The lightly cooked whole food diet

How this unique diet can help optimize outcomes for immune-compromised patients.

Nutrition – especially a fresh food diet – can be an effective way to support the immune function of any pet battling disease. Whole fresh food delivers complete and bioavailable nutrition with every bite, and offers a respite from over-processed, dried and difficult-to-digest commercial kibble. A whole food diet also offers an additional important tool to treatment protocols prescribed for a wide range of chronic conditions, as well as for serious health issues.

Defining the lightly cooked whole food diet

Balanced whole food recipes consist of quality protein sources, vegetables, fruits, herbs and oils. The food is lightly cooked at a low temperature. Low temp cooking meets the USDA pathogen kill step, while maintaining high levels of moisture and nutritional integrity. A lightly cooked whole food diet offers an effective alternative for those not comfortable feeding or recommending raw diets, as well as for patients with compromised immune systems.

“As a proactive veterinarian, I would say this is the perfect diet for preventing many degenerative diseases plaguing pets today,” says Karen Becker, DVM. “But an excellent quality, species-appropriate fresh food diet is also critical for disease recovery, including animals dealing with chronic inflammatory issues (allergies, arthritis, immune-mediated diseases) and metabolic diseases (diabetes, cancer, thyroid disorders, obesity), as well as age-related degeneration.”

How it supports the immune system

In 2014, a study done at the California Polytechnic University followed a group of 21 relatively healthy dogs, who had been fed commercial extruded kibble their whole lives.1 The researchers fed them a lightly cooked whole food diet for a year. Each participant received a physical exam, complete blood cell counts, and a chemistry panel at 0 days, 180 days and 365 days. The information collected was then analyzed using paired t-tests. Results showed a mean increase in white blood cell count, including an increase in mean granulocytes.

They also showed an increase in circulating globulins, and while there was no change in red blood cell count, there was an increase in mean hemoglobin and hematocrit levels. Researchers concluded the dogs had increased immune function, indicating that fresh food is more beneficial than kibble.

The lightly cooked whole food diet in practice

Many veterinarians now recognize the impact a lightly cooked whole food diet can have in helping patients with a variety of health issues, including pancreatitis, IBD, diabetes, seizures, food intolerances, skin issues, inflammation and cancer. They credit diets such as Raised Right for helping their patients optimize health outcomes.

“By nourishing animals the way nature intended, we reduce metabolic stress, which in turn reduces the incidence and expression of metabolic diseases, including type-2 diabetes, obesity and many types of cancer,” explains Dr. Becker, who specializes in species-appropriate nutrition.

Carefully prepared lightly cooked whole food diets ensure patients receive the nutrition they require. The complete and balanced recipes by Raised Right, a family owned human-grade pet food company, were developed with Dr. Becker, whose approach recommends looking closely at individual ingredients.

“We believe every ingredient should have a purpose,” adds Raised Right’s CEO, Braeden Ruud, whose family has been ranching for centuries. “Veterinarians appreciate that our food starts with USDA certified human-grade meats and organs in large enough amounts to meet the high protein requirements for dogs and cats. We chose veggies that specifically support cellular and bowel health. Cranberries support immune health and provide antioxidants such as proanthocyanidins which have also been linked to a healthy cardiovascular system. Omega fatty acids from non-GMO sources are also key.”

There are no fillers providing empty calories, or over-processed ingredients that turn sick animals off from eating the food they need. Raised Right’s anti-inflammatory diet provides the necessary nutrition to keep a pet healthy and responsive even during cancer treatment.

Transparency is another important consideration

When recommending a diet to your clients, look for one dedicated to producing transparent, safe and healthy food. At Raised Right, for example, each batch of food is thoroughly tested for Escherichia coli, Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. This extra care separates the company from an industry that experienced 30 food recalls last year.2 Consumers can also log on to the Raised Right site to use their interactive map, which displays the geographic origin of every ingredient used in the company’s pet food.

A lightly cooked whole food diet answers the needs of your patients at every step. It is an easy and accessible choice that you can provide to your clients as you work together to protect and treat the animals in your care. For more information visit

1“Effects of Fresh Prepared, Whole Food Canine Maintenance Diets on Clinically Measurable Blood Parameters in Healthy Dogs”. Oscar E. Chavez, Lee A. Pettey, Broc A. Sandelin, John Tegzes. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA, Western University of Health Sciences – College of Veterinary Medicine, Pomona, CA.

2Susan, Thixton. “2018 was a busy year in pet food”.

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