Can a domesticated dog eat and digest Raw Food?

If you’ve been a pet owner for a while now, you’re probably already aware of how important your dog’s stomach or rather his digestive system is. But it does perform THE most important function related to your pet’s well-being: eating, absorbing, maintaining, balancing and disposal of food. S the most important question running in everyone's mind is, Can a domesticated dog eat and digest Raw Food? Let’s go back in time to our science books for a short refresher on the anatomy of our dog’s stomach: Eating: Well, the system starts at the mouth (made up of the teeth, tongue, salivary glands). There’s a tube or pipe that connects the mouth to the stomach also known as the esophagus. This tube is important for the food to pass smoothly into your dog's tummy. Then comes the stomach which is like a sac where food is stored. The small intestine is also a tube and is the longest part of the intestinal tract. This tube is made up of three sections: the duodenum. The mid portion is called the jejunum and the last portion is called the ileum. barf india

Let’s look at the importance these play in the functioning of your dog’s small intestine:

The duodenum: As short as it is, the duodenum is important. The pancreas and the gall –bladder connect to this portion by ducts. So all fluids that are made by the liver and the pancreas flow through these ducts to mix with the food in this portion of the small intestine. The middle man: The Jejunum is the longest portion of the small intestine and is covered with Intestinal villi which are small finger-like projections. These grow into the interior of the GI tract and they increase the space in the walls of the intestine which provides a large area for the absorption of nutrients. Now, the contents of the jejunum finally travel to the last portion of the small intestine; the ileum. Post this, these contents move towards the Large Intestine. The Large intestine is the connection between the small intestine and the dog’s anus. This is where your dog’s feces is stored before it passes out as your dog’s stool. In the meanwhile the large intestine ensures to absorb water from these feces as required and in this way your dog’s body is constantly hydrated. The colon which is the longest section of the large intestine ends in the anus which then connects to the rectum which is of course where the stool passes out from.

So how does your dog digest its food?

Well, your dog’s digestive tract contains enzymes which play a key role in helping your dog digest his food which is then converted to energy. Some of these enzymes are released from the pancreas which are then released into the small intestine which then completes the digestion process. It’s important to remember though that your dog’s stomach protects him from harmful bacteria that might be ingested along with his food.

Acids in your dogs stomach:

There are also acids in your dog’s stomach. These aid in the digestion of bones. They help absorb the calcium and minerals that are found in the bone and then the remains of the bone are passed out through the stool of your dog. Now if you’re feeding anything chemically enhanced to your pup, you’re messing with the normal functions of his stomach which is built to absorb natural, healthy vitamins and minerals that are found in meat, organs, offal, raw meaty bones and some form of vegetation. Raw food doesn’t contain too much starch and carbs but processed food do. So in essence, what you’re doing to your dog is messing with his natural digestive process. You’re making him more susceptible to allergies and deficiencies and various other forms of tummy upsets. I would like to also talk about the pH of your dog’s stomach here and how it aids in the digestion of food in your dog’s stomach. If your dog is being fed unnaturally prepared foods or processed foods, it will cause an increase in the pH in the stomach.

How does this matter?

Okay, let us explain! pH is nothing but acids in the stomach. They are meant to be low; in a range of 1-2 but when your dog is eating starch contained in processed foods, it is difficult for pH levels to be maintained at that range, which then causes stomach upsets. A high pH level means that the enzymes which aid in your dog’s digestion will not be released and food that is not digested properly will lead to infections because bacteria could easily slip through the lining of the small intestine. barf india Pups on raw.jpg

So is your dog programmed to digest Raw food?

Think of a dog in the wild. I don't remember them having access to cooked prey, do you? What about their family, the wolves? Have you ever seen them eat anything but raw meat, bones, organs , skin, etc? So why would you think that your dog is programmed to eat anything but natural, fresh and healthy meat? You might say that your dog isn't wild; he is 'domesticated'. Agreed! He is, but he is still a facultative carnivore. His stomach is naturally built to digest raw meaty bones, meat, organs, offal and small doses of vegetation. We have gotten used to eating processed food out of packets and tins loaded with preservatives. And we have passed that culture down to our pets too and it's destroying their immune system.

Switching over to a raw diet:

If you plan to switch your dog over to a raw diet and are worried if he will be able to handle it, you can read my previous blog about ‘How to transition your pet over to a raw diet’ As always, the stress is on 'knowing your pet'. If you transition your pet over to the raw diet and he shows signs of discomfort, it could mean any of the following things:
  • It's possible that he might be allergic to certain foods. So you need to watch him carefully or get an allergy test done.
  • A balanced diet is very important for your pet. Just like too much of anything in our meals cause digestive problems in our stomachs, it's the same with our pets. So ensure that you give your dog adequate quantities of everything; be it proteins, vitamins, minerals, supplements, vegetation.
  • If the dogs are not eating natural, healthy food, they probably suffer with low immunity levels. And if we're going to mix foods or switch to a new diet suddenly, it is possible that your dog might not be able to handle the change.

Healthy dog food:

If you do notice your dogs discomfort, don't assume that he's allergic to the RAW food diet! Once he adapts to the diet, you will notice nothing but benefits and positive changes. Your dog's digestive system isn't built to handle a large amount of grain, corn, carbs, chemicals and additives. His stomach will be a little confused when you move him over to the raw food diet. Happens to the best of us. Imagine all our lives we've been eating nothing but canned food or junk food and we switch over to fresh, healthy and wholesome meals. Our stomach's will take time to get used to the change in diet. In fact our stools and bowel movements will change for the first few days too. It's a tried and tested method. barf india dogs on bone So to answer the question, can a domesticated dog eat and digest Raw Food? -- YES they can!! as simple as that! We will be happy to customize diets for them which will ensure that their tummies are well taken care of. So write to us...soon!