Raw Dog Food
By Debbie Brookham C.P.N.
So, you saw your neighbor throw her dog a raw chicken and told you that she’s now feeding her dog raw diet. Maybe you’re thinking that you should be doing the same thing. But before you start throwing fido thawed chicken parts, let’s talk about the pros and cons of feeding a raw food diet.
First, if you’re going to feed your dog a raw diet, you will want good quality proteins and fats. You will want to include some raw bones into your dog’s diet. You could substitute bone meal for your dog in place of the calcium coming from a raw bone; however, make sure to get the correct amount of calcium. It has a huge impact on your dog’s health. Raw bones typically include marrow: the fat in the middle of the bone. You’ll want to remove that fat if your dog’s digestion cannot handle the added fat in his diet.
Some dogs’ digestive systems are just too sensitive to take on a raw diet. There is a lot of misperception out there in feeding a raw diet, like the neighbor who threw out the raw chicken to her dog. Senior dogs especially should not go “cold turkey” on a raw diet. Their digestive systems are used to a kibble diet and it can be extremely hard to process the bacteria coming from a raw diet. You would want to make accommodations for the sensitive tummies and intestines for your canine.
Making sure your dog is receiving the correct calcium, Vitamin D and Omega-3’s is crucial to your dog’s health. If you don’t get this right, you can have dire consequences, and it will be too late to correct.
The American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) has taken an official stance on the feeding of raw diets for both dogs and cats. The AVMA discourages it as stated, “because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans (Proposals address research).” You can find their official recommendation on their website at avma.org.
So, in a nutshell, most Veterinarians with this official stance will not approve of going to a raw diet for your canine.
Let’s look further at the expense of a raw diet. Some will tell you that it is less expensive than kibble. While others will tell you there is a big jump financially from feeding a commercial kibble food to feeding a raw diet to your dog. The main concern here is not typically the expense, but, again the quality of the new diet. Regardless of cost, you need to ensure that you’re getting the right proteins and fats for your pups.
Make sure to log everything you are feeding your dog when you switch them to a raw diet. You’ll be able to track caloric and macronutrient intake for a complete balanced diet. Note that you will want to rotate protein sources to help with nutrients and eliminate diet boredom.
Raw diets may also help dogs with food allergies. By hand-picking raw ingredients for your dog, you can ensure quality control. You’ll also know the exact caloric makeup of their food and eliminate the food allergies your pet suffers from in their kibble.
If you don’t feel like preparing raw food yourself, there are commercial raw food manufacturers who make quality food products. Like all other aspects of your dog’s diet, you will want to seek out the best manufacturers to decide which ones are most appropriate for your dog’s needs. Before buying any product, make sure to review any recalls and the history of the manufacturer. If you decide to make a purchase, make sure to rotate proteins to maximize nutrients.
As with any food, watch for recalls. There have been several recalls due to salmonella and listeria in raw dog foods, so it is important to pay attention--especially if you handle the raw proteins in your kitchen. If you have small children in your household, feeding raw may create unnecessary levels of exposure to harmful bacteria. After preparing your raw dog food, remember to wash your hands and make sure to clean and disinfect counters, bowls, cutting boards, and kitchen utensils. The FDA recommends hot soapy water followed with a disinfectant made of 1 tablespoon bleach to 4 cups of water.
If after a thoughtful process you stick with kibble and want to upgrade your dogs diet, try adding some fresh foods instead of going completely raw. People food is not harmful if it’s the right kind of food. Think cooked chicken, turkey, beef, without the fat and skin to be a healthy addition to your dog’s dinner. Adding lightly steamed vegetables is also a great source of fiber and nutrients. Any of these can be added as toppers to your dog’s kibble, or try a freeze dried protein powder to make meals more enticing for picky eaters. With the kibble as the base from a good quality dog food manufacturer, you will know you’re getting correctly balanced nutrients along with the freshness you’re adding to the bowl.
Whatever you decide, don’t be afraid to consult your Vet or Pet Nutritionist, or take our quiz for a comprehensive, customized nutrition plan, developed by ours. Feeding your dog well will keep them healthy and happy for a long time.
Proposals address research, raw food, pharmacies, and more.” American Veterinary Medical Association. 3 July 2012.