Raw food is the closest thing to the ancestral diet of dogs and cats. Imagine a wolf or a tiger in the wild. Even though dogs have evolved to be an omnivore their digestive system is designed to perform better as a carnivore (carnivorous bias). Processed foods give convenience of handling to pet owners but, they are not convenient at all on our pet’s dietary system. As direct descendants of wolves, dogs are simply not genetically optimized to consume the 50% carbohydrate content of today’s commercial kibbles.
Dog’s and cat’s digestive enzyme profile is designed to work better on proteins than carbohydrates. Their saliva is lubricant to allow them to swallow chunks of meat but, not to break down carbohydrates like human’s.
Intracellular Moisture – IM is moisture found within a cell. Eating raw meats, fruits, and vegetables is the most effective way for our pets to absorb the moisture they need. As these foods digest, the moisture is absorbed into the body and effectively hydrates our pet. IM is especially important in maintaining kidney health.
The reason so many domestic cats suffer from urinary tract or kidney diseases is because they do not hydrate enough. As cats are desert animals, they are used to obtaining water from the food they eat and are not accustomed to drinking water from a water source such as a stream. This leads to cats who eat kibble, which consists of 5-10% water, to continually dehydrate themselves. They have to use water from their body to reconstitute the food before they can begin to digest it. As raw meat is 67-75% water, a cat on a raw diet maintains a much healthier metabolism.
Feeding a raw food diet has many notable benefits…
- Firmer stools
- Healthier teeth
- Improved digestion
- Healthier skin and coat
- Reduced allergy symptoms
- Better weight management
There have been many reports of improved health when chronically ill pets were switched from a commercial product to raw.
Digestive system and Raw
Wolves and dogs are scavengers. Their system can sustain long periods of fasting compared to that of humans. Of course, they want food all the time, but it’s better for their system to have a longer interval between their meals than grazing all day. If your dog or cat is on processed kibble and grazing all day, their liver and pancreas will work hard to generate all the digestive enzymes that their gut requires. Especially, if the processed food is high in carbohydrates, their secretion system will work even harder to make enzymes that they aren’t designed to make many of. Over time, this can lead to pancreatitis.
The number of diabetic pets are increasing nowadays. Many holistic vets believe that processed kibble is causing diabetes in pets. High carbohydrate content in processed foods tends to have a very high glycemic index, which means that their blood sugar level will fluctuate every time they consume processed foods. A well known holistic vet said he has never seen a diabetic dog that is on a raw food diet. This indirectly proves that raw food diets prevent diabetes.
Raw food has much higher bioavailability compared to processed, dense, kibble with fillers. More kibble will go through their system undigested and become food for bad-bacteria in their intestine. Raw food is absorbed more effectively and gives their intestine optimal conditions for good bacteria. This will result in considerably smaller, firmer and odorless stool.
How much raw
Most of the raw foods are designed to be a balanced diet. This usually means that they have added vitamins and minerals to their foods. That said, different protein sources will provide different amino-acid combinations to their diet. In short, if you can rotate protein sources, it will be a more ideally balanced diet.
The general rule of thumb is to give 100 g per 10 lb of body weight or 2% of their body weight. Puppies and active or working dogs will require up to twice this amount.
There are a few different opinions on how much raw is appropriate.
It would be ideal if you could feed all raw all the time. If someone alternates between raw and kibble, their pet’s system can be confused. Remember that every time they eat kibble, their body will have to compensate for that moisture deficiency. We however believe a little bit of raw is better than no raw at all.
Raw bones provide a great natural way of cleaning teeth. They are also a great source of minerals. In the wild, they eat the entire prey; meat, guts, and bones. For a kibble user, a raw bone can be a great addition to your pet’s diet!
We do not recommend any cooked bones as they become hard and brittle when cooked. This can be dangerous in some cases like with chicken bones. Raw bones are considerably safer than many other chews. Supervision is always recommended for any chewable items.
If your dog does not take the bone right away, try holding it and playing tug a little to create interest. This is also a great way to teach your dog to chew and nibble on the bone instead of trying to swallow it, thinking that it’s just another biscuit. For cats, try running the bone under warm water to mimic the body temperature of prey.
Salmonella and E. coli germs can always be a potential problem with raw meats. Yet, the risk of food-borne disease is actually quite low. That is, low risk for dogs and cats. But not for humans. That’s because your pet’s digestive system is shorter and more acidic. Which makes infections like these fairly rare. The real risk of food-borne disease is actually greater for a pet’s human caretakers — not the pet. Yet with proper care and handling, this risk can be dramatically reduced. Don’t we all love sushi?