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Why Feeding Your Pet Raw and Fresh Foods Does Make a Difference

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It’s Friday afternoon. You’ve just left work and are heading to your local pet store to buy food for your furry friend. As usual, you load the twenty something pound bag of packaged kibble into your cart, check out, and drive home. Seemingly all is well. But the big question is: Did you notice that the first ingredient listed on the bag of kibble is corn flour? And, did you know that is one of the leading causes of disease in dogs? 

Dr. Ian Billinghurst, Australian veterinarian and proclaimed ‘’modern father of bones and raw food diet for dogs” once stated that, ‘’It’s biologically impossible for the dog’s digestive system, the dog’s basic physiology, to have been altered to such a degree in such a short period of time that it cannot deal with real food.” In other words, the dog species has not evolved fast enough to digest processed foods and that’s why he believed that degenerative disease is so common in modern dogs.

But, if you must feed kibble due to reasons like cost, personal preference or the age of your pet, adding fresh food or raw whenever you can is better than not at all! In the long term, it will help their overall wellness. 

 

The importance of a raw food diet really starts with the benefits, some of which include:

 

  • Improved Coat Condition. Did you know that up to 40% of the protein your dog consumes contributes to the condition of their skin and coat? When feeding your dog a kibble based diet, which is known to have lower protein levels, your dog will potentially not have enough protein left to support a healthy exterior.

 

  • Cleaner Teeth. Allowing your dog to chew on small raw bones reduces the chance for plaque build-up due to the amount of calcium they provide. Contact with the bone, also known as roughage, naturally cleans the gums and teeth. It is important to exercise caution when providing your dog with raw bones, however, as larger pieces can potentially be swallowed, leading to choking, punctured intestines, and broken teeth.

 

  • Lower Risk of Cancer. The amount of chlorophyll found in raw green vegetables has the potential to prevent the onset of signs of liver cancer caused from aflatoxin –a toxin caused by mold associated with soil, hay, grains, decaying vegetables, and even dry food.

 

  • Improved Stool Quality. The biggest difference of a raw food diet is the digestion process itself. Upon consumption, your dog will take more time to chew at the meat and vegetables, leading to increased production of gastric juices within the stomach. This not only leads to firmer, smaller stools but increased nutrient absorption levels. Not only that, a raw food diet has the potential to increase overall energy levels, promote better digestion, and improve eye health.

 

RECIPES

It is extremely important to transition to a raw food diet slowly because every dog is different. In fact, it may require some trial and error and the process could be frustrating. Primal Pooch says that, ‘’for most dogs, this is a one – two week period. But for others, it can last up to 4 weeks or even 6 months, depending on the circumstances.’’ But, keep remembering that your goal is long term wellness and quality of life. 

Here are some good starter recipes. Although the 5:1:1 method is the most practical guide to follow with your dog's diet containing five parts of meat with the bone, one part of fresh organ meat, and one part of cooked vegetables.

These are four other examples of raw diet meals:

#1  Chicken and Carrots

35%-50% chicken thighs or breasts

10%-30% chicken hearts and liver

12%-15% ground chicken bone

5% raw or lightly boiled chicken eggs

5%-20% organic carrots

5%-20% organic green beans 

  

#2  Chicken and Beef

20%-25% chicken thighs or breasts

20%-25% beef – ground, chuck, or stewing

10%-30% beef hearts and liver

12%-15% ground chicken bone

5%-10% organic green beans

5%-10% organic broccoli

 

#3  Chicken and Leafy Greens

35%-50% chicken thighs or breasts

10%-30% chicken hearts and liver

12%-15% ground chicken bone

5%-10% organic broccoli

5%-10% organic spinach

5%-10% organic carrots

 

#4  Turkey, Chicken, and Fish

12%-15% chicken and turkey (ground or whole)

35%-50% mackerel or other oily fish

10%-30% chicken, turkey hearts, and liver

5% slightly boiled chicken eggs

5%-10% organic spinach

5%-10% organic broccoli

 

REMINDERS

  • Overall, the raw food diet requires correct portioning and monitoring.
  • When preparing food that is raw (and not commercial), it’s important to include supplements (such as magnesium or iron) to ensure a nutrient-balanced meal.
  • If your dog shows signs of unusual side effects or behavior, contact your veterinarian immediately. If your dog already has digestive problems, consult your vet before switching to a raw diet. 
  • A balanced raw food diet is equally as important as the freshness of the ingredients. Just like people, dogs like variety.  

 

For more in depth information on raw feeding and complete diets check out Primal Pooches feeding guide