In this post, we will go over what a Raw Food Diet for dogs is and the benefits and risks associated with making the switch. I am always trying to find the most healthy food for my dog, and I’m sure a lot of other pet parents only have their dog’s best interest at heart too. With the recent scare in recalls and possible pet-related deaths due to Hill’s Science Prescription Diet, dog food consumers are looking for ways to feed their pets without the added risk. The Raw diet for dogs is gaining in popularity with several companies offering human grade subscription boxes delivered to your home. You can buy it from most pet food retailers pre-made saving time and hassle.
I’m not for or against a raw diet, I can only suggest you do what you think is the most healthy for your pet. I won’t be promoting the diet, I’ll just be going over both the benefits and the risks, so you can make the most informed decision. Only you know what is best for your dog. I am considering switching Maelee to dehydrated meal mixers. They mix in with her dry kibble and have put a lot of time into the research.
What is a Raw Diet?
A raw food diet consists of uncooked muscle meat, organ meats, bones either whole or ground, fruit, vegetables, eggs, and dairy. You choose to either make this at home or buy it prepared. Raw diets are also known as the BARF diet meaning Bones and Raw Food and are growing in popularity.
If you are making it at home you can use lamb, chicken, turkey, beef, venison, duck, or rabbit for the protein. Some good vegetables are celery, spinach, or broccoli. For the organ meats, you can use kidney, liver or heart in any of the above proteins.
Or if you are like me and you don’t have enough time to prepare it, you can choose to have it pre-made. There are a lot of suppliers offering a fresh raw diet already put together for you, making it more convenient.
Before dogs were domesticated they only ate a raw diet, their ancestors are still out there thriving on it today. Dogs are in the same family as wolves and coyotes and they still consume a raw diet. Greyhounds and sled dogs have long eaten a raw food diet, as it’s high in protein. The diet wasn’t introduced to our family pets until 1993, a vet named Ian Billinghurst from Australia touted the idea that commercial pet foods were harmful to our dogs health. Today, the raw pet food industry is more alive than ever and is gaining more popularity as we are concerned with recalls in commercially processed foods.
Benefits include better dental health, a healthier coat, and skin, and increased energy. The raw food diet can really benefit dogs with allergies or health problems and can potentially lead to them living longer. It’s easier on the stomach if you have a dog with a sensitive tummy or digestive issues. It can also help with weight management for an overweight dog, as more muscle mass is usually gained. The visual benefits will take place almost immediately you will see a shiny healthier coat and a more playful dog.
Risks are associated with literally everything we do in life, whether it’s our food or activities. Some of the possible risks associated with feeding your dog a raw diet include either you or your dog getting salmonella from the meat. You could potentially be feeding a diet without enough or the proper nutrients. You may need to add supplements, and it can be hard to get the ratio just right.
Feeding a raw diet may not be balanced enough to meet the proper nutrient criteria then leading to a vitamin deficiency. Finally, there is the risk of your dog choking on the bones, or them impacting the intestines, especially cooked bones. It is never recommended giving your dog cooked bones of any kind, as it’s really dangerous. It is recommended to cook to protein beforehand to avoid bacteria. Also, it’s important to note that uncooked meat especially organs are often riddled with parasites and can affect your dog negatively.
Not for Every Dog
The raw diet is not going the be appropriate for all dogs. Due to the diet being high in protein dogs with liver or kidney failure will not do well on a raw diet. It can cause deformities and growth issues in puppies if the calcium to phosphorus ratio isn’t correct. Dogs with digestive issues or pancreatitis should eat a cooked diet until it clears up before switching to raw. Also, dogs with cancer or autoimmune diseases don’t make the best candidates. This could potentially harm your dog or puppy if they have any of these conditions.
The most healthy option, in my opinion, is to cook your meat first if you want to feed a human grade diet at home just because of all of the risks above. I think adding real meat to your dog’s diet could be very beneficial. You just have to discuss it with your veterinarian first, to see which way they recommend.
Choosing The Best Option for You
There are two options if you are considering switching your dog to a raw diet. Whether you decide to buy pre-packaged or make yours at home depends on how much time you have and which is more convenient.
- Making your own at home. You know everything that goes into it this way, you get it and prepare it all yourself. You can find the meat at your grocery store or local butcher and get the rest of the ingredients added to your shopping list. You can find a lot of recipes online if you are wanting to prepare your own meals.
- Pre-Made raw diets include prepackaged diets in dehydrated or frozen packs. This is a better option for you if you don’t have the time to invest in preparing it all yourself.
Dehydrated Raw Diet
There are a lot of brands on the market today, you can even choose a subscription through some companies and have it sent on a schedule. Commercial raw diets are available in freeze-dried, air dried and dehydrated forms. It’s a raw diet dried to preserve nutrients, you will need to add water to moisten it. Amazon usually has the best prices on dog food and everything else, and with Prime, you get free shipping. Here are some of the best selling and most recommended brands based on rating.
If you are not ready to make the switch and still want your dog to eat dry kibble you have the option to add a meal mixer to it. It provides dogs with the benefits of a raw diet mixed with kibble for added nutrients without making the full transition. You could always try this first and see how your dog does with mixing before you completely switch.
I have fed dry dog food since the beginning when I got my first dog 20 years ago and have never had any health issues with any of mine. And I can say that honestly and not have a doubt in my mind about it. My French Bulldogs have been the healthiest dogs they possibly could be by only feeding kibble. If you would like to know more about the food I use for my French Bulldog currently you can view my post here.
There is a simple formula to follow if you plan on making your raw diet from home. You should be feeding at least 15% of bones for calcium intake. The organs are considered the multivitamin that your dog needs to thrive, it is recommended to feed around 10-30% organ meats. Then you can fill the rest in with good lean meat and a little fruit, vegetables or dairy.
Raw diets can have many benefits for your dog when fed properly. Knowing how to make a diet that is going to meet all of the nutritional recommendations might be an issue without proper education. If you don’t know it exactly what you are doing just make sure you do enough research to know you are giving your dog the nutrients he deserves. It’s going to be a learning process, either way, it always is. If you are considering feeding a raw diet to your dog consult with your veterinarian first. He will be able to steer you in the right direction and ultimately knows what’s best!