyms ever created a positive start to a conversation. So, we are usually starting off on the wrong foot.

<p>A commercially made, properly balanced raw diet provides the same level of nutritional balance formulated by the same trained nutritionists as with dry or canned foods.</p>

A commercially made, properly balanced raw diet provides the same level of nutritional balance formulated by the same trained nutritionists as with dry or canned foods.

We needed a new acronym, one that puts a positive spin on probably the most important decision you can make about your pets’ health. Then it came to me, as often things do, while I was in the shower — “SAFE”, as in species appropriate feeding experience.

It starts the conversation out on a positive note: “Have you considered the SAFE method of feeding your pet?”

Those who oppose raw feeding will balk at this, claim that raw feeding isn’t safe and tout all kinds of potential dangers. They have a point — if done improperly, there are risks. But driving a car improperly is not safe, nor are any of a thousand different daily tasks. But we do them safely and they work. So it is with raw feeding, the SAFE way.

News in the pet industry is full of reports of commercial dry foods being recalled for issues that can harm or kill pets. We have to trust the people making pet food to do it safely, with quality ingredients, and most do. But some, either by choice or by chance, use lower grade ingredients that end up being dangerous, both to our pets and those who handle the foods. Melamine, aflatoxins, vitamin toxicity, and even outbreaks of salmonella in humans have been linked to dry pet foods. However, when chosen wisely and handled properly, dry foods should generally be safe.

The same is true with raw diets. Yes, they take a little extra work and care to prep. We have to be a little more cautious when handling them, but we are already trained in that — we handle raw chicken in our kitchens, and know how to clean up afterwards. The same approach goes with raw chicken for our pets. Purchasing a commercially made, properly balanced raw diet may be more expensive than getting butcher scraps, but you get the same level of nutritional balance formulated by the same trained nutritionists as you would with dry or canned foods.

So, SAFE is a totally appropriate was to refer to a raw diet. Formulated and handled properly, it is easily as safe as any dry food, and you can actually see the ingredients that went in, and smell their freshness.

Yes, you can feed your pet the SAFE way. It may be a little more work, and a little more expense, but the benefits are tremendous. It makes my heart happy every time a client comes in and raves about what the new diet has done for their pet. Many believe their pets are alive and happy today because they made the change, and that’s my pay that never shows up on a cheque, and makes coming in to work every day a joy.

Jeff McFarlane

Jeff McFarlane
Pets Are People, Too

Jeff McFarlane is the owner of Thrive Pet Food Market. Contact him with your questions or ideas or visit

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