The Top 10 Benefits Of A Raw Diet For Your Pet

The Top 10 Benefits Of A Raw Diet For Your Pet

One of the biggest criticisms you encounter when you start to research the benefits of feeding your pet a raw diet is that the majority of evidence (to date) is considered anecdotal. Arguably, playing to the strengths of why raw feeding is continuing to grow in such great popularity. Who better to trust, than your fellow pet parents?!
The success of raw feeding is built on real people sharing their own inspirational stories from authentic, personal experiences. Surely there’s no better encouragement for adopting the raw lifestyle than these transformative testimonials.

Tried & Tested

Amy Marshall highlights within her feature for Primal Pooch that testimonials are real stories from real people with nothing to gain. How exciting to have honest evidence that paints a realistic picture of the benefits that raw feeding can offer. As well as revealing the reasons why everyday people choose to adopt raw as the right lifestyle choice for their pet and more importantly, stick with it.

At Top Dog Food & Supply, we love hearing your individual stories and revelations sharing how raw has changed the lives of both you and your pets, for the better. Whether it be healed skin conditions, overcome allergies, or simply fewer vet visits… it’s all positive progress towards nurturing happier and healthier pets. On that note, we’d love to hear from you.
Equally, if you’re new to all this and still find yourself sitting on the fence… we believe the benefits of raw feeding will speak for themselves.

Our Top 10

According to the American Kennel Club, advocates of raw food diets cite these benefits: ‘shinier coats, healthier skin, improved dental health, increased energy, and smaller stools.’ Similarly, the AVMA highlight a handful of positive reports by owners and veterinarians that warrant further scientific evaluation and research, such as, ‘improvement in coat and skin; elimination of breath, body, and fecal odor; improvement in energy, behavior, and immunity; and a reduction in medical conditions including allergies, arthritis, pancreatitis, dental disease, and parasitism.’ Let’s take a closer look…

  1. Shiny Coat & Happy Skin

A web-based survey developed by BMC Veterinary Research to better understand the motivations and habits of owners that feed their dogs raw meat based diets (RMBDs) revealed that the most common health benefits reported were a shinier coat, muscle mass improvement, and cleaner teeth (Fig. 1).

Health benefits of RMBDs reported by dog owners interviewed

  1. Immunity-Boosting
Raw meat is highly bioavailable and contains live bacteria/enzymes that support digestion and help to absorb almost all the immune-boosting nutrients. Compared to the extra time and energy spent on trying to extract any goodness from starch-rich kibble, which promotes inflammation and lacks nutrients. With raw, dogs create less waste because most of the food they eat is being fully utilized. Allowing us to focus on gut health which accounts for 70% of the immune system.
Board-certified veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Susan G. Wynn, DVM, DACVN, reveals the science behind it all explaining how raw food contains thousands more bioactive factors than processed food. Sharing that many of these bioactive compounds can reduce inflammation and suppress damage to DNA.
Further supported by experiments conducted by Beth A. Hamper, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN for the AVMA, showing an improvement in immune function for domestic cats when fed an RMBD for 10 weeks with ‘significant increase in lymphocyte and immunoglobulin production,’ versus ‘no significant changes over the study period for cats fed a cooked commercial moist diet.’ 
  1. Good Gut Health & Less Poop to Scoop

According to the Journal of Small Animal Practice review of raw diets for dogs and cats, studies found evidence that fecal bacterial diversity appeared to be higher among raw‐fed dogs compared to those fed conventionally processed food. As well as reports of smaller, firmer stools from dogs fed raw high-quality beef plus supplement compared with a commercial dry diet.

Studies have also found improved food digestibility in animals fed RMBDs, with decreased fecal output due to less digesta in the colon and less resulting fecal matter. A not-so-foul feature recognized by the AVMA as a popular benefit among pet owners.

  1. Hello Clean Teeth, Goodbye Bad Breath
Veterinary Medicine Today highlights that the reason for your raw-fed canine’s pearly whites is largely down to ‘chewing bones as a part of these diets.’ It is thought that the teeth and jaw movements required to gnaw and tear apart raw meat/bones provide an advantageous scrubbing and flossing action for your pets. One study demonstrated that daily supplementation with raw bovine bone reduced the amount of dental calculus up to 70.6% after 12 days, and teeth fractures were not reported.
While another study showing less calculus among feral or wild dogs and cats support claims associated with improved oral health in diets with raw bones, despite the lack of evidence backing testimonials of reduced periodontal disease with raw feeding. 
  1. Less Allergies
Dr. Hielm-Björkman and her team at DogRisk have pioneered research into the health benefits of a raw dog diet and continue to look into its potential impact on issues such as GI, cancer, and mobility. A recent study resulting from their findings revealed that ‘puppies who were given raw dog food had fewer environmental allergies as adults than puppies who were fed processed kibble.’ Evidence also showed that ‘feeding the mother a raw food diet before giving birth was associated with a lower chance of the puppies developing allergies later on.’ A major cause for celebration! As Well + Good reports up to 27 percent of dogs have canine atopic dermatitis (CAD), which is a genetic hypersensitivity to environmental substances that can cause itching, excessive scratching, hot spots, greasy or flaky skin, hair loss, and excessive chewing on paws.
According to Dr. Wynn, feeding a nutrient-dense raw diet is also associated with a lower chance of your pets developing allergies and arthritis later in life due to the fact it’s more biochemically complex and does not contain the MRPs (cooking toxins) that are thought to cause inflammation and degeneration of tissues, possibly worsening allergies, arthritis, and other conditions associated with aging.
  1. Fit Physique
Muscle tone/definition, posture, and shape are all said to improve with the introduction of raw feeding. While naturally supporting your dog to reach a healthier weight, by losing the excess or gaining what’s required. General guidance on assessing your dog’s physique states that to establish they are healthy you should be able to feel their ribs, without them being visible.
Traditionally, racing Greyhounds have been fed RMBDs to encourage peak performance, allow their owners the ability to customize their diet for maximum energy, and also improve overall health. According to Greyhound Welfare, ‘Raw feeding is considered by many to be the gold standard in animal nutrition.’
  1. Best Behaviour 

Owners have described that pets appear to be friendlier, more interactive, sociable, and affectionate once switched onto a raw diet. Survey results with regards to dog’s behavior showed 51% (112/218) of the owners reported no abnormalities, while the remaining noticed a calmer (35%, 76/218) or livelier (21%, 45/218) attitude; no one reported nervousness or aggression.

  1. Healthy Weight 

Dr. Liesbet Lester DVM LFHom(vet) MRCVS, tells Petplan of her own positive experience with raw feeding after adopting an overweight, seven-year-old pet Chihuahua named Tosca. She explained that RMBDs remove a lot of unnecessary carbohydrates which can support weight loss or maintenance. Tosca is now reported to be a healthy, thriving 11-year-old with zero problems since transitioning to a raw diet. 

  1. More Mobility
It is said, that one of the physical benefits of feeding raw is increased mobility in older animals. Many dogs experience discomfort from joint mobility problems, commonly caused by progressive Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) or Osteoarthritis (OA) which tends to worsen with age and require dietary joint support. Specially designed mobility diets typically contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids as these soothe inflamed tissues and ease aching joints.
Crushed edible bone is also a natural source of calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, and marrow, which Dr. Karen Becker suggests you can feed your pet as part of a healthy raw diet. Supporting healthy growth in puppies and continuing to maintain great joint and bone health throughout the rest of your dog’s adult life.
  1. Renewed Energy

Barbara Benjamin-Creel, featured by FETCH by WebMD, shares how despite the loss of her German Shepherd to a cancer diagnosis, the resulting introduction of a raw diet has enabled both of her other dogs to thrive. At 11-years-old they are seemingly more energetic, the change in their coats was almost immediate, their breath has improved, and her dog with chronic digestive problems tolerates raw far better. She believes feeding raw is the reason a lot of old-age issues have been avoided.

Ask The Experts

The idea of adopting raw feeding practices for family pets was popularized by Australian veterinarian Dr. Ian Billinghurst following the publication of his two books: Give Your Dog a Bone (1993) and The BARF Diet (2001). Billinghurst believed grain-based, commercial pet food was harmful compared to an evolutionary RMBD designed to help canines thrive even before their domestication.

“Given the large body of evidence in the zoo world on feeding carnivores raw food, I’m very surprised we need to persuade the veterinary profession in the first place.” – Dr. Liesbet Lester DVM LFHom(vet) MRCVS

Yet, it’s common knowledge that this approach is opposed by the FDA as well as many mainstream vets who remain suspicious and tend to focus several of their studies on the risks rather than the potential advantages of feeding raw. Lester explains that this is due to little direct research on the safety and benefits of the raw diet, despite recent breakthroughs in professional opinion on the subject worldwide.

“The majority of scientific research on these diets focuses on food safety and zoonosis risks, whereas the effects of raw food diets on animal health remain mostly unknown.” – Nieky van Veggel, BSc, MSc, PgC, RSci, R.AnimSci., CBiol, FRSB, FHEA

Interestingly, Russell Hartstein, CDBC, CPDT-KA points out that most veterinarians do not specialize in or specifically study dog/cat nutrition and are, therefore, not up-to-date or informed about why or why not to feed a dog or cat a specific diet. Highlighting to Veterinary Practice News that although referral to a board-certified nutritionist may be helpful, there are very few that exist in the U.S. (approximately 95). Making it difficult for owners to source accurate, species-specific nutrition guidance for their pets. There is certainly a call for change and more transparency when it comes to the different options out there on the market.

Thankfully there are a growing number of experts, including Dr. Martha G. Cline, DVM, DACVN, who are passionate about gathering fresh information to deepen their understanding of RMBDs while adding valuable information to clients and other vets in practice. Dr. Cline is said to keep a healthy list of resources for owners to reference which contains blogs authored by boarded veterinarian nutritionists and more.

Here To Stay

We proudly acknowledge that regardless of the opposition raw feeding continues to face, it has grown from strength to strength due to its loyal supporters, unlike other dwindling diet trends. With each independent study that is funded, exciting new research is breaking ground to change the future of how we feed our pets. Allowing us to provide the healthiest, happiest lives imaginable and fuelling them with food designed to help them thrive.

‘Do it! If you are interested in health for yourself, you realize that it’s just as important for your four-legged friend.’ – Anette Tretow

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