Grain-Free Pet food–is it REALLY grain-free? And what about feeding HALF raw diet to my Dog?

This growing trend may be the one thing you are ignoring that could literally add a decade more to the life-span of your dog, yet many owners are still uneducated or are ignoring the overwhelming research about this phenomenon that every dog should have the opportunity to benefit from.

Many people ask me about feeding ½ kibble and ½ raw diet to their pets. Many either can’t afford the “true” raw commercial diets, but recognize the overwhelming evidence and research supporting the feeding of a raw/paleo/prey model type diet, as well as the market trends that are leaning heavily in this direction.

According to the research done over the past 40 years (much, predominately by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, a veterinarian from Australia and founder of B.A.R.F. World (Biologically appropriate raw food) has shown, overwhelmingly that diets for pets should be predominantly meat and pulverized nutrients in the form of fruits, veggies and herbs, and meals should be varied, and raw foods should be at least rotated into the diet. These concepts remain critical for pet owners to understand if health, preventative care, and longer life-span is their objective. Some manufacturers, looking for an edge in the market, are attempting to capitalize on these concepts.

Doing so is one thing. Not doing so and leading the public to believe you are, is quite another. I was shocked at the representation of “raw diet” attempted by most kibble manufacturers when I scanned the hundreds of booths at the Global Pet Expo the last couple of years. Many are literally softening their kibble and calling it “raw” or putting out a predominately “freeze” dried food, which still, is technically cooked, and thus breaks down the nutrient content in the food. I also noticed brands such as Fresh Pet, often found in stores, is SUPER HIGH in sucrose!  Really??

The “no grains” claim on a pet food is made to lead people to believe there is either something wrong with grains or that the food is predominantly meat. The claim also implies that a “no-grain” food is better or safer than all the products that have grains. Thus, my observation of the grain-free foods not truly solving the problems of too many starches in our dog’s diet.

Wysong says, “Although it is true that starch is not a natural component of a carnivore’s diet, simply substituting one starch for another does not solve the problem. Pet foods that contain starch and have the “no grain” claim is like saying you are on a “no water” diet because some sources of water are polluted, but then drinking water anyway.

Companies who attempt to demonize grains (corn, wheat, etc.) and soy omit the fact that the meats they use come from animals fed primarily corn and soy. Even organic chickens are fed this diet. Although it is true that animals convert these ingredients into flesh, it is hypocritical to demonize soy, corn, etc., and then use meat products raised on them.”

Feeding in variety and using true all meat foods is the solution. Examples include (BARF Multi-Mix Patties)
“Hiding” the starch in the formula by using potato or tapioca does not make a food more meatier than a grain based pet food. And beans and legumes added to kibbles ups the protein content in foods, cheaply, I may add, but is not species appropriate for canines. In fact, in most foods, the majority of the protein is provided by legumes, which are phytoestrogens and can mess with your dog’s hormones (think skin and coat issues!)

If feeding a ½ & ½ type diet, I recommend an extruded kibble (not a high temperature baked kibble) like Life’s Abundance (Regular)  All Life Stages. I DON’T recommend Grain-Free because most foods that claim to be so are still LOADED with starches…which still cause health issues that most pet parents are trying to get away from when using a grain-free food!

Feeding the raw in the morning because it is high in moisture and will help hydrate your dog, as well as continue to hydrate throughout the day. For a lab that is 70-90 lbs, 2 Multi-Mix BARF patties should be sufficient. Then feed 1 cup of Life’s Abundance All-Life-Stages food in the evening between 4-6 pm.

But I have to admit, the most motivating factor of providing a high quality raw diet for your dog is a longer lifespan and savings on vet bills over the course of your dog’s life. European and Australian dog owners have been feeding raw for centuries, and expect their dogs to live into their 20’s!!! My first exposure to a dog fed raw was a Labrador I met who was almost 20 years old. I asked the owner how this could be. She walked me right to her refrigerator and showed me raw diet, let me borrow Dr. Billinghurst’s book, “Give your Dog a Bone,” and I have never looked back.

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