Many concerns revolve around 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. Since then, there have been tremendous amounts of research done on the harmful effects of kibble, and as dog owners, we should know better! Along with this came a long list of health issues, the development of allergies, and even cancer.
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 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. Dogs are designed to eat and 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. Eighty percent of a raw food diet should be muscle meat and contain organs and bones for added nutrients. The other 19 percent must include vegetables to maintain the proper 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. A natural raw food diet will eliminate most reactions without any preservatives, additives, or chemical flavoring, and a natural raw food diet will eliminate most reactions!
- Stool Improvement: With fewer carbs in a raw diet, more minor, 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 are 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 can 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 want 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 why it is beneficial to dogs, why are people still reluctant to switch their dogs from kibble to raw? Many concerns revolve around 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. Your dog will destroy any harmful pathogens with highly acidic stomachs 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 because most traditional veterinarians advise against it. 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. But as many veterinarians do not agree to a raw diet, the same amount of studies show that raw feeding is beneficial to dogs.
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. 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 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 commonly used in yogurt to eliminate 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 to provide customers with safe raw dog food and, therefore, commonly advise against it. 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 mixing 1/4th of 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, please read up on them here: https://www.caliraw.com/pages/raw-feeding-transition-guide.
If you decide to own a dog, you should consider the health risks and dangers of feeding kibble. Your dog is like family. You should feed them like one! We can only hope this clears the air about the misconceptions of raw feeding to nudge you into the direction of #quitkibble.
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 gave her stomach upsets and caused 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. Not one dog food is suitable 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 using 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 searching for similar raw dog food with shipping costs of less than $59.99.