Proteins and amino acids are found in chicken, cattle, turkey, venison, fish, and lambs. They can also be found in their organs including liver, lungs, and spleen. All of these sources can be utilized if you’re feeding a raw or lightly cooked diet.
In kibble, grains are commonly used as a source of protein including rice, wheat, barley, and corn. If you flip the bag over and take a look at the label, you can see how much of each was used. The first ingredient is what the food bag contains the most and they are listed in descending order. The first three ingredients often make up the majority of the food bag.
Cooked Versus Raw
Raw food diets are also healthier for your dog because they provide them with a diet that is closer to what nature intended. As dogs have evolved over time, their digestive systems have adapted to digesting raw meat as opposed to cooked meat, which is why many dog lovers advocate for a raw diet.
When you take a look at raw foods versus cooked, the numbers don’t lie. Raw chicken has about 70% more protein than cooked chicken. The same goes for beef: raw beef contains 50% more protein than its cooked counterpart.
Why is this, though? The main reason boils down to amino acids in the protein being altered or destroyed during denaturation.
Denaturation of Proteins
Heat causes a process known as protein denaturation to occur. With the denaturation of proteins comes the elimination of amino acids, especially lysine, from the Maillard Reaction. This same reaction is responsible for the development of heterocyclic amines, which increase your dog’s risk of cancer.
What is Denaturation?
When you cook food, you’re breaking down those proteins into smaller pieces. This process is called “denaturing.” When this happens, the proteins lose their original shape and function, and some of them may even form new bonds with other molecules in the food. This can cause changes in color, texture, flavor, and nutritional value.
The most common example of protein denaturation is egg white. When you cook an egg, the protein in the whites turns from clear or translucent to white or opaque. You can see this change happening because as you cook your egg, it will start to clear up and turn white as it cooks longer and longer.
Vitamins Disappear During Processing
Kibble is cooked up to six times at a minimum of 280 degrees for one hour, which takes away the majority of the nutritional value. Think about if you cooked your chicken stir-fry in the oven six times; or, even three. What would be left? You may still be able to eat it (not happily), but you would have crunchy food with little to no nutritional value. This is what most dogs are eating every day.
Don’t be fooled by the delicious-looking meals on the front of the dog food bag. To make the food appear more appealing, commercial companies offering kibble need to add synthetic vitamins, minerals, and vegetables back in after the kibble has been processed.
If You Feed Kibble
If your dog eats kibble and you aren’t interested in transitioning to raw, you can still improve their diet by adding a topper to their bowl. It doesn’t have to be anything you pick up special from the store. Their topper can simply be the type of meat you’re eating that night for dinner. Put some of the raw meat aside before you cook your food and feed it to your dog at mealtime.
You can also still offer your dog raw meaty bones which provide them not only with protein from the meat but also vitamins and minerals.
Senior and Immunocompromised Dogs
When a healthy dog transitions from kibble to raw food, their stomach will adjust its gastric pH to consume raw effectively. Not only does this aid in digestion, but it also helps kill off any bad bacteria residing within the food. Dogs who are immunocompromised, like dogs with cancer, and senior dogs may not have this ability. Their body is utilizing energy in other places in an attempt to return to health. These dogs often benefit from lightly cooked food.
Lightly cooked food, kept under 280 degrees, still retains a significant amount of its nutritional value but is easier for dogs with health problems to digest. Lightly cooking starts the breakdown of the food without eliminating vital nutrients.
The Benefits of Raw Food
Raw is a better option than lightly cooked food for healthy adult dogs. Raw food is highly bioavailable allowing your dog to absorb as many nutrients as possible. At Pure Life Raw, we partner with local farmers and distributors in California and pride ourselves on using meats, bones, and organs from cattle raised on pasture and grass-fed.
Compared to grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef is higher in nutrients, particularly omega-3 fatty acids. Our goal is to provide your dog with the best possible diet, and grass-fed meat is an essential component of that.
In addition to providing a source of omega-3s, beneficial bacteria from raw food can improve the health of your dog’s gut by providing essential vitamins and minerals needed for optimal growth. Since many common chronic conditions result from an unhealthy gut (such as allergies), this is especially important!
Beneficial bacteria help keep immune systems strong through proper nutrient absorption, and dogs’ immune systems are particularly sensitive because they constantly face new challenges like vaccines or harmful contaminants like glyphosate (a toxic ingredient found in pesticides) outside when we’re out walking them each day!
Dogs fed a raw diet also have healthier skin and coat, bones and joints, and a boosted immune system. Their mental health is also often better than that of a kibble-fed dog as chewing the meat, especially off of raw meaty bones, provides mental stimulation.
When dogs are fed a raw diet that hasn’t been altered by excessive heat, artificial ingredients, and extreme processing, they’re eating as nature intended. This leads to a happier, healthier dog with a lower risk for disease. This also increases your dog’s lifespan, providing you with more time to spend with your best friend.
If you’re looking for help making your raw bowl, contact a trusted canine nutritionist that specializes in raw feeding. We recommend Hannah Zulueta with Daily Dog Food Recipes. Use code DRAKE to get 5% off of any consultation. Click here to book your consult!