5 Benefits of Feeding Your Dog a Raw Diet
As a dog owner, it is your job to ensure that your dog’s basic needs are met. Not only does this include training, socialization, and daily exercise, but it also includes a healthy diet. The quality of your dog’s diet will have a direct impact on his general health and wellbeing, as well as his risk for developing certain diseases and his lifespan on the whole. If you are concerned about the quality of your dog’s diet, consider making the switch to a raw diet.
What is a Raw Food Diet for Dogs?
A raw food diet for dogs is exactly what it sounds like – a diet that is comprised of fresh, raw foods. While there are different ways to create a raw food diet for dogs, one of the most popular and beneficial options consists primarily of meat and raw bones, fortified with some fruits and vegetables or formulated supplements to ensure nutritional balance.
Dogs are primarily carnivorous animals, which means that their bodies are adapted to extracting nutrition from animal-based sources – this means that meat should be the primary focus of a dog’s diet. In addition to raw meat and organs, raw bones provide key minerals like calcium as well as other nutrients. Raw food diets for dogs can be either homemade or commercially prepared – what you choose depends on how much effort you are willing to make or how much you want to spend.
The Benefits of Raw Diets for Dogs
One of the main benefits of a raw food diet over traditional kibble is the fact that the nutrients in the food are more readily available. The cooking process used to create kibble exposes the raw ingredients to extremely high temperature which destroys a significant portion of the nutrients and natural enzymes contained in the ingredients. A raw food diet has not been cooked, so the original nutrient content of the ingredients is retained. The nutritional integrity of a raw food diet provide many benefits for dogs, including the following:
- Improved Nutrition: As it has already been mentioned, raw food diets for dogs are not cooked, so the original nutritional integrity of the raw ingredients is preserved. This negates the need for synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements which are often added to commercial foods to make up for the loss of nutritional integrity that occurs with cooking.
- Healthy/Regular Digestion: Both dogs and cats have fairly short digestive systems which limits their ability to digest fibrous plant foods. A raw food diet for dogs is largely meat-based, however, so it is easy for your dog to digest. Because less energy is wasted digesting plant materials, your dog’s digestive system will work more smoothly and more regularly – this also results in fewer, firmer stools.
- Cleaner Teeth: An estimated ¾ of dogs and cats will suffer some degree of periodontal disease by the time they reach 3 years of age. Kibbled foods provide some limited dental benefits by helping to scrape plaque off the surface of your dog’s teeth, but the process of chewing raw meats and raw bones is much more beneficial for this purpose. The chewing process also massages your dog’s gums, increasing circulation.
- Shinier Coat: A diet that consists of fresh, natural foods will provide your dog with the nutrients he needs to maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat. Essential fatty acids are the key to optimal skin and coat health and these ingredients are abundant in a raw food diet.
- Relief from Food Allergies/Sensitivities: The more dogs are exposed to potential allergens like corn, wheat, and soy ingredients, the more likely they are to develop a reaction. Raw food diets are typically grain-free and gluten-free which significantly reduces the risk for allergic reactions. The high nutritional value of a raw food diet for dogs may also help to resolve issues with environmental allergies.
In the end, it is completely up to you what you choose to feed your dog. Because your dog’s diet has a direct impact on his wellbeing, choose a diet that provides for his nutritional needs in a healthy, wholesome way. A raw food diet is a great way to ensure that your dog gets the nutrients he needs from quality, natural sources.
Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.
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