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Why raw dog food?

Posted 15 December 2020

When you think of “dog food”, what is the image that pops into your head? For a lot of people, it’s the smelly tinned “meat” that you’ll find at the supermarket in the same aisle as the bin bags, bleach, and other kitchen cleaning products. Most of these products contain poor-quality meats, additives, and other ingredients (like grains) which your dog probably wouldn’t choose if they could— EU regulations actually require these products display a “not for human consumption” warning on the label!

So, is this the only option we have when considering what food to feed our 4-legged family members? Thankfully, there are alternatives.

What is the raw diet for dogs?

The raw dog food diet is usually made up of uncooked meats, bone, vegetables, fruits, raw eggs, and some dairy. Popularised in the 1990’s by veterinarian Ian Billinghurst (he called this the “BARF diet” for dogs; Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) raw dog food is the fastest growing sector of the pet food market today.

What are the benefits of a raw diet for your dog?

Low-grade dog food contains large amounts of starch derived from grains, which while digestible, contains virtually no nutritional value. Too much starch can lead to negative health effects for your dog, such as dry, itchy skin or loose stools.

By switching to a raw diet, your dog can enjoy the following benefits:

  • Easier digestion.
    • Compared to low-grade food prepared through extrusion (which also strips vital minerals and vitamins), dogs have a much easier time digesting raw food.
  • Better nutrition.
    • Without the additives commonly found in lower-grade alternatives, or the loss of nutrients through cooking— raw food maintains it’s nutritional value.
  • Better poos.
    • As dog owners, we particularly appreciate this benefit! As raw food contains only all-natural ingredients, your dog’s poos will be one of the first changes that you’ll notice. Less smelly, less runny, and much, much easier to bag.
  • Shinier coats.
    • Switching to the nutrient-rich food found in the raw diet, your dog now has all the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy-looking coat— without the need for supplements. No more hiding supplements in their meals!
  • Healthier skin.
    • If your dog suffers from dry and itchy skin, you may find switching to a raw diet helps. Many dog owners have reported improved skin condition when switching from a low-grade, high-starch diet to a raw diet.
  • Better oral health.
    • Compliment regular brushing and dental check-ups with a raw meaty bone. The act of scraping their teeth against the bone, while pulling bits of gristle and meat with their teeth is beneficial in the same way as we floss and brush our own.

How to start your dog on a raw diet.

Now you know the benefits of a raw diet, let’s talk about how to get started with your dog. Follow these simple rules, and your dog will love you for it!

  • Take it slow.
    • In our experience, provided there are no underlying health problems, an immediate switch to the raw diet works just fine. However, taking it slowly allows you to keep an eye out for any changes in your dog’s behaviour. A good indicator of their wellbeing throughout the transition is their stools. If you notice loose stools, wait until the stool is firm again before continuing the transition. The age of your dog is also important to consider. Puppies can transition over a matter of days, as they typically have healthier digestive systems. Older dogs may need more time to transition.
  • Start with a basic protein.
  • Progress on to a higher fat protein.
  • Introduce offal in to the diet.
    • Containing high-quality green beef tripe, beef heart, beef kidney and beef liver, we’d recommend Nutriment’s Just Offal.

At Wild West Pet, we are strong advocates for the raw diet. We love our dogs, and with all of the associated health benefits we wouldn’t recommend anything else. However, we must encourage you to consult with your vet before making and major changes to your loved one’s daily routines. If you do have any questions regarding the raw diet, please reach out to us. We are experts in pet nutritional health and would love to help you get started!