There are many concerns revolving around the topic of safety when it comes to consuming raw meat even for dogs. Here are some answers.
By Guest Blogger, Shellsea
Introduction to Raw Feeding
Imagine taking a healthy, strong wolf from the wild and feeding it only kibble. That’s like eating a 5-star meal every day with small but nutritious portions to eating processed artificial food like McDonald’s. Think of all the health problems that would cause your body. Since kibble was mass-produced in the ’50s, dog owners did not know any better but to feed their beloved pets cheap, easy, chemically processed foods. With this, dogs had no choice but to adapt and adjust to their commercially produced diets to survive. Along with this came a long list of health issues, the development of allergies, and even cancer. Since then there have been tremendous amounts of research done on the harmful effects of kibble and as dog owners, we should know better!
Raw dog food has become a growing topic within the last few years and more people need resources to learn about this conceptually new healthy dog food trend. It should not be considered “new” because raw feeding is what dogs are biologically designed to eat in the wild. As direct descendants of wolves, dogs are meant to eat what they can find in nature. That means no kibble, no grains or carbohydrates, and not even cooked foods. Just raw meat and the nutrients leftover in the stomach of the wolf’s dinner.
This species-appropriate diet is also known as the BARF model which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding or Bones And Raw Food. It’s what dogs are designed to eat and will benefit the most from the nutrients a raw diet provides. The most important thing about a raw diet is that it must be complete and balanced. 80 percent of a raw food diet should be muscle meat but should also contain organs and bones for added nutrients as well. The other 19 percent must include vegetables to maintain the right alkaline and acidity levels. The remaining 1 percent should require added supplements like fish oil and vitamins.
The Benefits That Come With A Raw Dog Food Diet
Switching your dog to a raw diet will transform them completely! Here are just a few benefits:
- Reduced Allergies: Dogs in the wild never had allergies! Most dogs develop allergies from processed foods like kibble. Without any preservatives, additives, or chemical flavoring, a natural raw food diet will eliminate most reactions!
- Stool Improvement: With fewer carbs in a raw diet, smaller, firmer stools will be the result of absorbing most of the nutrients they consume.
- Better Oral Health: Kibble deteriorates dogs’ teeth with those starchy ingredients. With raw dog food, small fragments of bone and cartilage combined to promote gentle cleaning. Better dental hygiene means fewer bills and less risk of infections and mouth disease.
- Improved Digestion: With no unnecessary ingredients in a raw diet, dogs are able to digest their food the way nature intended. The nutrient bioavailability is much greater in raw feeding so they absorb everything they need and nothing they don’t.
There’s a long list of other benefits I could go on forever but if you would like to know more, check out this blog on biologically appropriate feeding for dogs: https://www.caliraw.com/blogs/news/biologically-appropriate-feeding-for-dogs
Should I Switch My Dog To A Raw Diet?
Now that you know what generally goes into a BARF diet and know why it is beneficial to dogs, why are people still reluctant to switch their dogs from kibble to raw? There are many concerns revolving around the topic of safety when it comes to consuming raw meat even for dogs. The risk of dogs possibly getting salmonella or e coli poisoning scares people away from the tremendous nutritional benefits it would provide for them to live a healthy life. Dogs have been blessed with bacteria-killing genes that helped them survive the wild for this long and eventually have been domesticated for our pleasure.
Starting from the second raw food touches a dog’s tongue, the saliva contains an enzyme called lysozyme that fights bacteria off any food that enters the dog’s mouth. With highly acidic stomachs, any harmful pathogens will be destroyed before it passes further through the body. And finally, with short digestive tracts, any form of bacteria will pass quickly out of the body in the form of healthy stool.
Another reason people are reluctant to switch to raw feeding is that most traditional veterinarians advise against it. But as many veterinarians do not agree to a raw diet, there are the same amount of studies that show that raw feeding is actually beneficial to dogs. Most vets may not know where the meat is sourced or how it is prepared and raw diets must be complete and balanced to be considered safe for dogs, so generally, they do not recommend it.
Most raw dog food brands are aware of the risks and research thoroughly to assure customers that raw feeding is safe. They are held to a standard that pressures them to go that extra mile so customers can drop their preconceived thoughts on why raw feeding is dangerous.
So what exactly is that “extra mile” that raw dog food brands go through to ensure their product is safe for dog consumption? Sourcing from USDA certified meat industries is one way to reassure customers the meat is safe enough for humans to consume as well. That means no discarded organs from ill animals or roadkill in their dog’s food. This is important because most kibble brands do not use human-grade ingredients but feed-grade products that are deemed unsafe for human consumption and are passed along to your dog’s food because it is cheaper.
Another extra precaution raw dog food companies should use in their product to ease customer concerns is a High-Pressure Processing system that reduces harmful bacteria in raw meat. HPP is a cold pressure kill step that is commonly used in yogurt to get rid of harmful pathogens without diminishing the nutrients. Although dogs already have an acidic lining in their stomachs to kill off harmful pathogens, we try to go the extra mile for your added safety and confidence.
Many vets do not realize the effort that is put into providing customers with safe raw dog food and therefore commonly advise against it to their customers. We recommend asking a holistic veterinarian about any nutritional concerns and diet changes due to their expertise in natural remedies.
Slowly. Nothing throws off a dog’s stomach than ingesting naturally healthy raw food after eating kibble for so long. We recommend using raw food as a topper first or mix 1/4th raw food with kibble for the first 3-4 days. When your dog has grown accustomed to the meat and no major health issues have occurred then go half kibble half raw food for another 3-4 days. You may notice physical changes in your dog by now such as runny eyes, shedding, some form of mucus coating your dog’s stool. This is all-natural during the detox process as your dog’s body is resetting to a much healthier state and removing toxins from a processed diet. Even as you notice these changes feel free to increase by more than half about 3/4ths raw food and kibble (you guessed it, another 3-4 days). Then, finally, you can serve a full meal of raw food by the 2nd week! You should start seeing improvements in their health by now and their stool should be smaller and firmer, their coat shiner and their energy levels higher! For more transition tips read up on them here: https://www.caliraw.com/pages/raw-feeding-transition-guide
We can only hope this clears the air about the misconceptions of raw feeding to nudge you into the direction of #quitkibble. If you decide to own a dog you should keep in mind the health risks and dangers of feeding kibble. Your dog is like family you should feed them like one!
Acme Canine note
Our 12-year old boxer mix, Autumn, tried Cali Raw for 20 days. She weighs approximately 56 lbs and ate about 1 1/2 pounds of Cali Raw per day. It was an easy transition from Ollie Dog Food which was starting to give her stomach upsets and causing her to eat her stools. Autumn LOVED Cali Raw and we saw her become more energetic and happy. Her stools became smaller and she had no desire to eat them.
After our trial period, we put Autumn back on Ollie and within two days she was back to eating her stools. There is not one dog food that is right for all dogs, so you need to find what works best for your dog. For Autumn it is a nutritious raw diet. Unfortunately, because we live in Ohio and CaliRaw is produced in California the shipping costs have prohibited us from continuing to use it.
A subscription to CaliRaw costs about $6.25/pound but shipment to Ohio is nearly $60 for 20 lbs of food. We are currently on the search for similar raw dog food with shipping costs less than $59.99.