Should You Switch Your Dog to a Raw Food Diet?
Are you thinking of switching your dog to a raw dog food diet? If so, you’re not alone.
In fact, I was in your place a short few months ago.
At Shadow’s last check-up, her veterinarian recommended I consider switching her to a raw dog food diet.
With her age and heart murmur, the vet wanted to see if it would make a difference in her overall health.
I was confused. Wasn’t I already feeding her high-quality kibble?
If you’re still feeding kibble, you might not know what I found out.
Grab your popcorn and favorite snacks, friends.
We have a lot to talk about.
Before you make the change to raw, there are several very important things you need to know about raw dog food and whether or not it’s right for you and your dog.
In this article, I’ll share surprising facts about kibble. We’ll explore the benefits of feeding your dog a raw diet, the potential dangers, and provide some tips on how to make the switch as smoothly as possible.
What is a raw dog food diet and why is it becoming more popular?
A raw dog food diet consists of unprocessed raw meat, bones, and organs.
Compared to processed dog food, raw dog food contains more nutrients and is packed with things like enzymes and probiotics that help keep your dog healthy by boosting their immune system.
For decades, kibble was the gold standard for dog food. It’s convenient, shelf stable, provides all the nutrients your pup needs, and is relatively inexpensive.
But as more dog owners embrace their pets as family members, they’re taking a closer look at the food they feed them every day.
Kibble is heavily processed, often contains corn and other grains that dogs can’t easily digest, and is cooked at high temperatures that destroy many of the nutrients.
Kibble dog food is known to cause issues like allergies, itchy skin, ear infections, and a host of other health problems.
Raw dog food, on the other hand, contains no fillers or chemicals and is instead high in nutrients that are easy to digest.
What are the benefits of feeding your dog a raw food diet?
A raw diet might provide several advantages for your pet.
Let’s take a look at a few.
Raw dog food is more digestible than processed dog food like dry kibble.
This means that your dog will get more nutrients from raw dog food than they would from processed dog food.
Raw dog food diets promote healthy teeth, skin, and coat.
Dog food that hasn’t been processed contains more enzymes and probiotics than kibble.
Enzymes are essential for digestion and help to break down food into nutrients that the body can use, which leads to healthy teeth, skin, and coat, among many overall health benefits.
Raw dog food boosts your dog’s immune system.
As we mentioned earlier, raw dog food is packed with things like enzymes and probiotics that help keep your dog healthy by boosting their immune system.
A raw dog food diet can prevent health problems like allergies, obesity, and diabetes.
Processed dog food like kibble is known to contribute to these health problems, while a raw dog food diet can help prevent them.
Ready to make the switch? Not so fast.
There are a few things you need to know first. Despite the many benefits of a raw diet, it can also be dangerous.
Raw meat can carry bacteria like salmonella.
While most dogs can handle small amounts of this bacteria, it can be dangerous for humans and dogs with compromised immune systems or digestive issues.
According to pets.webmd.com, dogs with pancreatitis or digestive issues should start with a cooked, homemade diet first. This way, they’ll clear up any problems before switching to raw.
Dogs with cancer, on chemotherapy, or with other immunosuppressive diseases should not eat raw food.
And puppies should wait until they’re older.
If you have kids in the home, consider waiting until they’re older, too (to prevent bacteria from spreading).
It’s essential to carefully follow safety guidelines when preparing a raw dog food diet.
Here are a few tips:
- Immediately wash your dog’s bowl after feeding them raw dog food.
- Always wash your hands and work spaces thoroughly after handling raw meat to prevent possible contamination.
- Dogs can pass salmonella to humans through their poop for up to 4-6 weeks. It’s critical to wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up while feeding a raw food diet.
While the risk of bacteria isn’t a reason to avoid a raw diet all together, it’s important to be aware of the risks and take precautions.
Of course, always talk to your vet before switching your dog’s food.
Choosing the right raw dog food
If you and your vet decide that this is right for your dog, you’ll need to decide what type of raw food to feed.
Is it best to make your own raw dog food or to buy it pre-made from a pet store or online?
There are pros and cons to both.
Homemade raw dog food can be cheaper in the long run, but it takes more time and effort to prepare.
Pre-made is convenient, but that comes at a price.
It’s more expensive and, due to transportation and quality control issues, has a higher risk of bacteria contamination.
In the end, it’s up to you and your dog to decide what works best.
What are some other healthy dog food options?
If raw isn’t for you or your dog for any reason (no dog mom shame here!), but you want your dog to eat healthier, you have several options.
You can start right away by adding dog-safe fresh fruits and vegetables to their current diet.
You may be surprised that lots of dogs love veggies like zucchini, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Shadow’s favorites are carrots and apples!
Or, you can cook human grade food for your dog from ingredients you pick up at the grocery store.
Fresh cooked food is safer than raw, but not as processed as kibble – plus, it’s made with human grade ingredients in your own kitchen.
There are lots of dog-safe recipes online and books specifically devoted to home-cooked dog food. Check with your vet to ensure your dog gets a proper balanced diet!
If you’re looking for a more convenient option, dehydrated dog food is a good bet. It’s minimally processed and it retains nutrients while being shelf stable.
It’s easy to store and doesn’t spoil like fresh dog food can. Just add water before feeding.
So, should you switch your dog to a raw food diet?
The answer to that question is ultimately up to you and your dog.
Do your research, talk to your vet, and make sure that you’re comfortable switching your dog to a raw food diet before making the change.
There are many benefits to feeding your dog a raw food diet, but there are also some dangers that you need to be aware of.
Be sure to take all safety precautions when feeding your dog a raw food diet and consult with your vet if you have any questions.
Are you thinking about switching your dog’s food? Tell us about it in the comments!