Should I Switch to Raw Dog Food?
Raw dog food diets have grown in popularity in recent years, emphasizing a diet of raw meat, bones, fruits and vegetables. Supporters of the raw food diet for dogs say it promotes shinier coats, healthier skin, better breath, dental hygiene and a boost of energy. The idea is that dogs end up eating a more natural diet akin to the raw prey they would eat if hunting. By cooking pet food, vitamins and enzymes are killed in the process. On top of that, dog digestive systems did not evolve to handle grains and corn found in processed pet foods.
However, most mainstream veterinarians disagree, citing the harmful risks of a raw food diet. Those risks include a direct threat to humans, as they are handling bacteria and pathogens found in raw meat, as well as the possibility that whole bones could be swallowed and choked on or lead to breaking teeth. Plus, the overall health of a dog may be compromised if the diet is unbalanced.
According to an evaluation of raw dog food diets published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association, one study showed “a variety of nutritional problems, both deficiencies and excesses, in homemade raw diets based on various recipes.” Additionally, “the raw bones included in many of these diets carry risks,” with reports of “intestinal obstruction, gastrointestinal perforation, gastroenteritis, and fractured teeth that have occurred in animals consuming raw diets.”
A raw dog food diet usually has muscle meat, sometimes still on the bone, grounded or whole bones, organ meats like liver, raw eggs, vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, fruit such as apples and pears, and some kind of dairy like yogurt. There are commercially produced pet food brands that include raw and freeze-dried chicken and beef food, which help cut down on preparation time and handling raw foods.
Finally, raw dog food diets are not appropriate for every dog. These diets are high in protein, which isn’t the best for dogs with any kind of cancer, kidney or liver problems. It’s also definitely not good for puppies, who have their own dietary needs that should be met to grow into strong, healthy adult dogs.
For those that do not want to feed their pets commercial food, there’s always homemade diets designed by veterinary nutritionists, which can ensure that dogs get all the proper protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, supplements and fat they need to be healthy. Some veterinarians recommend that if you dog has health issues, such as digestive problems, it’s better to start with a cooked homemade dog food diet before switching to raw food.
Looking for commercial pet food that’s good for your dog, raw or otherwise?Try the Wagger