80% of a dogs immunity is regulated from their gut. This means that what we feed our dogs is so important for their overall health and immunity to disease. What we feed our dogs also impacts them physically, mentally and behaviourally as it does in humans so it is important as dog owners that we feed the absolute best food to our dogs so they are as healthy as they can be.
Generally pet food isn't regulated as well as human food which is why it's important to read the ingredients and understand what you are feeding your dog and what that food is made up of.
Walking into a pet shop and seeing a ton of bags and boxes of different pet foods all claiming to be 'healthy', 'nutritious', 'breed specific' and more can be daunting and naturally, we just trust what the label says and generally go for the most well known or cheaper brand. After all, if the only difference is the price then why go for the more expensive brand where the cheaper one does the same right?
Sadly if you take some time to study dog nutrition and then apply that into researching the ingredients in some of the dog food sold in pet shops you would be shocked to find out that a lot of the ingredients are simply not needed and are mainly there to 'fill' the food and not beneficial to your dogs at all. Some even include things that are actually unhealthy to be feeding your dog and can actually be a factor in a dogs immunity, health and behavioural problems.
Now I've spoken plenty of times on what to look for in dog food and why on our Facebook page and if you are a client of our we will have gone through nutrition with you in one of our early sessions to make sure you are feeding your dog the best food you possibly can. Any of our clients will also know we are huge advocates for raw feeding and this is what I am going to talk about today.
When you cook food, it looses some of its nutrients on the process. The more you cook it, the more it looses it natural nutritional values. This makes dry food generally the lowest in nutritional value followed by wet food and then raw food being the best in nutritional quality.
This is because raw food contains all of the natural nutrients as it is in it’s most natural form; raw!
It's essentially like comparing home cooked food to microwave ready meals, they're still decent but they're never as good as the home cooked food and always contain a lot of added extra's for preservation and flavouring.
Raw feeding means you know exactly what is going into your dog, how much and means you can adjust what you're feeding to exactly what your dog needs. In ready made foods, there is nothing you can do to change the actual composition of the food and so can't take anything out if you need to. With raw food you generally get a basic mix of meat, veg and basic supplements and then you add anything else extra if your dog needs it.
This is especially good if you have a dog with allergies, older dogs or dogs with particular illnesses that can be triggered by certain foods.
For example, our older boy Kalle has suspected lung cancer, quite bad arthritis and also has quite bad allergies triggered by food and pollen. It is especially important for him to be on a bland flavour like duck or rabbit and we add things like turmeric for his joints, honey for his allergies and steer clear from any foods that could contain grains or artificial additives to help him to feel better. After having Kalle for 6 months he was sadly given 6 months to live, this was nearly 2 years ago and a huge factor into his good health now is due to that diet change!
Now let's bust some myths on raw feeding!
1. It's super expensive
Raw feeding is more expensive that simply buying a big bag of dry food yes, however if you actually look into the costs involved, the amount of food your dog is eating and the nutritional benefits you get from feeding raw over dry or wet, it really doesn't add much. There are complete raw food mixes you can buy that give your dog all the nutrients they need for the same or even less than you would spend on a big bag of dry food or pouches or cans of wet food. The costs are spread out more (dependant on your freezer space) as you defrost as you go and buy however much you have space for in your freezer but it's no different than buying bags of dry food or packs of wet and some raw food companies also deliver for a small extra fee.
2. It's unhygienic and makes people ill
Now this was a big thing going around a while ago where people were saying they were getting salmonella because they were feeding their dogs raw. Now the truth is, you could get salmonella from feeding your dogs any food! There have been traces if salmonella found in dry and wet food and people have got ill from feeding their dogs that. The reality is if you follow common sense, wash surfaces, bowls and your hands well after feeding and aren't letting your dog lick your lips constantly after feeding, it's no more of a risk than you cooking meat yourself. We have a separate fridge and freezer for our dogs as we have a lot of dogs and therefore a lot of food to store but if you only have one or two god you don't need to. We have plastic containers to go into the fridge to store meat which are washed up with boiling hot water each evening, our bowls are washed up with boiling water after each meal and any surfaces are also washed down with disinfectant after each feeding time. If you follow common sense and keep area's clean, there's no added risk.
3. It makes dogs aggressive
I have to say, this is one of the stranger things I have heard when talking about raw feeding. Somewhere along the line someone said that feeding your dog meat makes them aggressive because they get the taste of blood. Now without being super rude, this is 100% not true. Just because your dog is eating raw food doesn't mean it will be aggressive, I think that's all that really needs to be said on that.
Now don't get me wrong, raw feeding is a lifestyle change. You need a fair amount of freezer space, it takes more time up with cleaning and making the food and means you have to take time to defrost the food, weigh it out and store it safely but if you can tick those boxes, making the change to raw feeding is definitely worth it!
We stock and use Nutriment raw food's 1.4kg chubbs and they do lots of different flavours and a mixture of complete mixes and just meat to suite whatever style you prefer. They also do smaller tubs (500g) if you'd prefer them already in tubs or have smaller dogs where 1.4kg chubbs are too much to store.
Our team are also trained in dog nutrition so if you'd like to ask any questions or talk about how you could give raw feeding a go with your dog/s feel free to srop us a message!