Raw dog food diets are controversial when you mention them in groups both online and in person. Some argue that just like people who feel better consuming all-natural foods, canines feel the same effect. Others say that the risk associated, including choking hazards, vitamin deficiencies, and bacteria exposure, do not outweigh the benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at the risks and benefits of a raw food diet for dogs.
You undoubtedly love your canine companion and feeding her the highest quality diet is top on your list of priorities for caring for her. Her diet is one of the most critical steps to promote a long and healthy life. But, with so many dog food choices, we know it’s challenging to decide on the best dog food for her. Much like CBD oil for pets, one growing trend is raw food diets.
Where did raw food diets originate?
In 1993, Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst lobbied that just like racing greyhounds and sled dogs, domesticated canines could also benefit from a raw diet. Billinghurst suggested that adult dogs would thrive on an evolutionary diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated: Raw, meaty bones, and vegetable scraps. Grain-based commercial pet foods, he argued, were harmful to a dog’s health.
Since the publishing of Billinghurst’s book, Give Your Dog a Bone, several other types of raw dog food diets have surfaced, including commercially processed raw food diets that are frozen or freeze-dried and combination diets that use blends of grains, vegetables, and vitamins that are mixed with raw meat.
What exactly is a raw dog food diet?
A raw dog food diet typically consists of the following:
- Muscle and organ meat (a protein)
- Broccoli, spinach, and celery
- Apples and other fruits
What are the potential BENEFITS of a raw dog food diet?
Advocates for raw diets claim that they see the following beneficial changes in their four-legged friends:
- Shinier coats
- Healthier skin
- Cleaner teeth & better breath
- Higher energy levels
- Smaller stools
People who advocate against raw dog food diets argue that dogs have shinier coats because of the high-fat content in raw meats. Supplements and high-fat commercial foods that would produce the same effect are available without the risk of an unbalanced diet. Too little fat means an unsightly coat, but too much fat and not enough protein can cause mild anemia.
What are the potential RISKS of a raw dog food diet?
Those who prefer manufactured dog food claim that the benefits listed above do not outweigh the following risks of raw food diets, such as:
- An unbalanced diet may damage the health of dogs if given for an extended period.
- The threat of pooches not receiving enough calcium and phosphorus, essential for bone health.
- Receiving too much Vitamin A by eating too much liver that can lead to Vitamin A toxicity.
- Potential for whole bones to choke the dog, break teeth, or cause an internal puncture.
- Threats to human and dog health from bacteria in raw meat.
Researchers in favor of raw food diets argue that while bacteria exposure is a risk, E. coli is also found in commercially processed foods. This leaves it up to pet parents and their judgment on what is best for their dog.
What about the cost of a raw dog food diet?
The cost of a raw dog food diet varies based on the ingredients and preparation. For a 60-pound dog, a one-day supply of one variety of a frozen, commercially available raw chicken diet costs about $5.00; others may range up to $10 a day. A super-premium, commercial dry dog food costs about $2 per day. The costs for vitamins and supplements needs to be factored into the overall cost of any diet for dogs as well.
While thinking about the costs, many pet parents factor in healthcare for their pups. If you believe that feeding a raw dog food diet will keep your dog healthier, it is safe to assume that the cost of veterinary care over the life of your pet will be lower than if you fed store-bought kibble. Others prefer short-term savings and not trying to guess and predict future food-related health care costs.
What if you don’t want raw or commercial food?
For pet parents who want to avoid raw and commercial food, a cooked homemade diet designed by a nutritionist certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition is an alternate option. Preparing fresh food reduces the risk of bacteria, but the vitamin imbalance remains a concern unless you work with a certified nutritionist.
Do raw diets work for every pup?
Even veterinarians who support raw dog food diets agree that they’re not appropriate for all canines. Since raw diets are usually higher in protein, they aren’t suitable for pooches with kidney or liver failure.
For dogs with pancreatitis or other digestive issues, start with a cooked, homemade diet and clear up all problems before switching your pup to exclusively raw. Dogs with cancer, receiving chemotherapy treatments, or pups with other immunosuppressive diseases also should avoid raw food.
Also, all puppies aren’t good candidates for a raw food diet. If puppies don’t get the correct balance of calcium and phosphorous, they can have bone deformities and growth issues. Always check with your vet before switching your puppy’s food.
How can Space Coast Pet Services help?
No matter which diet you choose – raw, cooked, commercially produced kibble or a combination – Space Coast Pet Services promises to follow your pup’s nutritional plan every time. When looking for a pet sitter in Melbourne, Rockledge, Merritt Island, and across the Space Coast, finding a pet care service that provides customized care is vital for pet parents who want only the best for their pets. Contact us today to find out how we are the best fit!
Tell us in the comments: do you feed your dog a raw diet? Why or why not? We’d love to hear from you!
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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