It's no secret that at Anicura, we always recommend taking the natural, holistic path to optimal pet health and wellbeing. That means that, whilst our products have been especially formulated to improve and support your pet's skin, we always recommend looking at the bigger picture for the best results. This means we spend a lot of time talking to our customers about optimising their pets' environment, lifestyle and most importantly, their diet.
Whether your pet has skin issues, is suffering from (skin) allergies or is perfectly healthy, we generally recommend a raw diet for both cats and dogs. Raw food in considered biologically appropriate, meaning our pets have evolved eating this way over thousands of years, and their digestive systems are optimised for it - it's the best possible diet for digestive health. Food also changes on a nutritional level when it's cooked: some vitamins, minerals and amino acids are lost during the cooking process. Finally, cooked pet food often has added carbohydrates, which our pets cannot digest as easily as we can. Therefore, the presence of these carb-heavy ingredients can increase the probability of weight problems.
Raw for skin health
The reasons for feeding raw specifically in relation to the skin and skin allergies are two-fold. First of all, the carbohydrates mentioned before often come from grains. Not only does your pet not need grains in their diet, they may even be allergic or sensitive to them. Feeding raw does not only provide your pet with a more appropriate diet, it also automatically removes some of the most common food allergens from your pet's diet - and food allergies are one of the most widespread causes of skin issues.
The second main reason to choose raw when your pet suffers from (skin) allergies, is that a diet with the right balance of macro- and micronutrients will help strengthen your pet's immune system. If your pet's immune system is in tip top condition, your pet is less likely to develop allergies and symptoms are more likely to be milder and easier to control.
- Oral health. It is a common misconception that particular chews and kibble help tackle plaque on your pet's teeth. In fact, your pet should be eating raw, meaty bones that are chewed through and scrape the plaque from the teeth, whilst providing a gum massage that increases circulation.
- Healthy coat. Your pet’s fur will become much healthier, smoother and shinier. Pets detox through their skin, and therefore they are more likely to have a greasy, smelly coat on an inappropriate diet.
- Easier 'waste management.' When your pet digests food that is more nutritionally valuable, they will produce less waste because most of their food has been absorbed. Their stools will be smaller, firmer and fewer. A pet on kibble will produce foul faeces that can be unpleasant to pick up.
What to feed
For dogs, a raw diet refers to organ meats, muscle meat, whole or ground bone, raw eggs, dog-safe fruits and vegetables - all uncooked. As a rule of thumb, we tend to recommend at least 60% meat, supplemented with vegetables, seeds and oils. Look for natural (dried) treats rather than highly processed commercial dog treats with long ingredient lists. Remember healthy treats can also be homemade!
Whereas dogs are omnivores, cats are obligate carnivores, which means their diet should be pretty much all meat. Choose food that contains almost exclusively real meat (not meat derivatives) and possibly some superfoods or oils.
Some people like to prepare their pets' raw food themselves, but remember, feeding raw does not guarantee your pet's diet is nutritionally complete. Therefore it's better to go with a raw food company whose meals have been especially developed by pet nutritionists.
We mentioned allergies before, but unfortunately, switching to a raw diet may not be the magical solution to your pet's food or skin issues. Although more unlikely than grains, some pets are allergic to more "innocent" foods such as chicken, beef, eggs or carrots. If your pet is still experiencing signs of a food allergy after switching to raw, it's advisable to contact an expert, get some testing done or try an elimination diet. You can read more about pet food allergies in our previous blog.
Further support your pet's skin
At Anicura we believe that tackling skin allergies for your pet is most effective through what you put on your pet’s skin and their diet. Sometimes even with a raw diet their skin might still need a little extra help to support their skin from the outside elements. This is where our natural skincare products come in! Our Sprays not only soothe your pet’s skin, but they are packed to the brim with natural ingredients and extracts that provide the skin with all the nutrients it needs to become stronger. Our soothing Gels can help cool and treat any hot, inflamed or damaged areas, quickly nourishing the skin back to a healthy balance.