In a raw food diet for dogs, the actual content of the food may change from dog to dog, but the quality level doesn’t change. This is what makes a raw food diet such a good option. You know exactly what ingredients go into your pet’s food and you know what they like or don’t like. A dog’s digestive system is designed to break down raw food, and it is packed with antioxidants and good enzymes that help your pet’s overall health.
What is a Raw Food Diet?
The raw food diet for dogs has seen a surge in popularity in the recent years. They are called “raw food diets” or “all natural diets” and you feed your dog raw human grade food instead of processed food. This means that the meat you feed your dog is good enough to feed your family. This is very important as many people look at pets like their family and it is important to know what goes in their diets to keep them healthy. We will be discussing the health benefits of feeding your dog an all natural or raw food diet in this article.
What is Wrong with Processed Dog Food?
Processed food for dogs acts the same as processed food does for a human. It is packed with unhealthy additives and mystery ingredients. Generally, the cheaper the food, the cheaper and worse the ingredients are. If your pet eats the same food processed food every day, this can lead to major health problems farther down the road.
There is a reason many dogs are overweight, have chronic allergies or infections, have digestive problems, and contract things like tumors, diabetes, and cancers. They all have the fact that they eat unhealthy, processed foods in common. If you look at the ingredients, most processed dog food contains thinks like corn or meat byproduct and these are just a way of saying that they are the leftover ingredients, the scraps that get ground together along with a mix of additives and chemicals to promote the shelf life of the dog food. Dogs do not eat any of this naturally, but we expect them to eat it in their food every day.
Your dog needs a natural, unprocessed, healthy diet to help get them back on track and help manage some of the issues that could have made themselves known from continually eating an unhealthy diet day in and day out.
A Raw Diet versus Dry Kibble
Dry kibble is the more convenient choice for pet owners as it is easier to store, is readily available, and it is the quicker option to feed your pet. Raw food takes a little more time and effort on your part but your pet will thank you. There are more good ingredients in raw food than dry kibble and you know exactly how fresh it is. There are no additives or unhealthy chemicals or preservatives added and you know exactly what your pet is eating every time.
Why Use a Raw Food Diet?
There are many benefits to using a raw food diet. A few of those benefits include shinier coats, cleaner teeth, higher energy levels, and better digestive health.
- Shinier Coat – A shinier coat is a sign of a healthy pet. Raw foods are packed with fatty acids and this helps promote a shiny, healthy, coat. The nutrients in a balanced raw food diet will make your pet’s coat healthier and give it a gorgeous shine and a glossy look.
- Cleaner Teeth – Contrary to popular belief, Kibble does not clean teeth. A raw food diet will help improve the oral health in your pet. Raw foods contain enzymes that help to protect the teeth and gums. They are also low in sugar, which helps prevent plaque buildup and inflamed gum tissue.
- Higher Energy Levels – Pet owners who switched their dogs to a raw food diet reported that their pets had higher energy levels and were more lively. This occurs because your dog is getting all the nutrients they need without the fatty, unhealthy preservatives.
- Better Digestive Health – Pet owners reported better digestive health when their pets were switched to a raw diet. The digestive system doesn’t have to work so hard to filter out all the processed materials like it does with Kibble, and this will make your pet feel better in the long run.
What are the Risks?
There are some risks associated with feeding your pet a raw diet and many people believe the benefits outweigh the risks when choosing a diet for your pet. Some of the risks for feeding your pet a raw diet include:
- Health risks of bacteria in the raw meat. There have been arguments that the bacteria found in raw pet food can make your pet or yourself sick.
- Lacking essential nutrients. If a raw food diet isn’t balanced your pet could be missing out on essential nutrients and this can eventually lead to diminished quality of life if it is not caught quickly.
- The possibility of choking on bones. Pets can choke on the bones in a raw diet if they’re not carefully watched. The bones can splinter or chip and your dog can accidentally swallow them, which leads to choking.
- The expense. Feeding a raw food diet is more expensive than feeding a processed food diet These are a few things to consider when thinking about switching your pet to a raw food diet. A small dog costs roughly $2.50 a day to feed a raw food diet and a larger dog can cost up to $5.00 a day.
What Should A Good Diet Contain?
A good raw food diet for dogs should be balanced. It should contain several key ingredients. They are:
- Muscle Meat. This is packed with nutrients and will improve your pet’s coat and skin.
- Bones. Raw food diets are usually fed with meat on the bone, and the bone marrow itself is full on good nutrients.
- Natural Fats. Raw food diets are full of natural fats became the don’t get cooked it in the process of making the food. Natural fats help your pet by reducing inflammation.
- The raw food you feed your dog shouldn’t contain too many carbs, artificial flavors or colors, or processed things. The whole point of a raw diet is to improve the overall health of your pet and get away from those things, don’t’ re-add them back into the diet. It defeats the purpose of feeding a raw diet.
BARF and Prey Diet Models
There are two models that can be followed when you’re feeding your pet a raw food diet.
The first model is called BARF. BARF stands for Bones And Raw Food. This diet is made up of a ratio of 60 to 80 percent raw bones with more than 50 percent meat on each bone, and 20 to 40 percent fruits and vegetables, dairy, or eggs. This diet helps to regulate your pet’s digestive track and is based on what your pet’s wild ancestors used to eat hundreds of years ago.
The Prey Diet
The second diet model is the Prey Diet. The Prey Diet tries to add actual prey animals to your pet’s diet. Whole prey animals are used whenever possible and these include whole rabbits, chickens, and turkeys to name a few. This diet is around 80 percent meat and this includes organ meat, 10 percent bone, and 10 percent organs. Pet owners who follow this diet believe their pets are natural meat eaters and there is no need to substitute anything other bones, meat, and organs into the diet for their pet to thrive. It is important to note that a lot of pet owners who choose to feed their pets this diet add fish oil to give their pet a boost of fatty acids they might be missing out on.
Raw Food Diet How-To
When Not to Use a Raw Food Diet
A raw food diet should not be used if your pet was diagnosed with cancer or disorders like kidney disease.
- Kidney Disease. A pet with kidney disease needs the correct type of proteins but in small amounts. A raw food diet is heavily meat-based and this will make your pet’s condition worse. If you feed your pet foods that are too high in fat like organ meats it will raise the phosphorous levels in the blood and this can lead to the kidney disease getting worse much faster and your pet getting sicker.
- Cancer. Pets who are diagnosed with cancer will need all the nutrients and vitamins they can get. A major problem with feeding them a raw food diet is that it is easy to miss essential vitamins and nutrients. Your pet’s immune system will be weakened, and you might not catch it. If your pet’s immune system is weak, it makes it easier for them to get sick. There is a lot more bacteria in raw food and your pet’s immune system may not be strong enough to fight it off to keep them healthy.
- Liver Disease. Pets who are diagnosed with liver disease need a diet with grains added and most raw food diets advocate against grains being fed to your pet. The grains help remove ammonia from your pet’s system so the liver doesn’t have to do it. You should avoid foods that are high in copper, this means most organ meats. This would be difficult with a raw food diet that puts 10 percent aside for organ meats.
At the end of the day, a raw food diet for your pet overall is a good idea. The health benefits are incredible and far outweigh the risks. You should switch your pet to a raw food diet if you haven’t already for a healthier, happier pet.