Dogs and Raw Food? Everything You Need to Know About Feeding Raw Diet to Your Dogs
You always knew that your meals were not good for your canine friends. So, is the chemically prepared laboratory-made food the only alternative for them?
Well, no. Most people have limited to no knowledge about feeding dogs raw food. As a result, they stick with the food laden with preservatives which can sometimes lead to health complications.
Our own lifestyle can drive a simple analogy. Food containing preservatives and fat is the prime reason for lifestyle diseases that we all suffer from or face risk in the future. Our pets, too, face the same risk. Though not all undergo the same fate, don’t ignore the high-risk factor.
Here are some points that you should know about the food you have been feeding your dogs over the years.
Food or preservatives?
It is hard to deny the fact that these processed foods don’t contain any chemical preservatives.
Preservatives are an essential part of improving the shelf life of the products. And the packaged dry food that we often buy cannot be stored for so long if it weren’t for the preservatives. There are two kinds of preservatives. Though both are not good for the health, the artificial one does pose a threat to many diseases.
These toxins are prevalent in several commercially marketed dog foods, even after knowing their potential health risks because the mentioned levels are safe, according to the FDA. Preservatives like BHA and BHT are carcinogenic, while ethoxyquin also finds its purpose as a pesticide. Moreover, the producers are not liable to enter the preservatives added to the raw material (like meat), which are processed elsewhere.
Hence, the net result is an unquantified amount of chemicals in the daily diet of the pets.
Why is this a concern?
Eating food with preservatives once in a while does not spare you from the troubles. So imagine your dogs eating them all the time!
If you want your dogs to avoid this fate, or if your dog is overweight, susceptible to allergies or health conditions, or has a sensitive stomach, then going raw may be the best choice.
Why is a raw diet good?
The raw diet implies the natural diet of canines before they were domesticated.
Hence, going back to the wild also results in them having added health benefits like shinier coats, healthier skin, better stomach, improved oral health, less inflammation, stronger immunity, reduced allergies, etc.
It is also common to feed raw meat to the hounds that participate in hunting and game.
Hence, other than small risks that you should bear in mind, a raw diet is healthy for your dogs.
What should be kept in mind!
One of the most important things that you should note down while shifting to the raw diet is whether the diet is nutritionally balanced for your dogs.
Having an improper balance is where many people go wrong and make mistakes. A diet that does not provide nutritional requirements may do more harm than good. A balanced diet for dogs should include proteins, fats, calcium, and other essential minerals. Thus, the things that you can include are muscle meat, bones, organ meat (it may sound gross, but yes!), fruits and vegetables, mussels, etc.
Guidelines To Feed A Balanced Raw Diet
Just like us, dogs all follow a certain proportion. Unlike humans, dogs don’t demand much carbohydrates. Their main source of energy requirements is met by proteins, followed by fats, and lastly carbohydrates. Enriching the diet with protein and fat is important. Avoid too much fat limiting the total fat intake to 10-20% of the diet. A low-fat diet may bring the risk of dry skin, while a large amount of fats brings calories. Make sure that the source of fats is not saturated fats.
The mineral that is vital for proper growth is calcium. A primary source of it is bone. Bones are a good source of calcium and other vital minerals like phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium. Deficiency in these may result in deformity of bones, crippling, and even seizure. Thus, dogs demand 10-15% of these nutrients for the proper growth of their body. The requirement may go up if the dog is a puppy or very advanced in age. An alternative to the bone is eggshells. Many feeders use this even though it is not a wholesome option as it lacks other nutrients. Seaweed calcium is also a good source of calcium.
Organ meats are sources of vitamins and certain essential components that dogs need in the growth and development stage. For example, the liver is the source of vitamins, whereas the kidney and pancreas are a source of essential enzymes. Feeding the dogs the right amount of organs is important, but most feeders focus only on these. At the maximum, these organ meats should not exceed 20% of the daily diet. Vitamin D is one vitamin that is hard to obtain, especially through diets. The best alternative is fatty fish and mussels, which are a rich source of vitamins.
When to avoid it?
Though a raw diet is good, it comes with certain risks which you can control.
One of the reasons that deter most people is the possible risk of bacteria and other possible microorganisms that can pass from dogs to humans, risking the health of all. Thus, most people don’t recommend the raw diet to dogs who live with people with weakened immunity like babies and the elderly. Be highly careful while handling the raw meats for dogs and avoid all chances of possible contamination.
Another factor is the risk of choking on the bones. If the bone size is not too large, then the dogs may try to gulp it down, resulting in choking or infection in the gut because of the sharp edges. Don’t buy bones that are too small.
Lastly, if your dog does not respond well to the raw diet, there is a high chance that the diet is lacking in something. Consult a vicenarian and discuss the probable ways where you might have gone wrong. You can also opt for freeze-dried foods if you are worried about the kibble.
How much is too much?
A general call is to feed them 2-3% of their body weight. Though a more active dog and puppies may need more depending on the additional requirements, the general thumb rule may suffice all. It may also vary depending on the breed and the climatic conditions they are growing in.
However, it is also important to take your call. If your dog puts on weight, then you can consider toning the diet a bit down.
The transition requires a certain period of time. Your dog must get accustomed to the raw food, unlike the processed one. Many may show symptoms of getting sick.
Well, experts suggest that this is a time of detoxification for your dogs, as they are releasing the toxins accumulated in the body over a period of time. Symptoms like dry skin, abnormal stool, excess shedding, and watery eyes show that the dog’s body has started acclimatizing with the food.
Clean water and goats’ milk may help the dogs to ease the pain during their detox period. If the period lasts for too long, visit a vet.
The raw diet is increasing in favor due to the awareness about the preservatives in kibbles. However, an unbalanced raw diet may do more harm than kibble. Hence, proper knowledge and expert advice should be sought before transitioning.