I'm getting away from my art and flowers for a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. Raw feeding.
I have been raw feeding my dogs between 3 and 4 years now. I started feeding raw after dogs started dying from eating manufactured dog food, known as kibble. I had tried cooking food for the dogs, but that just didn't seem to be the answer. Looking for a better way to feed my dogs, I stumbled on a website that talked about feeding raw meat, bones and organs. I was interested and at that point I began a journey that has led me to discover many things about the health of my dogs. This is the first part of that journey.
Why raw food?
Are dogs carnivores or omnivores? For years, the dog has been understood to be an omnivore. After all, the dog eats fruits, nuts, vegetables and even grass. Does this make your dog an omnivore though? No, your dog is a carnivore. If you go by strictly classification, the dog is classified as Canis lupus familiaris. The dog was reclassified from omnivore to carnivore by the Smithsonian Institute after DNA testing was done and proved that the dog is only removed from the wolf by .2%. The gray wolf (Canis lupis) is the dogs closest relative.
Some people don’t want to go by classification alone, so then we should look at the dogs anatomy, particularly the head and the digestive system.
The domestic dog does not have the same shape of skull nor the same amount of teeth as the wolf, but it does have the same type of teeth. The dogs teeth are made for ripping and tearing meat and hide from the bone of a carcass. The front teeth are used for pulling the teeth from the bone and the back teeth are used to scissor the meat from the bone. The teeth are the main indicator of what an animal should eat. An omnivore, such as a bear, has teeth for eating fruits and nuts and meat. Carnivores have teeth for eating meat and your dog is a carnivore.
A dog has a powerful jaw and neck muscles for pulling down prey and for eating that prey animal. The jaws open wide for grabbing the prey and for swallowing the large pieces of food that it pulls from the carcass. The skull is heavy and made to prevent lateral movement of the lower jaw. The inability to move the jaw sideways prevents the sideways movement and allows ONLY up and down movement.
The rest of the body is also designed to be a carnivore. The eyes are placed on the front of the dogs head, not on the side as in prey animals. The dog has the necessary senses designed to find it’s prey, such as hearing and smell. The dog has the cunning to find the least opponent and the ability to work with another to take down it’s prey.
Internally, the dog is also designed for a raw diet. The dog has an elastic stomach designed to stretch for large quantities of meat, bones, organs and hide. It has a simple stomach, short foregut, and a short, smooth, unsacculated colon. Simply put, this allows food the pass through the digestive tract quickly.
Animals require enzymes to digest their food. There are many, many enzymes needed to digest food. Humans and other animals have digestive enzymes in their saliva to start the long process of digesting vegetables and plants. Amylase, one of the enzymes needed to start digestion of the carbs and starches is not present in the dogs saliva. Cooking food at high temperatures, which is required for kibble, destroys the naturally occurring enzymes in raw food. All of these enzymes are required and if the enzymes are not in the food, or the dogs saliva, then the pancreas must produce these enzymes. Over a period of time, the pancreas having to produce too many enzymes, the pancreas wears out. There is also no friendly bacteria in the dogs system to break down cellulose and starch, so most nutrients in kibble are not available to the dog. After all the years of dogs eating kibble and manufactured dog food, they still have not evolved to be able to handle the cooked diet.
Many people worry about a dog ingesting bacteria that is present in raw foods. This is not a problem to the dog because the dog produces an enzyme called lysozyme that destroys bacteria. The dogs stomach is also highly acidic which gives bacteria little chance to live. A dogs stomach has a ph of 1!!
The dog has been changed by man in many ways. We have everything from tiny Chihuahuas to huge Great Danes. Man has taken white dogs and made them spotted and the spotted, black. We have dogs whose skulls have been changed to meet what their owners view as pretty, such as the English Bull Dog. German Shepherds have been changed to make their stance different. But, modern man and his manufactured food have not changed the dogs teeth, jaws, skull nor his digestive system.
Good Links for Raw Feeding Info