Dog with A Pup Above

Why Pet Parents Are Loving Gently Cooked Pet Food

Feb 20, 2023Bark Twain

We are what we eat – and that goes double for our dogs!

There’s nothing wrong with traditional kibble or canned options, but if you want the best tasting doggo dinner you can get your hands on, nothing can compare with fresh, human-grade dog food.

There are several fresh food options on the market, and it can become overwhelming to pet parents when it comes to deciding which one is best for their pet.

We believe as a pet parent, you deserve to know how your pet’s food is made. So, as you’re cruising down your local pet food aisle you might see packaging that says gently cooked, but what does gently cooked mean? Is this a healthy option for my pet?

Is cooked food less nutritious for my dog?

In this method of cooking, food is heated or cooked to the requirement recommended to kill pathogens such as salmonella and e-coli. This process ensures that the bacteria present in raw ingredients are killed, but still preserve their nutritional integrity.

Additionally, the protein levels remain high due to lower temperature cooking. Pet owners report substantial health improvements in their pets after switching to this diet. Reports include a healthier, shinier coat, softer skin, and cleaner teeth.

Lightly or gently cooked diets aim to provide home-style preparation in a convenient, easy-to-serve package.

Not all cooked foods are created equal

Unless a pet food is advertised as “raw,” then chances are it is cooked. What sets gently cooked, frozen dog food apart from canned food or dry kibble is the degree of processing. Kibble and canned dog food are subjected to long cooking times, high heat, and high pressure. In contrast, lightly cooked frozen food has simply been heated just enough to destroy bacteria and create an enticing aroma. This minimal processing results in an appetizing food that retains more of its natural vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants.

Now it's true that the process of cooking meat could create nutrient loss to the cooking water. But a brand we carry called A Pup Above avoids all that with a super smart "sous vide" cooking method. Meat is simmered inside of food-safe bags to lock in all of those healthy nutrients and create a naturally hydrating, collagen-rich gravy. You get nutrition on par with a raw food diet in a safer, tastier, easier-to-manage format.

Replacing just a portion of your dog’s kibble with gently cooked food is a great way of introducing whole-food magic to their bowl, adding:

  • Muscle-building protein
  • Healthy fats for a radiant coat
  • Antioxidants to fight the effects of aging

Which pets can benefit from lightly cooked?

Many senior pets have a harder time digesting raw foods, so if you are wanting to continue feeding your senior pet a high-quality food, gently cooked is a great option.

Pets on a heavily processed diet like kibble:
Gently cooked food is a great alternative to heavily processed food like kibble. Even if you can’t afford to make the switch 100%, you can add gently cooked food to your pet's meal as a fresh topper. Remember that some fresh food is better than none!

Sensitive tummy pets or sick pets:
As amazing as raw diets are at preserving the integrity of the food, they can also be challenging to digest. There are many sensitive pets that have a harder time digesting raw bone material. There are also immune-compromised pets who are better off playing it safe with light cooking to kill any potentially harmful bacteria. As a general rule of thumb, bacteria in raw food is not dangerous but can cause issues with pets who are fighting to achieve homeostasis.

Picky or selective pets:

Lightly cooked food seems to be more palatable to ultra-picky pets. Or if you are looking to transition from kibble to fresh food, lightly cooked can be a good segway!

Getting started

Because gently cooked dog food is frozen to preserve its freshness, you will need to thaw it before feeding. The best way to do this is to create a routine where you defrost overnight in the refrigerator. We recommend selecting a leak-proof dish or bowl, and you can thaw up to 3-5 days worth of food at one time.

If your dog is not accustomed to eating fresh foods, we recommend introducing a gently cooked food slowly to your dog's current diet. Start by replacing a little portion of your dog's dry food each day with an equivalent amount of thawed fresh food. 

We stock and support  A Pup Above, a gently cooked diet with four protein options - Beef, Turkey, Chicken, and Pork. The Beef and Pork are a grain-free option for pet parents wanting to avoid grains. The Chicken and Turkey are a grain-in option for pets without grain allergies. We are proponents of rotational feeding and advocate for mixing all proteins when possible! A Pup Above uses fresh food with 100% human-grade ingredients using the sous-vide method at their USDA inspected facility. Then they test each batch of their sous-vide dog food for pathogens to ensure it is safe for your kitchen and your pup.

At the end of the day, a fresh, whole food diet is best for your dog. Whether you choose raw or cooked dog food, choose a high quality, meat-forward brand. Gently cooked meat isn't raw like a wolf would eat, but it's still minimally processed for optimal nutrition. It's not only good for your pet, it's good for the humans who handle your dog's food - meaning you and your family.

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