7 Benefits of Fresh Dog Food + How To Transition

Nutrition
April 10, 2022
Author: 
Diana Bocco
Reviewed By: 
Dr. Farshad Goodarzi - Animal Nutritionist
5 minute read

If you've been wondering about all the buzz around fresh food diets for dogs, you're not alone. More and more pet owners are making the switch to fresh food as a way to feed their pups the best, most nutritious food available.

Before we tell you a bit about the many great benefits of a wholesome fresh diet, consider reading our article on What's Wrong with Kibble to better understand why commercial pet food isn't the best choice.

That being said, let's dive right in! Here is a quick breakdown of why fresh dog food is the best choice for your pet:

  1. You know exactly what you're feeding your dog.
  2. Good fresh dog food is not made of cheap ingredients with low bioavailability.
  3. Harmful chemicals are left behind.
  4. Fresh food is significantly more digestible.
  5. It's yummier.
  6. Your dog will be healthier and more energetic.
  7. The right fresh food considers your dog's individual needs.

What Makes Fresh Food So Great?

Fresh dog food has many benefits – after all, the better you eat, the healthier you are. And what can be better than wholesome food prepared with fresh ingredients full of nutrients?

Here are seven big reasons why switching to fresh food is a great decision:

1. You know EXACTLY what you're feeding your dog.

No more trying to decipher confusing chemical names or tricky wording on pet food labels. When you're feeding fresh, there are no undesirable extras in your dog's food. You will be feeding wholesome ingredients without additives or artificial colors and flavors.

Plus, a customized fresh meal can exclude any specific ingredients that a dog with food allergies would need to avoid.

2. Good fresh dog food is not made of cheap ingredients with low bioavailability.

Did you know that even if the food label says that the product contains an ingredient, there may only be a teeny-tiny bit of that ingredient in the food? They do this just to get through the already questionable regulatory requirements. So always do the math yourself. Could 1 kg of "High Protein" or "Premium" food that claims only to contain high-quality turkey breast as a protein source cost a few dollars? Could it be that cheap? Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, chances are it is.

Good fresh dog food is made of high-quality fresh ingredients with high bioavailability.  

3. Harmful chemicals are left behind.

Another serious issue with some commercial dog foods is chemical preservatives, which can be extremely harmful to your dog. Preservatives are added to dog food to slow down spoilage. Almost all NON-FRESH foods contain some form of preservatives. After all, that's how it can sit on the shelf for so long!

Antioxidants are used as preservatives because they slow down the oxidization process of fats and do not let them turn rancid. Preservatives and antioxidants can come from natural sources (such as vitamin E, C, etc.) or artificial sources. Natural sources can provide health benefits, but artificial preservatives like Ethoxyquin have a controversial reputation when it comes to safety.  

4. Fresh food is significantly more digestible.

Fresh food contains highly bioavailable nutrients that are easily absorbed and used by the body. On the other hand, the extrusion process involving harsh heat (temperature above 100 oC) is the most common type of processing used in kibble production. This process damages protein and heat-labile vitamins and amino acids and can also decrease palatability. The bioavailability of nutrients in processed commercial dog foods is significantly less than a fresh food.

5. It's yummier.

Even the best-tasting kibble cannot compete with fresh food for dogs filled with natural flavors and smells. If you have a picky dog, switching to fresh food will likely end the daily battle of getting your pup to eat.

Another thing that you should not forget is the texture of fresh food compared with kibble. Which one do you think your dog prefers? And which one do you think actually supports a healthy gastrointestinal tract? I think the answer is very obvious; 100% fresh food.

6. Your dog will be healthier and more energetic.

Good nutrition is the core principle of prevention and health! Healthy food is key to improving and maintaining your dog's health.

There are hundreds of industrial food brands that are NOT a good source of nutrition and will not fully support your dog's health, despite what their labels may proclaim. Some of these foods might actually harm your dog over time. Remember, the negative impacts of improper nutrition on a dog's health are not seen right away. Still, they will eventually show up in various forms of disorders and diseases. If we want to make sure our dogs live a long healthy life, we should feed them top-quality, fresh, healthy food. Fresh food is chock full of all the right nutrients your dog needs to have more energy, a shinier coat, a lower risk for cancer and other serious health issues. It can also lead to fewer allergy symptoms. In a study conducted by Lippert and Sappy (2003), the data from 500 dogs from 1998 until 2002 have been evaluated. The study concludes that dogs fed with fresh food lived almost three years longer than those fed with commercial food. After all, nothing gives you a more direct path to a longer life than wholesome fresh nutrition!

A well-balanced fresh dog food can even help dogs with health issues like diabetes, bladder stone, pancreatitis, skin and coat diseases, etc. Please read our article "10 Most Common Diet-Related Disease in Dogs" if you want to know more about it.

7. The right fresh food considers your dog's individual needs.

Dogs are individuals and have different nutritional needs depending on their age, breed, gender, weight, physical activity, and reproduction status. Ideally, dogs should receive a specific daily food portion that caters to those needs. Unfortunately, commercial dog food producers use terms such as "Complete and Balanced" on their labels without considering dogs' individuality. Using these terms can be generally questioned. Especially since a basic chemical composition cannot address all dogs' needs. Commercial dog food producers do not consider that dogs are individuals. When it comes to their nutrition, they should be treated as such. They commonly formulate a basic recipe (a fixed food formulation for all dogs in a life stage) and recommend that the dog owners should feed their dog with a certain amount of the produced food based on their dog's weight. With this approach, they are actually ignoring other parameters like age, breed, gender, physical activity, reproduction status, etc., which determine the nutritional requirement of a dog.

The right fresh food considers your dog's individual needs and designs a food that reflects your dog's specific requirements. Individually balanced fresh dog food will address all of your dog's nutritional needs because it will consider:

  • age
  • breed
  • castration
  • reproduction status
  • body weight
  • physical condition
  • And more...

Why Shouldn't I Cook Fresh Myself?

A dog needs more than 30 essential nutrients to stay healthy and in good shape. Providing all these nutrients in the correct amount and balance can be very tricky.

You may ask why I shouldn't buy fresh ingredients from grocery stores separately, mix them and offer the mixture to my dog?

The fact is, diets prepared this way are very unlikely to be complete and well-balanced. The brutal truth is, unless a dog parent is an expert in animal nutrition, a homemade diet can be very difficult to get right. A dog needs more than 30 essential nutrients to stay healthy and in good shape. Providing all these nutrients in the correct amount and balance can be very tricky. That is why many experts believe that dogs are better off with some sort of kibble brand than prepared fresh food at home without supervision. They believe kibbles might be incomplete and not well-balanced, but at least they are more balanced than most unsupervised self-prepared fresh foods. For example, most diets prepared without expert supervision are not properly balanced to provide dogs with adequate levels and correct ratios of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. These nutrients are essential to a growing dog's development and bones and teeth maintenance at different life stages. Without the right amount and ratios of these nutrients

  • puppies could develop skeletal problems
  • pregnant dogs can face serious health problems after the delivery of their puppies  
  • adult dogs can face serious skeletal issues, especially as they age

How We're Changing Things Up

Cola's Kitchen is the first and only fresh dog food company that creates customized recipes tailored to your dog's individual needs. At Cola's Kitchen, we'll design and produce every dog's meal based on each dog's individual needs and any unique conditions that might apply. In doing so, we provide your dog all the required nutrients they need through a truly Complete, Well-Balanced and individualized recipe.

Our recipes are designed based on the profile our customers make for their dogs. Our AI's creates food that's formulated by Dr. Farshad Goodarzi Boroojeni. He is an animal nutritionist with two PhDs in Animal Nutrition and Poultry Science. His ongoing academic research has evolved around animal nutrition, feed/food processing, animal physiology and health, and gut microbiology. He has more than 25 publications in the best international peer-reviewed journals of the field and a regular speaker in various scientific seminars and conferences. Dr. Goodarzi is also currently a research associate at the Free University Berlin.

Transitioning to a Fresh Diet

The key to making the transition smooth and easy is to gradually move away from the old diet and introduce the new diet. While we understand you're excited about switching to fresh food as soon as possible, a gradual move can help prevent an upset stomach. We recommend switching over a 7-day period, as this gives your pup's gastrointestinal tract a chance to adapt.

For dogs with sensitive stomachs or gastrointestinal issues, a week might not be long enough for a smooth transition. This might also be the case for very young or senior dogs. To avoid tummy trouble, they might need a longer transition period of 2-3 weeks.

How Diet Affects Poop

If you're aiming for a week-long switch, you can use these general rules as a guideline:

  • Day 1-2: 25% fresh food and 75% old diet (dry kibble, canned food, etc.)
  • Day 3-4: Go for 50-50: 50% fresh food and 50% old diet
  • Day 5-6: Up the amount of fresh food to 75% and reduce the old diet to 25%
  • Day 7: Switch to 100% fresh food

What to Expect During the Transition Period

Switching diets can sometimes be a little challenging on your dog's tummy, even when you're switching to healthier food. Most dogs do perfectly fine and experience no negative side effects, while some can have loose stools or upset tummies. This is perfectly normal, and it will resolve on its own after a few days, so no reason to be concerned.

Here are other things to look out for during the switch and what you can do about them:

  • Soft stool is the most common change when transitioning from commercial food to a fresh diet. For some dogs, this means loose stools; for others, diarrhea. The effects should only last a few days, but if things don't get better, take a step back, cut down on the amount of fresh food, and slow down the process.
  • Vomiting is a rarer side effect, but it can happen, especially in dogs with a sensitive stomach. If your dog continues to vomit, stop the switch and talk to your veterinarian to figure out if something else could be the cause.

In conclusion, if you have decided to change to fresh food, good on you! You quite possibly have bought more years with your dog, fewer vet visits, fewer bills to pay and a happier and healthier dog.

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