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Raw Feeding. Is Feeding Your Dog Raw Food Right For You? | Blooming Culture

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FC: IG @velma_thepocketpit

As our pets continue to get more humanistic diseases and we learn more about how much diet plays a role in that, pet parents are trending towards more "real food" for their pets. Whether it is a fresh cooked diet, dehydrated raw, or species-appropriate raw, there are many more options readily available now.

One survey showed that over 60% of pet owners look into a healthier diet for their pet only after they get sick. It's time to change that and try to incorporate a more well-rounded, fresh, and balanced diet for prevention instead.

If raw feeding is a route you have been thinking of trying, we spoke with Amy, founder of Primal Pooch and author of Why You NEED to Feed Your Dog a Raw Food Diet: A Complete Introduction for Beginners

When asked what is the biggest trend going on in pet food right now, Amy said "A Real Food Revolution" and we couldn't agree more.

Highlights from the interview:

1. What is your definition of a raw food diet? Feeding a species-appropriate diet.

2. What are the different categories of raw feeding? Commercial/Prepackaged and Homemade/DIY and then those breakdown into BARF vs Whole Prey Model. BARF = biological appropriate raw food includes plant matter and Whole Prey Model does not. 

3. Why would you feed animal parts with hair? It's a great source of fiber and the trace mineral Manganese, which can be lacking in homemade diets. Plants can also help with this along with cloves and ginger.

4. What is the biggest difference between a commercial and a homemade diet? Control. When you are making your own raw diet you know the exact meat source and % of what you are feeding. Also, feeding homemade is less expensive.

5. Can you feed a homemade diet and commercial at the same time? YES!!

6. How do you feel about dehydrated raw? It is better than kibble, and not as good as feeding a fresh food or raw diet.

7. How often should someone change their dogs' protein? As often as they can afford or have the resources for. A minimum of 3 different protein types is recommended to have in rotation.

8. How can Manganese help a dog? Manganese is super important for soft tissue (think ACL tears) and collagen. ACL tears make up the most 65% of all soft tissue tears in pets. 

9. What should you look for when sourcing ingredients? Source the highest quality that your budget can afford, but make sure it is human-grade food. Traditional dog food is made from only "feed grade" ingredients, which is actually illegal to sell for human consumption. This is explained more thoroughly in her book (linked below). 

10. What % of muscle meat vs bone vs plant matter should a dog eat? Every pet may respond to the ratios differently so it's about finding what works for them. Most guidelines follow a 70/10/10/10 (muscle meat/organ/plant/bone) or a 80/10/10 (muscle/bone/organ) ratio, but it is all just an estimate. Nothing in nutrition for pets or people is an exact science because we are constantly learning new things. *if your pet's stool is on the soft side, increasing bone % can help firm it.

11. What does transitioning to a raw diet look like? It will vary on the dog, but slow is always better. It can even be only a teaspoon a day and going up from there over the course of a month. Dogs are susceptible to gastrointestinal upset, so be mindful of this while transitioning.

12. The Primal Pooch website is described as the "Ultimate Guide to Raw Feeding". Can you explain that? There is a comprehensive raw feeding directory that was built by not only Primal Pooch, but the entire community.

13. What's new or trending in raw feeding currently? To put it simply, it's more of a Real Food Revolution right now. We are all learning more about how important it is to feed your pet "real food" diet.

14. How do you feel about the new trend of a 100% plant-based diet for your dog? Dogs are domesticated wolfs which makes them carnivores, even today. They need certain things that a plant-based diet can not give them.

15. What are a few reasons why a dog can handle a raw diet instead of humans? They have a shorter digestive tract and are naturally built to handle a higher bacterial load than humans.

 

We ran out of time for our listener's questions, so they are posted here:

1. Do you think it's beneficial to supplement a balanced commercial raw food diet?

Absolutely! As a consumer, you may not know how much of each nutrient is in the foods you buy. When a brand says their food is "complete and balanced," that means it's at least meeting minimum nutrient requirements. But is the brand you buy meeting those minimum nutrient requirements or is it exceeding it? You could ask but my point is, you may not know so there's nothing wrong with supplementing a complete and balanced raw dog food diet with the aim of continuing to improve it. A general vitamin/mineral supplement could be great here.
Though I want to be clear that it may or may not be needed. Whether or not you supplement will depend on the brand of pet food you feed, your dog's health, the health goals for your dog, etc. As with most things, it's a personal call.
But there are a variety of supplements out there and categories of supplements to choose from. Maybe you offer probiotics instead of a vitamin/mineral supplement and I would argue that a lot of dogs can benefit from probiotics. Or, perhaps your dog has a specific health issue or condition that you want to support with supplements right now. Perhaps you have a dog that's perfectly healthy but their breed is predisposed to a certain condition, in which case, you might want to supplement and provide additional support. Bull Terriers, for example, are predisposed to PKD. If I had a Bull Terrier, I'd probably be looking to optimize kidney function and provide kidney support throughout their lives so it doesn't become an issue.
So yes, I support additional supplementation based on your goals. I've seen a lot of benefits from supplementing my dog's diet over the years. Plus, I would never get comfortable with the label, "complete and balanced" and let it lead me to believe that my dog won't ever need anything else.

Stay an active participant in your dog's health and you'll be surprised at the impact you can have :-)

2. What are a few of your favorite supplements?

I am always using a variety of supplements, trying new ones (or new brands), and rotating the supplements I use so if you were to ask me this question every few months, it would likely change. That said, my favorites are providing probiotics, some kind of superfood supplement, and then supplements that support healthy joints, ligaments, cartilage, and soft tissues, plus supplements that help with pain and inflammation (like CBD Oil of course). I have an 8-year old large breed dog (an Italian Mastiff) with a history of soft tissue injuries that easily reemerge when my dog plays too hard. These supplements help me to keep him healthy, in good shape, feeling good, and manage the cards we were dealt with.
I notice a tremendous difference in him with and without these supplements so they are a go-to for me. Remember though, I only know what works for my dog by trying different things so if you don't try things with your dog's diet and see if they do or don't work, you won't know :)

 

3. What are some of your favorite raw foods that have great value and multi-purposes? For example eggs and eggshells.
 
There are too many to count!
To answer a question you asked on our IG Live, I really love green-lipped mussels and usually always have some on hand for my dog. They're a great, whole food source of glucosamine and chondroitin plus other vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Honestly, so many raw foods are multi-purpose. You'll find many raw ingredients containing a variety of nutrients and health benefits. Eggs are a great item to supplement to raw diets as well since they're a complete food source. Tumeric and ginger are great for inflammation along with a number of other health benefits. I'd say kelp too. It's a great source of Iodine which is a nutrient that tends to be deficient in most homemade raw dog food diets. You can hardly go wrong feeding a variety of proteins either. I love to try and get my hands on new kinds of proteins my dog hasn't had or kinds that aren't in his regular rotation because they're too expensive, even if I can source only a little bit. Feeding heart regularly and a variety of organ meats from various animals is a great start. Feeding fatty fish or fish oils for Omega 3 supplementation too.
I could go on because there are so many great ingredients out there but I'll stop here :)

 

4. Tips for beginners who are a little overwhelmed, but need to fix an itchy pup?

The first step would be finding out why your dog is itchy. Is it skin infections, yeast issues, or allergies? If your dog is itchy year-round, it's more than likely diet-related and most skin issues in dogs can be traced back to diet or at least exacerbated by diet. Unfortunately, processed pet food and dry pet food is likely to be the culprit. It doesn't matter if you're feeding grain-free foods because the starch in pet food can be a problem and starch is in all kibble. You're likely to always experience this if you're feeding conventional, processed, dry pet foods. As I mentioned on our IG Live (and I go into more detail in my book) the ingredients tend to be low quality and aren't always the most biologically appropriate and as a result dogs have a lot of skin issues. Cleaning up the diet can do wonders for itchy dogs and dogs with skin problems and is the first step. I would also make sure to supplement essential omega 3 fatty acids in the diet.

5. Can you explain briefly how carbs in processed kibble or a high carb diet cause inflammation and in turn can lead to diseases such as cancer?

The short answer is that all carbohydrates are ultimately broken down as sugar in the body (glucose) when eaten and spike insulin. Dogs are much better suited to raise blood sugar when carbs are scarce than to lower it when excess carbs are consumed. Remember the natural diet of the dog is low in carbs so ancestrally, they never ate as many carbs as they do today. If your dog's diet is constantly spiking insulin they will gain weight, among other issues. Diets high in carbs can also lead to an imbalance of gut bacteria leading to all kinds of issues (GI issues, malnutrition, poorly functioning immune system, leaky gut). Plus low-quality carbs and starches (especially the kind in processed pet foods) can be inflammatory. Inflammation in the body among all the other points mentioned here leads to poor health and eventually disease. Plus with cancer, cancer is known to feed on glucose so having a diet high in sugar can feed any cancer cells in the body. With carbs, it's about feeding the right amount and the right kind of carbs.

7. Any favorite DTC raw brands that you have tried?

I'm a big fan of Darwin's. I like their products and I love how they have a range of options for all income levels (they have a premium line with free-range meats and a more economical line). They also have formulas for health conditions. I also really like their simple, no mess packaging that is easy to portion out. But I love that because they are direct to consumer if there ever is an issue with their food, a recall, etc. they know what batch went to what customers and they can contact those customers directly to let them know there is an issue. The accountability and traceability of their food is a major pro for me.

I also really like Raw Wild. They offer pet food that is like 99% wild elk and deer. It's cool to find brands that sell raw dog food in proteins you don't easily have access to. If it's within your budget to buy enough to feed even one meal a week of a different or unique protein source, it's a great way to add some variety in your dog's diet. And what's better than deer and elk which is the preferred food source for Wolves and wild dogs.

 

To learn more about raw feeding go to www.primalpooch.com or check out her book ~ Why You NEED to Feed Your Dog a Raw Food Diet: A Complete Introduction for Beginners