The Raw Diet Primer
Updated: May 7
At Ocean Diver Kennels the only diet we endorse is a purely raw food diet, consisting of uncooked animal parts, such as chicken frames, beef bones, liver, and heart. We believe this to be the only diet worth feeding and we require all of our owners to feed this diet in order to be eligible for our 2-year health guarantee.
The raw food diet is the fastest growing sector of the pet food market, and rightly so as more and more people recognise the financial savings and superior health benefits feeding a raw diet. Firstly, at the time of writing, we found ‘kibble’ for sale online for in excess of $10 per kilo, however you can purchase a whole chicken for as low as $3 for kilo. This difference will translate to hundreds of dollars of savings over just one year, and eventually thousands over your dog’s lifetime. More importantly however, switching to a raw diet will significantly improve the health and wellbeing of your best friend, helping to protect them from illness and boost their quality of life.
The manufacture of kibble creates food high in starch and carbohydrates, which is of low nutritional value and causes your pet’s endocrine system to operate at sub-optimal levels, resulting in massive spikes in blood sugar and insulin, which is why many dogs easily become overweight on a dry food diet. Moreover, the processing of kibble requires the ingredients to be cooked, which results in a significant loss of nutritional value, which means your dog has to eat considerably more than necessary in order to meet their nutritional needs. That’s why you should avoid any cooked food, as the addition of heat will result in the denaturation of the protein, and the compromising of important natural enzymes and beneficial bacteria. Feeding a raw diet means your dog will eat food free of artificial colours, flavours, preservatives and other harmful additives that are designed to extend the shelf life and palatability of dry food.
Some of the many changes we have seen in dogs switching to a raw diet is the improvement in your dog’s stools, as a raw diet is far more digestible and easier for your dog to process. Other benefits include an increase in shine and overall healthiness to your dog’s coat, as well as healthier skin with many skin conditions clearly up after the change to a raw diet. Moreover, you can expect improved dental health from raw food as your dog becomes accustomed to chewing on bones, and see a rise in energy levels as they receive a healthier and more balanced diet.
We understand that you can be weary of feeding a raw diet, as many detractors of the diet state you place yourself and your dog as risk from pathogens owing to the uncooked nature of the food. However, in the nearly 25 years of us feeding a raw food diet neither ourselves nor any of our animals have experienced negative side effects or illness from feeding a raw diet. This is because we take the same precautions when feeding our animals as we do ourselves; meaning all food is kept fresh and refrigerated, or defrosted safely overnight in the fridge, and all bench spaces where raw food is prepared is thoroughly cleaned and sanitised afterward so no blood or animal matter is left behind.
Another major concern that people have when feeding a raw diet is that their dog will choke on the bones and potentially injure or harm themselves. However, the risk of this is extremely low, and we have found dogs to experience more issues in their lifetime stemming from chewing on tennis balls and whatever random items they find in your garden, regardless of their diet. If you’re still concerned you can simply remove any bones you believe may be hazardous from your dog’s meal, or thoroughly chop up any meat and bones beforehand using a butcher’s cleaver.
Finally, many people worry that their dog simply won’t like or be willing to eat raw food after a lifetime of kibble, however our years of experience have found this is rarely true. Whilst some dogs may be resistant to a change in diet, most are chomping at the bit to try raw food and come to quickly love it. If you’re worried about switching diet you can always slowly mix in raw food to your dog’s kibble to ween them off dry food and help them become accustomed to a raw diet.
Tips on feeding a raw diet
· Feeding muscle meat alone will be insufficient to meet your dog’s dietary requirements, that’s why it’s important that you include bones to provide then the necessary calcium and phosphorus to keep them strong. We’ve included some great examples of raw foods we feed below, but please consider the size of your pet in relation to their meal before feeding any of the below foods:
Ø Chicken wings
Ø Chicken drumsticks
Ø Turkey necks
Ø Kangaroo tails
Ø Lamb or goat ribs
Ø Whole fish
Ø Whole rabbit
Ø Whole chicken
· Organs also form an important part of a raw diet, as they are nutrient rich and provide your dog with important vitamins to keep them healthy. Organs meat should be kept as a small part of their diet however as their rich nature can lead to as an excess in certain vitamins which could become harmful, and organs are known to loosen their stools, especially if given in excess. Here are some of the organs we include in our raw feeding program that are readily available:
· Muscle meat forms the positive foundation of your dog’s diet and is necessary to meet their protein requirements. You should regularly provide them with the following foods to keep them strong:
Ø Beef cheek
Ø Ground beef
Ø Stewing beef
Ø Lamb shoulder
Ø Pork shoulder
Ø Pork loin
Ø Chicken breast
· Please be careful of fats in your dog’s diet, as cheap raw food, such as low quality supermarket mince, is typically high in unhealthy fats. That’s why we recommend buying low fat, high quality meats during specials and sales and freezing them for future use.
· Many people believe they need to incorporate fruit and veg into a raw diet, however we have found this to be simply not the case and isn't necessary.
· Remember, a big reason we feed a raw diet is because kibble is high and starch and carbohydrates, which leads to obesity, so make sure you don’t feed foods high in starch such grains and potatoes. These are unnecessary calories that your dog doesn’t need.
· Try to provide as much variety as possible, doing so will not only provide your dog with a range of different nutrients but it will also contribute to keeping your dog from becoming a picky eater.
· Many people claim that a raw diet isn’t ‘complete and balanced’, unlike ‘specially formulated’ propriety blends of various preservatives, additives and supplements. However, provided you fulfil their dietary needs over a few days you won’t have anything to worry about, after all, do you make sure you get your prescribed amount of protein, carbs, fats, minerals and vitamins every single day?
We hope this primer will give you the information you need in order to make an informed decision and make the switch toward a healthier choice for your dog. If you have any further questions or concerns please feel free to ask.