Study Concludes Raw Feeding Extends Dog Longevity by 3 Years
By now, most people understand the intrinsic link between diet and health. While it may not be the news we most want to hear, we understand that a clean diet of natural products will increase our lifespan, reduce chronic illnesses, give us more energy, and even make us feel happier and less stressed.
Somehow, however, we haven’t made the logical jump to apply the same rules to our dogs. As you’ll see, studies have conclusively shown that a clean, natural, raw diet for dogs dramatically increases their life expectancy. As the results of scientific studies have shown, not only do dogs fed on a raw food diet live longer, they suffer from fewer health problems and act and appear more youthful, even in old age. In fact, if you’re looking for tips to help your dog lose weight, the first step you should take is to move your dog to a diet of raw food.
The good news is that feeding your dog a raw food diet is not as difficult, time-consuming, or expensive as you may think. Even better, once dogs start on an improved diet, the change in their weight, health, and energy levels is noticeable almost immediately.
What Did Domestic Dogs’ Ancestors Eat?
To understand what domestic dogs today should ideally be eating, it’s important to look back at how their wild ancestors existed and nourished themselves. Dogs are descended from wolves, and their teeth structure, gut layout, and internal physiology prove that they are clearly omnivores. However, unlike cats, dogs are not obligate carnivores, and wild dogs do eat plant matter, even digging up vegetables, eating rotting and ripe fruit, and grasses and herbs.
For the most part, however, wild dogs are predators, and will individually catch and eat small animals and rodents, or work together in a pack to take down a much larger animal. Importantly, wild dogs eat every part of their prey, including bones and internal organs.
Wild dogs do not eat every day and, depending on a variety of factors, may eat as infrequently as every third or fourth day. A healthy dog – whether domestic or wild – can easily go for a full week without eating and not suffer any health consequences. Interestingly, wild dogs practice what researchers call “balance over time” nourishment, where they do not meet all of their nutritional needs at every meal. Instead, they meet their needs over time, seeking out specific foods according to their bodies’ requirements.
Finally – and this is an important one – wild dogs do not eat grains of any kind. Their digestive systems are simply not equipped to digestive grains, nor are they able to convert grains into sugar for later use, as humans do.
The Benefits Of Raw
In the biggest recorded study to date of the effects of raw food on dogs, Belgian researchers Dr. Gerard Lippert and Bruno Sapy examined more than 500 dogs over a period spanning five years and came to some overwhelming conclusions. In an effort to determine the greatest influences on a domestic dog’s lifespan, the researchers looked at various factors including the dog’s diet, housing configuration, human family members, and sterilisation, ultimately coming to the conclusion that food and sterilization were the only factors under human control that have a measurable and significant impact on a dog’s life expectancy.
While sterilization can increase a dog’s lifespan by as much as 15 months, it was a raw food diet that had the most tremendous effects, potentially adding up to 32 months to a dog’s life – almost three years, or a quarter of an average dog’s natural life expectancy. The comprehensive research found that dogs on a commercially-prepared processed food diet have an average lifespan of 10.4 years, while dogs given a diet of home-made raw food can reach an average lifespan of 13.1 years.
Not only does a raw food diet dramatically increase a dog’s life expectancy, it is a natural form of weight control; it also reduces the risk of the dog developing allergies, and improves mobility, energy, and stamina in old age. A significant additional benefit of a raw food diet for dogs is the potential cost savings when you factor in fewer visits to your veterinarian as your dog lives a healthier life with clean teeth, fewer allergies, and reduced risk of developing an illness or disease. In fact, when you compare raw food costs vs. vet bills, it becomes apparent that a raw food diet could potentially save you money.
What Does Raw Food Mean?
Raw food can mean a variety of things and doesn’t have to solely consist of raw meat and bones. Interestingly, the study didn’t fully define the concept of raw food, but instead referred to “home-made food”, which it defined as “similar food as consumed by the family”. The study went on to assume that home-made food uses good quality ingredients containing a good source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals derived from natural products, has not been chemically treated, and does not contain coloring or additives.
While this definition may apply to a good old-fashioned Sunday roast, as humans consume more and more processed food, a new definition of raw food must be applied. Luckily, there are numerous options for feeding raw food to your dog, including buying raw meat, bones, organs, and carcasses (such as chicken frames) from a butcher or supermarket, to offering raw fruit and vegetables as snacks and treats. Perhaps counterintuitively, more and more companies are creating raw food products in bulk, greatly simplifying the process of feeding your dog a raw diet.
Freeze dried raw food, for example, starts out as frozen raw food with no mixers or additives. It is then reduced to an extremely cold temperature and vacuum dried, during which any ice present in the food turns to water vapor, drying out the food without it becoming thawed. Once the process of freeze-drying is complete, the raw food is shelf stable and dry, yet still considered raw.
Science is clear that the health and longevity of a dog are directly linked to the food they eat. For some time we have been aware that, as humans, “we are what we eat” and, like a car, if you put good fuel in you can expect good performance. It should, therefore, come as no surprise that the same holds true for dogs.
Not only will a raw food diet increase your dog’s lifespan by up to three years, but your dog will also enjoy increased healthfulness and energy during their longer life.
Change is never easy, but switching from commercial dog food to raw doesn’t have to be hard, expensive, or time-consuming. As a pet lover, you’ll agree that the rewards of switching your dog to a raw food diet would outweigh any potential inconvenience in the process.
About The Author: James Woller is a long-time dog enthusiast, and co-owner of Release the Hounds and Jet Pet Resort, professional dog walking and boarding companies in Vancouver, Canada. On his days off from running his companies, he enjoys learning and writing about topics that are of interest to caring pet owners.