With so many brands of dog food to choose from, it can be tough for dog owners to find the best brand. The fact that there are many low-quality dog food brands on the market makes it even harder. And you can’t always use the adage that “you get what you pay for.” In our practice we see some of the worst food problems from some of the extremely expensive, designer brand foods.
That is why many people are turning to raw food diets for their dogs. A homemade raw food diet centers on raw meats, veggies, fruits, and even bones as a dog’s primary source of nutrition. A commercial raw food diet comes traditionally in the form of a frozen or fresh meat patty. The benefits and risks of raw food diets are often up for debate. Supporters feel that raw diets are quite beneficial, while opponents believe this type of diet presents too much of a risk.
Benefits of the Raw Food Diet
The benefits of feeding an all-raw diet are absolutely indisputable. According to Liz Pask and Laura Scott at Modern Dog Magazine, there are 4 primary benefits of a raw food diet.
- Overall health – a raw food diet allows you to pick and choose what foods your dog eats. If your dog has allergies or other food sensitivities, you can monitor his intake. If your dog is overweight, you can provide him with healthy choices that won’t pack on any more pounds. Bones are also good for doggie dental hygiene.
- Raw food diets are extremely digestible, and provide a higher level of more bioavailable nutrients than processed kibble, wherein many nutrients are destroyed in production.
- Safety – a raw food diet is a safe choice when so many pet foods are being recalled. With raw food, you know exactly what your dog is eating and where it comes from.
- Behavior – a raw food diet can help alleviate some dogs’ nuisance behavior, such as chewing.
Other benefits touted by supporters include a shinier coat, more energy, less shedding, and healthier skin.
Risks of the Raw Food Diet
With the good comes the bad. According to the ASPCA, there are several risks involved with a raw food diet. Recent studies revealed that Salmonella, E. coli, and other dangerous bacteria were found in both commercial and homemade raw diet foods.
It was also found that these kinds of diets can lead to nutritional deficiencies or even an overabundance of nutrients – both situations that pose health risks to your pet. Finally, the bones of raw food diets can be physically harmful to your dog, causing blockages and even perforating your dog’s intestines.
Is Raw Food Right for Your Dog?
The big question that remains is whether or not a raw food diet is best for your dog. Before moving forward with this type of diet, you need to talk to your veterinarian. This is especially important if you plan on changing your dog’s diet from processed food to raw – dietary changes need to be gradually introduced to your dog. Sudden changes in diet can cause distressful side effects, such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Weigh the risks and benefits of raw food and make an informed decision. Some points that need to be addressed include your pet’s health history and current health. You should also discuss how you plan to monitor your dog’s nutrient intake to prevent deficiencies or excesses. Ultimately, the decision is yours, so make sure you explore all options to ensure that you make the best choice for your dog.