Feeding your dog a raw food diet is a fast growing trend at the moment. So why it stands apart from your ordinary kibble?
What is a Raw Food Diet for Dogs?
The objective of a raw food diet is to provide your dog with the most readily available bio-available nutrition. This essentially means your dog is getting food in its whole form without any processing. Therefore, it has the highest, intact amount of natural vitamins, minerals and enzymes that your pet can absorb and process.
“There are seven basic categories of nutrients that your pet requires. Water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates (including fiber), vitamins and minerals.” Explains Hill’s Pet Nutrition Veterinary Advisor, Dr Guy Fyvie.
With most forms of store bought pet food, the quantity of real meat used is usually quite low, in order to make it cheaper. The other concern is that the majority of nutrients the food should contain are destroyed due to the fact that it gets extruded at extremely high temperatures.
Lastly, in order to prolong its shelf life, many preservatives are added which have the same negative effects on your pet that it would on you.
However, not all readily available kibble and pellets are unhealthy for your dog. Many veterinary recommended brands usually have got far better nutritional value, given that produce used is of good quality and has been extruded at a low, undamaging temperature.
Nutritional consultant for Paleo Pets Pure, Isis Limor, always suggests the following advice when in search for the best food for your pet, “look for simple ingredients that have names you can recognise and pronounce”.
Is a Raw Food Diet Better?
At this point, there have been no scientific studies done to prove that a raw food diet is in any way better for your dog than a premium quality pellet brand. However, what is understood a nutrient rich diet is necessary for optimal health.
“A readily available nutrient profile with appropriate protein, energy and micronutrients is key.” Explains Kyle Smith, owner of Bentley Natural Dog Food.
Switching Your Dog to a Raw Food Diet
It is important to do your homework and know what to look for first…
- High levels of Omega 3
Just as with humans, this essential fatty acid is quite scarce in our diets and crucial for wellbeing.
- Leafy greens that have are broken down
Dogs in particular do not have the enzymes necessary to break down raw green vegetables.
- Healthy calcium and phosphorus levels
Experts recommend that each mineral should take up less than 1% of your dog’s meal
- Locally sourced brands
It’s extremely important to choose a local brand to ensure the integrity of the food is not compromised. With shipping raw food, you will always run a higher risk of bacterial contamination.
- A manufacturer registered with the Department of Agriculture
The Department of Agriculture performs all the necessary microbiology examinations to ensure its produce is safe for consumption.
Keeping Your Dog on a Pellet-Based Diet
- Stay clear of artificial ingredients
BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) is a carcinogenic product that is used to preserve the fat in dry food.
Ethoxyquin is actually a main ingredient in herbicides and is associated with many ailments such as kidney and liver damage.
- Watch out for corn syrup
This is commonly found in both human and pet food and it is always best to stay away from it, as the sugar content can lead to weight gain, diabetes or hyperactivity.
- Limited Grain
A certain amount is necessary as it serves as a form of fiber, however in high quantities the can become nutrient blockers.
- Whole meat sources
Always look for simple meat ingredients to ensure you are getting the best quality protein. Stay clear of ingredients that use the word “derivatives”.
- Supplement in some whole food
Every now and then, try and add some whole food to your pet’s diet. It’s best way to give them access to powerful anti-oxidants and phyto-nutrient.