What are “Completes”?
By Mia Lund
What is a “Complete” Raw food?
There are a number of raw suppliers who claim they are offering complete meals or "whole grinds" to their customers.
So what does a complete meal entail and how much can you rely on it to give your pet the required nutrients they need on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?
Here’s what to consider when choosing a food which is labelled as a “complete” and not a complimentary food:
1. If you are new to raw and transitioning from kibble/cooked/wet food, it’s not recommended to start with a complete as it will be introducing bone and organs too early in the game.
2. Does the complete follow the PMR (Prey Model Raw) recommendation of 80% meat, 10% bone, 5% liver and 5% other secreting organs?
Please note that heart, tripe, gizzards, tongue etc are not secreting organs and if no other secreting organ is in there (like kidney, spleen, pancreas, brain etc) it’s not a complete mince.
Also note that you need to watch your dog’s stools, as often even if 10% bone content is stated, some completes can have much more than that in their mixes and your dog/cat can get issues. Another one to watch is if the mix is a beef mix and has ground beef bone, as some pets have issues with digesting beef bones well (even if ground up finely.)
3. If fruit, veggies and grains are included, it’s not a complete PMR meal. Furthermore, beets, peas, beans, potatoes, legumes, oats etc are just fillers and not bio-available proteins for carnivores.
4. There needs to be a variation of the meat proteins in the completes, not just one source. You can then rotate the completes in order to offer at least 4-5 different meats. For example one with beef as a base, others with goat or lamb or turkey or venison as bases.
5. Chicken or turkey as a base for all your completes is not acceptable but simply a cheap option. They are not red meat and red meat needs to be at least 50% of the diet for a dog/cat.
6. Completes and feeding only minces, will not help clean teeth, strengthen and exercise jaw and neck muscles or give the emotional, mental and physical stimulation that a diet with whole meat, big bone-in meat and even feeding chunks will.
Feeding bone on top of completes that already contain bone is not recommended as it may cause constipation and impactions from too much bone. You can still feed bone though, but a good idea is to perhaps a couple of days per week feed a DIY diet where you give bone- in meat combined with boneless in the right proportions.
7. Check carefully that the minces/mixes/completes are not denatured and where the meat is sourced from. Find out what meat parts are in the minces as they need to be varied as well.
8. Be aware that there are some drawbacks with grinds/minces, unless you grind the meat yourself just before feeding. One of them is the surface bacteria which gets multiplied deep into the mince, another is the loss of taurine and possibly Omega 3 and furthermore, dogs and cats lose the benefits of feeling fuller when they can just swallow food without any effort at all...
However, completes are immensely better than kibble and good for stand-by, and also great for new-to-raw people who may get too overwhelmed with DIY. Also it’s convenient for anyone who is short of time and wants something that can just be pulled out of the freezer and fed.
You can also make your own completes if you have a grinder and time and energy for meal prepping. That way you can tailor the ingredients and ratios exactly to your own dog/s or cat/s needs.
Some dogs/cats with dental or other medical issues can still be fed raw with completes, in spite of them not being able to handle/digest DIY type foods. Also, they are handy if you go away on holiday etc and somebody else needs to feed your pet, or in kennel/boarding situations.
So completes are fine to feed, just be aware of the above points. It’s perfectly OK to feed only completes if they are 80/10/10 and have at least 4-5 different protein bases that can be rotated.
If the premade/complete you are feeding is too high in bone, you can do the following. Let’s say you have 1 kg of a premade and instead of the 10% bone it has:
15% bone/kg = 150g bone, so that needs to be a 1.5kg batch with extra meat added
20% bone/kg = 200g bone, so that needs to be a 2kg batch with extra meat added
30% bone/kg = 300g bone, so that needs to be a 3kg batch with extra meat added
However, you will also need to adjust the organ content as that will be a lot less in the mix, because every time you double a batch, you 1/2 the amount of organ....