What Is a Raw Diet for Dogs?
A raw diet is simply a combination of uncooked, non-processed, primarily meat based ingredients that are easily digestible by your dog and provide the most bioavailable nutrition possible. Raw food is far superior for your dog’s nutrition than cooked or processed food. Not only does cooking food destroy important nutrients and enzymes, it also removes the natural moisture content your dog needs for proper hydration.
Why Should I Feed Raw?
Dogs are considered to be facultative carnivores, not omnivores. That means that their digestive system is designed to derive the majority of their nutrition from a meat based diet. Because dogs are so adaptive, they can survive, but not thrive, on a non-carnivorous diet. Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t understand canine physiology or is probably selling carbohydrate based dog food. Cooking foods changes the molecular structure of that food, kills important enzymes and reduces its nutritional value. For those concerned about potentially harmful bacteria, it’s important to know that a dog’s GI tract is much shorter than ours and their stomach is much more acidic. This protects them from any potentially harmful bacteria.
What Are the Benefits of Feeding Raw?
There are a multitude of benefits that come from feeding your dog a raw diet. Here are just some of those benefits you will enjoy in the first month when you start feeding your dog a raw diet:
- Healthier skin and softer & shinier coat
- Better breath and oral hygiene
- Increased muscle tone
- Less poop to scoop
To read more about the benefits of feeding raw Click Here
What Ingredients Should Go Into a Raw Diet?
- Muscle Meat – most of your dog’s protein should come in the form of muscle meat. It is the foundation of a raw diet and should make up the majority of your dog’s diet. Dogs don’t thrive on plant based proteins like soy, peas or beans.
- Organ Meat – Organs are where the majority of your dog’s nutrients come from. You can think of them as their daily multivitamin they need to maintain good health.
- Edible Bone – Bone provides the calcium that your dog needs for a healthy skeletal system. But not all bones are edible or safe for your dog to eat. Some of the best forms of bone are duck heads, turkey necks or rib bones.
- Veggies & Fruit – Plants make up a small but very important part of your dog’s diet. They are a great source of vitamins and minerals as well as enzymes and antioxidants. Plants also provide important prebiotics fiber. Since these plant fibers aren’t digested, they travel to your dog’s lower digestive tract to be a food source for the healthy bacteria in their gut.
- Natural Supplements – Raw diets are modeled after the type that a dog or wolf would naturally find in the wild (typically consuming whole prey). This is where supplements help fill in the gap by providing things that are essential for optimum health.
Two Basic Ways to Feed Raw
When it comes to feeding your dog a raw diet, there are two basic options:
- Pre-made Raw Dog Food: With pre-made raw dog food someone else does all the hard work.You simply buy and feed. Pre-made meals should ideally be formulated by a canine nutritionist (not just a vet or dog owner) and contain only high end ingredients. Look for brands that tell you what cut of meat they are using and don’t just say “beef” or “turkey.” These meals are typical sold frozen, dehydrated or freeze-dried. However, since the natural moisture content of raw meats is such a crucial component of canine nutrition we highly recommend you feed as close to fresh as possible.
- Homemade DIY Raw Dog Food: Making raw meals for your dog on your own is totally doable, but it will require that you do a bit of research to ensure that you are meeting your dog’s caloric and nutritional needs.
How Will I Know How Much To Feed?
Most dog food brands just give you a chart on the back of the bag telling you to feed a certain percentage of your dog’s body weight in food each day. Even worse, they may tell you just to give them a certain amount of cups of food every day.
The truth is it’s a little more complicated than that. First, since every dog is different, you would need to consider all the key factors that contribute to your dog’s daily nutritional needs (like breed, age/life stage, activity level, reproductive status, etc.). Then you would need to know the caloric and nutritional value of the food you are feeding your dog. Balance that with the state of your dog’s current health and body condition and you’ll be getting close to knowing how much to feed them daily.
The best way to figure out the perfect amount of food your dog needs is to take our 3 minute assessment. It’s been developed by our amazing canine nutritionist and it takes into consideration all the critical components of your individual dog and recommends the right amount to keep them healthy and thriving. Take the guesswork out of feeding your dog a healthy, complete and balanced raw diet.
When & How Should I Transition My Dog to Raw?
There is no time like the present. If you have a puppy and they have already been weaned (6-10 week) then you can start transitioning them to raw dog food. If you have an older dog, it’s never too late to transition them to a raw diet. In some cases it will help make their later years their best years.
Just like people, however, some dogs can handle a diet change without skipping a meal, while others may be more sensitive and need a little more help transitioning. The key is to determine the approach that is right for both you and your dog.
If you’re ready to make the switch to a raw diet, download our Complete Guide to Transitioning Your Dog to Raw Food. It’s help you pick the right approach for your situation.