Importance Of Enrichment In Raw Feeding
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
The main purpose of enrichment is to reduce stress, improve behavior and increase the overall well-being of the animal by providing physical and mental stimulants that allow the dog to perform species-appropriate behaviors such as digging, chewing, and foraging.
But what does this have to do with raw feeding?
I believe that as raw feeders we want the absolute best for our dogs. We strive to make their lives all-around better and raise them to thrive in their life.
So why wouldn't we want their nutrition as well as their brains to be at peak performance?
Enrichment is just another way to contribute to your dog's life in a positive (and fun!) way!
Today I will be sharing my favorite ways to easily incorporate enrichment activities into your dog's life so she is balanced in every aspect of her life, not just nutrition.
#1 Raw Meaty Bones
Raw meaty bones are great at acting as an all-natural toothbrush! Bones such as poultry necks, wings, feet, and heads are a fantastic jaw workout and teeth cleaner.
When I transitioned to raw, I found that Stormy did not need her teeth brushed daily like when she was eating kibble.
This is because of the motion of tearing meat off of raw bones scrubs and floss the tartar and plaque off their teeth!
Edible bones allow the dogs to chew which stimulates saliva enzymes and prevents plaque build-up and gingivitis (gum disease).
Chewing on raw bones also provides your dogs with vitamins and minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. Edible bones are also a fantastic choice for teething puppies!
When feeding bones it is always important to never leave your dog unattended.
Any chew given should always be under supervision.
I often do not recommend recreational bones which are dense, non-edible bones such as knuckles, femurs, and ruminant legs since there is such a high chance of a tooth fracture. If you know that your dog is an extremely soft chewer, you may be able to feed these bones but it's important to be aware of the risk. Rather than feeding, I usually just save recreational bones for bone broth! The bone marrow in recreational bones provides essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin K2, omega-3s, omega-6s, and minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, boron, and manganese which will add even more nutrients to the broth!
★ To read more about bone broth click here ★
#2 Puzzle, Mazes & Stuffing Toys
Puzzle, Maze & Stuffing toys alleviate boredom (especially for puppies), provide (a small amount) physical exercise, prevent anxiety, and can help onset dementia in older pets.
These toys are made in various shapes and sizes. When first starting out, begin with the easiest toys such as the Snoop where you can throw in some treats and your dog can have a blast.
For raw feeding or wet foods, I recommend Toppls and puzzle toys since they do not require the toy to be flipped to access the food and are super easy to clean.
To make the level of difficulty even harder, you can freeze the stuffing toys in your freezer!
I have to admit I'm a bit of an enrichment addict right now. So much so I have a whole cabinet full of toppls, snuffle mats, puzzle toys, licki mats, and more. But I think it's a healthy addiction to have... right?
Canines forage because it was vital for their survival and reproduction in the wild. Since our precious dogs aren't in the wild, they don't have to forage to survive now. But this instinctual behavior is still coded in their DNA. Whether your dog searched the house floor for crumbs or finds goodies (good and bad) outside, your canine companion is foraging.
We can stimulate their foraging needs by giving them exercises to use their senses in a beneficial and enriching way.
Now I know what you're thinking. "Outside...duh"
But here's my creative twist to up the amp: use treats! You can throw a handful of treats outside in your backyard and your dog will have a blast using her nose to find the goods which allow the dog to get mental and physical stimulation.
2. Snuffle Mats
You can make your own DIY snuffle mat or there are tons out on the market. This tool brings the outside snuffle mat indoors. It also can be used as a slow feeder for dry food diets but when I use it, I hide single ingredient treats in all the nooks and crannies!
It is so great that there are now so many enrichment products available! Enrichment is a critical part of raising a happy healthy dog in every aspect of her life. I personally see such a difference when incorporating enrichment on a frequent basis and know you will too! I hope you learned something new and try some enrichment exercises with your dog soon!
As always, thank you so much for stopping by, and Always Keep Exploring!