All dog owners want to ensure their pets are happy and healthy, and one of the best ways to achieve this is through a balanced diet. A bad diet can lead to a number of canine health issues, including poor digestion, unpleasant stools, skin allergies and irritations, weight gain and unstable energy levels.
There is a wide range of different diets for dogs, with some replicating some more recent human food trends like veganism and raw food diets. In fact, a recent study by the University of Guelph in Canada found that 27% of vegan pet owners raise vegan dogs. There’s even insect dog food on the market now!
But how good are these diets for dogs? Here, we take a look at raw diets for dogs…
❗️Remember: Always consult a vet before introducing your dog to a new diet.❗️
WHAT IS RAW FEEDING?
Raw feeding aims to give dogs and cats a natural, unprocessed diet appropriate to their digestive systems and as close as possible to what they would have eaten in the wild. The stomach pH in dogs and cats is much lower than that of humans, meaning they are able to break down raw meat and bone.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS TO FEEDING YOUR DOG A RAW DIET?
Research by True Instinct recently found that over 62% of pet owners aren’t aware that some mainstream dry pet foods contain added sugars, salts, preservatives and meat derivatives. According to the pet food brand, dogs and cats can thrive on a raw diet and it has been shown to have a positive impact on a pet’s health and wellbeing.
One of the most overlooked aspects of raw feeding is the ‘back-end’ benefits it provides for pets. A raw diet is close to what they would have eaten in the wild and can be easier to digest and much lighter on sensitive stomachs, meaning much firmer and easier to pick up stools that are noticeably less smelly. With firmer stools, many pets suffering from anal gland issues have found a raw diet can really help to naturally empty the glands, rather than an uncomfortable trip to the vet to have them manually expressed.
Health benefits can include:
- fresher breath
- cleaner, whiter teeth
- more stable energy levels
- improved digestion
- reduction of allergies and intolerances
- increased palatability
- less flatulence
- firmer stools
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WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE TO OWNERS WHO ARE NEW TO RAW FEEDING?
The process of changing your pet’s diet can seem like a daunting prospect, however, using trusted PFMA and DEFRA approved suppliers and enquiring at your local vets can provide valuable insights into which diets provide the best results. Once you’ve chosen, follow these easy steps to ensure a smooth transition to a raw and natural diet:
1. Do your calculations – how much food will be required for your dog based on its size?
2. Be patient – a slow and gradual transition to raw over a period of seven days is advised, in order to avoid any tummy upsets and promote healthy digestion and metabolism. So, after calculating your dog’s daily rations, divide the food into 50% raw and 50% of your dog’s previous food and feed this to your dog in separate bowls over the course of the week. From day eight onwards, you should have fully transitioned to feeding your pet on a 100% raw and natural diet.
3. Safe production and delivery – raw manufacturers should follow strict government guidelines on manufacturing, storage, sourcing and bacterial testing. Always keep in mind that the same hygiene rules apply when handling raw pet food as they would for handling your own raw meat for consumption at home.
4. Be careful when kissing your dog – a 2019 study by Swedish researchers Veterinary Record found high levels of harmful bacteria in some raw meat dog produce, including E.Coli and traces of salmonella. This can be harmful if passed to humans.