A balanced raw food diet consists of much more than just meat and bones. You need to remember that dogs are omnivores rather than carnivores. In other words, they have the capability to digest plant matter. In fact, when your dog eats a raw diet that lacks vegetables, she misses out on many nutrients and health benefits.
Your dog may receive sufficient vitamins and minerals from meat, but she could gain even more (and prevent a deficiency) if she also eats vegetables. For instance, she will gain:
If your dog is eating bones in her raw diet (and she should be!), she’ll be receiving some fiber. Still, dogs evolved to also eat the hair, nails, and feathers of their prey, which are not present even in a raw diet. Vegetable fiber can help compensate for this.
Furthermore, vegetable fiber is a useful prebiotic; i.e. it acts as a food source for the beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut. This makes it much better than fiber from grains, which tends to be almost entirely insoluble and just passes through your dog’s body.
Your dog’s body needs to stay slightly more alkaline than acidic. Like this, a number of her organs will be able to function optimally. An alkaline body also prevents inflammation caused by acidity — a cause of many chronic diseases.
As meat and some other sources of protein turn the body acidic, it is important to balance out these effects with vegetables. Almost all vegetables help the body become alkaline. So do many fruits, including pears, watermelon, mango, papaya, and apples to name just a few.
One study looked at the impact of vegetables on dogs’ cognitive abilities. It found that adding fruits and vegetables preserved cognitive ability as dogs aged.
Feeding your dog raw meat does provide her with more water in her food than with dry kibble does, but it is still insufficient to prevent dehydration. Vegetables and, even more so, fruits are high in water content. They can stop your dog needing to receive too much water from drinking after her meal. This is crucial, as a diet that is too dry can lead to health conditions like kidney disease and bladder stones.
The right raw meats can help combat obesity — particularly chicken and turkey muscle meats. However, you’ll see faster results if you also include vegetables in your dog’s diet. Giving her meals consisting of up to 30 percent vegetable matter will allow you to feed your dog plenty (to ensure she feels satiated) but lower the amount of calories she consumes. Such a diet can also prevent or treat pancreatitis, which is often caused by obesity or a diet too high in fat.
The term phytonutrients refers to a number of substances found in plant matter. They can prevent cancer, premature aging, and bacterial, parasitic, and fungal infections. Types of phytonutrients include:
A major reason for leaving kibble behind and switching to a raw diet is to cut down on carbohydrates. All the same, whereas no dog needs a large amount of carbs from grain, some dogs do benefit from carbohydrates forming up to 20 percent of their diet. This is especially true for sighthounds and dogs who need to gain weight. Vegetables are a great source of healthy carbs for these dogs.
Vegetables play a major role in treating degenerative diseases of all types, such as cancer or arthritis. They also treat many other serious health issues, like pancreatic disease, IBD, and growth problems in large breeds.
Dogs are unable to make Omega-3 fatty acids in their own bodies. This means that they need to receive the fats from their food. Although Omega 3 is present in fish oils, it can be more convenient at times to feed your dog grasses and algae, as these store better.
Omega 3 has a numerous health benefits for dogs. It:
Plus, unlike Omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause inflammation, Omega 3 has anti-inflammatory qualities. This means that Omega-3 fatty acids can balance out the effects of Omega 6, which your dog may be consuming in large amounts if she is eating chicken. It is important to note that Omega-6 fatty acids are essential; it is just necessary to balance them out with sufficient Omega 3 to avoid adverse side effects.
You most likely make sure your dog’s raw diet includes plenty of muscle meat, organs, and bones. As you can see, you also need to give your pet enough vegetables. In fact, most raw diet experts recommend feeding your dog a diet consisting of between 10 and 20 percent vegetable ingredients. If you are purchasing from a raw food supplier, check that the diet has enough vegetables, fruits, and herbs. If it does not, switch to a different brand.
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