Raw food diets for dogs are becoming more common as an alternative to conventional dog food. Raw food diets, like many other dog food patterns such as grain-free, vegan, or vegetarian, and the use of novel proteins, have their benefits and drawbacks. Veterinary practitioners are concerned about the safety of this form of diet, while some pet owners and enthusiasts contend that a raw diet is beneficial to their pets’ health.
What Is a Raw Food Diet for Dogs?
A raw food diet is one in which no cooked foods are consumed. Raw food diets are not available in kibble or canned form, unlike conventional, refined dog food. For dog owners who value convenience but also want to feed fresh food, freeze-dried and frozen options are available. A homemade, raw diet can include fresh meat, sometimes still on the bone, as well as vegetables, grains, organ meats, eggs, fruit, and even some dairy. Online, you can find a variety of recipes, but certain dog owners do not adopt them.
Why Do People Feed Raw Food Diets to Dogs?
Despite the fact that commercial dog food is nutritionally healthy, easy, and inexpensive, some dog owners prefer raw food diets. A dog owner may choose raw food because they want to feed more “natural” foods, are concerned about their dog’s health, or have trust issues with pet food manufacturers. Some dog owners believe that because their ancestors consumed raw foods in the wild, so should their domesticated dog.
Some dogs have food sensitivities or allergies, making commercially produced diets impossible to come by. A home-cooked meal can be beneficial to these dogs, and some owners prefer to feed raw diets. Even if a raw food diet is used, a veterinary nutritionist should be involved in formulating a full and healthy diet for a dog to ensure key nutrients are not deficient.
What Nutritional Requirements Does a Dog Have?
If a dog has a particular illness, they can need different nutritional requirements, but healthy puppies, adults, and pregnant or nursing dogs all need different things from their food. This is why different commercial diets exist for dogs at various stages of life and with various health issues. A six-month-old puppy’s dietary requirements are not the same as those of a dog with kidney disease.
Internal organs, skin and coat, bones, muscles, and other parts of your dog’s body are all affected by nutrition, making it more difficult than other pet owners can know. To work normally and stay healthy, dogs need a variety of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fibers, and other ingredients. Dogs may develop severe, life-threatening problems, break bones and fail to grow properly if they are fed an unhealthy diet.
Since dogs are omnivores, their food requirements reflect this. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) aids in the definition and regulation of what pets want, and pet food manufacturers follow these requirements when creating their products. Domestic dogs differ genetically from their wolf ancestors, so they evolved to be able to eat starches, despite the fact that they are both canines.
Pros and Cons of Raw Food Diets for Dogs
- Ingredients that are more normal
- You have complete control of what your dog eats.
- You have the option of choosing the source of your dog’s food ingredients.
- Contamination by bacteria and parasites is a possibility.
- Nutritional imbalances are a possibility.
- Bones have the potential to cause tooth damage.
- Rather pricey
- Preparation is time-consuming.
People’s main issue with feeding raw food diets is the risk of bacterial and parasitic contamination and infection, which can occur even in previously frozen meats. Bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, as well as microscopic parasites like Sarcocystis and Toxoplasma, can all be found in raw meat. Both humans and pets are susceptible to these diseases, which can result in severe infections. Raw food diets are often more costly than commercially packaged kibble or canned food, can result in tooth injuries if bones are included, and take longer to prepare.
Raw food dog diets, on the other hand, enable a pet owner to choose exactly what their dog eats. They should avoid those additives, know where the ingredients come from, and make sure their dog is eating a more balanced diet, similar to what a wolf would consume.
Make sure your dog’s diet is nutritionally full and healthy, regardless of the kind you select. Dogs need more than just raw meat, so consult a veterinary nutritionist when planning your dog’s diet to ensure that no nutrients are missing.
What to Look for in Raw Food?
Find a veterinarian who is familiar with raw foods, understands your dog’s health and can direct you through the correct handling and cleaning needed to resolve any potential health issues.
The ingredients in dry food or kibble differ by brand, but they must all be healthy to meet a dog’s nutritional needs. “All animal foods must be safe to consume, processed under sanitary conditions, contain no hazardous substances, and be truthfully labeled,” according to USDA regulations.
Kibble is made up of processed and cooked ingredients. Protein sources such as beef, poultry, fish, and eggs are needed, as are grains, cereals, and vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Preservatives are needed in all dry dog foods to prevent the fat from being rancid. Some products are high in carbs or contain low-quality ingredients and sugar.
Reduced dental plaque, cleaner gums, reduced risk of infection, easier handling, less risk of spoilage, and cost-effectiveness, according to those who feed their dog’s kibble. However, because of the dangers associated with kibble, some dog owners, such as Ollie, prefer to turn to fresh food.
Raw Dog Food: Dietary Concerns, Benefits, and Risks
Is a raw food diet for dogs a healthy option or a risky trend? Experts weigh in on the subject.
Raw dog food diets are debatable. However, raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetable diets are becoming increasingly common.
Raw food diets have long been used for racing greyhounds and sled dogs. Extending such feeding habits to family pets is a more recent concept, first suggested by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst in 1993. His eating recommendations were dubbed the BARF diet, which stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
Racing greyhounds and sled dogs have long been fed raw food diets. Extending these feeding habits to family pets is a newer idea, first proposed in 1993 by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst. The BARF diet, which stands for Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, was named after his eating guidelines.
Many conventional veterinarians, as well as the FDA, disagree. Several research conducted in veterinary journals has reported the dangers of raw diets.
Supporters of the raw dog food diet point to the following potential advantages:
- Shinier coats
- Healthier skin
- Cleaner teeth
- Higher energy levels
- Smaller stools
Potential Risks Include:
- Bacteria in raw meat pose a health risk to humans and dogs.
- An unbalanced diet that, if provided to dogs for a prolonged period of time, can be harmful to their health.
- Whole bones have the potential to choke an animal, break teeth, or puncture the internal organs.
Raw dog food diets have arisen, including commercially processed raw food diets that are frozen or freeze-dried, as well as hybrid diets that include grains, fruits, and vitamins with raw meat bought at the grocery store by the owner.