A Look at Lightly Cooked

What is lightly cooked food?

As the name implies, lightly cooked or gently cooked food for pets is food that has been cooked slowly at low temperatures and for a short period of time.  There are all different types of processes to make pet food, some of which are considered more healthy than others.  Some of the more common processes to create healthy food are called freeze drying, dehydrating, air drying.  These options preserve the food to make it shelf stable.  Lightly cooked food needs to be frozen or refrigerated because the process does not preserve the food.  

What was my experience?

As a raw feeder myself, I truthfully never saw a purpose for it with my own dogs. It was more expensive than raw diets and the brands available in local pet retail stores generally had more carbs than I would’ve liked.  Also, I didn’t see a need to risk reducing precious vitamins and minerals in the cooking process.  No matter how gentle the process is, applying any heat means that you will lose some water soluble vitamins and potentially potassium. 

Recently my exclusively raw fed senior dog started having some chronic dirreara.  This was very out of character for him, as he has been able to tolerate a variety of proteins and brands for many years without any problems.  Given his age and the length of the soft stool, we made a trip to the vet.  After extensive testing, we deduced that he was very healthy.  We ruled out IBD, IBS, EPI, parasites and nutrients deficiencies.  The holistic vet recommended an enzyme to help him break down the food more efficiently, but none of this seemed to help.  

I decided to try a lightly cooked food to see if that made a difference in his diet.  Sure enough, the lightly cooked food firmed up his stool and he was back on track with solid number 2’s.  We did attempt to go back to raw after a period of stability, and we ended up with the same results.

Which pets can benefit from lightly cooked?


After doing a lot of research on lightly cooked foods versus raw diets, I have learned that it is not uncommon for senior pets to have a harder time digesting raw foods. 

Pets on a heavily processed diet like kibble:

Lightly 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 lightly cooked food into your pets meal as a fresh topper.  Remember that some fresh food is better than zero fresh food! 

Tender 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 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 discerning pets:

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

**Please keep in mind that any pet can thrive on lightly cooked food as long as it’s complete and balanced.  

Brand of choice at Pet Power:

We stock and support a local brand called Southern California dog food kitchen.  The protein options are turkey, beef, chicken, and venison.  The turkey offers a grain free option for pet parents wanting to avoid grains.  The venison offers a novelty option for pets with conventional protein allergies.  We are proponents of rotational feeding and advocate for mixing all proteins when possible.  Southern California dog food kitchen only sources human grade ingredients and purchases local when possible.  Their kitchen is located in San Marcos and the company in run by pet lovers like yourself that want what is best for our furry friends!