With raw diets for dogs growing in popularity and gaining a lot of traction, if you aren’t already, you may be seriously considering whether to transition your dog to a raw diet. So to help you to make an informed decision we put together this to guide outline the pros and cons of raw diets, dog nutrition basics and how to know if a raw diet is right for your dog.
What is a raw diet?
A raw dog food diet typically consists of:
- Muscle meat
- Organ meats
- Bones (whole or ground)
- Raw eggs
- Some dairy (such as yoghurt)
Dog nutrition basics
Whatever you’re planning on feeding your dog conventional kibbles or raw food, store-bought or home-made there are some fundamental things your pooch needs in their diet to keep them in tip-top shape as any diet if incomplete and unbalanced can be damaging to your dog’s health.
All you’re dog’s energy requirements come from the major sources: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Both protein and fat are essential nutrients, meaning your dog cannot survive without a steady supply of these. Carbohydrates on the other hand aren’t essential and you’re dog can survive without them but some can have valuable benefits such as boosting your dog’s immune system and reducing their risk of cancer.
Getting the balance of these nutrients right is just as important as including them in the first place. The fat content of your dog’s food should be about 10% to 20%. Fat is relatively low in vitamins and minerals and high in calories meaning too much and your dog won’t be getting enough nutrients and too little and you’ll start seeing dry, itchy skin in your dog. Protein content should be at least 20% to 30%, depending on their age, puppies will typically need a higher protein content. The remain 50% can be made up of carbohydrates however a raw food diet will typically contain more protein and fewer carbohydrates (or none at all).
Benefits of a raw diet
Dog owners who have transitioned to feeding their dogs a raw diet will tout the numerous health improvements they have seen in their dog which include:
- Higher energy levels
- Healthier skin
- Shinier coat
- Cleaner teeth
- Better breath
- Smaller stools
- Fewer digestive problems
In addition to general health improvements many dog owners also claim that feeding their dog a raw diet has help cure or improve various illnesses and health conditions however these claims have not been officially researched or proven.
Concerns of a raw diet
For all the praise many dog owners give raw diets there are also many sceptics and critics of the diet and although small there are some legitimate risks around raw diets, however they can be mitigated by following precaution. The main risks usually identified by critics are:
- Potential to harm human and dog heath from bacteria in raw meat.
- An unbalanced raw diet can be harmful to your dogs health. This is mainly only a concern when making your dog food at home as it can be difficult to get all the correct nutrients in and well-balanced. You should ideally purchase your raw food from a trusted and certified seller.
- Potential for whole bones to choke, break teeth or cause and internal puncture. Harm from bones is mainly only associated with cooked bones and raw bones can actually offer numerous health benefits for your dog but if this is a concern to you you can purchase or make raw dog food that uses ground bones instead of whole ones.
Store bought or home-made?
While making your own raw food for dog at home is a viable option it is not generally recommended as getting the right nutrition in and balancing it correctly is not an easy thing to do. Unless you’re prepared to put a lot of time and effort into making sure your dog’s food is nutrtionally complete and balanced we would reccommend sticking with a proffessional and certified raw food company you can trust.
For most dogs a raw diet is suitable and can generally result in positive health benefits but no matter what you choose to feed your dog the most important factors are the quality of food you choose and your dog’s actual physical response to the food.
For both raw and conventional food there is a huge range of brands on the market with a large variation in quality so whatever food it is, make sure it is a high quality, nutritionally certified brand you can trust.
Even if it is a high-quality and trustworthy brand it may still not be right for YOUR dog, that’s why it’s so important to keep a close eye on your dog when trying out a new diet to see how their system responds to the food.