Friday, October 17, 2008

5 Major Myths About Raw Food Diets - Only Natural Pet Store

This information was in the most recent Only Natural Pet Store newsletter.

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Five Major Myths About Raw Food Diets

1. It's Too Expensive – We firmly believe that feeding cheap dog food is a case of being “penny-wise and pound foolish.” A steady diet of cheap commercial dog food is strongly linked to poor canine health, often resulting in costly and hard-to-treat health problems as dogs age. What is really the more cost-effective option? You can spend a bit more for a high quality diet now, or pay dearly later on in terms of vet bills and your dog’s potentially painful and debilitating health problems.

2. Raw Food Is Risky – Generally speaking, the risk of getting sick from eating raw meat doesn’t apply to dogs. As did their ancestors, our canine companions have a shorter GI tract, and produce powerful digestive juices to digest and assimilate raw food and handle any bacteria it may contain. The bacteria that may be present in all raw meats (intended for human or pet consumption) do not usually cause health problems for dogs. In fact, a raw food diet is known to improve the health of most companion animals.

3. It’s All or Nothing – Many people mistakenly believe that feeding raw is an all or nothing deal, but this is not true! If cost or convenience is a challenge, you can choose to feed raw half time, or even just a few times a week. Your dog can benefit greatly from the high-potency nourishment that raw food delivers. Raw food is the natural choice for dogs, and even occasional raw food for your dog can improve their health and longevity.

4. Dogs Don’t Really Like Raw – It’s true that dogs (like us humans) can be creatures of habit, and dogs that turn up their noses at raw food are most likely responding to its “differentness” rather than the nature of the food. Also, dogs that free feed (have 24 hour access to kibble), or those that routinely eat commercial foods laden with artificial taste- and aroma-enhancing ingredients may have lost their natural sense of appetite and instinctive desire for healthy food. Dogs, like people, can get addicted to "junk" food. Given healthier food, many dogs learn to appreciate the vitality a raw diet gives them.

5. It's Too Much of a Hassle – When compared to the convenience of tossing some dry food into a bowl for our dogs, feeding a raw food diet is admittedly a bit more work. But with the convenient portions available in frozen prepared raw food diets, a bit of preparation (i.e., taking the time to transfer food from freezer to fridge to thaw) doesn’t add much to the food prep time. Today’s raw food diets take no more effort than you take handling raw meat to prepare meals for your human family members, and honestly, isn’t your dog worth the extra effort?

Raw Transitioning & Trial Tips

If raw food seems like a good idea, but you worry that your dog won’t take to a raw food diet, read on! The benefits of a raw food diet can be astounding, and if you make the commitment and persevere, your dog can greatly benefit from your efforts. Here are some tips to get you started:

Take Your Time – Incorporating raw food into your dog's diet is a big step, and your dog’s digestive system and palate need time to adjust to the change. Plan to transition your pet over a 2-4 week timeframe, depending on how picky your dog is and the state of their health. Gradually increase the proportions of new to old food so your dog’s system has time to adjust.

Taste Test First – You don’t have to go all out and buy pre-packaged raw dog food from the get-go! Try giving your dog a small bit of raw meat when you are preparing meat for family meals - this can give you an idea of how receptive your dog may be to a raw food diet. Try different meats and see if your dog has a preference. Often a dog that dislikes raw beef will take to raw turkey or chicken.

Whet Your Pet’s Appetite – If your dog is used to free feeding (having dry food left out all day), start by cutting back to two or three meals per day. This is healthier for your dog’s digestive system, and will increase your dog’s appetite - and usually, their willingness to try whatever you put down at meal time. You can also try adding a tasty “topper” to encourage your dog to try something new.

Take Baby Steps – Especially for picky dogs, a change to raw food can be a huge adjustment. Start out slow, and try mixing a bit of raw meat into your dog’s usual canned food or kibble. Many dogs will accept raw food more easily if you warm it up, or even cook it lightly first by pan searing the outside to release the aroma. Over time, you can cook it less until your dog accepts it raw. Keep trying - the results are worth it!

Raw food can enhance your dog’s quality of life and overall health, and help them live a longer life. It’s easy to take our dogs for granted, and investing in a raw food diet is one of the best ways to give back to your dog for all of the love they give you every day.

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