Is Raw Food Right For Your Dog? Raw vs Kibble.
Feeding your dog raw food can turn into a passionate debate among pet owners. It’s a controversial topic that seems to be growing. You’ll find that pet owners are either for it or dead set against it. The diet focuses on what dogs ate before they became a domesticated animal; uncooked and unprocessed foods. The raw food diet consists of uncooked meats, raw eggs, some dairy, select vegetables, and select fruits. This article is not meant to sway you in one direction or another, but rather to educate you enough to make your own informed decision on what to feed your dog. Please take a look at the below information to determine if feeding your dog raw food is right for him/her.
A well-known fact is that dogs are descended from wolves. Wolves are instinctual creatures of habit, they are raised in the wild and learn to hunt, kill, and consume their prey (other animals) as a means of survival. Their diet consists solely on what they can catch and devour, thus living off of a raw food diet. Many dog owners feel that if wolves can live this way, dogs can too. After all, they are descended from the same ‘family.’ A vast majority of pet owners like the idea of a raw food diet because they know exactly which ingredients are in the food they feed their dog. When you feed a dog kibble, you’ll see a whole slew of ingredient’s on the back of the bag. A whole list of ingredients containing starch, corn filler, bones, mixed meats, and other products you can’t even pronounce. To many, this is very concerning. Kibble, as well as wet food, contains a lot of carbohydrates. Dogs aren’t naturally meant to digest the 50% average portion of carbs found in their daily serving of kibble. A dog’s ancestral diet is to have higher protein contents and lesser carbohydrates. Unless your dog is on a specialty formulated kibble diet, they are getting the opposite of what they need. Not to mention fats. A dog should have 25-30% natural fats with each meal, where as that number drops down to 8-22% in kibble. When feeding your dog raw food you want to make sure they are getting all the required nutrients in each meal, don’t just toss them a raw chicken and call it a day. Certain pet stores will stock raw meat diets, and companies such as ‘Big Country Raw’ and ‘Raw Paws‘ will also sell online for those of you who prefer to order your dog’s food via the internet and have it shipped directly to your home. Online and in-store, you have the option to buy premixed meals that contain meats, fruits, and vegetables all in one serving or you can select and buy your ingredients individually. This will help if you aren’t familiar with portion sizes and nutritional value. You also have the ability to purchase your meals prepackaged and freeze dried. These retailers are great because they specify each ingredient on the packaging, and also list what benefits and vitamins each meal contains. If the smell and texture of raw meat isn’t your thing, you can try cooking the meals for your dog. Same idea, same food, just cooked. A lot of people go this route, the only downfall is the time it takes to prepare each meal.
Some well-known benefits to the raw food diet are as follows:
- Cleaner Teeth and less plaque buildup / risk of periodontal disease.
- Less medical problems throughout the dog’s lifespan
- A healthier coat and skin
- Stronger stools
- Decreased allergies
- Controlled weight management
- More energy
The raw meat diet is suitable for any breed. A common myth is that small / toy breeds shouldn’t eat raw foods. If you choose to go ahead with a raw diet, take a look at the following article written by Dogs Naturally. They offer a proper feeding guide at the tail end of their post. Very well researched and written.
As we discussed, many people compare dogs to wolves. Yes, dogs are descended from wolves, but does this mean they should eat like them? On average, in the wild, although a wolf can live up to 15 years, the majority only live 3-5 years and a large reason for that is because they contract a disease from the raw meats they are forced to find and consume. In the wild, wolves also contract parasites from eating the flesh of other animals. This is a constant concern for dog owners. You can’t control what bacteria the raw meat contains and freezing it can only help so much. Freezing the raw meat for 3 or more weeks will destroy most parasites; it does not however rid the meat of bacteria. Although hazardous for the dog, raw meats containing Salmonella and E. coli are more hazardous for the dog’s caretakers. A dog’s stomach is naturally more acidic; they have a shorter digestive system making them less-risk for disease. Although not exempt, if the diet is handled right, it is less of a risk. Kibble food has higher contents of carbohydrates as mentioned above, but that is mostly when you buy a generic kibble that doesn’t have diverse versions of their branded food. Kibble can range in quality, just like any food product. Some are generic and cheap, usually containing more starch, bi-product, mixed meats, etc… where as the top quality kibble (such as the Performatrin brand) offer organic options, specialized meats, carb/protein options, no GMO, free-range, grain-fed meats, etc… A top quality kibble can help better control your dog’s diet. Just learn how to read the ingredients label and understand what’s being put into your dog’s food. And be sure to take care of your dog’s teeth. As we know, kibble can cause some serious plaque issues that have the potential to develop into periodontal disease. Brush your dog’s teeth often and keep that mouth clean!
Some well-known benefits to the kibble diet are as follows:
- Quick and easy kibble meals
- No risk of bacteria’s and parasites
- A balanced diet. Raw food can provide an unbalanced diet, especially if the dog has been consuming raw for quite some time
- No risk of choking or internal puncture when chewing on whole bones as with the raw diet
- No risk of damaging or breaking teeth when chewing on whole bones as with the raw diet
Should you decide to choose a raw diet or a kibble diet, do your research! Don’t just make the choice because someone is convincing you one way or another. Every breed is different and every dog has specific needs, so do your homework. Always consult your veterinarian before deciding to completely alter your dog’s diet. When a diet is changed, make sure to do it gradually. If you are leaning towards a raw diet, a great book to read is Billinghurst’s book, ‘Give Your Dog a Bone,’ you can find a link to it below. The book discusses the advantages of a raw food diet. Since the release of the book, raw food diets have grown in popularity, and raw food companies are offering more feeding options. This book will give you more insight regarding the diet. If you find yourself wanting a more in-depth look into the theories behind it, be sure to check it out. It’s an easy read. Happy Feeding!