Dog Dental Health and Raw Pet Food

  • Poor dental health

    According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), EIGHTY PERCENT of dogs and SEVENTY PERCENT of cats contract periodontal disease by the age of THREE!

    Despite the apparent wonders of scientifically engineered foods, and their ability to perfect our pets’ diets, dental diseases run rampant. Why? Quite simply, exclusively-fed processed pet foods. The process by which these foods are made kills most of the good bacteria (probiotics) and natural enzymes that would’ve been found in those raw meats, vegetables, etc.

    Many pet owners also don’t sufficiently satisfy their dogs’ natural inclinations to chew. No chewing, and eating food void of natural plaque-fighters is a potent one-two punch in the gut of your dog’s dental health.

    And poor dental health has proven to be linked to all kinds of serious, even deadly, health problems—including heart disease, kidney and liver problems.

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  • "Doesn’t dry kibble clean teeth?"

    Do corn flakes clean your teeth? This is probably one of the more insidious selling points propagated by the feed-your-carnivorous-pets-endless-doses-of-sugar-filled-carbohydrates crowd.

    Dry kibble really doesn’t have the texture, or hardness necessary to be effective at removing plaque via chewing; besides, these foods don’t get chewed anyway. Dogs and cats aren’t designed to chew their food—they tear and gulp. Just look at the way their teeth are designed. Anyone who has ever fed their pet has witnessed this instinctive behavior. Pumping dry food as a way to clean teeth is really pretty shameful in our opinion.

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  • Benefits of Raw

    As previous topics have hinted, we believe the most important thing pet owners can do to avoid (or perhaps reverse) the myriad of issues described above is to simulate, as closely as possible, the diets their pets (or rather their genetically identical ancestors) would have eaten in the wild.

    Raw meat, organs, forage (for dogs), etc. are what your pets were designed to consume. No diet produces better results in all the areas pet owners usually focus on.

    Dental Health and Raw Bones

    Since we just covered dental issues above, we’ll quickly touch on what raw diets can do for teeth. The probiotics (read: good bacteria) that are preserved in raw foods will compete with bad bacteria for survival in the mouth; preventing bad bacteria (plaque) from thriving. Raw bones are a particularly useful food (yes, eating bones is natural), because chewing them helps clean teeth, they’re a great source of good bacteria, the acidity of the meat helps kill bacteria in the mouth, and they are balanced sources of necessary minerals including calcium, magnesium, etc.

    Skin and coat:

    Raw foods preserve the natural essential oils, fatty acids, etc. that processed pet foods alter or destroy. Also, many of the grains and commonly used fillers of processed pet foods create allergic or intolerant reactions because of their overuse and exclusive feeding. Imagine if you were to eat Total Cereal every meal, every day? Sure, it may have everything you need to live (some might even say it’s—ahem—‘complete and balanced’), but after awhile, your body would react adversely either to the food itself, or the environment which you’ve weakened yourself against by only exposing yourself to grain cereals.

    Digestive health

    (It takes 14-16 hours for your pet to digest dry kibble, 8-10 to digest canned food, and 4-6 to digest raw. Which do you think is best for your pet’s system?)

    Nobody likes it when their pet has gas, loose stools, or diarrhea. Many pets experience digestive health problems because processed pet foods kill the good bacteria and enzymes that their systems need to break down food. Raw diets can help improve digestion of nutrients for better health and energy levels, drastically reduced (or even zero) gas, and smaller, better quality stool.

    Diarrhea, in particular, is often caused by two major factors: overeating and / or dehydration. As stated above, raw foods are full of moisture that would otherwise evaporate during processing, which aides in hydration. As for overeating, dry kibble is easy to overfeed, because it expands significantly in the stomach as moisture comes back to the kibble—just take a look at a piece of kibble that’s been left in a water dish all day. In other words pets (and owners) have difficulty deciphering what will satisfy the appetite.

    UTI’s in cats

    The chronic dehydration many cats suffer from dry foods can cause UTI’s, while hydration is a very helpful treatment for existing UTI’s. Also, diets higher in protein will help maintain a slightly acidic pH in a cat’s urine, preventing infections.

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  • Alternatives to Raw

    As discussed above, this doesn’t mean you’re forced to choose between dry kibble and a completely raw diet. There are alternatives, and certainly you can simply rotate those in to your dry-feeding regimen.

    Just remember, dry food is convenient, but it’s by no means a dog or cat’s natural diet.

    Canned food, though it is also processed rather heavily for shelf stability, can help add to their water intake; however, keep in mind that most cans are still heavily processed to remain shelf-stable. For cats in particular, drinking fountains/bubblers, which simulate the flowing streams that they prefer, can be very helpful.

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