What can a balanced raw diet do for my dog?
There is a growing movement in health and diet considerations to go back to fresh, whole foods and get away from chemically-laden over-processed diets. Our pets can benefit from this movement as well by being fed a species-appropriate diet of minimally processed whole food. A diet that is “farm/ranch to table” fresh and geared toward what a dog should be eating based on the way their stomach and gut is designed is the best route to optimal health.
Humans are considered omnivores, meaning we can digest and assimilate food from both plant and animal origin. We have a medium length digestive tract that can handle both food sources. Horses, cattle, sheep, etc. are considered herbivores, meaning they require food from plant origins. They would no more want to chow down on a hamburger than we would a pile of hay. Their digestive tracts are very long, and in some cases include multiple stomachs, which are required to digest and obtain the most nutrients possible from the plant matter. Cats are what is known as obligate carnivores, meaning they require a diet of high protein animal sources. Although we do try to feed cats carbohydrates and grains in commercial diets, it is to their detriment and decreased good health. Dogs are considered carnivores or omnivores, depending on the person or group involved as there is no one label that everyone can seem to agree upon. Dogs can cope with some plant matter in the diet, but they are generally unable to break it down into a digestible form (unless pulverized) and therefore unable to obtain optimum nutrition from such foods. Whatever the label you might want to use, they do have the short digestive tract that is geared toward quick digestion of high protein foods from animal origins.
By feeding a raw diet to your dog you are feeding a species-appropriate diet designed to work in conjunction with their digestive tract. Similar to an engine in a car – you must provide the correct fuel for optimal performance. Yes, dogs have evolved to be human companions, but their digestion is still largely that of their primal ancestors. Just because they can cope with plant matter in the diet does not mean they thrive on that type of diet, as we are seeing with shorter life spans and higher incidence of disease in our pets. Dogs don’t have digestive enzymes in their mouths as we do, they don’t need to chew their food as we do, their body processes are not evolved to break down and utilize plant-based diets as ours are, they do not build muscle or obtain energy from carbohydrates, and they require the variety of essential amino acids present in high-protein meats and animal products.
- Feeding a balanced raw diet provides those amino acids that are damaged by cooking and processing such as you see with commercial kibble and canned foods.
- Whole food nutrients are better assimilated by the body than the synthetic versions of vitamins in commercial kibble and canned foods.
- For us as well as our pets, the gut is the key to a healthy immune system. Nearly 70% of the immune system is impacted by the gut. By feeding a diet that promotes gut health as well as overall health, you are improving the immune system through proper feeding and that benefits EVERY aspect of your pets’ health.
Improvements you will SEE from feeding a raw diet include:
- Fresh breath and cleaner teeth
- Softer and shiny coat
- Less “dog” odor
- Smaller stools (because they are assimilating more of the ingested food)
- More energy (dogs require FAT and high protein food sources for energy)
- Increased muscle/leaner body mass
Benefits for your dog from feeding a raw diet that may not be visible to the naked eye:
- A species-appropriate diet geared to work with your dog’s digestive system
- Optimal nutrition for proper organ function
- Less intestinal irritation generally due to a high carbohydrate/highly processed diet
- Stronger immune system
- Possible decreased arthritic symptoms, degenerative disease symptoms, and allergy symptoms
- Possible increased longevity and slower signs of aging