The pet food industry continues to follow the latest trends and hopes to influence pet parents to buy certain brands. The latest news was about certain grain free diets (full of lentils and peas) possibly being linked to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. The last few years have been a wild ride and often times very confusing for pet owners when it comes to feeding their dogs. Not to mention all the food recalls that you hear about almost weekly!
We did some research on the benefits of raw diets for dogs. This diet is still controversial and many vets aren't yet on board but a lot of pet parents are big fans and I'm one of them. LiveScience.com tells us,
"Pet foods and treats that include raw meat, organs or meaty bones have been found to include parasites such as Toxoplasma and tapeworms, as well as the bacteria Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, Brucella suis and Salmonella, according to a study recently conducted in the Netherlands."
I've fed a variety of raw diets to my three hounds over the years and they've done wonderfully on freeze-dried raw and raw diets. I've also fed kibble and canned, and they've done fine on these types of diets as well. I'm very picky when it comes to the brand, ingredients, AAFCO statement and the guaranteed analysis. Whole Dog Journal talks more about this in their article about freeze-dried raw diets. I always research the sourcing (where they get the meat from) to make sure it's biologically appropriate and completely balanced before choosing a brand.
Wes Siler of Outside Magazine talks about why raw for his dogs,
"Years ago, I made the switch from eating low-quality processed food to cooking most of my own meals at home and considering the source and quality of ingredients in everything I consume. That's made me leaner, stronger, and fitter. Everyone knows that eating well makes you healthier. So why haven't the same people made the obvious leap to doing the same for their dogs?"
Determine your dog's general digestion before transitioning to a raw diet. Do you know if they have any allergies that should be avoided or proteins your dog does better on? Speak to your vet as well and always transition to a raw diet from kibble by mixing it with the regular food and increasing it over time (5-10 days). Your dog should be able to make a gradual transition without any digestive issues. Also, watch your animal's stools to determine if they're loose or if your pet is uncomfortable.
A raw diet typically consists of organ meats, muscle meat, whole or ground bone, raw eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, and some dairy, such as yogurt.
The freeze-dried raw brand I'm currently feeding my dog Bruiser I also use as a topper for the meals I feed the other two hounds. Bruiser is really picky and I was very grateful to find something he likes. With that in mind, freeze-dried raw diets require you to add water as well to re-hydrate the food.
1. Shinier coats
Shiny healthy coats is a major benefit of feeding raw diets. Thanks to those omega fatty acids!
2. Healthier skin
Raw diets are known to help strengthen the immune system. So nutrition plays a big part in healthier skin. These omega fatty acids help keep inflammation down which keeps itchy skin from occurring and helps keep allergic reactions from happening.
3. Improved dental health
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Do you brush your dog's teeth? Sometimes it's hard to get into a new routine, especially when your dog is protesting and making it difficult. Try keeping your dog's toothpaste and brush in an obvious place, like on top of their crate or with their treats so you see it every day. Don't put pressure on yourself to brush her entire mouth every time, just get in there for a few seconds to start!⠀ #dogwellness #dogdentalhealth #dogsofyvr #yvr
There are many benefits and first and foremost feeding a raw diet to your dog prevents dental disease which is the cause of everything else (e.g. heart disease).
Rawfeddogs.org tells us,
"Pearly white teeth, healthy gums and sweet breath (no tooth decay, or periodontal disease, therefore no infection on the gums and no bacteria swallowed with every gulp of saliva, this in turns leads to...... reduced chances of heart, kidney and liver disease.)"
4. Increased energy
Some experts say their dogs have better concentration with commands and less hyperactive yet more energy. This is a reason many breeds benefit from this diet. Mealtime is the best time of the day!
"A surge of carbs from kibbles can give your dog an energy spike making him or her super restless, and then the drop makes them feel tired."
5. Smaller stools
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Smaller stools are not a myth. I was stunned after feeding raw at how small the stool was after a few days.
Check out our article on the benefits of raw diets for cats.
Dog owners typically have a lot of important and well-researched questions about raw food diets. Some look to a raw diet if they experienced a recall with the food they were buying and others look at raw dog food options if their dog has health problems. Commercial raw food diets are now available as preparing raw dog food recipes is very daunting and it's hard to ensure all the nutritional elements are included.
Many pet parents are raw feeders and this is becoming more the "norm" over the past few years. Cleaner teeth and increased energy levels are two benefits you'll see with a raw dog food diet that are worth considering. Always talk to your pet retailer or the staff at a pet boutique about your dog's nutritional needs so they can help you decide which raw food diet and protein makes the most sense for your dog. Nothing is more important than your dog's health!
Staff note: You'll read about the term BARF and the abbreviation is biologically appropriate raw food. You can read more about it here.
Do you feed your dog a raw diet? Please let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: Please consult your vet before making any drastic dietary changes to your pet's diet.