Raw diet for dogs

Raw diets explained, and common misconceptions related to feeding your dog a natural, unprocessed diet


Raw Diet For Dogs

There is a growing movement among dog owners to feed their pets in a way that returns to natural canine eating habits. This diet, known as a raw diet, consists of foods and habits that reflect what dogs would have eaten while still in the wild - foods that a dog’s body was made to digest. These foods include raw chicken, beef, pork, lamb, wild game, fish, and other meats in varying amounts.

Dog owners who feed a raw diet claim there are many health benefits to doing so. Their dogs have renewed energy, a shiny soft coat and white teeth, skin free of allergies and hot spots, less behavioral and training issues , and reduced problems with fleas and ticks. They also require less water due to the high water content in the raw meat they are eating. Dogs that eat raw make less waste, and the fecal matter that is created is white and, if left in your yard, will turn to dust. Many people who feed raw maintain their vet bills have been drastically reduced and due to the improvement in their dog’ health.

There are many different food plans to follow in the realm of raw diets and you should research all plans to determine which is best for your dog and family. However, they all center on feeding raw natural, unprocessed foods. Some people feed nothing but raw meaty bones. Others add vegetables or organ meats (liver or heart) in small amounts to their feeding schedule because they believe these things are necessary for additional nutrients and vitamins, and are similar to what a dog would have received through the stomach contents of animals eaten in the wild. Still other individuals feed with various supplements to ensure their dogs are getting a balanced diet.

There are several misconceptions held by the general public about feeding a raw diet. Most commonly is the belief that by eating raw, dogs will become infected with various forms of bacteria, and become ill. However, it is important to remember that a dog’s digestive is short and very acidic, which means that it takes a short amount of time for food to pass through their system. For this reason, the overgrowth of bacteria in an otherwise healthy dog very difficult.

Closely related to this misconception is the belief that feeding raw puts a family, especially those with young children, at risk for contracting various forms of bacteria and illness. However, as long as raw feeding and clean-up is done properly, it poses no more of a risk to your family than if you were making a chicken dinner for them.

 People often worry about the cost of feeding raw and assume that it must be only for wealthy dog owners. And although feeding raw is more expensive than feeding a cheap kibble, it is no more expensive, and sometimes less so, than higher quality commercially prepared kibble. The cost of your dog’s raw diet also depends on what you choose to feed and who provides it to you. Someone feeding a diet that is prepared by raw diet companies (and therefore more convenient) will generally pay more than a dog owner who happens to be a farmer or hunter and has access to their own source of meat. Many dog owners who feed raw can get deals from their local butcher.

Many people are concerned with the safety of feeding their dogs bones, and are afraid their dogs will choke. However, choking is more of a concern when a dog is eating a cooked bone. Cooked chicken bones, for example, are infamous for cracking and splintering into sharp pieces which can easily be choked on. Raw bones, which a raw diet would utilize, are much less likely to break in this manner. It should also be pointed out that many dog owners who feed raw, but are nervous about their dogs choking on bones, choose to grind their raw meat and bones before feeding it to their dogs.  

Another common myth about raw diets is that after a dog starts to eat raw meat, they will become more aggressive, run down live animals to eat them, or become unsafe to be around. People also often assume that by feeding their dog raw versions of what humans eat, they will turn their dog into a beggar. All of these notions are untrue and are behaviorally based problems that most likely existed before the raw feeding began. They have nothing to do with a dog eating a raw diet and have everything to do with personality and obedience training.

Although there are many advantages and benefits to feeding your dog a raw diet, there are disadvantages which must be weighed as well before making the decision to change their diet. Feeding raw is messier and takes more time than feeding commercially prepared kibble. It is also harder to leave your pets while you vacation because it may be difficult to find a boarder or pet sitter who is willing to feed raw.

There are several formulas to determine how much your dog should eat, but as a general rule, begin feeding by offering raw meats in an amount that is 2-3% of dog’s total body weight, and adjust from there. Since a raw diet is so filling and does not consist of empty calories, your dog will let you know when they are full. There is no hard and fast rule to say a dog that weighs a certain amount will always eat a certain amount of raw food. Some smaller dogs may eat more than a pound, and some large breed dogs might be satisfied with only 12 ounces of raw meat.

Some veterinarians are very supportive of raw feeding habits as long as they are carried out in a safe manner. Other veterinarians are completely against the practice of feeding raw. In most cases, it depends on the veterinarian’s place of employment and where they were educated, as well as personal openness to alternative forms of health. In the end, the choice is up to the dog owner, and should be made only after thoroughly researching all options to make the best decision for the dog and the family as a whole.