The raw food movement no longer just applies to people, but dogs too.

Mary Pearce owns K9 Cuisine, an all-raw food provider located in Huntly.

She started the business in 2013, after she noticed her own dogs getting itchy, scaly skin on a predominantly kibble based diet.

Pearce started K9 Cuisine in 2013.

Pearce started K9 Cuisine in 2013.

Pearce made the switch to raw and within a couple of weeks she noticed huge improvements to their coats, skin, teeth and bowel motions.

People don't realise how good it is for their dogs, Pearce said.

Raw food can improve a dog's teeth, oral health and breath, skin and coat, digestion, stimulation, immune system, body ...

Raw food can improve a dog's teeth, oral health and breath, skin and coat, digestion, stimulation, immune system, body mass, stool volume and odour, degenerative disease and arthritis.

"We all know the benefits to ourselves of eating raw fruits and vegetables for their live enzymes, vitamins, minerals and nutritive value, and the same applies for our dogs.

A raw diet is about matching as closely as possible to what a dog would eat in the wild, Pearce said.

In the last three years, K9 Cuisine has grown to over 200 clients.

Gary Withers with Luther the great dane, aged 10 months.

Gary Withers with Luther the great dane, aged 10 months.

More and more people are moving towards raw food, but it's just educating people about how advantageous raw food can be for their dog, Pearce said.

"Our food is suited to any breed of dog, from the smallest chihuahua to the largest great dane.

"No matter what size or breed, your dog's digestive system and metabolism is designed to eat raw food."

As long as the dog is being fed a mixture of meats, bones and organs – there shouldn't be any issues, Pearce said.

Pearce has owned rottweilers for 33 years.

In that time, she's trialled many different diets, but found raw is best.

"A raw diet goes back to what a dog would eat in the wild.

"Being descendents from wolves, they have canines for tearing meat and molars for crushing bones – they're designed to eat raw food."

Pearce advised anyone looking to trial raw food to research and talk to experienced raw feeders about the benefits.

Gary Withers is a customer of Pearce's from Waitoki, Auckland.

Withers breeds great danes and until recently had only fed premium, dry food to his dogs.

But, when he received a great dane pup, who had been weaned on raw food, he decided to give the diet a go.

Almost 10 months old now the pup, called Luther, is growing perfectly, Withers said.

"He hasn't had any problems with growth, which can sometimes happen with great danes."

"His coat is amazing and his stools are much smaller and always solid, which with a big dog like a great dane is a huge benefit."

Withers buys chicken necks, green tripe, beef and veal from Pearce to feed Luther.

The bill for this comes to under $100 every two weeks – not dissimilar to premium commercial pet foods, Withers said.

He's vowed to raise any new pups 100 per cent raw.

"I'm sold on raw food feeding."

However, Hamilton vet Craig Brighouse isn't so convinced.

Brighouse has been a vet for around 25 years and has seen multiple complications with dogs on a raw food diet.

At least once a month a dog would come in with either gastritis, bowel obstruction or constipation after eating raw food, Brighouse said.

A gastric surgery can cost well over $2000 if there's an obstruction, he said.

"We try to be open about it and some of our clients use it, but we ourselves don't promote it."

People argue a raw diet is what a dog would eat if it lived in the wild, Brighouse said.

"But, these dogs are well removed from the wild and have been living with human occupation for years.

"There's not little bichons running around the Savanna hunting gazelles.

"Brighouse advised dog owners to go for a commercial diet, which has all of the nutrients.

"There's a lot of options now and there are premium better quality dog foods available from a vet store."

- Stuff


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