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 walls 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 (sometimes sharp!) 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).

His 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?

Raw Dog Food DietA good raw dog food diet consists of human
grade meat.
Photo courtesy of Sam17 via Flikr

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 a raw dog food diet - a dog who is fed raw meat has clean, white teeth, amongst many other raw dog food benefits.

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.  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 and cooked 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.

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:

  • Dogs are omnivores (we already took care of that one)
  • Raw diets are not considered "well-balanced"
  • 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
  • Feeding raw meat will make a dog aggressive!
  • Raw diets are troublesome and overly expensive
  • Raw bones are not safe for my dog to eat

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.

As for commercial treats, these morsels tend to be very high in preservatives, coloring, grains and other fillers.  Raw meaty bones are one type of healthier treat choice.

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.

Justice, my 7-year-old mixed breed, eats Big Country Raw (available in several provinces in Canada) - it's a pre-mixed complete raw food diet that comes in handy plastic 1, 2 and 4 lb. containers.

Your dog may not appear to be suffering from a processed kibble diet.  But you now know that dogs were designed to eat meat, not carbohydrates. 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 food diet.

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