Maybe this is the year you said you were going to feed your dog better. But maybe you don’t know what “better” is. Let’s take a look at a few simple ways you can improve your dog’s diet. The first thing you want to consider is whether or not your dog has allergies/sensitivities/intolerance to particular foods. Once you’ve narrowed that down you can determine the upgrade you’d like to make. If you’ve been feeding a diet containing grains maybe you want to consider a grain-free diet. If you are always feeding dry food maybe you want to introduce a food with moisture. If you’re feeding canned maybe you want to introduce a less processed food such as dehydrated or air dried food. Or maybe you’re ready to make the big leap and introduce raw food into your dog’s diet. Whatever you decide, now more than ever, there are a multitude of options.

At 8 nitro feels great!

At 8 nitro feels great!

Allergies plague most every dog I know. If it’s not the food it’s the environment. If you suspect food might be the issue you will want to try an elimination diet. The easiest way to get right to the point is to eliminate beef, chicken, eggs corn, wheat and soy. There are many other protein sources on the market available that you may not have even realized. Here is a short list in alphabetical order. There is bison, duck, fish, lamb, turkey, pheasant, rabbit and venison. Eliminating corn, wheat and soy is simple. Choosing a grain-free diet will ensure that none of those triggers will be found in your dog’s food. Remember that snacks count. If you feed bully sticks to your dog make sure they are made from bison. Make sure your dog’s treats are free of these common allergens as well. And be mindful if you are sharing from your own plate. Stick with the new diet for six weeks. If your dog is not relieved of his allergies you might consider making an appointment with a veterinary dermatologist.

After weeding out any food allergies or sensitivities it’s time to consider the nutrients your dog is receiving through his food. The rule is, all ingredients being equal, the more the food is processed the more nutrients lost. That word “processed” is kind of ubiquitous and vague. Food processing entails grinding, extruding and cooking. Another way to say it is, the more that is done to your dog’s food the less valuable to the dog’s body it becomes. So, if you’ve been feeding dry dog food maybe you want to consider adding some canned food into the diet. Canned food goes through less processing and contains a component very important to digestion; water. Aside from feeding canned food you can consider adding goat’s milk to dry dog food. Goat’s milk provides probiotics, very important to every dog’s gut health, and enzymes within the milk help to break the kibble down making the protein in the food more readily digested and utilized by your dog’s body. If you are ready to take a step further beyond a canned diet or the addition of goat’s milk you might look into an air dried or dehydrated product. By definition these foods go through less processing than canned food making nutrients more available to your dog.

With a store called RAW many of my customers are drawn to us because they want to learn what is behind the concept of raw feeding. I simply explain to them what I’ve already explained to you regarding processing and nutrient availability and then we discuss the options available to them. One of the simplest options available is feeding Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost kibble. This company has been in the raw business as long as anyone. They know the importance of feeding raw and want to introduce it in anyway possible. For this reason they developed their raw boost kibble using their already superior kibble and added their freeze dried raw food. All you have to do is scoop it out of the bag, feeding your dog as usual. However, if you want to feed a different kibble you can purchase a number of freeze dried raw brands and mix them into your kibble yourself. Some people choose to feed freeze dried raw solely. While it is the most expensive form of raw food available it may still be feasible for owners of small dogs. The best part about freeze dried raw food is that it doesn’t need freezing or refrigeration. You merely add water and serve. Your next option is frozen raw food. This is the least processed food that you can buy for your dog without making it yourself. There are many brands and formulas to suit every dog and owner. You can spend a lot or you can spend less. It is possible to feed your dog a raw diet for the same cost as a high end kibble. Some of my customers like to feed a morning meal of kibble and an evening meal of raw food to make it more affordable.

So many options.

So many options.

When considering your dog’s nutrition in 2015 consult your budget and your ingredient panel and then determine what upgrades you can make. Most everyone can make an upgrade of some kind that will benefit the way your dog looks and feels today as well as how your dog will look and feel in the future. Here at RAW we walk the walk as all of us feed our dogs the best that we are able. For this reason our dogs are healthy and happy. Vet visits are no more than annual and at eight years old my boy has yet to see the doggie dentist due in part to his raw diet. I often tell my customers “you can spend your money on food or you can spend it at the vet’s office”. I have a feeling that I know which of those two options the dog would choose.