Feeding dogs a raw food diet can offer lots of health benefits, but like any other diet it’s not without its risks. It’s essential for dog owners considering this diet to do their research and consult with professionals to ensure their dogs are getting a balanced diet and the quality natural ingredients from their supplier that they expect.
In this Article:
The Science of Raw Dog Food
Feeding dogs a raw food diet has gained popularity among dog owners who want to provide their pets with a more natural and nutritious diet. According to one study, about 16% of dog owners in the US and Australia feed their dogs a raw food diet. This diet, often known as Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF), (yes- you read that right!) consists of uncooked meat, bones, and vegetables. It aims to mimic what dogs might eat in the wild which provides them with a more natural and biologically suitable diet. But you shouldn’t just throw your dog cooking scraps and expect that to be OK. You need to ensure your dog has a balanced diet and that you are following safe food handling procedures.
Why Choose a Raw Food Diet?
The concept of a raw food diet has gained popularity due to the numerous health benefits. Many believe that processed pet foods contain detrimental additives, preservatives, and low-quality or inappropriate ingredients that could lead to health problems over time. In contrast, a raw food diet is free from these risks and is thought to be healthier and more natural. I started experimenting with a raw food diet for my dogs about 7 years ago. In 2019 we decided to go all in. Our dogs are happier and healthier as they are reaching an older age.
The Benefits of a Raw Food Diet
Improved Digestive Health
Raw food diets aid digestion because they are high in natural enzymes. Many dogs have trouble digesting commercial dog food, which can lead to digestive problems such as diarrhea and constipation. Raw dog food though is easier for dogs to digest because of its high concentration of natural enzymes that help break down the food. Plus, dogs were meant to eat this way! This is most evident in their poops. No longer are my dog’s poops gross and ‘aromatically intense’.
Enhanced Coat and Skin Health
Feeding your pet a raw food diet can improve their coat and skin health. Natural oils and essential fatty acids are abundant in raw meat, which nourish your pet’s coat and make it shiny and healthy. Additionally, food allergies in some dogs can be avoided by eliminating artificial ingredients from their diet. Food allergies can cause hives, also known as urticaria, which are itchy and inflamed bumps on the skin. Your dog may also experience oral yeast infections from sensitivities to commercial dog food or additives.
Increased Energy Levels
Raw food diets are high in protein, which can provide dogs with sustained energy throughout the day. This increased energy can lead to more active, playful, and happier dogs.
Feeding your dog a raw food diet can also lead to better dental health. Chewing on raw bones helps remove plaque and keep your pet’s teeth clean by preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar. This leads to fresher breath and healthier gums and can help prevent dental problems such as gum disease and tooth decay.
Raw food diets are often MUCH lower in carbohydrates than commercial dog foods, which can help dogs maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can lead to numerous health problems in dogs, so maintaining a healthy weight is a crucial ingredient to a thriving, happy dog.
Finally, raw dog food can be beneficial for dog training! Many dogs are highly motivated by food, and raw dog food can be a great incentive for training. Also, because raw dog food is more nutritious than commercial dog food, it can help improve your pet’s cognitive function and make training easier.
Things to Watch Out For When Starting a Raw Food Diet
Feeding a raw food diet to your dog has so many wonderful benefits but not all raw food diets are the same. There are potential risks that dog owners should be aware of such as ensuring their dogs’ nutritional needs are being met and that the work environment is clean and safe.
Ensuring a Balanced Diet
One common mistake is not providing a balanced diet. While meat should make up a significant portion of the diet, it’s also important to include some vegetables and possibly even some fruits to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals your dog needs. Also, the quality of your supplier can not be overstated! Make sure you choose suppliers who focus on wholesome and healthy ingredients. Click here to see who we use.
Safe Food Handling
Practicing safe food handling is crucial when feeding your dog a raw food diet. This includes properly storing raw food, washing your hands and surfaces after handling raw meat, and promptly refrigerating leftovers. Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli which can lead to vomiting or diarrhea. Therefore, it’s important to handle and store raw food properly to prevent contamination. This goes not just for your raw food supply at home, but also ensuring that your suppliers are reputable and conscientious in their processes as well. At Bar W Dog Training we have separate dog freezer/fridge to feed our raw feeding clients during their stays with us.
Remember, every dog is unique, and what works well for one might not work as well for another. Always consider your dog’s specific needs and consult with your vet before making any significant changes to their diet. With some planning, consideration, and a great supplier a raw food diet can lead to a happier, healthier life for your furry family member.
At Bar W Dog Training we are able to provide raw dog food meals to your dog while being boarded at our facility. We have a separate refrigerator/freezer specifically for our boarding canine friends. If you are new to a raw food diet we can help introduce it as part of our Board & Train service.
If you are in Texas, Bar W Dog Training wants to share this awesome business, Lucie’s Legacy – Real Food For Dogs. We only purchase from Lucie’s for our pups, and have had a fantastic working relationship with the owner, Christie.
If you are curious about raw and need help getting started, or need help building or tweaking a plan for your pups, contact Christie. She takes the time to personally learn about your dogs. She listens and will help adapt a plan between Lucie’s raw foods and recommended safe products from the grocery store to fit your budget.