Raw Food Diet For Dogs
The practice of feeding dogs a diet that completely consists of raw foods, also known as the BARF diet (Bones and Raw Food diet), is based on the philosophy that, given the fact that dogs are carnivores, it’s more beneficial for our dogs to get back to eating the same foods they used to eat way before we started to have them live with us at our homes, just like their ancestors used to do when they would hunt their own food.
By doing that, dogs would stay away from the human-manufactured, processed dog-food of today, which (according to proponents of raw food diets for dogs), is full of carbohydrate content that offers minimal benefit to your dog’s health and grains that your dog’s digestive system poorly processes (which leads to many allergies in the process).
When dogs used to hunt their own food way before they were domesticated by us, they used to eat the entirety of their pray. Yup – meat, bones and all the organs to show for.
Are Raw Food Diets Good For Dogs?
Anyone that’s considering putting their dog on a raw food diet must do their due diligence first and know all the positives and negatives that such a diet will have on their dog’s health.
If there ever was a controversial topic within the community of dog owners, and one that’s growing increasingly popular each and every day, it’s that of feeding dogs a diet completely made up of raw foods.
And, given the fact that there’s an enormous amount of contradicting information about the topic out there, no wonder one can easily be overwhelmed and not know who to believe.
Most proponents of raw food diets for dogs want to have you believe that this is the greatest thing ever since sliced bread, while anti-raw food diets for dogs people go out of their way to prove that this is more dangerous to your dog than exposing them to a nuclear warhead.
And, as always, the truth is somewhere in between.
Millions of dogs around the world have lived, continue to live, and will live to remain very healthy while being fed a raw dog food diet, while the same holds true for dogs who eat a more common diet made of commercial dog food.
It’s all about how scientific you approach it, and it’s up to you to choose what you want to do. This article aims to lay out all the positives and negatives involved in feeding your dog a raw food diet so that you will be able to make a much better informed decision.
What A Raw Dog Food Diet Is Made Of
- Raw bones, usually given to dogs in whole form
- Raw meats (chicken, fish, beef, lamb, pork, etc ..)
- Raw fruits
- Raw vegetables
- Raw eggs with their shells (you can read about why having your dog eat eggshells is good for them here)
Benefits Of A Raw Dog Food Diet
1) Skin And Coat Condition
After having your dog start to eat a raw food diet, one thing you will notice right off the bat is a big improvement in the condition of their skin and coat.
Whether it’s in the new, shiny color of their coat or the improved thickness of their skin, these are both two things you will always see in a healthy dog.
2) Oral Health
Eating a properly structured raw food diet will improve your dog’s gum condition, act as a natural teeth cleaner and give your dog a clean, nice smelling breath.
3) Energy Levels
Dog owners which shifted from feeding their dogs commercial dog foods rich in grains and very high in carbohydrates have reported much higher energy levels in their dogs after switching to a raw dog food diet.
Given the fact that it takes your dog quite a bit of time to chew away on those meaty bones, this actually results in an improvement in your dog’s gut functions and, thus, overall digestion.
On the other hand, commercial dog food which is rich in grains is usually very easy for your dog to consume, requiring almost no chewing at all, which results in indigestion problems.
After putting your dog on a proper raw food diet, you will also notice very improved conditions of their stool and its odor (unlike when you’re feeding your dog a diet rich in grains and starches like corn, rice and bread), which is a very clear indicator of improved overall digestion.
5) Protein And Fat Levels
A properly designed raw food diet for your dog gives them much higher levels of protein and fats than diets made up of commercial dog foods.
Since a raw food diet gives your dog much lower levels of carbohydrates than commercial dog foods, and given the fact that your dog doesn’t need a diet high in carbohydrates in the first place, this will lead to much less chances of the development of conditions like obesity and diabetes.
Not to mention the fact that your dog has to take a lot more time chewing the food they’re eating when on a raw food diet, which means less over-eating and gulping down food like there’s no tomorrow, and more feeling full with less volume.
Dog owners which have switched their dog’s diet from a commercial dog food based one to a raw food based one have reported much less occurrences of all kinds of allergies.
This is mostly because dogs that eat a diet rich in raw foods consume much less grains than dogs that consume a diet rich in commercial dog food, and grains contained in the latter is a prime reason for dog allergies.
A raw diet for your dog is much less costly for you than a dog diet made up of premium dog food, as you can find everything you need for such a diet for a lot less than you would spend on commercial dog food.
Not to mention that your visits to the veterinarian from issues such as allergies will be much less frequent, which means more money in your pockets.
9) Growth Spurts
Young puppies which are given a diet primarily made up of commercial dog foods are more likely to experience haphazard growth spurts.
When put on a raw food diet, studies have shown that these young puppies are less likely to experience these growth spurts and experience a more gradual and steady growth rate.
However, it goes without saying that some raw foods (especially when it comes to large meaty bones) that are given to older, larger dogs can’t be given to younger, smaller puppies.
You can most certainly give your puppy a raw food diet, you just have to be careful and ensure that they can properly handle whatever you give them.
10) Muscle Development
All that ripping and excess chewing in eating raw meat and bones increases the power of your dog’s jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles.
Obviously, your dog will never get that kind of muscle stimulation if all they eat is commercial dog food.
Eating a raw food diet has been proven time and time again to prevent and heal inflammation problems like arthritis in dogs and improve their mobility functions.
This is especially beneficial to senior dogs which are much more likely to suffer from problems like arthritis which becomes very painful and confining.
Instead of feeding your pregnant or nursing female dog commercial dog food which is full of preservatives and additives that could potentially be very harmful to her and her babies, you’re much better off feeding her a raw food diet.
When your dog is consuming a diet primarily made up of commercial dog food, the need for supplementation to make sure they are getting all their nutritional needs is high, especially since most of the food they eat will lose a lot of its nutritional value due to being cooked.
However, if your dog is eating a diet rich in raw foods, the need for supplementation becomes very low, as they’ll be getting more than enough nutrients they need from this type of diet.
Think about it, how many dog food recalls have you heard about in the past few years?
You’ll never hear about recalls for anything when you have your dog follow a well planned out raw food diet, that’s for sure.
With all that chewing and tearing your dog’s going to be busy doing when eating their raw bones and meat, you’ll be giving them a very healthy channel to release stress that will otherwise show up in their behavior.
Risks Of A Raw Dog Food Diet
1) Bone Danger
With raw food diets, there is the potential for your dog to come across an extraordinary large bone to eat, which may result in them choking (even though this very rarely happens), breaking some teeth due to very hard chewing or internal punctures.
You also want to be sure to NEVER feed your dog any cooked bones, and only stick to feeding them raw bones, as cooked bones can splinter in your dog’s system and cause a whole world of problems.
2) High Protein Levels
Since raw food diets are very high in protein levels, much more than those found in commercial dog foods, this does has an upside to it (which we talked about in the positives of raw food diets section) as well as a downside to it.
The downside is that these very high protein levels are very dangerous, even deadly, for dogs which suffer from liver or kidney failure, as their bodies can’t possibly process such high levels of proteins.
3) Vitamin A Toxicity
Since raw food diets are very high in vitamin A, this makes it very easy for your dog to develop vitamin A toxicity in their system if the diet is poorly planned.
Unfortunately, dogs diagnosed with cancer, are being treated with chemotherapy or suffer from any other immunosuppressive disease are NOT allowed to eat a raw food diet.
5) Harmful Bacteria
Since raw food diets are notoriously rich in bacteria like Salmonella and E-coli which are very harmful to humans, anyone would be concerned about giving their dogs raw food knowing this fact.
However, you should know that these bacteria only affect us humans, they rarely ever affect our dogs.
With that said, it should also be noted that a dog following a raw food diet can easily pass these bacteria in their stool and transfer them around your house (on your furniture and carpets) as they move around.
These bacteria are usually dangerous when you have senior household members, young kids and household members that have an impaired immune system around your dog, as these bacteria mainly affect these 3 types of people.
In case you’re thinking about washing the meat you plan on feeding your dog so you “wash away the bacteria”, that doesn’t work. The only thing you’ll be doing if you wash the meat is spreading the bacteria around everywhere.
6) Nutrition Deficiencies
If you don’t really know what you’re doing and fail to setup an efficient raw food diet for your dog to follow, it’s only a matter of time before they start to suffer from nutritional deficiencies.
This is one of the fallacies that anti-raw food diet for dogs individuals state, when in reality they failed to properly setup an efficient raw food diet for their dogs.
If you think that putting your dog on a raw food diet is a piece of cake and won’t be taking up a whole lot of your time, I’m afraid to tell you that’s far from the truth.
Feeding your dog a raw food diet and staying on top of things at all times (like you should be) is going to be consuming a whole lot more of your time than if you were to feed them a diet made up of commercial dog food.
So, before you make such a decision, evaluate whether you really have the time to commit to such a thing or not.
Why Are Raw Food Diets For Dogs Not That Popular?
Well, for starters, money.
It’s all about the $$$$$.
Think about it, all these commercial dog food brands spend all that money on advertising their products (mind you, some are very high quality and this article is by no means aiming to bash them all), and they make huge returns on investment in the process.
But who’s going to spend money on advertising plain old raw meat? Or raw vegetables?
You just don’t hear about raw food for dogs that much because there isn’t really that much money to be made from it.
You can’t make any money recommending a raw food diet to people for their dogs, but you can make a whole lot of it recommending specific commercial dog food brands.
Then there’s all the misinformation about the subject that makes people scream and run away at just hearing the words “raw food diet for dogs”, mainly because of all the false accusations they’ve heard about it from people who are just trying to make more money out of the whole ordeal.
A Word About Organic Raw Food For Dogs
You want to be extra-picky on this one and make sure that any source of raw meat you feed your dog is organic and not raised in something like a feedlot.
Animals that have been fed grass and that have never been exposed to any hormones or medications are the best possible options you could go with when it comes to feeding your dog raw.
If you could even go with younger animals, then all the better, because younger animals will almost always have less toxins in their systems than older animals.
You also want to make sure that any raw vegetable or fruit you feed your dog is organic as well.