My guess is any doctor you talk to will agree that a varied diet based on fresh, whole, unprocessed foods is optimal for your health. Why? Because whole foods contain the proteins, carbs, vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, essential fatty acids and other nutrients your body needs to function at its best. So what about our canine companions? Is it really in their best interest to feed them only highly processed foods that come in cans or bags, meal after meal after meal?
This is the question I asked myself when I graduated from vet school two decades ago (and where I was taught that cans and kibble were the ONLY way to properly feed dogs). The answer I have come up with is a resounding, No! I–and every other holistic vet I’ve met–firmly believe that whole foods are just as important for dogs as they are for humans. And given the canine anatomy and physiology, most of us feel that raw foods are the best way to go.
So how to accomplish this? One way is to prepare the food yourself using raw chicken or turkey necks or backs, raw muscle meat, raw organs, raw eggs and raw pulverized veggies. (How many times can I say “raw”?)
We all know never to feed a dog cooked chicken bones as they are brittle and can form dangerously sharp shards when consumed. But raw bones do not tend to splinter. Plus, they contain that crucial mineral calcium, in its natural form. Raw Dog Food: Make It Easy for You and Your Dog, by Carina Beth McDonald is a quick and fun read that can help guide you in feeding raw. A more in-depth book on raw feeding is Give Your Dog a Bone, by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. A holistic veterinarian can also walk you through the “how to” of raw.
Perhaps the easiest and most convenient way to feed raw is to purchase prepackaged raw foods. These are available frozen as well as freeze-dried. They are “processed” only to the extent that the ingredients are ground and blended. But they are not cooked, and usually contain only raw meat, bone, organs, fruits and veggies, fish or coconut oil, and a handful of minerals and vitamins –no cooked-to-death meat meal, no grains or other starches, no unknown by-products, no corn syrup, cellulose, beat pulp, soy bean mill run, preservatives or dyes. (It can be entertaining, if not downright disturbing, to read the labels of your dog’s food!)
There are many excellent commercially available raw foods. Some of the brands I recommend are Primal, Nature’s Variety, Stella and Chewy’s, Bravo! and Steve’s. Many of these companies have on-line store locators.
The most important ingredient to keeping our dogs healthy and happy is love. Second on my list is nutrition. The only reason I can see to feed a dog canned food or kibble is convenience. However, lightly cooked is better than canned or kibble. Better yet is raw. Even a little is better than none, so give it a whirl: Go raw!
This article was originally published on the Mrs. Sizzle website.