Raw Dog Food Diet

Prior to the 1950's or so, a raw dog food diet was the norm.  I know, it's hard to believe that with the vast array of commercial kibble lining pet store shelves today.  Contrary to what many people say, there is a strong case for feeding raw.

Even if history isn't your thing, it's hard to argue with.  While wild dogs were domesticated and trained to live and work with humans, they were hardly considered pets. Food was valuable and definitely not to be wasted on a dog.  The only food a dog would have received from the family was scraps that could not be eaten.  For the most part, though, dogs hunted small animals and scavenged on their own.

On to a science lesson.  Many people think that dogs are omnivores.  It's important to note that a dog's anatomy, however, is that of a carnivore. 

Take a look at your dog's teeth for a minute.  Those pointy teeth were designed for ripping and tearing meat, and he has no molars.  An omnivore has flat molars which can grind up vegetables and grains (check out your own teeth).

Raw Dog Food DietPhoto courtesy of Sam17 via Flikr

A dog's jaw is not capable of moving in a horizontal chewing motion, only up and down. Omnivores need to be able to move their jaws horizontally in order to chew and grind up vegetation.

Also, a dog's saliva is missing an enzyme called amylase, and instead contains lysozyme. 

The difference? According to the dictionary, amylase converts starch and glycogen into sugar (think carbs), while lysozyme kills bacteria (think meat).

Just one last feature to mention - a dog's intestines.  They are short and smooth... made to move raw meat through quickly so as not to let it get rancid inside.  An omnivore has much longer and uneven intestines to give the carbohydrates time to break down.  And you thought that science class was a waste of time!

Effects of Kibble

Since society has improperly designated dogs as omnivores, we have become satisfied with feeding our dogs a cooked, processed kibble in place of fresh food (meat, in particular).  Well, our dogs are doing fine without eating a raw dog food diet, aren't they?

Well... are they, really?  Ask any dog owner how much they spend on veterinary bills, and you may have to think again. 

Our dogs haven't gotten any healthier on a kibble diet in the last 50 years.  Au contraire, vets are seeing more and more dogs with skin allergies and conditions, obesity, dental diseases, heart and liver diseases, diabetes, bloat and cancers.

Narrow in for a second on mouth health.  We know that periodontal disease directly affects the other organs and skin of the body... 

That lovely "doggy breath" and yellow teeth are not normal - the plaque and bacteria gets into the gums and in turn sets off all sorts of problems.

Where does this plaque come from?  Highly processed dog kibble.  And no, dental chews aren't the answer - they are just band-aids. 

The solution is feeding raw - a raw fed dog has clean, white teeth, amongst many other raw dog food diet benefits.

raw dog food dietA raw dog food diet will improve your pet's overall health and vitality!

My own dog, Justice, suffered from year-round itchiness.  Her skin was red and raw looking, and she scratched herself incessantly! She would chew at her paws, and it was a constant battle to keep her ears in good condition (ear issues are another symptom of allergies). 

Just as any good owner would do, we followed the vet's advice to keep her on cortisone, prednisone, or other harsh drugs that would suppress the itching.

Why?  We didn't know any better.  Most owners simply aren't informed about dog nutrition and that what their dog eats directly affects their skin (and the rest of their body!).  Switching to a raw dog food diet is often all it takes to clear up skin conditions.

Dog kibble is a highly processed unhealthy convenience that we have a hard time letting go of.  Even feeding a home-cooked diet as opposed to kibble is not the best dog food choice.  The health benefits are in the meat being raw, as cooking it destroys much of the nutrients.

Benefits of Raw Feeding

If you've always been feeding your dog commercial kibble, you've likely become accustomed to certain features or "symptoms" in your dog.  

What do I mean by this?  Well, that disgusting doggy breath that has you keeping your distance?  Not normal.  We've come to believe that all dogs have stinky breath, and awful plaque covered teeth.

The first benefit is this - sparkly clean, white teeth in your pooch's mouth and odorless breath!  No more veterinary dental bills for expensive teeth cleaning or worse, dealing with tooth decay. A raw diet, which includes bone, keeps your dog's teeth nice and clean, and in turn, prevents bad breath. 

Another smelly problem that is avoided by feeding raw is that of Rover's coat and skin.  That yucky dog smell that seems to cling to him, no matter how many baths you give... history.  A raw fed dog's coat is glossy and soft, with no odor!

You've probably noticed that a dog who is fed kibble has large, soft (or even runny), horribly stinky poops.  This is because kibble has so many fillers and carbohydrates in there, which a dog can't digest properly.

As gross as it sounds, you can tell how a dog is fed by what his poop looks like, and smells like!  A dog on a raw food diet has very small, firm, mostly odorless poop that turns white and decomposes within a couple days.

Why less poop?  Obviously the dog is able to digest and use more of the raw food.  If his body can't digest kibble properly (specifically, the grains and other carbohydrates in it), it's going to all come out.  This is also why if you feed your dog carrots or other vegetables, you will likely be able to spot them in his stools.

More Benefits of a Raw Dog Food Diet!

  • Stronger immune system and overall health - dogs who are fed raw require fewer visits to the vet.

  • Dogs require less water - kibble fed dogs needs lots of water to help digest and stay hydrated. A raw diet is about 55-65% moisture, so much less water is needed to stay hydrated. This in turn means less drooling!
  • No need to get your dogs anal glands expressed - because raw diets include ground bone, the stools are firm, which causes the anal glands to naturally be squeezed and eliminated with every bowel movement.

  • Less shedding and no greasy feeling to your dog's coat.

And one of the most important advantages to feeding a raw dog food diet (at least it was to me and my dog, Justice)...

  • Removal of allergies and food sensitivities! - for many dogs, my own included, it can be a nightmare trying to find a diet that will avoid any food allergies. 

What a Raw Dog Food Diet WON'T Do

Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths, out there about a raw dog food diet. The main ones include:

  • Raw diets are not considered "well-balanced" (many commercial raw diets are available, which are perfectly balanced for your dog's needs)

  • My dog will get sick from bacteria in the meat of raw food, or feeding a raw diet will put my family members at risk of getting sick (again, dogs have lysozyme in their saliva to kill bacteria, and you already most likely prepare food for your family using raw meat. Use common sense.)

  • Feeding raw meat will make a dog aggressive! (Um, no. What an animal is fed does not cause aggression...)

  • Raw diets are troublesome and overly expensive (it is actually similarly priced to high end kibble, and not that much more work)

  • Raw bones are not safe for my dog to eat (it's cooked bones that are dangerous as they may splinter!)

Yes, you can't simply toss a chicken breast in Fido's bowl everyday and expect that to be healthy.  Dogs need more than just meat - he also needs bone and organ meat to ensure that he is getting the necessary nutrition.

Feeling daunted?  Don't be!  Getting your best friend on a raw diet is the best thing you can do for him - and it doesn't have to be complicated. There are so many commercial raw food options out there now to choose from, making the switch so simple.

Justice, my mixed breed (she lived to a ripe old age of 13), ate a pre-mixed complete raw food diet from Big Country Raw. This is a great family-owned company, and is available in several provinces in Canada.

The convenience of having it come all ready to feed, without me having to worry about making sure her diet was balanced, and customer service was fantastic.

Your dog may not appear to be suffering from a processed kibble diet.  But you now know that your beloved pooch is a carnivore - which means that he will always fare the best when being able to eat the way he was designed... on a raw dog food diet.