What is Raw Feeding?
Although “going raw” seems like a new idea, it is far from radical. Like Canis lupus, which hunts live prey and feeds on raw meat, your beloved hound demands a carnivorous diet similar to that of its ancestor. For thousands of years, wild canines achieved optimal health through a holistic menu of meats, fats, organ, and plant matter. Mimicking these historical diets, with slight modifications to fit the demands of today’s domesticated pets, is possible through the raw style of feeding. Despite the widespread and growing popularity of raw dog foods, this movement has been stunted by confusion and misinformation. Below are Idahound’s answers to some common questions about safety, nutrition, and the benefits of raw feeding.
Table of Contents
- Safety & Handling
- Can my dog safely consume raw meat?
- What about the threat of Salmonella and other pathogenic strains of bacteria?
- Will I get sick feeding raw food to my dog?
- Aren’t bones supposed to be dangerous for dogs?
- Nutrition & Benefits
- Why should I avoid feeding my dog kibble or canned food?
- What are benefits of raw dog food/bones?
- What is green tripe?
- What’s the big deal with single-ingredient snacks?
Safety and Handling Q&A
Can my dog safely consume raw meat?
Your dog’s stomach is extremely acidic, allowing for raw meat and bones to be broken down safely and effectively. In fact, raw meat is precisely what your dog is programmed to eat. The canine’s short digestive track, similar to that of most carnivores, is an indicator of a raw meat diet. Compared to herbivores, which digest vegetable matter over 3-5 days, carnivores can efficiently process raw meat in 8-12 hours.
What about the threat of Salmonella and other pathogenic strains of bacteria?
Besides aiding in rapid breakdown and digestion of raw meat, the highly-acidic gastric environment of your dog’s stomach effectively kills harmful bacteria, including salmonella, clostridia, campylobacter and E Coli. Nevertheless, puppies or adult animals with underdeveloped or weak immune systems are at a heightened the risk and you should consult a holistic veterinarian about the proper time to transition the animal to raw food.
Will I get sick feeding raw food to my dog?
Bacteria is present in all raw meat. In order to minimize contamination risk, one should always wash his or her hands after handling raw products, whether for human or pet consumption. We also recommend washing your dog’s bowl at least a few times each week. When considering the enormous love we have for our dogs, washing his or her dish is a worthy sacrifice.
It should also be noted pathogenic bacterial strains have been found in both dry and raw dog foods. While extreme heat may kill a dangerous strain of E. coli, for example, during the processing of a dry food, environmental contamination of the factory could still affect the kibble. Raw producers, like Idahound, maintain strict sourcing standards, along with a consistent manufacturing “cold chain” to ensure the safety of a raw product. In addition, every month Idahound submits its raw diets to an independent laboratory for microbiological testing.
Aren’t bones supposed to be dangerous for dogs?
For carnivores, raw bones are a primary source of calcium. Other benefits include natural oral hygiene and supplemental nutrition through consumption of bone marrow. Canines, wild and domesticated, have always chewed on bones. Rumors suggesting that bones are dangerous, however, do have merit. Cooked bones, which can splinter dangerously, should always be avoided. Moreover, the most commonly sold bones are the ends of cow femurs. Round and marrow-rich, these clean-looking bones are extremely hard and frequently chip dogs’ teeth. If you like giving your dog this type of bone, do limit their chewing.
Idahound’s raw meaty bones include vertebrae, sternums, and pelvic bones, all of which are pulled from the same batches of sheep that make up our raw diets. We consider all of our bones to be “soft,” in the sense that your dog will may casually consume the entire bone as he or she chews on it. Don’t be alarmed: bones are perfectly digestible and a fantastic source of calcium.
Idahound recommends that you “brush” your dog’s teeth with our raw meaty bones 2-3 times per week. Doing so will quickly clean up that plaque and save your hound from being sedated for an unnatural cleaning.
Nutrition & Benefits Q& A
Why should I avoid feeding my dog kibble or canned food?
The manufacturing process of kibble is nutritionally destructive. In an effort to make a cheap and stable food, manufacturers boil rendered animal products for days at a time, after which the “soup” is baked, pulverized or powdered. Regardless of the quality of the original ingredients, the active temperatures reached during this process denatures substantial amounts of proteins, digestive enzymes, and certain vitamins. Canned dog foods are equally processed and, in order to achieve indefinite stability, are even more likely to contain large amounts of active preservatives.
Now, for a word on kibble ingredients. Firstly, it’s essential to understand common protein sources. Kibbles often use meat meal, bone meal, and by-product meal as primary proteins. The truth is that “meals” are rendered from dead animals and have almost no quality standards. They are often contaminated and contain inexcusable ingredients. Although consumers tend to cringe at the word, “by-products” are merely the parts of a healthy slaughtered animal not considered “meat.” They may include, but are not limited to, organs and fatty tissue. Nevertheless, the aforementioned processing of “meat” or “meat by-products” reduces much of their original value.
Nearly every major dog food includes some variety of grain, including corn, soy, rice, wheat and even sawdust and mill waste. Despite being advertised as nutritionally significant, grains added to dog food are used indisputably as bulk fillers, low-cost ingredients with no added value. While cited as important sources of energy, these simple carbohydrates are not the natural energy producers for canines. Those roles should be filled by quality proteins and fats. In addition: Grains, and even certain vegetables, are digestively strenuous. Digestion takes up the most energy in any living being and the dog’s short and simple digestive tract is not designed to breakdown high-starch carbohydrates.
Furthermore, grains can be toxic. A number of pollutants can compromise cheap grain and its storage, including insects, mites, and mold. Spores from latter can be especially harmful, as they are known to produce poisonous mycotoxins. Grains often cause dogs allergic and inflammatory reactions. While almost any food could be a potential allergen, glutenous grains were not a part of the canine’s evolutionary diet, thereby heightening your hound’s chance of sensitivity. A number of grain contaminants also have allergenic potential.
Yet more than anything, we ask that dog owners consider the processing that goes into kibble and canned dog foods. These products arose for the sake of human convenience and cost, evolving to unequivocally meet our needs rather than those of our dogs.
What are benefits of raw dog food/bones?
A diet high in fresh raw meat and organ is the most biologically-appropriate way to feed your dog. Period. The digestibility of a raw dog food is substantially greater than that of processed alternatives, resulting in far better nutrient absorption. Idahound also includes organic squash, organic carrots (both of which are slightly baked for more digestibility), organic apples, and alfalfa (a legume) to its raw diets for added an balance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. By weight, our recipes are 79% meat and organ (liver, kidney, and spleen), and 21% produce. Our food contains zero additives or preservatives. The best raw diets are simple yet nutritionally dense, an assortment of only necessary ingredients. Benefits of feeding a raw diet include: better digestive health, better skin and coat health, better oral health and cleaner teeth, increased stamina and endurance.
What is green tripe?
Tripe is the ruminant’s stomach. As herbivores, ruminants have a population of bacteria and unique enzymes that allow them to effectively digest plant matter through the four compartments of their highly-specialized stomachs. Feeding tripe to dogs is an incredible way to pass on those probiotics. Yet tripe is often bleached, a process that kills healthy bacteria and denatures those wanted enzymes. “Green tripe,” on the other hand, is perfectly raw and substantially healthier. When selecting tripe varieties, it’s important to know the difference.
What’s the big deal with single-ingredient snacks?
Forget the biscuits. Like kibble, dog biscuits were created for consumer convenience. Nothing about a milk bone speaks to the biological needs of a carnivore. They’re also understandably cheap to make. Idahound’s single-ingredient treats are healthier and tastier to your dog. We also source each protein from ranchers exclusively in Idaho and Montana, so you can feel good about a sustainable supply chain. If you’re going to treat your dog, “cookies” are a poor option when a healthy and more sensible substitute is available. Grassfed, hormone and antibiotic free, Idahound’s single ingredient crisps, bites and slivers are truly the type of snacks that Dog intended.