Research Shows Raw Feeding Can Protect Your Pet From Chronic Illness



Leading nutritionist says a raw diet is the optimal choice for healthier dogs

hands giving the dog a treat

A recent study from the University of Helsinki has captured headlines for its claims that young dogs and pups that are fed leftovers from their owners’ dinner could benefit from improved gut health and avoid many of the negative impacts of highly processed pet foods such as kibble. It also highlighted that feeding young dogs a non processed meat based diet was protective against chronic enteropathy (CE) later in life.

Leading UK raw pet food company, Bella & Duke have come out in support of the focus to shift from highly processed diets. Making the switch to a species-appropriate diet, such as raw, offers the healthiest and most natural option for your dog, packed with essential amino acids and proteins that aren’t found in most kibbles.

Following the stark finding that even feeding your pet the leftovers from your own dinner would provide them with a more nutritionally dense diet than kibble, Bella & Duke’s Chief Consulting Nutritionist, Rowan Sanderson praised the study for highlighting the importance of feeding meat based diets and offered his insight into why feeding a raw diet makes the most optimal choice in your dog leading the happy, healthy and long life they deserve.

A raw diet for dogs should consist of a balanced mix of muscle meat, bone, and organs, mimicking the diet of wild canines. It may also include a healthy selection of fats, vegetables, and seasonal berries.

Whilst Bella & Duke agrees with, and champions what Dr Anna Hielm-Björkman exclaims in the study. It is important to still be aware of what exactly you are feeding your pets from your leftovers. We know that health travels up and down the lead, if you do feed your dog leftovers, avoid cooked bones as they can splinter easily, highly salted foods or excess carbohydrates like roast potatoes.

dog eating with a green background

Bella & Duke’s Chief Consulting Nutritionist, Rowan Sanderson, said: “The study recently published by the University of Helsinki is a fantastic showcase of the adverse effects a highly-processed diet can have on your pets. Anna Hielm-Björkman has been a huge inspiration behind the work we do at Bella & Duke, we are in complete agreement with the study and that owners would be better off feeding their pets their own leftovers, within reason.

Many are unaware of the damages the processed, and specifically grain based pet foods can have on our dogs. We all want the best health for our pets, whilst leftovers may be fine to feed on occasion, the facts show there is nothing better for your pet than a high quality species-appropriate raw diet, which offers the healthiest and most natural option for your pet. There are only benefits to starting your pet on a raw diet – from maintaining a healthy weight, aiding digestion, supporting healthy bones and joints, to keeping coats soft and shiny and moreover there are no long term studies to suggest that a processed or kibble based diet is the best option when thinking about your pet’s health.

While the study highlights chronic enteropathy and other gastro-intestinal diseases there is also a strong correlation between inflammation in the heart and diets which are high in lectins. This can be found in many types of kibble as they need starches to hold the bits of kibble together. This and the high heat process of making kibble cooks out any of the nutrients that were once in there.”

To help better understand the benefits of a raw diet, Rowan lists his top 10 reasons to to transition to raw feeding:

  1. Helps maintain a healthy weight – Obesity is the number one health issue facing our pet population today. A raw diet has the correct balance of “Macronutrients”, higher protein, moderate fats, and low carbohydrates which translates to your dog naturally storing much less body fat.
  1. Supports digestion – Dogs are natural carnivores and as such their digestive enzymes are geared for raw meat! Research has shown that a raw meat diet is not only easier for canines to digest but it is also better absorbed meaning those all-essential nutrients get used as nature intended.
  1. Improves toilet habits – This is one of the first things owners’ comment on when they begin feeding raw to their pet. In the absence of those fillers found in processed food, the “end product”, your pet’s stool, is smaller, firmer, easier to pass and even helps express their anal glands on exit. Less fermented grains also means significantly less aroma and it’s easier to dispose of which makes for happier pet parents.
  1. Supports Oral Health – A diet that is lower in carbohydrates, is naturally low in the sugars that unhealthy mouth bacteria thrive on. Dogs can get gum disease too, and this can have a downstream health impact on their pancreas, heart, and brain.  In fact, a healthier oral microbiome is associated with lower inflammation in your pet full stop.
  1. Glossier skin and coat – A raw diet is high in the healthy unoxidized fatty acids, omega 3 and 6 as well as the key amino acids for hair production. This means their fur is kept oh so soft and shiny, without excess shedding.
dog lying on the floor

Bella & Duke’s customers have also reported that their dog smells clean and healthy without that ‘dirty dog’ smell.

  1. Supports healthy bones and joints – Raw bone is a key component of the raw diet and is a rich source of calcium and phosphorus in the exact ratios required for bone health, repair, and growth. Raw food also contains connective tissues, which is an excellent source of chondroitin and glucosamine as well as collagen to support your dog’s joints and keep them healthy.

Just as important with a raw food diet, are the foods which are excluded such as grains or grain substitutes. Emerging research correlates much higher joint inflammation with grain consumption.

  1. Supports the immune system – Raw meat provides high-quality protein aminos and key bone fibers which support a healthy gut lining. The gut is both the headquarters of your dog’s immune system, sending important health signals around its body, and the gatekeeper for toxins, keeping them at bay and supporting overall immune health.

A measured amount of vegetables and berries provides an array of immune-supporting vitamins as well as antioxidants and phytonutrients which help your dog to stay healthy and keep their immune system strong.

  1. Balanced Behaviour – Eating food that satisfies their biological needs not only supports your dog’s physical health, but it also supports their mental wellbeing too. A healthier gut helps make all important neurotransmitters to keep your dogs happy as well as healthy.
  1. Balanced energy levels – A raw diet provides both healthy protein and fats in the ratios they thrive on, meaning that your dog will have plenty of consistent energy to join you on walks, explore and interact with the world around them. Goodbye processed food sugar slumps and snoring on the sofa!
  1. Supports cognition and emotional health – We now know that good gut health plays an important role in mood, memory, and focus. We also know that pets fed a varied raw diet have a more developed gut microbiome, particularly with some key longevity species.

This contributes to your dog’s mental wellbeing and also supports memory and learning. The healthy fats in raw food help to protect and support your pet’s brain which may reduce cognitive decline as they age.

You can find out more about the nutritional benefits and Bella & Dukes product offering at: 

The study done by the University of Helsinki can be found here:

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