Pet Food Trends

Good nutrition is the foundation for good health …

And this message was loud and clear at Raw Roundup 2018.

We brought the leading raw food experts together and shared some of the hot nutrition topics of 2018 … and since we’re all about sharing here at DNM, I want to share the top 5 pet food trends for 2018.

So without further ado, let’s get started …

#1 – Feed More (And Different) Organs

If you feed raw, you’re probably aware of 80-10-10 (which means 80% meat, 10% bone and 10% organ meats).

Dana Scott led Raw Roundup 2018 with a bold statement … if you follow the 80-10-10 rule, your dog could be missing some key nutrients.

Organ meats are the most nutrient-rich part of your dog’s diet, so if your dog is missing any, he could be lacking key vitamins, minerals, or even hormones and fatty acids.

In the wild, an animal carcass would contain not 10% organ meat, but 25%.

For most dogs, 10% organ meat might not be enough.

If you feed 10% organ meats, great, but a better number to aim for is 25%. Just remember that this 25% needs to be made up of a variety of organ meats. If it’s all the same organ your dog could be missing out on other important vitamins and minerals. And if 25% of your dog’s diet is liver, that’s way too much.

pet food trendsWhy not stop at liver? Organs are much higher in vitamins than muscle meat … vitamins like riboflavin, niacin and folate. But each organ has its own nutritional profile, so that’s why it’s best to feed a variety.

Here are some of the organs that you might forget about:

  • Kidney – a rich source of iron and B vitamins, can help keep the kidneys healthy
  • Brain – high in iron, zinc, copper and DHA. It helps improve brain function
  • Ovaries and testes – help with hormone regulation and help reduce the risk of cancer
  • Skin – the largest organ in the body. It’s rich in vitamin D. Dogs can’t manufacture vitamin D from the sun like we can so they need to have some added to their diet

And sure, liver is probably the most nutritious organ you can feed. It definitely belongs in your dog’s diet …

… BUT don’t stop there. You can keep liver at 10% but go for 25% with a wide variety.

[Related: Just starting out on raw? Check out our raw feeding guide here]

#2 – Mushrooms Are A Medical Superfood

Mushrooms seem to have a bad reputation when it comes to dogs, but believing the hype just means your dog is losing out.

There’s a ton of research that shows the many benefits of medicinal mushrooms and Dr Ihor Basko laid it all on the line.

Mushrooms can help prevent disease, regenerate certain cells and organs, protect from cancer and be a treatment for various diseases. They should be a regular staple in your dog’s diet.

The health benefits of medicinal mushrooms are vast. They can:

  • Activate the immune system
  • Improve organ function
  • Decrease the side effects of other drugs
  • Decrease stress
  • Activate bone marrow to produce more blood cells
  • Activate liver to regulate blood glucose

And they’re so powerful because of their nutrition. They’re full of:

  • Minerals like potassium, selenium and geranium
  • Vitamins like B couple and pro-vitamin D
  • Antibacterial and proteolytic enzymes
  • Polysaccharides like glycogen, beta-D-glucans, chitin

These vitamins are vital to overall health and should not be overlooked.

In his own practice, Dr Basko uses mushrooms to treat everything from chronic renal failure, to cystitis and hepatitis and to suppress cancer growth and metastasis.

He even shared a recipe to help you add mushrooms to your dog’s diet at home.

Preventative Mushroom Mix Recipe

Here’s what you need:

  • Coconut oil 1½ cups
  • Turkey tail mushrooms 2 oz
  • Cordyceps 1 oz
  • Reishi 1 oz
  • Turmeric powder 1/2 oz
  • Vitamin E oil 1600 units

It’s easy to make:

  • Heat coconut oil on low
  • Add mushrooms one at a time
  • Add turmeric
  • Mix well
  • Turn off the burner, let it sit, then pour it into a glass jar
  • Add the vitamin E oil. Keep it in a cool place or refrigerate

Add a little to your dog’s food every day.

pet food trends

#3 – Feeding Real Food Is ALWAYS Better Than Feeding Kibble

Raw feeders around the world are used to hearing the criticisms about raw food and how it “isn’t good for your dog”, and much of it comes from the conventional veterinary industry.

The thing is, there’s no research to support this theory

… in fact, Dr Anna Hielm-Bjorkman’s emerging research says the exact opposite.

“We are trained as veterinarians to use treatments and things that are based on evidence-based data. We don’t have that on raw feeding at the moment.”

Maybe that’s why so many conventional vets are against raw feeding?

Thankfully Dr Hielm-Bjorkman and her colleagues at the University of Helsinki are filling that gap.

So what have they found so far?

Not surprisingly, the right food is crucial for health.

Without giving too much away (this research is still being done) Dr Hielm-Bjorkman’s research results show a significant association between various types of food and certain health concerns. Specifically, those dogs eating both wet and dry commercial dog food were at a much higher risk for neoplasias (benign and malignant cancer growths) than dogs eating homemade or commercial raw foods.

The research also suggests that even 20% raw has a major impact on your dog’s health. 20% raw is better than nothing, and the positive benefits just go up as the amount of raw food you feed goes up.

All of the research being done shows that raw food is better. The more raw, whole foods you feed your dog, the healthier he’ll be.

Health starts from the inside out, and to help keep your dog healthy, do the best you can to ensure he gets some raw food in his diet.

#4 – Evaluate The Benefits Of What You’re Feeding

We often talk about ancestral diets and feeding your dog a diet similar to that of his ancestors. But, as Billy Hoekman pointed out, this can lead raw feeders to make a critical mistake.

A dog doesn’t need to eat what a wolf eats. If you try to do this, you’ll be limiting what your dog eats. You can’t recreate a wolf’s diet …

… And you shouldn’t try, mostly because that’s probably not what your dog needs.

For example, if your dog has issues with yeast, there are foods that should be a part of his diet … foods that will balance the gut bacteria, like kombucha or raw goats milk.

We all know that a wolf’s diet doesn’t include kombucha, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong in your dog’s diet.

Another example is astaxanthin. Research shows that astaxanthin works wonders for dogs with arthritis, but no wolf is going to take an astaxanthin supplement. Does that mean it isn’t right for your dog? No. It could be the natural solution to his pain and inflammation.

pet food trendsThese foods may not be “natural” for a dog to eat, but that doesn’t mean they’re not the right choice for the health of your dog.

“Every food has negative and positive effects on your dog’s overall health. The key is to evaluate foods independently, and choose the ones where the positives outweigh the negatives in relation to a dog’s desired macronutrient profile.”

So, before you try and build your dog’s diet based on what those wild wolves are eating, think about what he needs to be healthy and build a diet that’s unique to his needs. That’s far more important.

#5 – Functional Raw Foods 

Functional foods are foods that provide positive health benefits on top of offering basic nutrition. They offer additional nutritive value while promoting good health and lowering your dog’s risk for disease.

Rather than just feeding to survive, feed to thrive. That’s the main purpose behind a diet rich in functional foods.

Most functional foods are plants. Really though, almost all natural foods could be called functional foods because they all work to help your dog’s body function.

In his talk, Dr Buchoff gave us a list of some of his favorite functional foods and why you should think about including them in your dog’s diet.

These are some of his favorites:

Function Foods To Add TO Your Dog’s Diet

  • Coconut oil – high in medium chain triglycerides, supports the immune system, is antimicrobial, provides digestive support, improves skin and hair health, and is good for the joints. Feed 1/2 tsp per 10 lbs, twice a day.
  • Apple cider vinegar – antibacterial and it helps with weight control and diabetes. It’s also an antioxidant. Give your dog 1 tsp per 50 lbs mixed with his food.
  • Spirulina – boosts immune system, improves digestive and bowel function, detoxifies the body, prevents and treats cancer, and helps with allergies. Add 1¼ tsp per lb of food.
  • Turmeric – a powerful antioxidant, a polyphenol, anti-inflammatory, inhibits cancer cell growth, helps delay aging and chronic disease and an alternative to NSAIDS. Start low and increase slowly. If you’re using a powder, give 1/16 to 1/8 tsp per 10lbs of your dog’s weight.
  • Garlic – high in inulin (a natural prebiotic), amino acids and vitamins. It improves circulation, detoxifies the body and it’s antimicrobial and antiparasitic. Feed it raw and make sure it’s organic. Add 3.4 grams per pound of food.

Adding these to your dog’s food on a regular basis will improve his health overall.

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And Then We Said Goodbye … Sort Of

By the end of the weekend, it became clear that the research that continues to be done on raw feeding is confirming our belief that raw food is the healthiest for your dog. While pet food trends may ebb and flow, one thing remains the same: food is medicine, and the health of your dog depends on what you feed him.

And as the weekend and Raw Roundup came to an end, we were sad to announce that it was the last one …

… But you have the chance to see some of these experts again – along with some new ones – in November at our annual Raw And Natural Dog Summit! There you’ll learn all about the latest research on raw feeding, the dangers of vaccines, the best herbs and homeopathic remedies for common health issues and a ton of other valuable information on how to give your dog the best health possible

In the end, one of the most important pet food trends to remember is that when you choose the right foods, you’re committing to helping your dog live a long and healthy life.