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Raw Diets for Dogs: Are They Better?

The idea of feeding raw food to your pet tends to divide us into two groups – either it makes sense to you to feed a biologically appropriate diet, or it may strike you as completely unsanitary and borderline barbaric.

Regardless of your point of view, raw is the fastest growing sector of the pet food market. If you were to feed a raw diet to your pet, the first change observed would be improved stools. This is due to its superior digestibility. Raw food is also extremely palatable and pets tend to like it. In addition, feeding raw has the following benefits:

  • No preservatives
  • No wheat, gluten, or fillers
  • Clean teeth
  • Fresh breath
  • Shiny and healthy coats
  • Less shedding
  • Fewer allergy symptoms
  • Firm, hard stools
  • 70% less poop

These are only a few of the benefits feeding raw can give you. Pet owners have been taught for many years that kibble is an acceptable diet for dogs, but processing kibble takes away many nutrients your dog actually needs.

The vast majority of pet food is cooked, primarily by the method of extrusion. This process produces a kibble and depends on a food containing 25 to 45 percent starch. Though digestible, this starch is of low nutritional utility for a carnivore. This Dogs Naturally article answers a few questions pet owners may have about the nutritional differences between kibble and raw.

Processing Away the Nutrients

Aside from excess carbohydrate (starch), there is the matter of what happens to an ingredient once it’s been cooked. Heat addition of any kind initiates the process of protein denaturation. It alters the nutrients and not necessarily for the better. Extreme heat destroys harmful bacteria, but today it is possible to assemble ingredients with a very low risk of pathogenic bacterial contamination.

The advantage of raw food is more than avoiding the diminished digestibility due to cooking. There are subtle but critical additional benefits. Natural enzymes and numerous beneficial bacteria are found in raw pet foods, undamaged by any heat application.

The Freeze-Dried Raw Option

A valid subheading of raw food is freeze-dried raw food. The freeze drying process removes moisture from the food without the damage of heat application. This process is widely appreciated as the most effective method of food preservation, because it allows a longer shelf life and least nutrient damage.

If you’re thinking about feeding raw, consider these advantages:

  1. Nutrient digestibility is superior to products that have been heated by extrusion (kibble) or boiling (canned).
  2. Natural enzyme activity is preserved, and vitamins remain undamaged.
  3. Friendly bacteria are allowed to thrive.

Understandably, raw food may not be an affordable option for a pet owner with more than one large dog. And compared to frozen, kibble is convenient and economical on a day to day basis. However, dry kibble simply isn’t the best nutrition for your pet. To the extent your budget permits, consider including raw or freeze-dried food in your pet’s diet. Your pet’s vitality will be louder and longer, and he’ll be happier and healthier.

Remember, feeding your dog a nutritious diet is the best health insurance money can buy. Ask a Barkery nutrition specialist about the RAW difference today.

Brookside Barkery

9 Puppy Tips to Help You Stay Sane

March 23 is National Puppy Day! Puppy love is a wonderful thing, however, as well all know, plenty of stress comes along with the responsibility of a new four-legged friend in the house. Puppies require a lot of attention, training, and socialization to become confident, balanced dogs. Here are some puppy tips to help you navigate the first few months of pet parenthood.

  1. Bring your puppy to the vet as soon as possible for an exam. Regardless of where you acquired the puppy, you should make immediate arrangements for a vet exam. If you can, bring a stool sample to go ahead and test for internal parasites. It’s important to research the type of veterinary practice you would like your dog to visit. Ideally, your dog will have a lifelong relationship with the vet that you choose, so be sure that your vet’s perspective aligns accordingly. Ask your vet for their protocol on vaccinations, diets, and training. Find a vet that is inviting, friendly, and respects your concerns regarding your dog’s health.
  2. Crate/kennel train your puppy from the start. To new dog owners, crate training can seem cruel and lonely for your dog. However, when used properly, crates can be seen as a safe haven for dogs, and is a great place to retreat when situations are overwhelming or when your pup needs to relax and reenergize. Prior to bringing your puppy home, set up a size-appropriate crate with a soft pad and a few cozy toys. You and your dog both will be grateful to have this space available.
  3. Co-sleep with your puppy for the first few nights. Even if you don’t plan on having your dog sleep in your bedroom, consider making the first few nights an exception. The transition to a new home can be stressful, especially if your pup was just separated from his litter mates. Putting the crate next to your bed for the first few nights allows you to comfort him if he’s whimpering and will give a sense of security having you nearby. Once you have established trust, transition your puppy to the new designated space.
  4. Establish a routine. Just like humans, dogs tend to thrive on a schedule. Dogs build trust and understanding by learning to expect what is happening next. It’s a good idea to establish a little consistency as far as feeding schedules, potty schedules, walks, and bed time. Soon you will notice your puppy develop his own routine and fall into more predictable patterns, which is mutually beneficial.
  5. Create a puppy perimeter. A new space can be overwhelming for a small puppy. Before bringing him home, decide where you’d like him to spend his time so that he has the freedom to explore without the risk of getting hurt or getting into something he shouldn’t. Set up his kennel (unless you plan on sharing a bedroom with him long term), a soft bed, food and water, and toys in this space. Ensure you block off any potential escape points with baby gates or doors.
  6. Be a hands-on owner. Getting your puppy used to being handled is one of the best things you can do for him. A puppy that is used to being touched is much more likely to be comfortable being handled by the vet, groomer, children and adults once he grows up. Make it a habit of touching his paws, mouth, and tail gently so that he’s not caught off guard. It is also helpful to touch him while he eats to avoid food aggression.
  7. Nip bad habits in the butt. It’s undeniably sweet to cuddle on the couch with your 12 pound puppy, but will you feel the same when he’s tipping the scales at 100 pounds? If you don’t anticipate your dog carrying puppy behavior through adulthood, don’t let the behavior become a habit in the first place. Establishing guidelines and being consistent is much more difficult for the pet owner, but it is completely worth it down the road. Decide in the beginning what your plan is concerning dogs on the furniture, where the puppy sits in the car, how food is handled, and which areas are off limits.
  8. Socialize your puppy. Introduce your puppy to everything. You want your dog to feel comfortable around different looking people, other dogs, other animals, places, and noises. It is best to have yummy treats on hand for rewarding your puppy for remaining calm and comfortable in various situations. If your dog hesitates in a particular situation, let him make a step of sniff forward, and reward that by tossing a treat in front of him. Socialization goes a long way in making your dog fee confident and well balanced all around.
  9. Most importantly, feed your puppy a healthy diet. Educate yourself on the type of diet you want to feed your puppy before you make the decision to bring him home. Raw diets are undeniably the most natural and biologically appropriate diet for your pup, but may not be the most realistic depending on the dog owner’s lifestyle and income. Feeding a whole, balanced, nutritional diet will save you money and stress down the road. It’s important to remember that your dog’s diet should be rotated consistently to maintain good gut health. Different life stages will also affect the appropriateness of your dog’s diet.

Transitioning your cat to a new food: How to do it right!

There are lots of reasons you may desire or even need to change your cat’s food. Your cat may have developed a medical problem for which a special diet is recommended. You may not be able to obtain the food your cat has been eating any longer. Or you may simply want to change your cat to a higher quality food.

Whatever the reason for the change, transitioning a cat to a new food must be done carefully. If your cat is not particularly finicky and will eat anything, you should consider yourself lucky. If that’s the case, the transition will be relatively simple.

Importance of Gradually Changing Your Cat’s Food

If possible, your cat should be transitioned slowly from one food to another. Sudden changes in your cat’s diet can cause gastrointestinal upset and may result in diarrhea, vomiting, and even a reduced appetite for your cat.

Ideally, you should plan on taking at least a week to transition your cat from one food to another. If your cat is not finicky, start by adding a small amount of the new food in with old food. Gradually increase the amount of the new food and decrease the old food by a similar amount each day. Be sure your cat is eating the food. If the transition goes smoothly, you should be feeding only the new food at the end of a week.

Never try to starve your cat into eating a new diet. Cats that do not eat regularly can develop hepatic lipidosis, a health condition that can become life-threatening. If your cat goes longer than 24 hours without ingesting any food, you should be concerned. Cats that are eating an insufficient amount of food may take longer to become ill but can still develop hepatic lipidosis within a few days.

If your cat is finicky and refuses to accept the new food, you’ll need to start by feeding scheduled meals rather than feeding your cat free-choice. You should plan on feeding your cat a meal two to three times daily and removing any uneaten food after 20-30 minutes. Start this process while still feeding the old diet.

Once your cat is eating meals on a schedule, try mixing a small quantity of the new food in with old. Do not offer your cat more in one meal than he would normally eat in the 20-30 minutes during which the food is offered. Hopefully, your cat will be hungry enough to accept the new mixture. If successful, continue to increase the quantity of new food while simultaneously decreasing the quantity of the old food each day.

Go slow with the transition. This process may take much longer than a week, depending on your individual cat. If you go too fast (i.e., giving more new food and less old food), your cat may refuse the new mixture. If you need to feed the same mixture of foods without change for several consecutive days before increasing the quantity of the new food, do so.

Transitioning from Dry to Wet Cat Food

Transitioning a cat from a dry food to a wet food can be especially problematic. The taste and texture of the two types of food are quite different and many cats will find their new food quite strange. There are some tricks you can try to make the transition easier and the food more palatable. Try sprinkling the kibbles on top of the wet food until your cat is used to the smell of the wet food underneath. Then you can try mixing the dry food into the wet food. You can also try grinding some of the dry food into a powder and mixing it into the wet food to add flavor and make the food more palatable.

For cats that need to be transitioned from dry food to wet food quickly due to medical issues, adding a small quantity of Fortiflora, a probiotic, to the wet food can help improve the palatability. Warming the wet food to near body temperature can also help improve the palatability.

Watch your cat’s weight carefully during any food transition. If your cat loses weight or refuses to eat during the transition, consult your veterinarian for advice.

From PetMD