Dog owners have read news articles detailing how multiple dog food companies have had horrific recalls, some of which even contained euthanasia drugs. Combined with the dog food market transitioning to cater to owners who purchase organic or natural food for their dogs, and many owners opting to feed home made or alternative diets, modern dog owners have more options available to them than ever before. With all the options available, it makes sense that dog owners are actively researching what diet option is best for their dog to ensure they will be as healthy as possible. In an effort to determine what diet is best for your dog, let’s discuss the latest trend: the raw food diet.
Supporters of the raw food diet state that it is beneficial for dogs, as it is similar what they would eat in the wild. While this argument appears logical, it is also worth considering that they way modern dogs have been bred into so many different varieties, most are quite far from the wild dogs they originated from. All dogs do have something in common; they are drawn to odoriferous foods, which would make this diet highly palatable to them.
Different breeds of dogs, different ages of dogs, and dogs with specific health requirements all have different nutritional needs. A raw diet may be particularly appealing to owners of dogs with severe allergies who require limited ingredient meals. However, what works for one dog will not work for all dogs. Please consider your dog’s unique needs before committing to a raw diet.
Traditional kibble is formulated by veterinarians and supplemented with vitamins, which means that it is made to meet your dog’s nutritional needs. When you feed your dog a raw diet, one of the most important parts is ensuring that her diet is balanced and nutritionally complete. This means supplementing the diet with vitamins and other supplements your veterinarian may recommend. If your dog eats a raw diet that is not nutritionally complete, she may not show symptoms immediately, but it is unhealthy and will negatively impact her. Consulting with your veterinarian is crucial to ensuring that the raw diet fed meets your dog’s needs.
Food Born illnesses
Most veterinarians do not recommend the raw diet because of the potential of food born illnesses. Dogs can succumb to food born illness just like we can; they do not have special defenses available that we do not have.
There have been cases of food born illnesses transmitting to human family members in households where dogs are fed raw food diets. Think about how often your dog licks your face and hands, and uses pillows. Wherever her mouth is after a raw meal is eaten becomes a cross contaminated area. Food born illnesses can also be transmitted through dog feces. You may be thinking that your dog relieves herself outside, so that is not an issue for your family. However, if your dog returns to the house right after defecating and sits on the floor, the couch, or your bed, those areas are now cross contaminated. Unless your dog wears pants, which she probably would not want to do.
Supporters of the raw diet state that it is easier than feeding traditional dog food. They no longer must fit a trip to the pet store into their already hectic week; they purchase their dog’s meals at the grocery store along with their ingredients for human meals. Preparing the meal is not difficult, as there is no cooking involved. While cutting up meat, fruit and vegetables is a simple labor of love for a dedicated dog owner, if your family travels frequently, the raw diet may become costly. Many boarding facilities charge a premium for raw food diets, as they require more work to prepare and more supplies to prepare safely.
While the majority of raw diet feeders prepare homemade meals for their dogs, there are commercial raw food diets available at specialty pet stores if meal prep is not for you. Commercial raw diets are usually in the form of frozen patties, which should be thawed then fed.
Another crucial consideration before feeding your dog a raw diet is bones. Supporters of the raw diet state that feeding meat with bones in it is beneficial to dogs; they enjoy chewing bones, pulling bones out of meat is a natural instinct, and chewing bones can clean their teeth. While these points may be accurate, the risk does not necessarily outweigh the benefit. Bones have the potential to break or crack a dog’s teeth. Bones can also splinter while dogs chew them, which can injure their mouths or be swallowed and cause internal injuries from the sharp edges.
If you believe the raw diet is best for your dog, the first step is to transition your dog to the new diet. Your dog will be excited to eat the raw diet; she will enjoy the odors of the meat. Despite their enthusiasm, it is paramount that they are transitioned over a five day period, or no one will win, as skipping transitioning guarantees diarrhea and/or vomiting. As you transition your dog, monitor her physical health. If she experiences gastrointestinal issues, you will need to transition her over a slower period of time. If she continues experiencing gastrointestinal problems even after a slow transition, you should reevaluate the institution of a raw diet.
The raw diet has legitimate pros and cons. Veterinarians do not generally recommend the raw food diet, however, every dog has different needs. If you feed your dog a raw diet, we would love to hear from you; please comment below.