By Heather Zorn, P.A.S

The major benefit of feeding a raw diet to your dogs is feeding them the way nature intended. Dogs are carnivores with digestive systems specifically designed to efficiently process and utilize raw meat.

Protein is the staple of the diet and not only important in maintaining the outward appearance in skin, coat, but is necessary for their best health! It’s difficult to think about, but dogs (and cats) can’t actually make use of the foods that we are ingrained to eat to keep ourselves healthy, like fruits and vegetables.

Dogs are not designed to eat them. Commercial dog food companies use fruits and vegetables, especially in grain-free varieties, but they are non essential and much of it ends up going to waste from a lack of processing ability. Dog food companies put ingredients in dog food that YOU, as a human owner “think” are good for your dog. In reality, the addition of large amounts of plant material, especially vegetables, simply cause gas and smelly stools. If you must feed fruit and vegetables, do keep it at a minimum and below 10% of the total diet.

Since many of my clients also have cats, I’ll mention that cats naturally have almost no tolerance for carbohydrates at all, which is the complete opposite of what the pet food industry is marketing for consumption. Plant material and other carbohydrates should be reduced to the point of elimination for the best health of your cats.

What is true and in sync with what we know about human nutrition is that the best foods for a long, healthy life are fresh, unprocessed foods. Same goes for your dog! When feeding a raw diet, it doesn’t get any fresher than meat!

Did you know the digestibility, which measures the quality of protein, is higher in meat than in starches or carbohydrates? This also applies for humans, who have a different digestive system designed for processing and utilizing a diet far more diverse than your carnivore dog and cat.
You would have to feed your dog twice as many plant proteins to reach a sufficient amount of protein in the diet, and still would not achieve optimum levels of the important amino acids found in meat. Are you asking yourself, why not just feed meat? I’m asking you the same thing!

I’m not saying that you can’t feed the low-quality plant proteins as you’d like, but it won’t meet their nutritional needs and they are not efficient at digesting it, so why waste your time and money? Just feed animal/meat protein and give your dog what nature intended him to eat.

Another benefit of feeding raw is minimal preparation time. Buy the meat, cut it up, feed it. Finished. This is fresh and as unprocessed as you can achieve without raising your own meat or catching it wild. Do you want to add an extra step to the process and cook the meat? Before you do, ask yourself if your desire to cook it is because YOU are uncomfortable with raw meat?
Consider this:
-Humans are the only species who cook their food.
-Cooking raw food destroys nutrients and enzymes and can alter their make up
-High temperatures and/or prolonged cooking can alter amino acid chains, making them less bioavailable – this interferes with the quality of the protein
-Carnivores have digestive tracts designed to digest raw meat. Food sits in their stomach being broken down by acids for up to 8 hours, sufficiently killing the bacteria that make humans ill, thereby making cooking unnecessary
-If you must cook, do so at a very minimum

Knowing all of this information can help you dispel some of the myths that the commercial pet food companies have led you to believe are true. An educated consumer is the best advocate for their dog’s best health.

Understanding dog nutrition need not be complicated. It is as simple as understanding the choices available to you and making the right one with your dog’s best health in mind. Animal Nutrition Solutions can help you to do this. As an independent canine nutritionist, choices are not made by profit and loyalty to specific companies; each dog is an individual, and diets are created specifically for your dog.