This is a massive topic to cover, so we'll break it down into a few posts to keep us all sane..
Last year my curiosity finally peaked and I went deep down a rabbit hole of the raw vs kibble debate. We switched almost immediately to raw, and I'm gonna break down why.
Josh told me (and I quote) "of all the stupid things you've made us do, switching the dog food was the best" and if that doesn't convince you, read on, friends.
Did you know kibble didn't even exist until after WW2? Before that, dogs ate meat! With the war, meat and tin were heavily rationed by the government and so the dog food industry had to invent a new way to produce & store the food.
A few problems came with that switch:
The dog food industry isn't regulated or overseen by anyone but themselves, meaning they can kind of do whatever they want - like throw in a bunch of fillers.
You ever hear about food recalls? A lot of the time, that's because an animal (like a horse or cow or whatever) gets put down, and then it gets turned into dog food... containing the the poison used to put the animal down... then someone's Shih Tzu in Maryland chows down and dies because it gets poisoned accidentally. Oh, and those recalls? Due to the lack of regulation, they're completely voluntary and on the honour system. You can read more about that HERE .
Does it seem like a lot of dogs these days have human problems? Allergies, cancer, diabetes, etc. Well, they do. Because kibble is essentially the same as eating fast food every day. Know what would happen to your body if you were eating crap like that every meal? You bet you would have a whole host of similar problems.
The nutritional value is depleted by cooking things over and over again, and the majority of the ingredients haven't much nutritional value to your dog in the first place.
So, we made a change. A big thing to remember in switching to raw food is that most of the changes that will take place are internal, so you may not notice a huge difference. For us, the changes include insanely soft coats, whiter teeth, balanced energy, weight management, and their poop (which I will continue to rave over in a minute). I've heard if you have a dog that has tear stains, you may notice those diminish a crazy amount, too - I just recently got Josh's family's Chihuahua cross onto raw and we are documenting to see if there's change... stay tuned!
Now, let's get to those poops (charming, I know). You know what dog poo looks like: it's huge and smelly and disgusting... like, you know, poop. Not only does a raw diet take away the smell, but the size is basically half, and it composts into the earth fairly quickly. Wait, what? Yup, that's right. Their bodies actually use the nutrients in the food, leaving little waste to come out the other end. TBH, having two large breed dogs, this was basically enough to sell me on it alone without any other added benefits.
My two main concerns: cost and clean up.
1. A variety pack from Pets Go Raw (out of Cranbrook, BC) costs me $55ish a box for 25 lbs of food, and between two big dogs I usually end up spending right around $200 a month.
When I was in school, I actually put the dogs back onto a high quality kibble for about a month in an attempt to save some dinero (sorry, but student budget, you know) and it did not work at all. I was spending more money as they were going through it so much faster and all those benefits I mentioned all but disappeared - Josh came home and actually made a comment about them feeling dull. We went back onto raw immediately.
A huge reason I chose the particular company I did was because they're somewhat local and you can watch the entire process of how their food is made right on their website - Hullo! You can find one that works for you and is in your area by simply doing some good Google research.
2. If I thaw the pucks out and use their bowls, everything gets washed afterwards with soap and water; it is raw meat after all. But my friend taught me a handy little trick that works great for us - don't thaw the pucks the whole way and send the dogs outside! Minimal clean up (and the added bonus that Hudson doesn't swallow his food whole like the little savage that he is).
"But, Kels, my vet says..." shut up, I know, your vet's school is sponsored by the pet food companies and they spend very little time in school actually covering nutrition (unless they've done some specialized training). As Karen & Georgia would say - IT GOES ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!!
Do me this one thing: take a look at your dog food bag, Google the ingredients. As my dog nutritionist would say [yes, I have a dog nutritionist, we fancy] "even if you think it's good, it's probably not".
Don't worry friends, guinea pig # 1, 2, and 3 are on it! In the next post we will cover everything I had questions about when we made the swap.