Q: My six-year-old Great Dane, Gloria, was prescribed a semi-raw diet by my vet as she has sensitive skin. Her diet consists of prescription kibble for her breed and age as well as frozen raw meat (Gloria is only allergic to chicken; she takes rabbit and kangaroo mostly). Her skin has improved tremendously after two weeks but she recently rejected her meals (I usually mix the raw meat with the kibble), picking at it when she’s hungry but never finishing the entire serving. Should I combine kibble and raw meat and if there is any way I can switch it up so that she will like her food again?
A: Congratulations on making the change to raw food. Personally, I think it is the best way to feed dogs and cats in general, as it mimics the way they have been eating for millions of years before processed foods were invented. We need to be mindful that processed foods were created for pet owners’ convenience, and does not actually benefit pets in any way. While there have been some major improvements over the years, dry foods are still heavily processed and cooked at very high temperatures, and contain artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives—none of which are good for dogs and cats.
It may be that Gloria now likes the raw food diet more than the dry food, and she may be rejecting the kibble. I would suggest feeding the raw food and dry food as two separate meals, and see which meal she prefers. If she no longer wants the dry food, I’d encourage you to move towards a total raw diet (as long as it is a fully balanced raw diet). Dry food is much higher in calories than fresh or raw, because it has had the moisture removed (weight for weight it is very energy dense), so you will need to reduce the portions now. Raw food can be more filling as it has all the natural moisture, so dogs will feel full much quicker, and hence need to eat less in total.
It is a myth that dogs need variety in their diet to be happy; a healthy canine will normally eat very quickly as they do not have many enzymes in their saliva to taste food, so the saliva is mainly a lubricant to assist easy passage of food into the stomach. My dogs happily eat the same raw food diet every day of the week, and they gobble it down in seconds, which is quite normal. Avoid the temptation to offer more variety to Gloria, or you will run the risk of creating a fussy eater. Stick to your choice of foods, and she will eat when she is hungry.
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