So, where do we start?
Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, or BARF as it's often known as. There's a reason it's called that, it's because it describes it perfectly!
There are so many reasons to feed raw over any other type of food. If you want your dog to live a long and healthy, happy life then read on...
The entire canine family, whether wolves or family dogs are designed to eat and completely digest raw food, drawing all the available nutrients from it, and there are so many!
A raw fed dog produces much less waste than dogs fed other types of food, even pure cooked meat produces more waste. This is how they were designed to eat.
They use and benefit from everything in that raw and therefore the waste is much smaller. They cannot roast their own food, or use a can opener to open a tin so why would we even think of doing that? Canines have been around for a long long time and they managed perfectly well catching and eating raw food long before we came along and started introducing them to 'processed' food. Why interfere with something that has always worked perfectly well. A lot of the processed foods are also made by Mars & Nestle.
A dog's digestive system is completely tailor made to eat raw food. This is how they have always eaten, until someone came along and invented 'dry food', 'kibble', 'canned smelly mush' and all of those other completely unnatural products that we're told are 'perfectly balanced for your dog'. Complete and utter rubbish! Their teeth are shaped to tear meat apart and their jaws capable of crushing bone. They have incredibly powerful acid in their stomachs which kills bacteria and breaks down that bone. Dogs have a straight intestinal tract which is also short and it can quickly eliminate anything dodgy they may have eaten before it can do them any harm. Dogs fed on raw produce much less waste because they have been able to digest and use the contents of what you are feeding them to the maximum - dogs that are fed on cooked, canned or dry food produce an extreme amount of waste in comparison because they haven't been able to digest the food so it has to come out the other end! Cooking food or feeding tinned or dry food also puts pressure on the pancreas making it work far harder which can cause pancreatic problems.
Raw fed dogs drink less
Raw food contains it's own natural moisture. This isn't the moisture that you can see, it's moisture that is locked away inside it's molecules. This is why raw fed dogs tend to drink far less than dogs which are fed on cooked, canned or dry food. When food is cooked you are destroying the majority of the vitamins, nutrients and natural moisture that is inside that product.
Dogs that are raw fed are far less susceptible to allergies than dogs that are fed any other type of food. Dogs can be allergic to a cooked meat but can eat exactly the same meat raw without any problems. This is thought to be because the proteins in raw meat are recognised in their natural form by the dogs digestive system but once cooked their natural form is no longer apparent and can be rejected. Cooking alters the molecular shape of proteins, did you know that? This can lead to digestive problems and chronic allergies. Do you have a dog that is fed on dry food and doesn't stop scratching? Have you wondered why? Dry food is often stored for a long time before hitting shops shelves and it often contains storage mites, much like we can get weevils in flour. These storage mites are ingested by the dogs and cause them no end of trouble. They are trying to scratch an itch that is inside them and they can never win. How uncomfortable? You may take them to your vet and have a costly investigation and be told they are 'allergic to chicken' because the dry food you feed them is chicken flavour. I say chicken 'flavour' because the minimum requirement in a dry food is for it to contain just 4% of the product it claims to be. Ridiculous right? You then take your dog off the chicken flavour and feed it lamb. Same problem, still itching. Back to the vets to be told your dog must be allergic to chicken and lamb. Nooooooooo! what about the storage mites? In fact, dump the kibble altogether and put them on raw, a completely natural diet, the way they were meant to eat. You will not believe the changes in your pet.
But what about the risks?
It's been drummed into us that we must be careful around raw meat. We as humans are taught not to touch it and then put our fingers near our mouths because raw meat is 'bad for us'. Yes, that's true, it's bad for us. We haven't evolved to eat raw meat. Unlike our canine friends. A healthy dog with a healthy digestive and immune system will not be affected by a small amount of bacteria in raw meat. They lick their own backsides right? So why do we think that fresh, raw, good quality meat is going to affect them? Because of how we've been taught, as humans, that raw meat is bad. How many times has your dog licked something up off the floor? Has he been sick? Can you imagine the bacteria on the floor after everyone has walked over it? But a healthy dog doesn't get ill because their immune system is designed to cope with bacteria.
Do they need vegetables?
Technically, no. They are full of carbohydrates which produce energy but dogs can product their energy purely from proteins and fats so they don't need the carbohydrates from vegetables. However, they do contain some benefits and whereas they aren't necessary, many owners prefer to feed them. Vegetables provide fibre and roughage and can help keep the bowel moving, but offal (liver, kidney, spleen) will also keep the bowel moving. Vegetables and fruit also contain anti-oxidants. Vegetables are also a perfect way of bulking out your dog's meal if they need to lose a little weight as you can substitute some of the meat content for veggies. When a dog naturally obtains veg in the wild, it would not dig up a carrot and eat it, it would only find them in the stomach of prey that it eats which would have already been part digested and the cellular wall broken down, whereas a dog is unable to digest raw vegetables and they usually come out the other end whole. Therefore, vegetables are best fed grated raw or partly cooked. Carrots, sweet potato, spinach, Cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin and asparagus are among the favourites. Avoid potatoes and in particular onions which can cause anaemia and be toxic to dogs. However, contrary to popular belief, a small amount of crushed raw garlic is beneficial.
What about fruit?
As with vegetables, fruit is not necessary and also has a tough cellulose wall like vegetables and cannot easily be digested. If you want to feed fruit, Apples, pears, bananas, melons, blueberries (superfood) and strawberries can be fed to dogs but in moderation because they contain high natural sugar levels. However grapes, raisins, sultanas etc must not be fed as they can be toxic for dogs.
Why do they need bone?
When a dog eats a whole prey, it will eat everything, the meat, bone, organise, stomach contents, even the brain and eyeballs which are extremely nutritious. Meat is high in phosphorus whilst bone is high in calcium. Dogs need both of these minerals in a certain ratio and therefore they instinctively eat both. If your dog is just fed on meat, it will be forced to take the calcium it needs from it's own bones. Perish the thought! If for some reason your dog cannot eat bones, then human grade bone meal can be added to their meat at a ratio of approximately 10%. However, with large breed puppies too much calcium can be as bad as too little and can interfere with their rapidly growing bones so you must be cautious with the amount you are feeding.
Omega 3 and Fatty Acids
Your dog needs Omega 3 and fatty acids in their diet, the same as we do. The best way to get these into your dog's diet is to feed whole fish such as sprats, mackerel, scad and sardines a couple of times per week. It is not recommended to feed fish more than a max of 3 times per week because so much of our fish now can contain mercury. Fish must have been frozen for a minimum of 2 weeks before feeding to kill harmful bacteria. Never feed fresh fish to your dog.
What about eggs?
A good quality free range egg can be fed raw, soft boiled or scrambled a couple or times per week, even the shell can be included.
What about a dry mixer?
NO! Why? A mixer is of no benefit to your dog whatsoever. Remember the digestion? He cannot digest the dry food the same as the raw food and you will be losing the benefits of raw feeding. Dry mixers also leave residue on their teeth which then creates bacteria which then leads to vet visits for expensive teeth cleaning or even removal.
But what about their teeth and gums?
RAW MEATY BONES! Super clean, white teeth, healthy gums and fresh breath. None of that doggy breath on a raw diet. Chewing also release endorphins in your dog which make him happy, bonus!