Dogs will say woof to raw food

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS -

FIND­ING the per­fect food for your pets can be dif­fi­cult , but some ex­perts say raw food is the way to go.

In 1993, Australian vet­eri­nar­ian Ian Billinghurst sug­gested fam­ily pets fol­low a Barf diet, an acro­nym that stands for bones and raw food, or bi­o­log­i­cally ap­pro­pri­ate raw food.

Billinghurst said adult dogs would thrive on a diet com­pris­ing raw, meaty bones and veg­etable scraps. He con­tended that grain-based com­mer­cial pet foods were harm­ful to their health.

Ilse Makowka, from Raw Love Pets, told the Week­end Ar­gus a kib­ble-based diet is not the best op­tion. “They are pre­pared at high tem­per­a­tures and left bereft of all nu­tri­tional value, which then has to be added clin­i­cally and ar­ti­fi­cially. A lot of preser­va­tives and flavours are also added to make the food more palat­able.

“Dogs can­not ex­tract the nu­tri­ents from dry food as eas­ily as they can from raw foods. The an­swer to the ques­tion about what to feed dogs is that it is ex­actly as it is for hu­mans – the fresher the bet­ter,” she said.

One of the ma­jor ben­e­fits of a raw diet is that the dog will have a shinier coat. Up to 40% of the pro­tein a dog eats goes into their skin and coat. When a dog is fed a low-meat pro­tein, ce­real-based diet like most dry foods, they will not have the right amount of pro­tein to grow a healthy coat.

Dogs are es­sen­tially carnivorous and do not re­quire grains to re­main healthy. Grains only lead to obe­sity, whereas pro­teins will help tone their mus­cles. Cut­ting out dry kib­bles and of­fer­ing a dog some meat on the bone im­proves den­tal hy­giene and re­duces bad breath. Dogs do not have amy­lase in their saliva (it breaks down car­bo­hy­drate sug­ars in the mouth), and the sug­ars in th­ese dry food prod­ucts fuel bac­te­ria growth lead­ing to poor den­tal health and hy­giene con­di­tions.

There are, how­ever, con­cerns such as the risk of swallowing sharp bones. When a dog gnaws away on a bone, es­pe­cially a large bone, it swal­lows many small frag­ments which can col­lect in the in­tes­tine and pre­vent things from mov­ing along.

This can be avoided by feed­ing bone and meat to­gether. The meat en­velop­ing the bone makes it easy for the bone to slide down with­out any in­juries.

An­other con­cern is the pathogens found in raw meat. “Pet own­ers are scared about sal­mo­nella, but dogs have an acidic stom­ach and bac­te­ria can­not grow in an acidic en­vi­ron­ment,” Makowka said.

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