Dog outside holding empty food bowl in its mouth

Handling Raw Pet Food - Hygiene Guidelines

It is common for pet owners to feel overwhelmed about changing their pet’s diet. However, the guidelines for handling raw pet food are very similar to our own guidelines for handling raw meats, fish and protein. 

You may find that you are already following most of these practices in your own kitchen at home!

To offer some reassurance and help ease the transition to a raw food diet for your pets, we’ve pulled together 10 fundamental guidelines to remember when handling raw pet food.

Freeze all raw pet food until it is required

As you do when preparing and cooking your own meals, remember to wash your hands with soap and hot water after touching any raw food

When defrosting a tub of raw pet food from the freezer, place it on the bottom shelf of your fridge

Be sure to keep it away from any non-raw foods - placing these on other shelves if possible. This is to ensure there is no cross-contamination.
Don’t forget to clean and disinfect any surfaces and utensils that raw food comes in to contact with whether that’s your fridge shelf, the side used to prepare the food, your pet’s bowl or the spoon you used to portion the meat out of the packaging. It’s crucial for everything to be cleaned as soon as it’s no longer in use, even if you plan to use it the next day. By doing so, you’ll ensure that surfaces are always clean and free from potentially harmful bacteria.

Throw away any raw pet food that is leftover and not eaten as soon as is reasonably practical

  • Natural Instinct raw food will keep for 9 months if frozen on day of purchase
  • Your Natural Instinct order should arrive frozen. If the food has partially defrosted by the time you are ready to put in the freezer, you can refreeze it safely.
  • Once defrosted, we do not recommend keeping raw pet food for more than 4 days in the fridge.


This can differ between products so be sure to check and read the packaging thoroughly.
For example, our Pure Offal, Puppy & Kitten Weaning Paste and Country Banquet Fish keep for 2 days once defrosted.
Children can be curious. It is important to keep them away and prevent them from touching any raw pet food or treats, as you would for raw human foods. If they do come into contact with raw food, their hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water immediately.
If in doubt and if you have any concerns or worries about feeding raw, the Natural Instinct team are on hand to help!
Simply call: 01276 608 500, email: or use our Live Chat on the website.
Happy feeding!
For reference, this advice was written in line with government guidance on how to handle raw pet food: