The natural diet
Dogs and their canidae family in the wild are classified as carnivores, which means their natural diet consists mainly of meat. It is important to underline the word ‘mainly’, as not 100% of their diet is meat. Although fresh meat is a good source of protein, it doesn’t represent a balanced diet for your dog. In the wild, the wild canids eat all parts of their prey, such as organs, bones, hair and skin, in addition to occasional plant matters such as vegetables and fruits. Organs and body parts from the prey provide important nutrients, while vegetables and fruits provide antioxidants and fiber to animals that no longer hunt whole prey.
Providing a raw diet for your dog
Should you feed your dog a raw diet? You can, if you wish. In domesticated dogs, a ratio of 4 parts meat/organs and 1 part veggies/fruits is a good start for giving raw food for your dog, though it’ll still need some supplements for micronutrients. That’s why it’s important to make sure that the raw diet consists of four primary components:
- Meat and organs (Even though organs contain essential nutrients for your dogs, it is best to avoid feeding intestines as most of pathogenic parasites can be found here).
- Vegetables and fruits.
- Vitamin and mineral mix (commercially available but could be home made as well).
- Essential feed additives such as digestive enzymes and probiotics.
- Compared to conventional pet food, giving raw diet for your dogs have many benefits. For thousands of years, wild dogs have consumed a natural diet that is low on carbohydrate, and only in the last century they have been fed conventional pet food which is high in carbohydrate. In addition, some nutrients, like amino acids and enzymes, can be destroyed during heating process in making conventional pet food. This is one of the many roots of health problems nowadays.
Bacteria and other pathogens
One of the biggest concerns in giving a raw diet for dogs is the presence of Salmonella. It’s important to note that commercially available raw meat is USDA-inspected, but if you’re still worried about Salmonella and other pathogens there is also sterilized raw pet foods available nowadays. Most of those raw pet foods used a sterilization method called HPP (High-Pressure Pasteurisation) so there’s no heating process involved. The HPP process involves exposing meat to very high water pressure of up to 87,000 pounds per square inch which then inactivates pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella. However, safety precautions should always be taken by ensuring that your cutting surfaces and utensils are also clean and disinfected when necessary.
On a side note, Salmonella is one of the many normal floras that can be found in a dogs digestive system and it doesn’t cause any illness under normal circumstances. It is the same case with E. coli. In other words, your dogs still have salmonella and E.coli in their digestive system regardless of the type of diet they eat.
Another effective method to inactivate pathogens is to freeze the meat prior to feeding. Freezing the meat 24 hours prior to feeding can prevent toxoplasmosis caused by Toxoplasma gondii, freezing salmon for 7 days can prevent salmon poisoning caused by Neorickettsia helminthoeca, and freezing pork for 3 weeks can prevent infection caused by Trichinella worms.