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Yesterday, I shared a guest post to highlight why 96% of pet parents aren't feeding raw (if they know about this option). Today, I'm sharing a second guest post to show what finally pushed someone to make the switch to give us ideas on how to communicate with family and friends and inspire them to add fresh food to their dog's diet.
12 Reasons Why I Switched My Dogs to Raw Feeding
by Samantha Randall – YouTuber, podcaster, editor-in-Chief at Top Dog Tips
Raw feeding is not a new concept. The ancestors of dogs thrived over 10,000 years ago on raw food, which is why some dog owners believe it makes sense to put their pets on a raw diet. Despite the controversy and the debates, raw feeding offers many benefits. I’ve previously written here about why I was hesitant to switch to raw feeding, but after doing far more research into this and finally making the leap, I’d like to give you my 12 reasons why I thought it to be a good idea.
1. Raw diet improves the dog's coat and skin condition
This is the first change I was told I’ll notice I start feeding my dogs a raw diet. Their coat becomes shinier and their skin condition improves as well since due to an increased amount of amino acids from fresh protein sources. At least 30 percent of protein dogs digest goes towards improving their coat and skin. When their diet is low in this nutrient, their coat and skin are also the first to manifest the deficiency, which seems to be common when feeding cheap dry kibble.
2. Raw diet reduces dog skin allergies
It's common for dogs to suffer from food allergies because most dog foods readily available in the market are filled with additives, preservatives, and other unnatural ingredients. A dog's digestive system cannot process most of these ingredients well and it may also trigger food intolerance. While my dogs didn’t necessarily suffer from this, I see prevention being better than cure should it happen.
With the most recent studies coming out and finally showing the health benefis of raw diets, we now know that dogs have less allergic symptoms with a raw diet. Many pet owners feeding raw food for their dogs notice the reduction of skin itching, hot spots, and ear infection, which are the usual symptoms of food allergy.
3. Raw diet provides better dental hygiene
Contrary to popular notion, dogs fed on a raw diet have better dental hygiene. Their breath doesn't smell awful because of the quality of their food intake. The meat delivers a scrubbing action on their teeth so no particles stick to the gums.
Food that stays on the gum can lead to a bacterial formation that causes dental disease development. The raw bones dogs consume, on the other hand, are fresh and uncooked. So, it remains malleable, easy to masticate, and doesn't break their teeth. Raw meat also promotes stronger teeth. As dogs rip and tear the meat apart, their jaw muscles get some exercise.
4. The dog’s digestion improves with a raw diet
Some dog owners think that raw food may cause many stomach issues. On the contrary, aside from the fact that natural food is more digestible than processed, I found my pets’ digestion actually improves with a raw diet since the dogs also take a long time eating and chewing raw food. The longer they process food in their mouths, the more gastric juices are released. Their food becomes more digestible in the stomach as a result. Compare this to feeding my dogs dry kibble, where the dogs may easily gulp their food, which may result in vomiting or diarrhea.
5. There's less odor when dogs poop
Ever notice how commercially manufactured pet food makes your dogs poop frequently? Or how their poop smells really bad on a regular diet of dry kibble? This likely happens because they are fed low-quality kibbles that contain so many indigestible ingredients. Dogs that were switched to raw food do not need to go potty often so fewer nutrients become waste. Instead, their body absorbs these nutrients, thus promoting better health.
6. Their muscles are more toned with raw food
After the switch to raw feeding, the diet is primarily filled with protein and healthy fats, which help with muscle building. Dogs on a raw diet, who also have a good exercise regime, may look more bulked up in the right places. It’s likely the result of the food they consume, which works alongside the improvement of coat and skin. Their muscles are also a lot stronger on a raw food diet. They rarely experience joint pains as well.
7. It's better for managing the weight of the dog
Grain-based dog foods are rich in carbohydrates that break down into sugar in the dog’s body, which leads to frequent energy spikes and crashes. This makes the dogs susceptible to weight gain. On the other hand, there are no energy crashes with raw food. Dogs use every single bit of energy their body digests. As a result, they maintain a healthier weight.
8. Their immune system gets a boost
Dogs develop a better immune system with a regular raw diet since the food they eat is rich in fatty acids that aid in this body function. Raw feeding also lessens the inflammatory conditions in their body which ultimately helps the dog to fight joint health problems and arthritis symptoms.
Inflammation occurs when the immune system is trying to help the dog’s body heal from the free radicals and toxins that partially comes from a poor diet. If the immune system is weak, it can lead to chronic inflammation that may trigger other disease development like cancer and heart disease.
9. Dogs like the taste of raw food better
Kibbles and commercially made dog food might have flavor enhancers but these are just substitutes. Raw food doesn't have enhancers so the dogs basically get the most natural and real tasting food they can eat, particularly if it's fresh. I’m not surprised that my dogs now love the smell and taste of raw meat, whether fresh or in my homemade dog food recipes, even if that smell is still unappealing for me personally.
10. There are fewer ingredients in raw food and dogs take all of the nutrients
Dogs gain all the benefits from raw food's main ingredient: meat. Kibble and commercial food have loads of ingredients that some say can deliver the right amounts of the daily nutritional intake the dog needs. However, once food has been processed or cooked, because of the process called extrusion, it loses a significant amount of these nutritional content. That never happens with raw food.
11. Raw food has a positive effect on the dogs' behavior
Many owners observe that raw food seems to have influenced the way their dogs behave, and that’s one of the benefits I was looking forward to seeing. I’ve seen anecdotal claims that it might be because raw food has neither chemicals nor carbohydrates that spike insulin and hormone production that has been tied to behavioral issues.
After doing some research, I found a study from the 1980s that revealed that a regular diet of fresh meat makes dogs calmer. Dry food or kibbles, on the other hand, can fuel fussiness, stubbornness, aggression and other behaviors that make pet ownership a challenge.
12. There are fewer vet visits for dogs on a raw diet
Dogs tend to require fewer visits to the doctor or treatments because eating high-quality raw meat decreases their health issues. I’ve only seen this claimed by other dog owners and no particular statistics; however, it makes sense if we consider all the above health benefits of raw feeding.
Switching your dogs to a raw diet is a matter of personal choice, and the above points are just some of the good reasons that finally influenced my decision. Should you choose to do the same, to gain the most from this diet, always prepare quality fresh meat for your dogs with the right mix of organs and bones. You may include some fresh vegetables to their meals as well.
All raw feeders have an opportunity to educate others by sharing their knowledge and experience. Creating a blog isn't necessary; you can make a difference in a dog or cat's life by using your voice. By sharing your experience with others, you can provide an alternate perspective that helps pet parents see that raw feeding isn't risky, it's species appropriate.
Samantha's guest post inspired me to create an infographic that addresses her concerns (which are valid and shared by many) as well as one that promotes the benefits of raw feeding. Together, these can be shared on social media, with friends, and with family to raise awareness of the benefits of adding fresh food to a dog's diet.