What is the raw diet for dogs?
A raw dog food diet is uncooked meat, bones, fruits, vegetables, and some dairy. In 1993, Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst proposed this diet for family dogs as it positively affected greyhounds and sled dogs. He called this the BARF diet, which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. According to Billinghurst, dogs would thrive on BARF dog food. He also said that commercial pet foods were harmful to their health.
The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) disagrees with the use of BARF as the primary food source for dogs, as several studies say undercooked animal proteins can contain harmful pathogens that can make your dog ill and may even be transmitted to humans. Many veterinarians, as well as the FDA, also warn that the potential risks of a raw diet for dogs can outweigh the benefits.
Although this topic has become controversial in the past few years, the popularity of raw meat diets for dogs is on the rise. Let’s take a look at the benefits and risks of this diet to try and shed some light on the subject:
The benefits of the BARF food diet for dogs are:
- Shinier coat
- Healthier skin
- Cleaner teeth
- More energy
- Lesser stool
Potential dangers include:
- Dangers to human and canine wellbeing from bacteria in raw meat
- A lopsided eating routine that may not satisfy your dog’s nutritional needs and be harmful to your dog if given for an extended period of time
- Potential for bones to get caught in the windpipe, break teeth, or cause an inward cut.
Should you feed your dog a raw diet?
Although dogs can certainly eat raw meat, there are some serious risks to feeding your dog raw meat. The main concerns with this type of diet are balanced nutrition and safety. You should get advice from your vet and take the following considerations into account before giving your dog a raw diet:
Make sure you give your dog a complete diet:
Feeding your dog raw meat will not give it all the nutrients it needs to be a healthy pooch, so if you choose this diet for your dog, you will have to supplement with organ meats like liver and heart, crushed bones, vegetables, and fruit for fiber and vitamins, and also fish and dairy.
Choose the right type of meat for your dog:
The type of meat given should be considered. Unless your dog gets lots of exercise, it is best to use lean meats, which have close to 10% fat. It is also a good move to remove the skin from poultry, and cut off detachable fat.
Slowly transition your dog:
When switching your dog to a raw diet, a slow transition is recommended by mixing kibble with raw food. Then if you choose, you can make the food yourself or switch to commercial raw.
Always practice safety measures:
Safely handling raw meat is very important for the health of both humans and dogs. Contaminated raw meat can put you or your family at risk of getting food poisoning from harmful bacteria like salmonella or E.coli.
- You should only get your meat from a reliable source.
- Wear gloves when handling the meat
- Disinfect the areas where you feed your dog as well as any surfaces used for preparing the meals.
- Wash your hands whenever you get licked by your dog. Needless to say, you should not let your dog lick your face or mouth.
This type of diet is not for every dog owner. You need to do a lot of research about nutrition, and follow strict safety guidelines. It is very laborious and time-consuming, So you should not feed your dog a raw diet unless you are prepared and take all the considerations mentioned into account.
Luckily, some options are just as healthy and beneficial for your dog and don’t entail as many risks. You can give your dog fresh natural cooked food, freeze-dried raw food, or dehydrated dog raw food:
Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food
Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Food is still raw food, but since it is dehydrated, it stops decay and it is much safer to consume and handle, and best of all, you get all the nutrients and benefits of raw meat. Also, dogs love it.
Dehydrated raw dog
Dehydrated raw dog food is pretty much the same as freeze-dried food, but the dehydration process is through heat instead of freezing. Similar to how jerky is made. This option also makes it much safer for your dog to enjoy and benefit from eating raw meat.
Fresh Natural Cooked Food
Fresh Natural Cooked Food: A lot of commercial dog food is very low quality, and is mainly composed of by-products, and artificial flavors. By feeding your dog natural fresh cooked meals whether home-cooked or bought ready to eat, you ensure your friend gets quality protein and nutrients without safety risks.