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Sam Dobson Writes: Raw Feeding For Dogs 101

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Raw Feeding For Dogs 101

So my sweet boxer has been battling some allergies lately. Hades is scratching at her ears, has small hive-like bumps on her legs, and is incessantly licking her back left foot in between the pads. She's obviously uncomfortable and I can't stand it. I did some research and discovered that the yeast infection she's got between her toes and the itchiness is most likely caused by a certain fungus that lives in the dog's gut. When this fungi overpopulates, it can spread to different parts of the body such as the ears and feet. Aside from treating the affected areas topically (which I am doing and will write more on that later) you also need to treat the tummy. The goal is to feed a balanced diet with enough protein and less carbs. This means going back to raw feeding. 

Yes, I said "back to". We did a stint of raw feeding a few months ago and it went really well. However, I do the lazy version of raw feeding where I just buy the pre-made raw patties instead of measuring out everything on my own. It's easier and who has time for all that prepping anyways? My friend Jessie, that's who. She has become my raw feeding guru. To me, raw feeding is this overwhelming and complicated process. I run to Jessie when I need a "Raw Feeding For Dummies" shortcut. If you are as lost as I am when it comes to raw feeding, check out what Jessie has to say about it:

#1 Dogs (and cats) can handle it!

Your dog is a descendant of the wolf. Yes, they have been domesticated over the years into the adorable poodles, puppies, and fur balls we know today. Domestication did not and has not changed their biological structure. Domesticated dogs still process food the same way wolves do.
The acidity of the dog’s stomach is designed to kill pathogenic bacteria because it is implicitly designed to process raw meat. Grains and other foodstuffs which are not common to a carnivore’s natural diet will alter the pH of the gut, making it more alkaline. This change in acidity will negatively impact the dog’s ability to destroy potentially harmful bacteria such as salmonella. - Dogs Naturally Magazine 
So does this mean Salmonella is something to never worry about with dogs? No. As stated in the quote above, unfortunately since the majority of dogs are fed diets with grains and other species inappropriate items, this can hinder their natural ability to kill off bacteria such as salmonella, especially since it can also lower their immune system. And, putting salmonella aside, raw is not always the best option for every dog. Just like people and differing dietary needs, not every dog can handle raw, as much as I hate to admit this it's true. Genetics, diseases, and lowered immune systems for varying reasons other than diet can increase a dog's risk to bacterial infection.

#2 Maintain proper hygiene practices and you'll be fine.

I've heard the "what about harmful bacteria, it's not safe for me or my family" comments multiple times. Practice good hygiene and you'll be fine. Do you not have to handle raw meat before it's cooked? Unless you're getting pre-cooked meat or those amazingly delicious and cheap rotisserie chickens from Costco, chances are you've had a few slimy butcher moments with raw meat. Wash your hands, surfaces, and prep tools just as you would if you were preparing raw meat to cook for you or your family. Same thing! For messy dogs or dogs with beards, a quick wipe down is all they need (same with any feeding surfaces). Apple cider vinegar or lemons are good natural cleaning agents. I personally more at risk for getting salmonella from eating cookie dough...and boy do I love cookie dough!
**As always, people with lowered immune systems are always at risk for catching something, whether it be from bacteria from raw food or other sources.

#3 There's a flip side to this coin!

"Don't be hatin'" All raw food wants to do is make your dog happy and healthy, it can be scary, yes, but think about this:
In the last 7 years, at least 4,500 cats and dogs have reportedly been killed by tainted commercial (box store, specialty pet, veterinarian) pet foods, with issues such as melamine poisoning or, ironically, salmonella poisoning. - Rodney Habib, Pet Nutrition Blogger (Paraphrased from an article written by Dana Scott for Dog's Naturally Magazine)
Many people forget that a wide spectrum of brands of kibble and canned food have been recalled for multiple reasons including mold, salmonella, and, if you haven't heard, just recently a popular brand has been recalled and the plant shut down due to small metal fragments found in the dog food!
I'm not lying or being biased, I switched to a raw diet and recommend it for a reason! I'm a Dog Snob, remember? If you'd like to read more upon recalls and the shady things that happen in the commercial pet food industry, mingle about these links for a little while (warning: may contain shocking material):
I also urge anyone and everyone to do their own research. I am only human and I have my own perspective, opinion, and thought process. There are usually always different sides to a story and I try my hardest to look at both and make my decisions from there. Not ALL kibbles are bad, not ALL commercial raw foods are necessarily good either. Feeding kibble does not mean you're a bad dog owner and I'm not here to guiltily force you to "the dark side" -- though there are cookies here ;)
#4 Some personal experience to sooth the nerves
Raw Feeding For Dogs 101
Follow Jessie & her dog Axel on Instagram
@thataxeldog
Prepping a 52lb raw order from www.rawfeedingmiami.com :) Axel stealing some tastes in between!
Most dogs do perfect on a raw diet. Axel was fed premium kibble for 3 years until I switched him to a raw diet in July 2013 -- he is perfectly fine and more than just that, he's thriving. Here are some things I, and many other people, experience when switching their dogs to raw:
  • Awesome Poops -- Axel's stools are no longer runny, mushy, huge, or stinky. Raw fed poops are smaller, biodegradable, and don't stink!
  • Shiny and Healthy Coat -- As per the picture above, he has great skin and a healthy and shiny coat. He also sheds significantly less and feels amazing! Many people also report that "dog smell" is significantly reduced if not non-existent.
  • Pearly Whites -- Dogs eating a raw diet get their teeth cleaned naturally by chewing raw bones. Many owners who switched to raw from kibble see a dramatic decrease in plaque and dogs who are started on raw at a young age generally do not have any plaque build up their entire lives, unlike what you see in kibble fed dogs who show signs of gingivitis at the age of 3.
  • Energy Boost -- Many dogs get a natural boost in energy from a natural diet!
  • Skin Problems/Allergies Reduced -- Axel has never had skin allergies, but I can not tell you how many success stories I've read wherein people who have dealt with skin issues and allergies in their dogs, sometimes for years, have their dogs completely recover and thrive when put on a raw diet and in a short period of time as well!
  • Longetivity -- Many raw feeders have had dogs live 15+ years (even large breeds!). A healthy dog means a healthy and long life!
I am also an active member in multiple raw feeding groups and know hundreds if not thousands of people who successfully feed their dogs raw from people who have only been feeding a couple weeks and see amazing results, to people who have been feeding for 20+ years and to dogs of all breeds, sizes, and ages (with no run-in with any type of bacterial poisoning or infection from raw food). If this was dangerous for my dog, I would NOT be feeding it to him. I have done my own extensive research and continue to learn every day from articles, books, magazines, and amazing and experienced raw feeders.
Raw feeding is dog snob approved! If you would like to transition your pup to raw, let us know and we can help or guide you to helpful sources! Support is huge in making the transition. Truth be told, I almost gave up raw feeding when first transitioning, I stayed strong and made it through and never again will I ever feed any dogs I own anything but a raw diet.

Don't forget to follow Jessie on Instagram! 
@thataxeldog

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