RAW DOG FOOD THEORY
WHY RAW DOG FOOD?
If you’re just learning about raw dog food and feeling it out, you might be wondering whether feeding your dog raw is even going to be worth it.
Kibble-based foods are just so easy!
Scoop, pour, done! (repeat)
Ok, so maybe your dog has always itched like crazy, and maybe his coat resembles a dry and dusty mop, but that’s not diet-related is it?
Some dogs are just born with the tendency to be smelly and itchy, right?
Would you be surprised if I told you that many of the so-called chronic health conditions your dog experiences could be directly linked to his diet?
The numerous testimonials from overjoyed owners seems to indicate there just might be something to this raw food craze.
THEORETICAL BASIS FOR FEEDING YOUR DOG RAW
It’s probably important that I clarify what exactly I mean by a raw food diet:
We are by no means providing the final authoritative definition on what a raw food diet is, but there are a few key themes that the different schools of thought have in common.
Basically, a raw food diet is designed to replicate a dog’s natural ancestral diet.
No matter what model you follow, leaders in the movement seem to agree that muscle meat, organ meats, and bones in their raw form should compose the majority of a dog’s diet as this is what their wolf ancestors would have eaten in the wild. The inclusion of vegetables, fruits, and other tasty forms of fiber are all in the details.
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You might be looking at your chihuahua right now and having some serious doubts about his relationship with a vicious wolf. Your dog doesn’t even like going out in the rain, much less chase down a wild boar.
But no matter your dog’s size, the theory behind raw food feeding is that ALL modern dogs are descendants of wolves.
So even though their personalities have changed (can you say diva?) and they may look a little different, they’re genetically designed to eat the diet of their wild ancestors. They’re not meant to eat the carbohydrate-based foods that are peddled by many veterinarians and pet food stores these days.
And what is the optimal diet?
As stated before, muscle meats, organ meats, and meaty bones because a wolf would have eaten the whole animal, leaving nothing to waste. At the same time, some proponents believe including certain herbs, fruits, and vegetables is beneficial because a wolf would have eaten the contents of their prey’s stomach (gross, I know).
And that’s it.
No starches, no polyunsaturated oils, and especially no grains!
Only recently in dog’s evolutionary history have they started eating grains. In fact, proponents of this way of eating strongly believe that many of the diseases we’re seeing in our dogs now are actually due to the inclusion of inflammatory foods like legumes and grains in our dog’s food.
Remove the toxins and the inflammation (e.g., excessive itching, allergies, dandruff, and rashes) goes away.
BUT WHAT'S SO WRONG WITH CONVENTIONAL KIBBLE?
You may be on the defensive, protesting that there is nothing wrong with your kibble-based dog food. You’ve fed it to your dog for years and he’s still alive isn’t he?
This is true, your dog is surviving, but is he thriving?
Unlike humans, canines haven’t had a long history of eating cooked foods. Have you ever seen a band of wolves get out the tinder and flint to cook the bison they just took down?
Send pictures, if so.
In fact, cooked foods can shorten the lifespan of domestic dogs by a significant amount.
A study conducted in Stockholm, Sweden demonstrated that initially a cooked food diet appears to be healthy in young animals, but after those animals reached maturity, they began to age rapidly and developed a number of chronic and degenerative diseases.
Conversely, another group of animals were raised on a raw food diet and did not age as quickly or develop any of the degenerative diseases their cooked counterparts did.
But there’s so many more issues beyond just the actual cooking of the food. Another problem with kibble is that you really have no idea what’s ending up in your dog’s bowl.
Toxins and harmful ingredients can easily find their way into industrial kibbles. Toxins including aflatoxins (mold from added starch), heterocyclic amines (toxin from cooked meat), acrylamides (toxin from cooked vegetables), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (flame retardant added during processing) are not uncommon additions to many conventional pet foods.
Many of these toxins are cancer-causing, slowly building up in your pet’s tissues through the process of bioaccumulation, causing disease over time.
And finally, cooked food loses much of its nutritional properties. Have you noticed on the back of your kibble bag that most companies add a slew of chemically-derived vitamins and minerals?
Just like Froot Loops and Lucky Charms, companies fortify their foods because the original product isn’t much more than empty carbs. I hope you’re convinced that dry kibble just isn’t the way to go.
I know it can be so much easier, but at the end of the day do you really want your dog to live off what is the equivalent of Canine Cocoa Puffs?
RAW DOG FOOD TRENDSETTERS
Maybe you’re thinking, if this diet is so great then why isn’t everyone doing it right now? In fact, my vet has never mentioned anything about raw food potentially curing my dog’s constant itching, and wouldn’t she know best?
The conspiracy theorist and answer-a-question-with-a-question person in me would respond, rhetorically:
Who’s going to fund the raw-dog-food-is-best-for-your-dog research studies?
Americans are predicted to drop a cool $24.01 BILLION on dog food in 2016, so…probably not dog food companies.
But I digress – that discussion is much needed, but we’ll save it for another day.
Raw food hasn’t gone mainstream, although it is definitely rising in popularity. But it’s not exactly true that raw food is a ‘new’ concept. In fact, owners of sled dogs, racing greyhounds, and working dogs have been feeding raw food to their dogs for decades in the belief that it is the healthiest diet for high-performance pooches.
And not to name drop (but to name drop), but there are a fair few celebrities who have adopted a raw food diet for their four-legged best friend. In fact, it’s recently become trendy for stars to put their dogs on a raw food cleanse.
After you stop rolling your eyes, you may stop to consider the benefits. Actors including Shannon Elizabeth, Alison Eastwood, Travis Barker, and Woody Harrelson have all used a canine cleanse to maximize their pups health to ward off the health-damaging effects of processed dog food.
If you’re thinking this is just another trend celebrities are jumping on, stop to consider that celebrity fitness advisor, Jack Lalanne, was feeding his German Shepherd, Happy, a raw dog food diet way before it was trendy.
BUT IS RAW FEEDING RIGHT FOR MY DOG?
Raw food feeding is not another trend.
It can be a healthy and extremely nutrient-dense way of feeding your dog if done correctly.
If you’re still on the fence, consider the current health of your dog. A raw food diet could be especially beneficial if your pooch experiences any of these ailments:
- Dogs with bad breath and gum disease
- Dogs with poor digestion
- Dogs with a dull coat and/or itchy skin (dandruff, rashes etc.)
- Dogs with a low immune system
- Dogs with poor stool composition
- Dogs with inflammatory disease including arthritis
Just to be clear, any dog will benefit with the adoption of a raw food diet, but owners of pets with a number of chronic health conditions may be pleasantly surprised to see these diseases clearing up, to be presented with a healthy and happy pup!
If you’re interested in the number of health benefits of eating a raw food diet, then just take a look.
- Reduced vet bills due to an elimination or management of chronic health conditions.
- Healthy and clean teeth and gums
- The elimination of bad breath and the notorious ‘dog’ smell
- Smaller and better smelling stools that degrade quickly
- Healthy weight (skinny dogs gain weight, and obese dogs lose weight)
- Greater physical and psychological well-being due to increased nutrient consumption
- Elimination and management of inflammatory health conditions including arthritis, allergies, skin conditions, and dull coats
- Better digestion (say goodbye to smelly gas!)