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Liver Disease in Dogs: The Alternative Treatment

liver disease in dogs is curableCanine Liver Disease Foundation says that liver disease in dogs is one of the top 5 causes of non accidental deaths of dogs. The liver, both in humans and dogs is a very important and complex organ of the body that carries out several essential tasks needed for the continuation of life.

The liver is an extremely important organ in a dog’s body and in terms of size it is the second largest after the skin. It is laden with heavy responsibilities such as producing the essential building blocks for the dog’s body.

Some of the essential functions of the liver include:
  • It metabolizes amino acids
  • Blood clotting and produces digestive enzymes
  • Metabolizes lips and carbohydrates
  • Harmful compounds in the bloodstreams is extracted by the liver
  • Does the work of breaking down of the drugs that is administered to a dog
  • Stores and produces vitamins K, A,E and D
  • Detoxification of poisons and waste in the body
  • Stores nutrients and energy
  • Regulates blood sugar by converting glycogen to glucose
  • Produces bile which aids in digestion

Liver disease in dogs can easily result in a brain condition called hepatic encephalopathy (a neurological condition with obvious changes in behavior such as aimless circling or pacing and head pressing) if not detected early enough and can even death.

Because most of the symptoms of liver disease in dogs are very similar to the symptoms of some other diseases it may be difficult to tell if a dog is suffering from liver disease merely by the observation of the symptoms. As a result this increases the probability that the liver problem may be noticed when the liver damage becomes severe and large part of it has been destroyed; at this point liver failure is just around the bend.

That notwithstanding it is essential that very dog owner should at least know the symptoms associated with liver disease in dogs and to know when to visit the vet when some of the symptoms of liver disease in dogs become visible in his dog.

In the early stages, symptoms of liver disease in dogs are not really specific; however signs like weight loss, loss of appetite and excessive drinking and urinating may be indications that your dog may be suffering from liver disease.

Liver disease in dogs in its early stages results in the swelling and enlargement of the liver and as the disease spreads, the liver cells begins to die until it gets to the point where the liver becomes firm and rubbery, at which point the liver has reached a terminal point and no longer reversible. It is only after about 80% of liver cells are dead that the liver starts to fail.

Symptoms that directly suggest liver disease in dogs:
  • Jaundice
  • Grayish, soft feces
  • Blood in the urine and stool
  • Intolerance to antibiotics, sedatives and anesthesia
  • Abdominal distension caused by liver enlargement
Symptoms that indirectly suggest liver disease in dogs:
  • Loss of weight become visible the moment the liver is beginning to fail in its responsibilities.
  • General weakness
  • Loss of interest in food
  • Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Dehydration
  • Progressive lethargy such as your dog becoming less and less playful
  • Swollen stomach that appears to be filled with fluid
  • Pain around the abdomen which you can check by lifting your dog with your arms under his belly

It is worth stating that symptoms will vary from dog to dog and it’s usually a function of the cause of the liver disease.

Some possible causes of liver disease in dogs:
  • Viral infections, parasitic infections, bacterial infections and fungal infection
  • Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Toxic reaction
  • Genetic abnormalities and sometimes aging
  • Side effects from the use of some medicine
  • Bile duct disease
  • Vascular abnormalities
  • Hepatitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Anemia
  • Nutritional imbalance
  • Trauma
  • Diabetes
  • Fatty foods
  • Chronic infection may lead to liver disease
  • Roundworm and heartworms.

The foregoing are some of the known symptoms and causes of liver disease in dogs but by no means an entire list.

While there are many possible causes of liver disease in dogs, medication and unhealthy commercial dog food are two of the major reasons behind liver disease in dogs. This is the reason you should pay great attention to your dog when he is on medication and be quick to visit your visit when you notice the slightest reaction.

Of course at this stage you are not likely to see any possible sign of liver disease in your dog but if your dog on heavy medication and/or the medication last for a significant period of time, it is advisable to see your vet at some stage and request a liver check.

This should at least involve a blood test to check for state of the liver because earlier detection will save you from unnecessary headache. However if you are seeing sign of possible liver disease in your dog make sure to demand a liver disease test even if your vet thinks otherwise.

Because the liver is capable of regeneration, earlier detection makes it easier to reverse the symptoms and disease. The down side is that the reserve capacity of the liver makes it possible for the liver to continue to self sustain until it is about 80% damaged at which point the disease has become too advanced and almost untreatable. I cannot stress it enough that when you start seeing a couple of the symptoms of liver disease in dogs you should visit your vet and demand for a test.

The possible tests for liver disease in dogs are blood test, X-rays, biopsy (tissue extraction for testing) and ultrasound to get a clear picture of what may be going on inside the dog’s liver.

Diagnosis of liver disease in dogs will generally include the following:
  • A thorough blood work.
  • Analysis of the urine.
  • Ultrasound.
  • Tissue analysis.
Cirrhosis: the end stage of chronic canine liver disease

Cirrhosis of the liver in dogs is a chronic liver disease in its final stage in which normal tissues of the liver are being replaced by the formation of fibrous scar tissues. Scar tissue is the result of the normal healing of a damaged body tissue e.g. the scar that is formed due to a cut; scars are also formed as a result of internal injury like a severally damaged liver. So when scarring is occurring in the liver of a dog, it simply means the liver is getting damaged and scarring is following up.

For a dog to stay alive it needs to retain about 20% of liver function but when cirrhosis happens normal liver tissues are replaced by scar tissues and the moment the liver functions drops lower than 20% then the end of life is on the horizon for the dog.

This is a state of acute liver failure and the life expectancy of a dog in this condition is a function of extent of the liver damage, the quality of the treatment the dog receives.

While cirrhosis is more commonly seen in middle aged and old aged dogs, it can affect dogs of all ages. Dog breeds like the Doberman pinschers, Labrador retriever and Cocker spaniel are known to be among the worst hit by cirrhosis.

Liver disease is commonly seen the following breeds:
  • Maltese
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • German Shepherds
  • Schnauzers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Poodles
  • Cairn Terriers
Treating canine liver disease

The prognosis and the treatment of liver disease in dogs and cirrhosis is a function of the underlying cause of the disease and the extent of the damage; because the liver has the capacity to regenerate, treatment of the underlying cause will in most cases halt the progression of the liver disease. This means that there is always hope for the dog suffering from liver damage.

The treatment of canine liver disease is threefold:
  • Medication.
  • Supplements and diet for liver disease in dogs.
  • Surgery may be required in some cases.

Medication: in most cases specific treatment of liver disease in dogs is unavailable. Treatments that are offered are usually supportive and/or also to treat the symptoms such as medication to prevent dehydration, control vomiting or provide essential nutrition.

Medication that will be administered also depends on the extent and the cause of the liver disease in the dog.

Grooming For Dogs:Keeping Your Dog Well Groomed

dog grooming is essential
Dog grooming is very important.

Grooming for dogs is very essential for keeping your dog healthy, clean, preventing infection from matted hair, teeth related diseases due to lack of care, excessive wax in the ears which may result in ear infections.

Grooming your dogs at home is a task every dog owner has to master if you want to avoid a possible situation where your dog may develop a health problem as a result of little or no grooming for the dog.

One good thing for dog owners is that dogs do not generally need to be bath daily like humans but part of learning how to groom your dog at home is, knowing the frequency of grooming your dog requires and keeping on schedule. This usually depends on the breed of the dog and its hair type.

Dog grooming can be an unpleasant exercise both for the dog and dog owners who are new to dog grooming. For a beginner groomer, dog grooming can be quite demanding in terms of time and the effort required coupled with the challenges of having to get the dog to become comfortable with the process of grooming.

At the initial stages, grooming for dogs can be an unpleasant experience for most dogs and this can make grooming more difficult not to mention the rather painstaking process required to give a dog a proper grooming.

However just like dog training, getting your pooch to become comfortable with the process of dog grooming will also require some dog training approach. If your are experiencing a lot of difficulty getting your dog to cooperate with you when it comes to grooming then you should break the grooming session into multiple grooming sessions that will span a time period.

You have two options when it comes to grooming your dog, you can either seek the services of a professional groomer or you could learn the art of dog grooming and become that professional dog groomer that your dog needs.

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Seeking out a professional dog groomer

You can get the services of a professional groomer at different business such as the groomers’ shop, at the vet, pet spas, boarding kennels and pet stores. The cost of dog grooming is determine by many variable such as the size of the dog, coat type, breeds etc.

While the cost of grooming for dogs will most likely play a significant role in deciding where you may want to have your dog groomed there are some other essential factor that you should aware of before making that final decision.

Most dog grooming services will offer different services for both puppies and adult dogs such as:

  • Brushing, combing and bathing.
  • Coat cutting and shaping.
  • Ear cleaning and nail clipping.
  • Flea and tick removal.
  • Mat removal and taking care of bad odor.
  • And many other services.

Before taking your dog to a groomers’ shop for grooming you should first and foremost seek the opinion of other professional like your vet or dog trainer or even friends and family, this way you reduce the risk of making a bad choice. The final step before making a decision, either you got a recommendation or not, will involve checking out the facility and make the following observations:

  • How clean is the environment?
  • Do they allow you to witness a grooming session? If they refuse, this should be viewed as a red flag.
  • Are you satisfied with the way the handling the dogs at the facility?
  • How friendly is the staff?
  • How do they treat the dogs before and after grooming?
  • How do you feel about the general ambiance of the facility?
Benefits of using the services of professional dog groomers

Here are some of the benefits of using the services of professional dog groomers for dog owners who do not wish to personally groom their dog:

  • The risk of injury to the dog is largely reduced if not eliminated. A professional dog groomer knows the ins and outs of dog grooming and can easily deliver excellent services little or no hurt to the dog.
  • They can easily provide the right hair cut and shaping that will give your dog that excellent look that you want.
  • Because of their vast experience in the job they can easily detect parasites and any strange occurrence such as rashes, skin cut or bleeding, lumps etc.
  • They can also provide help assistance such as recommending how to take care of your dog’s skin if it is either too oily or too dry.
Learning how to groom your dog yourself

Start by grooming the parts of the body that your dog will be more comfortable with like the paws and then progressively move on to other areas. Carry out these multiple grooming sessions over a specific time interval e.g. every 2 days; this close time intervals will make it easy for your dog to quickly adapt to grooming.

Also keep the more demanding parts of the body (e.g. coat grooming and bathing) for the last stages of the grooming sessions. There is nothing wrong in buying the cooperation of your pooch when it’s time for grooming by offering him treats while you carry out the grooming.

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Dog grooming advice

It is advisable to groom your dog on schedule as this will makes it easy for you to predict how much you will have to do per grooming session and also your dog will quickly grow to become comfortable with grooming.

The hair length of your dog and sometimes the breed will be a major factor in deciding the frequency of grooming e.g. short coated dogs will be largely OK with a weekly coat grooming but long coated dogs will need daily coat grooming. Also breeds like the German shepherd are serious shedders so even a weekly grooming of a short haired German shepherd may be require more effort when compared to other breeds with short hairs.

For most dogs the slicker and the bristle dog grooming brush will be all you need to brush your dog’s coat. With the slicker dog grooming brush you will be able to take care of matted hairs and also be able to remove tangles after which you can then use the bristle brush; while grooming the coat of your dog be on the lookout for ticks, fleas etc.

How often you will need to bath your dog would be largely influenced by two variables: how often your dog gets her coat dirty and the weather condition in your location. You don’t want to bath your dog too often if you are residing in a cold region and even when the need arises you should always make use of lukewarm water.

grooming for dogs by bathing
Bath your dog occasionally

Use mild shampoo when bathing your dog and be careful not to direct a jet of water in his ears, nose or eyes. Ensure that you thoroughly rinse off the shampoo otherwise it will result in skin irritation for the dog.

You can always employ the use of a dryer set at very low heat to dry your dog after bathing; this way he does not have to keep shaking off the water all over the place in order to get dry.

Using a dryer is even more important when you are dealing with some breeds like the Maltese, Poodle or the English sheep dog; when using the dryer make sure that you direct the dryer at specific spots while brushing until the hair at that part of the dog’s body is dry. Simply repeat this process until the entire coat is dry.

Dogs with Cancer: Essential Facts about Canine Cancer

dogs with cancer
There is hope for dogs with cancer.

Cancer is the leading cause of canine death and according to Morris Animal Foundation the percentage of dogs with cancer is quite high with 1 out of every 4 dogs likely to die from cancer. About 50% of dogs that are over 10 years old die of cancer or related issues and it’s the cause of death in 23% of dogs of all ages with lymphoma as the leading cancer diagnosed. The good news is that about 60% of cancers in dogs are curable if detected in the early stages.

Meaning of cancer

Cancer is an umbrella word for different types of diseases that result in purposeless and uncontrolled replication of cells either on or within the body. These uncontrolled cell growth result in masses (tumor) that are either visible on the dog or on the affected internal organs which could either remain in the affected area (localized) or metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body.

Tumors that metastasize are malignant while the localized tumors are largely benign; tumors are usually named after the tissue or body part that it originated from. This uncontrolled cell growth happens when the immune system has failed in its responsibility to check the wild cell replication.

Causes of cancer

A high incidence of canine death from cancer has been linked to canine longevity (cancer appear to be a disease of older dogs) due to vaccination, nutrition, parasite control etc. That is better care results in longer life which increases the tendency to develop cancer as a result of old age. While there are no exact scientific data that can conclusively prove the causes of canine cancer however the following have been found to play a part in the causes of canine cancer:

Obesity: while obesity has been shown to increase the risk of cancer in humans, recent researches has also shown that obesity is a risk factor in dogs.

Genetics: just as in humans it has been established that certain dog breeds are genetically predisposed to cancer compared to some other breeds. For instance Rottweiler and Golden retriever are at high risk of lymphoma and osteosarcoma while Chihuahuas, Pomeranians and Dachshunds are at low risk.

Chemical carcinogens: topical insecticides and herbicides are known to increase the risk of bladder cancer and lymphoma respectively

Sun light: ultraviolent radiation from the sun is known to induce canine cancer with short haired breeds at high risk or afflicting sparely haired and non-pigmented areas of any breed such as the belly, head and neck.

Other causes of canine cancer include vaccinations and fillers and preservatives in dog foods.

Warning signs

The best way to treat cancer is to prevent it and at worse to be well informed in order to be able to detect it a very early stage. Early warnings of dogs with cancer are:

  •  A growing lump: lumps that appear on dogs should be given close attention even though not all lump or bumps are cancerous but benign lumps almost always stay the same in terms of size but once the lump begins to grow in size, then a vet’s attention should be sought as this is a serious red flag associated with most malignant tumors (cancer).
  • Unyielding weight loss: while a chronic weight loss does not necessarily suggest cancer in dogs as there are many possible reasons why a dog may be experiencing chronic weight loss but one thing that a chronic loss of weight clearly suggests is that the dog should be seen by a vet for further examination. Lots of cancer patients experience weight loss.
  • Oral bleeding and/or bad breath: bad oral odor that was never noticed before should be given attention as it could be an indication of oral tumor that is building up in the dog’s mouth. It may also lead to bleeding from the mouth.
  • Cough: while there are many different possible causes of coughing in dogs, a non-productive dry cough can also be an indication of lung cancer in dogs.
  • Bleeding or wounds that refuse to heal: bleeding should only realistically occur when a dog suffer trauma or has a cut but continuous bleeding e.g. from the anus, mouth or nose or a wound that will not heal should be immediately brought to the attention of the vet.
  • Swollen belly: while a dog may put on extra weight as a result of eating more than usual however if the dog suddenly starts growing a big belly this could indicate a growing or ruptured tumor that should be checked by the vet.
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea: tumors associated with gastrointestinal tract will often cause chronic diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Lameness: bone cancer in big sized dog breeds is associated with unexplainable or strange lameness.
  • Other signs of dogs with cancer include difficulty in eating and/or swallowing, loss of stamina, unusual difficulty in breathing, urinating or defecating. Observation of any of the early warning signs of cancer in dogs could make the difference between life and death for the dog.

Most common canine cancer

There are different types of canine cancer but some types of cancer are more prominent than others such as:

Skin cancer: dog skin cancer is one of the most common types of canine cancer and when combined with mammary cancer in dogs they account for a total of 58% of the entire canine cancer. The most common skin tumor in dogs is mast cell tumor which is about 20% of canine skin tumors which is frequently seen in middle age/older dogs and in some breeds such as Boxers, Labrador retriever and Boston terriers.

With early detection, proper diagnosis and prompt treatment the prognosis is fairly good. Death from malignant tumor is usually because of metastasis to other tissues of the body.

Mammary tumors: this is tumor of the mammary gland and is the leading cause of cancer in female dogs of between 6-10 years of age and there is a 20-40% chance that benign mammary tumors will become malignant.

The prognosis of mammary tumor is not very encouraging because at the time of diagnosis about 50-70% of dogs with malignant mammary cancer will already have experienced metastasis and with the disease already in an advanced stage.

Lymphoma: malignant lymphoma is one of the most common canine tumors originating in the lymphoid tissues such as bone marrow, spleen and lymph nodes and it is commonly seen in middle age to old age dogs of over 5 years. It accounts for 5-7% of all canine tumor afflicting as much as 24 out of every 100,000 dogs.

Lymphoma can afflict any breed but some breeds are more vulnerable such as Saint Bernard, Bull Mastiffs, Basset Hounds, Airedales, Scottish Terriers, Boxers and Bull dogs while Pomerians and Dachshunds are at low risk.

With chemotherapy a remission of about 60-90% is achieved is a favorable prognosis.

Tumor of the mouth: oral tumor is responsible for about 6% of all canine tumors and among all the different oral tumors that afflict dogs melanoma is the most common followed by fibrosarcoma, squamous cell carcinoma and adenocarcinoma. Melanoma affects the tongue, gums, palates and lips of the dog. It affects dogs of all ages but more frequent in dogs within the age bracket of 7-11 years old.

Early detection of lymphoma when it is very small in size offer the best prognosis since the risk of metastasis increases with the size of the tumor.

Bone cancer: osteosarcoma is the most common bone tumor seen in dogs and it usually afflicts the long bones of the limbs compared to other bones such as the skull or the spine. This tumor is locally aggressive destroying the bones as it develops and often metastasize to the lungs.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs:Vet’s 13 Common Warning Signs

signs of cancer in dogs
Knowing the signs of cancer in dogs can make the difference between life and death for your canine friend.

The mere thought of cancer infection either in dogs or human beings strikes fear and sorrow in the hearts of those concerned, but cancer is no longer a death sentence and signs of cancer in dogs can provide early warnings that can greatly increase the chances of survival for the dog.

Cancer is as a result of uncontrolled cell growth which may either be localized or spread to other parts of the body thereby reducing the chances of survival both in humans and pets.

Cancer can affect any part of a dog’s body with the exception of the nails, hair and teeth. The ability to notice the signs of cancer in dogs depends on the location and the type of cancer, for instance unusual bumps and lumps are easily noticeable signs of skin cancer in dogs and probably sores that refuse to heal.

On the other hand internal cancerous growths are a lot more difficult to notice at early stages until other symptoms that are as a result of the cancerous growth begins to show up in the dog.

Some of the known causes of cancer in dogs

Very little is known about the causes of canine cancer and this grey area makes cancer prevention quite challenging. However there are some known causes of canine cancer and with the increasing incidence of canine cancer it is almost mandatory that every dog owners should be aware of the cause of canine cancer which will help in the prevention of certain types of canine cancer.

Statistical analysis of the data that have been gathered over the past many years on cancer in dogs has enabled us to identify certain factors that cause cancer in dogs such as:

Toxins and chemicals: the environment in which our dogs live in plays a significant role in health. Household cleaning products may contain chemicals and toxins that dogs are more vulnerable to than humans, for one thing dogs have their noses closer to the ground than humans so if toxic cleaning substances are used in cleaning the floors then the dog will likely be the first to be negatively impacted.

Food: it is no secrets to dog owners and vets that one of the greatest dangers to the health of dogs is the quality of food that are fed with. At the top of the list of the sources of these unhealthy dog foods is the commercial pet food industry which is guilty of putting its own pecuniary benefit way ahead of the health of the animals. To guarantee the health of your dog and prevent food related malignant tumors dog owners should take food control of goes into the guts of their furry friend by learning how to prepared homemade dog food either cooked or raw.

Vaccines: Canine cancers have been linked to vaccination and this clearly has to do with the component of the vaccine. Tumors have sometimes developed at the site of vaccination as a result of repeated vaccination at the same site year in year out. So while vaccination is important every pet owner should exercise some caution at the frequency with which their pet is vaccinated.

Environmental factors: known carcinogens such as ultraviolet radiation from the sun due to excessive exposure and chemical carcinogens such as pesticides used in farming, herbicides, insecticides and tobacco inhalation are all known to directly contribute to the development of tumor in dogs.

Some carcinogenic substances have also been identified such as asbestos, benzene, vinyl chloride, uranium, radon, cadmium, and nickel.

Genetics: the genes certainly play a role in some breed predisposition to some specific type of cancer for instance giant breeds are more likely to develop bone cancer and some specific breeds such as the golden retriever and the German shepherd are at a higher risk of lymphoma.

Raw Diet for Dogs: Benefits of Feeding Your Dog on Raw Diet

The idea of raw diet for dogs has grown in popularity over the past decade, partly influenced by the Australian vet Ian Billinghurst who suggested that dogs will thrive on raw diet which is similar to what wolves, the ancestors of domestic dogs feed on before they were domesticated.

raw diet for puppies
puppies feeding on raw food

Feeding dogs on raw diet is regarded controversial and the reason for this is not far fetched: the opponents of this diet have always based their argument on the fact that there are no scientific researches carried out to justify raw diet for dogs.

Raw dog food emphases bone, raw meat, vegetables and fruits. One fact that no one argues it that for animals to experience optimal health they must feed on foods that they are designed to eat. Therefore vegetarians must feed on vegetation for optimal health and carnivorous must feed on fresh prey for their own optimal health.

While pet food purchased off the shelf have only been around for about a hundred years, animals have always hunted their prey and scavenge for millions of years. Because dogs are resilient species they have been able to adapt to canned food and have been able to withstand significant nutritional abuse without dying.

Because our dogs do not die immediately from nutritional deficiency as a result of feeding on canned food we have managed to deceive ourselves that commercially processed food is good for our dogs.

However we have only succeeded in creating generations of weakened dogs that are suffering from degenerative diseases linked to deficiencies in nutritional.

Some basic fact to keep in mind about dog food

It should be noted that carbohydrates are not essential to the diet of carnivorous and should not be fed with grains that metabolizes to sugar.

Because commercial dog food requires intense heat during processing, the benefits of the minerals, enzymes and vitamins in the food is already destroyed by the heat. This means that off the shelf canned dog food will require the lost nutrients to be supplemented.

The heating process also makes it difficult for dogs to digest the amino acids.

It is also well known that meat based protein is far easier to digest by dogs than plant based protein.

raw dog foodWhile a lot of people do not associate disease with diet, there are those who realize the connection but just don’t give a damn.

Optimal nutrition

  • Dogs require fat, quality protein, small quantity of fruits and vegetable. The fruits and vegetable provide fiber and antioxidants.
  • Because the soil in which food is grown lacks many of the nutrients our dogs need, therefore fatty acids, vitamins and natural sources of trace minerals must be added. Food storage like freezers also decreases the level of fatty acids in food.
  • Dog need fresh, unadulterated, whole food that is dense in moisture.
  • They do not need fillers, grains, chemicals, artificial preservatives, additives or processed foods.
  • Dog should be feed on species appropriate diet (high in moisture content, low in carbohydrates and unprocessed food).
  • Provide your dog with everything she need (whole food that is nutritionally complete) and keep away those that does not benefit her.

Some well documented benefits of feeding dogs on raw diet include:

  • Healthier skin
  • Smaller stool and no dog odor
  • An increase in energy level
  • Shining coats
  • A much cleaner teeth
  • Low or non existing vet bills
  • Less costly compared to dog food
  • It enable puppies to grow at the appropriate rate
  • The chewing of the raw meaty bone helps to develop the shoulder, jaws and neck muscles of the dog. This never happen with commercial dog food.

Raw diet for dogs consists of the following:

  • Raw meat including the bone
  • Bare bones
  • Organ meats like kidneys and livers
  • Raw eggs
  • Vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and celery
  • Dairy products like yogurt
  • Apples and other fruits

Raw diet is of great benefit to most animals and dog’s digestive system is able to process raw diet without being vulnerable to the organisms in meats which get destroyed through cooking. Dogs feeding on raw diets can achieve a much better overall health compared to dog feed on commercial food.