Feeding someone under your care is a big responsibility, be it a human or an animal. You are responsible for what goes inside their systems, in turn being responsible for their way of life. Fixing the right diet for your dogs is a big part of being a pet parent. Apart from physical and mental health, diet plays a major role in the well being of a healthy dog. The kind of eating habits we create for our dogs will determine how healthy and long they live.
Natural Vs Raw
People tend to get confused between a raw and a natural diet. A raw diet is based on the idea that dogs are essentially carnivores and have always been carnivores. Their diet should consist mostly of raw meat, bones and a few vegetable scraps. A lot of people follow this diet and is also propagated by a lot of dog nutritionists. However, there are a lot of experts who lean the other way as well, and thus this topic is highly debatable, to say the least. It’s fair to say, however, that while this diet has a lot of pros associated with it, it also has quite a few negatives. Therefore, it would be wise to research thoroughly before you make any drastic dietary changes for your dog.
The question then arises, what is the difference between raw and natural, and if there even is one. The answer is – Natural does not necessarily mean raw. Even vegetarian food can be natural. AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) is the governing body that sets out standards for pet food and treats. According to them, natural food can be defined as: “A feed or feed ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur in good manufacturing practices.”
Thus, natural means that the food should be free of synthetic chemicals, preservatives, artificial coloring or harmful compounds. Treats like rawhides are filled with such compounds. That is why it has always been advised that you keep your little one away from them. Thus, even while feeding your little one a raw diet, you need to check how natural the product actually is. These compounds that are added to pet food products to increase their longevity or provide better features can be very harmful and deleterious for your dog. Long exposure to such products will cause a lot of health issues and concerns as they grow up. Shifting to a natural diet as soon as possible would be great for your dog and their overall health.
Making The Shift To Natural
Making a shift towards a natural diet is more of a shift for you than your dog. You will have to make these choices for your dog. Here are a few tips that can help you and your dog shift to this diet-
Read the labeling, not the marketing
Before buying any food product for your little one, make it a point to go through the label. Do not fall into what they are marketing, read the ingredients label and check whether the product is actually grain-free, does not have preservatives or artificial coloring. Turn the product around and go through the entire information they provide you. Still unsure, go to their website and read up a little more.
Introduce whole foods that are fresh
Start introducing fruits and vegetables to your dog one by one. This will ensure that your little one gets real nutrients and vitamins. The nutrients added in processed dog food are synthetic ones created in a laboratory, they are nothing but synthetic imitations of what is found in nature. These natural nutrients usually come with other harmful substances that will be absorbed by the body.
Try cooking meals for them
Once you start cooking meals for your dog, you will realize that it actually isn’t that much work. You can make them in batches so that you won’t have to prepare each meal from scratch. This way you will be able to avoid food that your dog is allergic to and also know what exactly goes into your dog’s bowl. Just make sure you are providing them with a balanced diet.
Add raw coconut oil to their diet
Fats are usually seen as a bad thing for humans as well as dogs. In reality, both humans and dogs require fats in reasonable amounts to sustain. Raw coconut oil or virgin cold-pressed coconut oil is a great way of adding these fats into your dog’s diet. Coconut oil will help with their digestion process, improve their coats and also prevent infections.
The importance of water cannot be stressed enough. Whatever the diet you provide your dog, water is an essential component of it. Always have a bowl filled with water kept for your dog, they will come themselves and drink from it when they are thirsty.
A Few Natural Foods To Start With
You might be surprised at how much dogs actually love carrots. Carrots are very rich in vitamin A and fiber. They help in maintaining dental hygiene and eye health. It even supports skin and coat health. But do not feed carrots to diabetic dogs as they will increase the sugar content.
Filled with antioxidants and Omega 3, this Halloween fruit is much more than a great lantern. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps prevent urinary infections. Upon that, it also triggers hair growth and helps reduce hair loss.
Himalayan cheese is usually made from yak and/or cow milk, it is hardened by smoke or sun drying and does not even require preservatives to increase longevity. They are filled with nutrients and vitamins essential for growth and development. They are even low in fat and high in protein. The hardness of these natural dog treats makes them a great dental treat. If your dog is lactose intolerant, it is better to keep them away from these.
Raw eggs provide dogs with ample amounts of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. They have also been known to cure an upset stomach. It helps build strong bones and is a very good source of riboflavin and selenium.
Natural is a great way to go, be it for humans or for animals. Finding the right sources is all you need.