Are you interested in the Raw Diet for dogs debate?
I feed my dog, Tiger, a dry kibble supplemented with some raw vegetables, fruit or meat usually after we have a staring competition in the kitchen. My friend feeds her Sheepdog a semi-raw diet, and it started to intrigue me as to the benefits and opinions around raw food diet for dogs.
What is a raw dog food diet?
It’s commonly believed that the domestic dog evolved from the wolf about 15,000 years ago. The wolves are meat-eating animals or carnivores.
Some raw dog food diets are based on a dog’s instinctive ancestral, usually carnivorous diet, where others are based on the more omnivorous (plants and animals) diet.
The domestic dog, over the past hundred of years, has primarily survived on food scraps and leftovers and some believe they are now capable of consuming a more diverse diet.
BARF vs Prey Model
This is where things start to get a little tricky….
The prey model raw diet mimics the prey killed by wolves in the wild where a wolf would eat the entire animal, meat, bones, organs and all. The prey model does not consider dogs to be omnivores and believe that they do not need vegetables, fruits, and additional supplements.
Prey animals are made up of bones, organs, muscle meat, skin, hide/hair/feathers, fat and other connective tissue. In the average prey animal, the ratio of these parts is 5-10% organs, 10-15% edible bones and 80-85% muscle meat.
These days, it is not practical or appealing for us to throw down a wild beast for our dogs to gnaw on. This diet does, however, involve feeding our dogs whole food in as close to the way our ancestral dogs ate in the wild.
The Bones and Raw Food (BARF) diet was developed by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst. Billinghurst suggest that dogs would thrive on a diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated. The BARF diet is more balanced for today’s dogs and recommends feeding your dog meats, bone, fruits, vegetables, and supplements .
This model considers the evolution of dogs over thousands of years to now being omnivorous rather than a true carnivores. .
Following are several of the pros and cons of a raw food diet for dogs:
Pro's and benefits of a raw dog food diet
- Shinier coats
- Healthier skin
- Cleaner teeth
- Higher energy levels
- Improved digestion
- Smaller, firmer stools
- Better weight management
Con's and risks of a raw dog food diet
- Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria – including E. coli and salmonella
- May be deficient nutritionally
- Airway obstruction and choking on bones
- Bowel obstruction and intestinal perforations
- Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract
- Severe diarrhea
- Time consuming
- More expensive
Preparing raw meat for your dog is no different from preparing meat for your family and should be handled with the same safety precautions. Always thoroughly cleaning your counters, bowls, cutting surfaces and utensils after preparing raw meat.
It is important to remember that the bacteria in raw meat will possible harm you more than it will harm your dog.
Raw diet vs Dry kibble
Dry pellets or kibble are definitely more convenient than a homemade or raw diet. Although we know exactly what the nutritional profile is of a bag of kibble, it can be argued that the nutrient profile is nowhere near the nutrient content of a dog’s ancestral diet. Traditionally dog had a much lower carbohydrate intake and a significantly higher protein intake.
If you are feeding your dog a dry kibble diet, consider the best you can get.
Don't feed you dog a raw diet!
A raw diet is not for every dog. Here are some example of when a raw diet may harm your dog.
1. Kidney or liver disease
Most veterinarians who support raw dog food diets say that due to the high protein levels, it is not appropriate for dogs with late-stage kidney or severe liver failure .
2. Cancer or immunosuppressive diseases
Dogs with cancer and low immunity are more susceptible to bacteria. Due to raw meat being more prone to bacteria, it will make them very unwell.
Always check in with your vet on the best foods for your dog's diet, especially for sick or pregnant dogs.
Which raw diet is right for your dog?
Your choice on feeding your dog the BARF , Prey Model or something in between will depend on your own preferences and what feels best for you and your dog. Either will take a certain amount of planning and preparation.
Here are some ways to find more out about the pros and cons of a raw food diet for dogs:
- Speaking to your vet first and getting hold of
- A book on raw dog food diets with recipes
- Join a forum or group
Lastly, get a balanced opinion and decide for yourself.
What your dog food should contain
A raw dog food diet isn't for everyone. If you don't want to prepare a raw diet for your dog, consider the highest quality dry dog food that you can afford. Ensure your dry dog food has the following essential qualities.
- Higher in quality meat-based protein
- High in natural fats
- Lower in carbohydrates
- A names animal source
- Free of animal byproducts
- Free of artificial flavors, colors and preservatives
- Contain essential vitamins and minerals
I am concerned about making sure my dog is getting a balanced diet and any supplementary vitamins and minerals that he needs. If you are too, then best to get some good information on a raw diet to ensure your dog gets all the essential nutrition needed.
Have a closer look at these three books to get you started on raw food diets for dogs: