Though many people may disagree, one of the best things you can do for your dog is feed them healthy raw food. One of the top veterinarians and advisors in this field is Dr. Karen Becker, who has multiple videos on the subject. You can look up information from her and other sources as well.
Below we look at the reasons why feeding raw food is best for your dog.
1. Dogs Are Built to Eat Raw Meat
Dogs jaws only move up and down, which is different than a human. Dogs gulp their food quickly and don’t spend a lot of time chewing their food before swallowing it. Their teeth are razor sharp and designed to rip and tear flesh easily.
Plus, they have short GI (gastrointestinal, aka the stomach) tracts. They aren’t like a horse or other animals that eat a vegetarian diet, who need to ferment their foods to digest them. A dog’s digestive system is set up to get foods in and out quickly. They survive best when they eat fresh, living whole animals because their stomachs are made to handle the naturally occurring bacteria in that type of food.
2. The Truth About “Dog Food” Might Scare You
The concept of processed dog food is a new one which has only been around about the last 100 years or so. Before then, dogs were hunting their own prey for millions of years. More recently they also began scavenging food when humans came onto the scene.
The scary thing to know about pet food is that it has provided a place for humans to recycle leftover products from the human food industry. Things like uninspected food, diseased and dead livestock, roadkill, grains that have failed inspection – all these products are gotten rid of using a process known as “rendering”. Meat and fat from these leftovers are blended with unneeded starch, then a bulk vitamin and mineral supplement is added. Then the mixture is extruded at high temperatures - which create toxic reactions in the concoction.
Finally, this disgusting mixture (seriously, does it sound appetizing to you?) is sold to pet owners at a huge profit. All with cute labels and fun commercials showing happy dogs that make pet parents believe they are doing what is best for their dogs.
Pet companies have gotten smart and know that customers are becoming more educated. So, they’ve added words like “grain-free”, “no byproducts”, “all-natural” and more to their labels, but don’t be fooled – it’s still the same garbage.
The truly sad thing is that the reason pet food companies can continue to do this is that dogs are so resilient. You can feed them food that is basically junk and they won’t die immediately. Instead, they usually suffer from degenerative issues that most people (including veterinarians) never connect to the food the dog is eating. If you fed another animal, such as a snake, food that was so far off from what they should be eating, many of them would die immediately.
3. Dogs Can’t Get Adequate Nutrition from Dry Nuggets
Pet food companies would love for dog owners to believe that their companions can get all the nutrition they need from the same dry nugget fed to them day after day, year after year. You may have even heard this false information from veterinarians.
Other issues with commercial pet food include the fact that the heat used to process it destroys important vitamins, minerals and enzymes in the food. Therefore, supplements are required to replace those nutrients your pet should be getting naturally from their food.
Another common myth about pet food is that feeding dry nuggets is good for you dog’s dental health and if you don’t feed them crunchy food it could ruin their teeth. Or that raw food is a “trendy” phase that could be harmful to your dog. Or that disease, degeneration, and an animal’s poor vitality have nothing to do with the nourishment they receive every day. Most humans know that their own health is connected to how they eat and take care of themselves every day, the same is true for your dog.
Think about what some vets say and what you would do if a pediatrician said the same thing about your child. If your child’s doctor told you to only feed one brand of baby food to your baby, what would you think? What if your pediatrician said that a homemade diet could be dangerous to your child’s health? You might seek another doctor, and yet these are things that veterinarians say to pet owners every day.
4. Dogs Need Quality Proteins in Their Diet
Remember that for 99.999% of their time on this planet so far, dogs have hunted and eaten a natural raw, fresh diet. But for the last bit of time, they have been forced to consume a man-made, extruded, processed diet. This high carbohydrate, low moisture diet has now created metabolic and physiological stress, which can be traced back as the cause of the degenerative diseases facing a lot of pets these days.
Dogs need fresh, moist, whole foods. They don’t need artificial preservatives, additives, or colors. They don’t need grains, chemicals or byproducts.
That’s not to say that you can’t ever feed a dog a processed food. Sometimes it is more convenient and it’s likely not hurt your dog if they have this kind of food occasionally. But these foods are simply not designed in such a way to be healthy if eaten over a dog’s entire lifetime.
5. There is a Sad Truth About Most Dogs’ Diets
It’s almost heartbreaking to think about the fact that most dogs will go their entire lives without eating any of the healthy, whole, living foods they were meant to consume. Instead, they will be given an entirely processed diet from the time they are puppies to the time they grow old and die.
Dog owners must remember that this information isn’t about religion or political beliefs, it is about nature and what is best for a dog. It’s about giving them the kind of food they need to thrive, putting aside personal beliefs to do so if necessary.
6. Raw Dog Food Is Perfectly Safe – Despite What You May Have Heard
Some people may be frightened to feed raw food to their dog because they have heard that it can have toxins because it hasn’t been cooked or processed. While it’s true that there have been recalls on pet
food due to salmonella, this was usually done to protect humans – who can get salmonella from touching tainted processed dog food.
Keep in mind though that many pets have salmonella in their natural GI flora. They also shed salmonella through their feces and saliva, no matter what kind of food they eat. Which means people can get it no matter what kind of food their pet is eating.
The meat that is used in raw dog food diets is just like the chicken or steak you purchase for yourself to make your own dinner. This meat is USDA inspected and must be handled the same way you would handle any raw meat. Clean and disinfect counters, wash your hands before and after handling, wash pet bowls before and after use, sanitize surfaces often. With these same precautions, raw pet food is no more dangerous than raw human food.
Also, it’s important to know that raw pet food companies often take extensive measures to ensure bacteria is killed. And because the meat they use is already USDA inspected before it is made into pet food, then inspected again afterwards, it gets inspected twice – which goes beyond the standards of human food inspection.
Raw pet food companies also use the idea of herd health to ensure their meat is free of microbes. They know that research has shown evidence that cows which are happy, pastured, and live stress-free lives are less likely to have salmonella or e-coli compared to stressed, unhappy cattle sent to a feed lot.
7. Making the Switch Can Take Time, But It’s Worth It
Some dogs have experienced stomach issues when their owners have switched over to a raw diet too quickly. Then they take their dog to a vet, who hears about the diet change and perpetuates the story that raw diets are bad for dogs. But truthfully, it was the way the switch was made that caused the problem.
If a dog has been on nothing but dry, processed kibble their whole life it can be a shock to their system to suddenly feed fresh, raw food. After reading this article you may be tempted to throw out all your pet food and immediately change your dog’s diet to raw, but please be cautious.
In her videos, Dr. Becker advises that changing to raw food can take weeks or even months as raw food is digested differently than dry food. She suggests using the new food as a treat at first and watching your dog’s stool for any signs of diarrhea. If all goes well, you can try increasing the treats and continuing to watch for a few days. Then you can try replacing one entire meal with the new raw food and again watch your dog for any signs of digestive stress. You may want to do this step for several days, before adding more raw food. If all goes well after several days, you can try stopping the old food completely and feeding nothing but the new raw food.
But again, use common sense and be ready to do this for a while to ensure you dog gets used to the new food. Also, if your dog has a sensitive stomach, this weaning process can take much longer. If their digestive system is in poor health, it can take time and perhaps more supplemental support to convert their system over to absorbing proper nutrition. But it will be worth it in the end. Be sure to work with a veterinarian who understands leaky gut syndrome and functional medicine as this will be important to your dog’s transition.
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