Raw food (also known as BARF - Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) is a completely natural diet for your working dogs, free from processing. Dogs are carnivores - they have evolved and thrived on raw food for a millennium, it is what their digestive systems are designed for.
Raw feeding is commonly mistaken for a new way to feed your dogs. Raw feeding existed long before the invention of man-made kibbles (dried biscuits). Dogs have evolved for a millennium on a raw diet. Many argue that domestication of the wolf, which in turn led to all the different breeds we have today, has caused dogs to be far removed from their raw meat eating ancestors.
Externally, there are many different shapes and sizes, but internally all dogs have the same anatomy. From skull shape and dentition through to the shorter foregut and hindgut, a dog's internal anatomy is consistent with carnivorous animals.
Carnivores have sharp jagged teeth which are designed for grabbing, ripping and tearing meat. Carnivores do not posses the flat molars used for grinding vegetation like omnivores do.
Carnivore jaws hinge open widely, allowing them to gulp large chunks of meat and bone. Their powerful jaws and teeth are designed to crush bones, Carnivores cannot chew as they have no lateral movement in their jaws.
Your dog has a very short foregut compared omnivores and a short smooth hindgut. This allows food to pass through quickly. Omnivores have a much longer intestines because vegetation takes a long time to break down. Amylase, an enzyme needed to break down plant matter, is something else omnivorous and herbivorous animals possess, but not carnivores.
Dogs do not produce amylase in their saliva, so if vegetable matter is ingested the burden is placed entirely on the pancreas. This forces it to produce large amounts of amylase to deal with the starch, cellulose, and carbohydrates that makes plant matter so hard to digest.
Feeding dogs as though they were omnivores strains the pancreas as it must work harder for the dog to digest the starchy, carbohydrate-filled food. This helps explains why plant matter comes out the same way it went in (undigested), even when it has been pre-processed.
Another common misconception is that dogs eat tripe to satisfy their need for vegetation. It has been well documented and observed that wild wolves and carnivores do not eat the stomach contents of their omnivore prey. The stomach is pierced during consumption of the carcass, the contents leak out. No attempts are made to eat the digested vegetable matter from the prey.
Looking at science and ancestors we can determine that dogs are most definitely carnivores. Starches, cellulose, grain and carbohydrates have no place in a dog's natural diet.
The PH level (acidity level) of a naturally fed dog's stomach is very low. When stomach juices are at full flow, digesting meat and raw bones, levels are lowest at PH 1 (equivalent to car battery acid). Even when not digesting, PH levels range from PH1.5 to PH 2.1. This acidic stomach protects dogs from harmful bacteria as they cannot survive the hostile environment.
All the information available confirms that dogs are not designed to eat dried man made synthetic food. Yes, some cope with it, some live long lives. But so many more suffer the consequences of this unsuitable diet.
A grain-heavy, additive-filled diet puts their whole system under pressure. The organs are overworked trying to digest the indigestible. It's no wonder that the immune system becomes severely compromised.
All too often health problems are the result. Feeding kibbles and wet food is convenient, but at what cost to long term health?
The main ingredient in most kibbles is grain. It is cheap, stable and available en-mass. It is also completely inappropriate to feed to dogs. Wet and dry synthetic food must be heated to 90 degrees by law, which destroys all nutrients.
Reduced to a sludge, this gloop is compressed and dried into little shapes and coloured to appeal to humans. Synthetic vitamins are sprayed on, then preservatives are added to maintain a shelf life of a minimum one year.
Finally, it is placed in pretty packages with claims that it is 100% the best thing you can feed your pet.
Why then do so many dogs with health issues improve on a raw diet? If humans are constantly being told to stay healthy we must eat healthy, why would our dogs be different? Our dogs need natural healthy food to be healthy too.
It's no coincidence that in both humans and dogs, an explosion in cancer, along with other diseases has appeared since the introduction of processed food over 80 years ago. Additives, preservatives and colourants in processed food often lead to all sorts of problems.
These can include skin complaints, ear infections, itchy feet and bodies, stomach upsets, anal gland issues, periodontal (gum) disease, pancreatitis and of course, cancer.
Is your pet's diet causing these symptoms?
Unfortunately, maladies like these are all too common and seem to be a part of dog ownership these days. Take a look at the ingredients on your kibble packet; how many of the ingredients do you actually recognise?
As dog lovers we all want the best for our companions. Feeding a raw diet and taking a healthy approach to all aspects of your dog's care can only be a good thing.
All dogs should be supervised during meal times. There is an inherent risk of choking (although very small) every time we eat. Dogs can choke on both kibble and raw, so caution should always be exercised. Especially if your dog bolts his/her food too quickly.
We all know how important exercise is, and most working dogs get more than enough exercise. Even when not working, they need to be walked everyday, some off the leash play is preferable too.
Dogs love social interaction with their fellow 4 legged friends. To maintain a healthy body and mind, make sure you are meeting your working dog's needs.
Health & Happiness
Raw feeding often goes hand in hand with a more natural and holistic approach to dog care. We owe it to our dogs to do the best we can for them. Arm yourself with the latest information on vaccines, topical treatments etc. Natural alternatives are available for most chemical treatments.
Nosodes are a natural way to give immunity for common diseases. They can give life long immunity by naturally allowing your dog to build up the required antibodies.
Titre tests are available at around £40. Titre tests check antibody levels in your dog's blood. Research shows that the first course of puppy vaccines can offer life long immunity. If your dog shows full immunity in a Titre test, think twice about over vaccinating them, because it can put your dog's health at risk.
Some popular vet-recommended flea, tick and worm treatments cause adverse reactions. Fortunately, there are many herbal and natural remedies available to prevent all of these.
Ultimately, we all want our dogs to stay happy and healthy throughout all stages of their lives. Giving chemicals and poisons to achieve this is often likely to cause the opposite.
Do your homework, with so much information out there it is much easier to make informed choices.
Herbie had a lot to smile about! At 13 years of age, a raw diet was keeping him fit, healthy and his teeth wonderfully clean.
Herbie was diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) several years ago. We were advised to PTS or amputate his leg. The amputation is carried out to relieve his pain, but the prognosis is grim.
90% of dogs die within one year, even after amputation as the cancer is very aggressive.
We are very happy to report that Herbie lived for a further 8 years on three legs! We cannot claim a raw diet saved him. He was very lucky to beat such odds! But we do firmly believe the switch to raw helped.
Sadly we lost Herbie on the 13 Aug 2016. Due to old age, not cancer! He was 2 months short of 14. He was the most handsome, smart and loyal Ridgeback and will remain forever in our hearts. Paleo Ridge is his legacy, we owe it all to him.
We rescued a one year old working lab who came with one instruction... all food exploded through him. Ted was switched to raw the moment he came to us and he took to it like a lab to water! Four years later and not a single bout of diarrhea.
These are just a couple of our personal stories, but there are thousands more out there; people who have found a raw diet to be very beneficial for their working dogs.
A raw diet is not a cure all prescription for all dogs. However, removing all the toxins and additives that are present in man made synthetic food, in favour of a natural species appropriate diet certainly has some major benefits.
Owners report many positive improvements. A balanced raw diet can help improve your working dogs health in many ways:
So many working dogs that are switched to raw show significant improvements with existing illnesses. Results like these speak for themselves.