Eating raw food isn’t just for humans. In fact many pet owners find that feeding a raw diet to both their cats and dogs results in more optimal health for their companions. Feeding a raw diet to pets may totally exclude all commercial dog foods or cat foods.
Pet owners find that there is a wide range of benefits to feeding a raw food diet to their pets. For dogs this includes no doggy odor, naturally clean teeth much less stools, decreased vet bills, less cost for dog food and it mirrors what the dog would be getting in the wild. Owners of young dogs find that puppies grow at a more appropriate rate. Quick growth spurts caused by calorically dense dog food made for puppies can be avoided. These processed puppy foods will often cause bone disorders and pain.
Individuals have also reported that dogs who were previously sluggish became completely energetic once the raw diet feeding began. They found that allergies completely disappeared and pain from arthritis was significantly reduced. It was easier to maintain better weight control in their dogs and many breeders find that their bitches manage pregnancy better.
Proponents of raw food diet report that commercial dog food usually has cereals as their main ingredient where dogs were meant to have raw meat and partially digested vegetables and fruits as the main ingredients of their diets. Commercial dog foods are also loaded with preservative, colors and salt. While some of these preservatives may make the dog food taste better, because it originally tasted horrible, they also encourage the dog to overeat and load the dog’s body with chemicals causing health problems.
One common question about raw diets is the idea that chicken bones are dangerous. This is very true when the bones are cooked because they become quite brittle and can splinter in the intestines. However, chicken bones which are raw are fantastic because they are soft and bend easily. They break well and dogs are able to chew them for digestion. With raw beef, bones are also very good for your dogs teeth and jaws. Incidents of dogs choking on bones are rare but in order to decrease that greatly, individuals can use large meaty beef bones instead of chicken bones.
Another concern raised by individuals who don’t know too much about a raw food diet is the question of whether feeding raw food to a dog will make them bloodthirsty and more apt to bite. There could be nothing more further from the truth. Dogs bite for a variety of reasons including fear or aggression, anger and poor training but they don’t bite because of the food that they eat.
Raw food diets for dogs are available both commercially and prepackaged or can be made at home on an individual basis. Prepackaged raw foods are becoming more and more popular but they are also much more expensive than doing it yourself. There are also different standards for packaging and freezing dog food than there is for human food so you’ll never be very sure how much of an animal carcass is packaged with your raw food.
In other words dogs may be being fed a majority of tendons and ligaments as they are in commercially prepared dried foods but if you made it home you are more likely to use meat which is originally intended for human consumption. This difference in quality can make a difference in their health.
There is some disagreement in the raw food community as to whether or not dogs should be fed fruit and vegetables. While dogs are often thought to be carnivores, they are actually omnivores. It isn’t uncommon to see a dog grazing on grass or nibbling on apples which have fallen from the tree. Wild dogs and wolves will first eat the stomach of their fresh kill which provides for them all of the fruits and vegetables in a partially digested state which their herbivore prey had recently eaten. Once they have devoured the stomach contents they then move on to the meatier aspects of their kill.
Another question individuals may have are about the bacteria which is often present in raw chicken and beef. While there is bacteria everywhere, dogs have an amazing immune system which is specifically designed to eat raw meat. This includes taking care of the bacteria which is commonly found. Because our digestive system is not quite as robust as our dogs we must protect ourselves and thoroughly wash our hands after cutting up the food and preparing food for our animals.
Sometimes veterinarians need a bit of convincing when it comes to switching diets from commercially prepared dried food to using raw food at home. Remember that your veterinarian was told very little about a dog diet at the University they attended. They spent more time studying diseases and treatment protocols which were often the result of the foods that these animals ate or the breeding which produce them.
This is your opportunity to help educate your veterinarian about the options that are available for animals. But above all remember that this is your dog and you are feeding your dog. You may take advice from your veterinarian and you may want your veterinarian to be involved in the care of your animal, but ultimately you are responsible. That said, there are plenty of veterinarians who now realize the significantly better alternatives than commercial dog food and are willing to listen to their clients before passing judgment.
One common term used for raw diets in dogs is the BARF diet. This stands for bones and raw food. Before choosing a raw food diet for your dog remembered to do your research well and remember that this is not a substitute for medical advice. If you feel that something may be physically wrong with your pet don’t hesitate to seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian who is willing to listen to you and has the best interest of your companion at heart.