As many pet owners will know, the raw diet is high up on the feeding scale. Most holistic veterinarians will suggest the raw diet as a cure for a lot of chronic illnesses. Why is this? Diet plays an extremely important role in the overall health of dogs and cats alike; so feeding them a biologically correct meal will do wonders for any ailments they may be suffering.
What is the raw diet? Maybe you have never heard of it before and are wondering what this special food plan entails. Perhaps you have heard of it and are just afraid to try it due to many unknown variables. The raw diet is a special food plan that feeds only raw meat, bones, and some vegetables and supplements. It is designed to be the natural diet a dog or cat would have if they were in the wild; a more biologically appropriate food plan if you will.
Today I will do a question and answer panel for the raw diet to hopefully clear up any confusion one may have on the raw diet.
How Was the Raw Diet started?
The raw diet technically goes back to the primal instincts of your dog’s ancestors. Wolves are carnivores by nature and their diet primarily is made up of fresh meat and bones. Usually, the only time wolves would ingest plants or vegetation would be through the internal organs of the animal they ate (i.e. their stomach).
However, when times are tough in the wild, wolves have been known to eat plants to survive. Many people will use organic fruits and vegetables in the raw diet to boost vital minerals and vitamins.
What Does the Raw Diet Entail?
As mentioned before, the raw diet is exactly how it sounds. Optimal choices of food would be rich meats such as liver, heart, brain, and stomach of animals such as beef, venison, rabbit, lamb, and chicken. Raw marrow bones are excellent sources of vitamins and are natural teeth cleaners. Normal kibble foods have a lot of starch in them which causes build up of sugars, which in turn becomes plaque on dog’s teeth. Giving your dog raw meaty bones helps keep that plaque at bay and promotes strong dental health.
As I mentioned earlier, some people may choose to give their dog vegetables and fruits along with the meat. Some appropriate vegetation would be carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cranberries, blueberries, bananas, and spinach. All of these are high in essential vitamins like Vitamin A, B, and K.
Other things you may find in a raw diet are eggs (high in protein), raw goat’s milk (excellent for anti-inflammatory purposes), and fish oil (high in Omega-3’s which promote shiny coats and cardiovascular health).
Won’t My Dog Get Sick?
This is where many arguments form out of the raw diet feeding plan. Some vets and owners refuse to feed raw diet because they have an aversion to raw meat. Whether it is due to the texture or sight, or even due to the fear of disease.
I will be honest; with any raw food there is an underlying risk of salmonella, E. coli, worms, and other infectious diseases. However, if you take proper precautions and only buy your meat and vegetables from reputable sellers, there should not be any threat of illness.
Also, properly freezing the meat will avoid any issues. Freezing for a few days before feeding will ensure any bacteria that may still be living in the meat will be killed before your dog can eat it.
My suggestion would be to purchase your meat of choice from a local butcher shop that is family owned or a farm that raises their own meat. That way you will know exactly where your dog’s food is coming from and the health of that animal before it was butchered. Farmer’s markets and orchards are great places to find sources of fruits and vegetables to add as well.
Washing your produce before using it will keep sickness at bay, as well as your hands and any dishes and utensils used to prepare the food and after consumption. If there is an expiration date on the meat, always try and give it to your dog way before that date.
Do I Need to Cook Anything?
No! Raw diet is exactly as it sounds; everything is raw and natural. Cooking food at high temperatures depletes the food of all of its vital nutrients. Even the bones are better in their natural, raw state. Cooking bones causes brittleness which can cause splintering, which then can be a health hazard for your pup.
How Do I Afford This?
It is true that cost can be an issue when considering the raw diet. Choosing high-quality meats and produce can put a dent in the ol’ pocket book. However, it ends up working out better financially in the long run. With the raw diet, a lot of common ailments disappear, resulting in less vet bills over time.
There are other ways of feeding the raw diet through commercial brands such as Primal, Raw Instinct, Darwin’s Natural Foods, and Steve’s. They create raw and holistic food formulas that can be purchased ready to feed or give you the tools necessary to feed a fully raw diet.
All of these brands go through rigorous testing to make sure there is no disease in their ingredients, and all ingredients are organic and humanely grown.
So, What are the Actual Benefits of the Raw Diet?
Why should you feed raw?
Well, that decision is up to you! However, it is backed by science if you choose to begin this amazing diet. As mentioned before, raw feeding is appropriate for dogs because they are biologically carnivorous. The nutrients they receive from raw food are so powerful, it keeps them from having many chronic illnesses and fixing smaller ones such as allergies, hair loss, smelly poo, obesity, and vitamin deficiency.
Many kibbles and wet foods have had recalls and deadly health consequences. The high temperatures that these foods are cooked at deplete any real source of nutrition from them and therefore causing health issues over long periods of time. Also, you may never know where your dog’s food is sourced from with certain brands.
Raw diet helps keep teeth and gums clean, boosts energy, helps promote strong digestive health; therefore resulting in lesser amounts of bowel movements and smells, a healthy, shiny coat, and an overall happier dog.
How Do I Get Started?
There are many resources when deciding to raw feed that will point you in the right direction. Stepping into your local holistic pet supplies store is always a good choice; or finding an online community of raw and holistic diet feeders can help. Most vets will also point you in the right direction, especially holistic veterinarians.
When transitioning into raw food, you will want to make sure you do so slowly. It can take up to two weeks for a dog to fully adjust to the new diet. You want to avoid any upset tummies while doing this!
It is also a good idea to rotate meat sources. Spend a few months on one meat, such as rabbit and then in about three months, try a new source, such as sardines. This will keep your dog from getting stuck on one source of protein, which can cause vitamin deficiency over time.
There are many online resources and books that can help you with the raw diet. Some available books are:
–Going Rawr: A Dog Lover’s Compendium By: Maggie Rhines
–Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet: Healthier Dog Food the ABC Way By: Steve Brown
–Raw Dog Food: Make it Easy for You and Your Dog By: Carina Beth McDonald
There you have it! A quick guide to the raw diet. I strongly believe that this is the way to go when feeding your dog. I have seen the results myself and it is amazing! Your dog will thank you as well!