There's no denying that feeding dogs a meat based, raw food diet is fast becoming a popular choice for health-conscious pet parents. For those that are curious but have some questions, lets look at the reasons why feeding raw is rapidly becoming the better alternative to dry dog food.
WHY DO WE FEED DOGS DRY BISCUITS AND TINNED FOOD?
Dry dog food gained popularity in the 50’s & 60’s for one reason and one reason only- convenience. Think of convenience foods for humans. Is it good for us? Mostly, no. Is it heavily processed and cheap? Yes. What would a lifetime of eating fast foods do to our body? The same rules apply for our pets. Dry dog biscuits and tinned food should be seen as convenience foods only and fed as such- rarely (if ever). Commercial pet food is mostly made up of poor quality ingredients that are essentially all the waste products from the human food industry. I keep a couple of tins in the cupboard for emergencies (i.e when I’ve forgotten to defrost meat) and tell the girls “It’s Maccas for dinner tonight!” when feeding it to them. They love it (of course), in the same way that I love cheeseburgers. Cheeseburgers are delicious, but nutritionally void and not good for me.
Make no mistake that global pet food manufacturing is big business. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. These guys have done a great job at convincing us that what’s in their bags is best for our pets, but it is far from it. With big budgets come celebrity endorsements and bottomless marketing budgets. Emotive advertising and schmick labelling is used to sell pet parents bags of totally nutritionally inappropriate food for dogs.
You could compare it to the perception of smoking in the 1950’s. The adverse effects of smoking had been publicized in 1949 but it wasn’t until the 70’s that people started to change their smoking habits. The change took decades because of how the media reported the “controversial” findings; as if they weren’t fact. The denial of the adverse effects of smoking from tobacco companies for many years is much like the denial we are seeing from pet food companies of today, insinuating that their offerings of "complete and balanced" meals in a highly processed and cooked dry biscuit is the best we can do for our pets nutritionally (when it is in fact the opposite!).
SO DOGS CAN EAT RAW MEAT AND BONES?
Yes, they absolutely can. And they will be much healthier for it. Dogs have very acidic stomach juices that can easily digest raw bones and kill bacteria. Transitioning a dog that has never eaten raw bones and meat should be done slowly over time though. I often hear “but bones make my dog sick”. This is because the introduction of raw meat and bones has not been done slowly enough for the pH level of the gastric juices to adjust accordingly. If your dog has never eaten raw meat and bones its something you need to introduce gradually- more about that later.
The only bones that can cause trouble for your pets are cooked bones, these should be avoided entirely due to their tendency to splinter and cause blockages.
Like with anything new, its best to use common sense when starting a dog on a raw food diet. If they’ve never eaten a bone before; supervise. I made the mistake of feeding Frankie a whole lamb heart once (which I had done for Lulu many times before). Frankie attempted to swallow it whole without chewing and almost choked. Now I cut the lamb heart into pieces for her. You know your dog better than anyone else, if they are scoffers, don’t give them bones they can choke on. If they have a tendency to over-do things, don't give them bones hard enough they can crack teeth on. If they have sensitive tummies, start with one protein and introduce everything slowly. You will find that after some time most dogs are naturals when it comes to eating bones!
WHY IS RAW FEEDING BETTER THAN KIBBLE?
Some may say that there is a lack of evidence based scientific studies backing the benefits of raw food diets. This is true. Why? Because studies cost money and currently, the Big 4 pet food manufacturers have all the money and are spending it on making sure you think kibble is best (and that raw is dangerous and difficult to do). Celebrity vets don’t put their faces on bags of dog food out of the goodness of their hearts.
There are lots of great things being done in this field and it is only a matter of time until all the anecdotal evidence is backed up with scientific studies.
Here is just one example
(see links at the end of this blog for more valuable raw feeding reading sources).
The 5 main reasons that feeding raw
is better than biscuits…..
1. Its how dogs are supposed to eat; their bodies are built for it and they thrive rather than just survive. One of the most noticeable differences of a raw fed dog is their lustrous, shiny coat....
Do a hashtag search on Instagram #rawfedshine for inspiration!
2. Dogs that eat raw bones have MUCH cleaner teeth and healthier mouths than dogs that eat kibble. Find a 10-year-old dog that has eaten kibble for its entire life with no bones, look at its teeth. If they are clean its probably because its had a clean under anaesthetic at the vet every year for the last 5. Find a 10-year-old dog that has been eating bones regularly for its entire life. Look at its teeth. There is no doubt and no comparison- “Raw meaty bones act as natures toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss combined.” and you CANNOT beat the dental health benefits of raw, meaty bones for dogs, especially with artificial full-of-crap synthetic "dental" dog chews.
3. Skin is the largest organ- we’ve heard it all before. Raw fed dogs have healthier skin. Its mostly to do with Essential Fatty Acids, google it :)
4. Smaller Stools- you may notice after feeding a raw diet that your dogs poo’s has decreased in size. People often think that their raw fed dog strains to defecate, but this is purely because their healthy little nuggets of hard poo are as they are supposed to be, and facilitate the natural emptying of anal glands this way. Don’t be concerned, a slightly hard to pass nugget is much better than a steady flowing soft serve!
5. Raw fed dogs don’t smell. You can pat them without having to wash your hands after, you don’t have to leave the room when they fart and their mouth is not a cesspool of stinky plaque. (*disclaimer: of course some raw fed dogs still manage some epic farts, we're not miracle workers :P).
BUT ISN’T IT HARD TO FEED RAW?
No, its actually quite straight forward. If you google “raw diet for dogs” you will be met with a vast array of information. There are a million different formulas, ratios and ways it can be done. Ultimately every dog is different and what works for your dog will be different to the dog next door. Its important to remember that dogs don’t need every meal to be “completely balanced” as pet food companies will have us believe. Balance just needs to be achieved over time. The very general rule for a BARF model diet is 80% meat/bones/offal and 20% veg/fruit, but don’t get too hung up on percentages and ratios too much when starting out.
DOESN’T KIBBLE HAVE EVERYTHING MY DOG NEEDS?
No, it does not. Mostly it has too much of some things and not enough of others. Kibble is a highly processed food with a plethora of deficiencies and excesses. The industry is notoriously under regulated (google "Advance Dermocare Recall"). Pet food manufacturers only have to guarantee minimum amounts which leaves dangerous maximums undetected, despite the damage they cause to pets over the course of a lifetime of consumption.
Historically, dogs are scavengers that can technically survive without meat. But if you want them to flourish, the benefits from a raw food diet based on raw meaty bones is unmatched.
WHAT ABOUT THE BIG BAG OF FOOD I ALREADY HAVE?
Keep it. Dry food lasts for a long time thanks to all the preservatives in it. And when you transition your dog to a raw diet you may want to do it slowly. As a matter of interest, go and put the current food you feed to your dog in petfoodreviews.com and see what the main ingredients are.
SO HOW MUCH IS THIS GOING TO COST ME?
Its true, feeding raw can be more expensive than a feeding your dog dry dog biscuits from the supermarket. You may find that compared to some “premium” dry foods its actually quite comparable. Can you put a price on good health and a long life? When you get asked at the dog park how you get your dog so shiny and healthy looking, you won’t regret a cent!
A healthier dog means less visits to the vet which over the lifetime of your pet will save you heaps!
Want to try your dog on a yummy raw meal?
Get in touch with us for a free sample, or check these options out....
Feed your dog a raw food diet.
Notice the following things….
- shiny lustrous coat (and hands that don't smell after patting!)
- cleaner teeth (no smelly breath!)
- smaller, firmer poo’s
- stronger immune systems (less illness & vet visits)
- no room clearing flatulence
- less boredom behaviours (enrichment from bone feeding)
- no obesity = longer life!
a happy, healthy and content dog!
Further reading on raw....