As soon as you start your dog on a raw diet, you’ll notice that it’s having an impact on his digestion. For one thing, you’ll see how his stools change — they will be a different form and he will poop less. Your dog produces less waste when on a raw diet because his body is able to digest more of the nutrients. But the benefits don’t end there.
Before looking at just how a raw diet can help, you need to understand how your dog’s digestive system works.
When we talk about the digestive system, we mean the gastrointestinal tract. This consists of all the major organs of the digestive system, including the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine. It also encompasses the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder as well as the tongue, teeth, and esophagus.
A raw diet has a positive effect on all aspects of the dog’s digestive system in several ways.
Kibble often contains ingredients that provoke allergies in some dogs. Much of the time, allergic reactions show up in the skin or fur. However, a common symptom you may never even notice is inflammation.
Whatever form the allergy takes, it will be uncomfortable for your dog. It may also require a treatment of antibiotics or steroids, which are expensive and often ineffective.
A far better solution is to simply change your dog’s diet to remove the allergen. This involves putting your dog on a biologically-appropriate diet — free from grains and certain types of cooked proteins that dogs find difficult to digest.
Leaky gut syndrome occurs when gaps form within the cells in gut lining. This often happens after a dog suffers from prolonged inflammation. Leaky gut syndrome is a serious problem, as it allows toxins and partially digested food to enter the dog’s bloodstream. In a healthy gut, the pathogens would simply pass out as waste product.
As a result, leaky gut syndrome can lead to numerous health problems, including:
As we saw above, teeth form part of the digestive system. A raw diet plays a major role in keeping teeth in good condition.
Kibble does nothing to clean teeth. Manufacturers often claim that the hard texture scrapes plaque from teeth. In fact, the starch from the food is more likely to stick to teeth. For this reason, owners who feed their dogs kibble find that they need to clean their pets’ teeth often. They usually turn to chews, a toothbrush, or even prophylaxis treatment at the vet clinic, which requires anesthesia.
All this becomes unnecessary if you switch to raw foods. A balanced raw diet contains a large amount of bone — a substance that is hard enough to clean your dog’s teeth. This is far more effective than recreational bones, which are usually too soft to do anything. Plus, unlike other methods to clean teeth (which induce stress), dogs find gnawing a bone relaxing.
Why is it so important to keep teeth clean? Not only can dirty teeth become infected and need pulling, the bacteria that builds up on teeth is dangerous for the entire body. For instance, it can put the dog at risk for heart disease. If your dog’s breath smells at all bad, he is likely already on the way to developing periodontal disease.
Your dog’s pancreas has to work extra hard to break down foods that he has not adapted to eat. An example of this is the grains in kibble. In contrast, a raw food diet can contain just the types of foods that your dog would naturally consume.
Like humans, dogs have a large number of bacteria in their gut. It is important to maintain the right balance between beneficial and harmful bacteria to promote overall good health.
Beneficial bacteria are probiotics, which are present in many natural food sources. However, they only survive in the gut for a short time unless they have their own source of food: prebiotics. You could give your dog supplements of both probiotics and prebiotics — or you could just provide him with a raw diet that contains both.
After eating dry kibble, your dog needs to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The problem with this is that it puts extra pressure on the digestive organs, as it is natural for your dog to receive some moisture from his food. Years of eating dry kibble can cause chronic dehydration and contribute to kidney disease.
If your dog currently suffers from digestive issues, there’s a good chance a raw diet will help resolve all of them. However, it is important that you make a complete switch, as mixing raw foods with kibble could make problems worse. It is also critical that you introduce protein sources one at a time — to allow your dog’s body to adjust to the change of diet gradually.
New research suggests dogs may well have taste receptors in more places than just their tongues. Studies indicate that taste receptors may be present throughout the intestinal tract. These receptors detect the presence of toxins and tell the brain whether the body should continue digesting the food or bring it back up.
This would mean that when you provide your dog with a biologically-appropriate diet, his body will register that the food is safe. Therefore, he will be less likely to vomit when eating raw foods than kibble.
Simply giving your dog any raw food diet may not provide him with all the above benefits. You need to feed him a range of foods to supply him with all the nutrients he needs, including plenty of probiotics and no ingredients that could cause him allergies or inflammation. For this reason, purchasing from a high-quality raw food supplier is crucial.