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Nutrition

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Bianca Major

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Benefits of raw feeding

You can buy virtually anything and everything for your pets nowadays with the global pet industry reaching over $100billion last year. Our pets should be living longer and thriving but they are not. In fact, statistics show the very opposite with one in two dogs dying of cancer and average breed age rapidly decreasing. The one thing you can’t buy is your pets’ health once it’s lost.

When your pet does become poorly as unfortunately much of the pet population does, it can rapidly become a downward spiral of future health issues. Yes, we are creating ‘super’ technology and surgeries to assist in the treatment of our poorly pets, but I believe that prevention is better than cure. This is what personally lead me to specialise in nutrition when I first began in the veterinary industry. Nutrition is one of the main corner stones of health, so feeding your pets the most biologically available, species appropriate diets is a great path to follow when working towards optimum health.

Dogs are facultative carnivores meaning they require essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals from their food, because their bodies cannot synthesise them naturally. Most of these are found in meat, bones and a little in vegetable matter. Evolution has created a highly similar digestive tract to that of the wolf, although our dogs should be fed as dogs, optimal dietary nutrition should be similar to that of its ancestor. This is one of the reasons a raw diet is so popular and successful for pets.

A raw food diet provides whole nutrition that the body understands and can utilize to the best of its ability. If you think of food as a language to the body, the body is fluent in raw, whole, living food nutrition – it is its native tongue. A highly-processed diet is a foreign language that the body is able to take pieces of and process, even put together, but it is a strenuous process that will never be as natural as the body’s native language.

Raw nutrition has been highlighted in the past few years as the new dietary craze, but it was the staple diet for all dogs before pet food was created. I can’t imagine the ancient Egyptians opening a plastic bag filled with dry kibble and scattering it on the ground! Raw food has become highlighted recently because it has finally become commercialised by manufacturers, making it easier for us as owners to feed it to our pets.

The right type of nutrition enhances gut health and function supporting the growth of beneficial microbials; most of the canine immune system stems from the gut. The gut is fragile and easily compromised, vets and scientists are still learning about the canine microbiome and how best to care and support it, but itis known that real, whole living nutrition is far superior to processed poor sourced diets with synthetic vitamins.

With a new year arriving it brings change, and it is never too late to change your pets diet and to start improving their health. Start with small steps if you don’t feel confident in feeding fresh, raw food. Speak to an animal nutritionist or a holistic vet, there is a myriad of support groups on the internet and social media with information and where you can ask questions, so be curious start to research! You can also find lots of information on the Raaw website about raw feeding and how to get started. The more you do, the more you will realise it’s time to begin that change and start 2019 with improving your pets’ health from the ground up.

Once beginning a new healthier diet, you may see some dramatic beneficial changes in your pet. Below are a list of just a few improvements you may notice once you switch your fur friend to a raw diet.

Balanced Energy Levels

Raw diets are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, leading to a stable blood glucose. Raw food contains no artificial additives, colours or preservatives which leads to reduced levels of hyperactivity.

Enhanced Nutrition

Consuming a balanced raw diet supports gut health, whilst also enhancing it. Raw food optimises immune function and stimulates growth of beneficial microbial commensals.

Anal Gland Health

Bone content helps to create firmer faeces, as well as most raw food being broken down and utilized by the body therefore creating minimal excrement. Due to the firmness of faeces it allows for natural expression of the anal glands.

Less Flatulence

The reduction of complex carbohydrates in a diet leads to a decrease in flatulence and odour. Due to the high bio-availability of raw food and the bone content, there is little waste produced meaning fewer, better formed stools!

Superior Digestibility

Raw meat diets have an increased superior digestibility for our carnivorous pets compared to that of rendered or extruded animal by-products found in most dry or canned diets on the market.

Improved Appetite

Raw food has faster gastric processing. Due to its high moisture content, it does not expand when mixing with gastric juices, preventing that bloating feeling. Raw feeding does not support the herbivorous grazing style that many dry food companies recommend by leaving a full bowl of food down constantly. Designated feeding times improve appetite and GI function.

Improved Behaviour

Complete raw diets meet the nutritional needs as well as the psychological needs of a pet, leading to many owners observing an improvement in behaviour. Some meats are rich in tryptophan a precursor for serotonin production- that ‘happy feeling’. Providing a raw meaty bone or carcass for your pet provides mental and physical stimulation, research has shown chewing on a bone can assist in endorphin release whilst it is also great to use as part of a training plan. (Always supervise your pets when feeding bones)

Improved Oral Hygiene

Mastication of recreational and edible bones allows for natural cleaning of the teeth, due to the low sugar and starch content of raw food plaque is less likely to develop.

Obesity

High protein, low carbohydrate diets have been shown to aid weight loss and maintain lean body mass.

Dietary Flexibility

Raw feeding is very flexible, allowing diets to be tailored to individual pet requirements, be it a novel protein diet, a higher vegetable carbohydrate balance, or a lower bone content.

Raw food in many cases, due to its high nutrient bio-availability often will assist in healing and repair of the gut lining a pre-cursor to many dietary issues. For more information about how to get your pet started on a raw food diet, read our article on how to transition your dog onto a Raaw food diet, or contact the Raaw team!

Bianca Major
Written by Bianca Major

Bianca Boulton-Major BSc (hons), PGDip Nutrition & Canine Nutrition, MSFTR, CPN. Member of the American Association of Veterinary Nutrition, FNTP, RFVS, prov APBC, GODT & CHC Major Referrals- Nutritional Consultancy Service

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