If you have a dog that has experienced skin allergies or recurring upset tummy, your vet likely changed Fido’s diet. There’s a reason for that—many commercial dog foods are manufactured with loads of harmful chemicals, glutens, dyes, and other unhealthy ingredients. As a pet parent, this is difficult to, well, digest.
Although the dog food manufacturing industry does fall under FDA guidelines, there’s a loophole that can prove quite dangerous for your beloved canine. Human food is “graded” in one way by the FDA, and food processors in the US cannot waiver from those guidelines. However, animal food (dogs, cats, etc.) is considered “feed-grade,” and manufacturers can get away with including ingredients that can not only make your pup sick but these ingredients are often associated with increased cancer risk in your pet!
The labels of dog food are tricky. Manufacturers can post certain claims on labels: “meat is the top ingredient” or “made with real beef.” What these labels DON’T say is that the “meat” or “beef” in the product is often a by-product of a “meal” (as in bone meal). At the very least, these ingredients can cause your dog to develop skin allergies. Some dogs also have reactions such as upset tummy or vomiting.
Your best defense, in this case, is “offense.” Always read the labels of dog food. There are multiple “things to avoid” when it comes to dog food ingredients.
However, some pet parents believe that they should bypass all this and move toward a raw dog food diet. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of such a move, and let’s talk about how to get started.
Some pet parents believe a raw food is the best nutritional choice for their dogs, but, at the same time, they are a little apprehensive. After all, if you read on the Net, you’ll see multiple sites warning of feeding your dog bones, raw pork, and the like.
However, a raw diet need not be scary. In fact, it can be a great way to provide nutrition for your dog. Additionally, several of today’s best dog food delivery services offer raw diet options.
What are the benefits of a raw diet for dogs?
The raw diet is often much easier to digest than commercial dog food. There are no fillers, no extra chemicals, nothing artificial in these diets. Many dog owners see an overall improvement in their pets’ health.
Perhaps the most important benefit for pet parents when it comes to a raw diet is that food allergies are often completely eliminated. Most of the time, a dog that has hot spots from gnawing and licking irritated skin has an allergy that has been caused by commercial dog food. Let’s be honest, these dogs are miserable with itchy skin. (If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to something, you can relate.)
Then there are allergies that manifest in tummy trouble. If your dog constantly has an upset tummy, her food could be the culprit. Again, if you’ve ever eaten something that “didn’t agree” with you, you can relate to Fido’s misery. Unlike humans, however, you can’t simply avoid the food again. So, imagine eating something that hurts your tummy every day with no relief. That’s what it’s like for dogs being fed a commercial food full of fillers, gluten, and chemicals. However, with thorough research you can find the best dog food for allergies in the market that do the job.
What exactly is a raw diet?
The term “raw” indicates that this diet is made up of uncooked food. In the case of dogs, however, pet parents that feed raw dog food are feeding their pets the same kinds of foods their ancestors ate – and thrived on.
Raw dog food diet isn’t simply meat. You’ll need to provide fats, some carbohydrates, and essential nutrients within the raw dog food diet. A raw dog food is usually made up of not only meat but certain kinds of meat such as organs and muscle meat. You’ll also need to add a certain element of bones and some veggies too.
Understanding dog nutrition is important when preparing a nutritionally balanced raw diet. Otherwise, your pup could become malnourished.
The argument for a raw food diet
Rid your dog’s diet of “junk.”
Commercial dog food often has a lot of “junk” in the ingredients—sugars, chemicals, and the like. Providing a raw diet will cut the “junk” out of Fido’s diet.
Keep in mind that a lot of the “junk” is what causes food allergies or tummy troubles in your dog .
Raw diets for dogs isn’t just a “fad”
Canines used to eat raw dog food diets all the time. Commercial dog food only came into existence within the last century. Dogs have thrived off a raw food for millennia.
A raw diet is really one that matches your dog’s true nature
Dogs and cats are carnivores. They eat meat primarily. In fact, dogs were scavenging carnivores. Dogs in particular will thrive on a meat-rich diet. However, a raw diet is not simply throwing a steak or hamburger at Fido and going on your merry way. You WILL have to plan for the raw food for your dog.
A raw diet prevents certain health issues
A raw diet can prevent diabetes and obesity in your dog. While there isn’t conclusive evidence that commercial dog food is completely to blame for the incidence of these issues in a dog, it is likely the commercial food is a major factor.
Your dog is a carnivore
Your dog is a carnivore at heart. A raw diet is more natural for a dog, and it can make a big difference in a dog that suffers from allergies and constant upset tummy.
Plus, we should add that a raw dog food is much easier to digest than commercial dog food.
You can provide dehydrated raw food if you wish
If you’re traveling with Fido, it may be easier to pick up some dehydrated foods to keep the raw food diet on track. You may find freeze-dried or air-dried meats and vegetables at your pet store.
You’ll need to add a supplement to make sure Fido gets all his necessary vitamins
Consider whether you’re going to provide a dog vitamin supplement or whether you can ensure it’s a part of a dog’s raw food itself. If you can provide food that has Vitamin C or Vitamin E, for example, then it’s best to have that as a part of the diet. If not, check with your vet for the best supplement that can be easily digested.
Choosing the best raw diet
You are going to need to make sure you are providing all the nutrients your dog needs in order to successfully feed a raw diet. You may be able to utilize meat from a local butcher, some natural supplements, and some tasty veggies to feed a raw diet. However, you may want to use prepared food to feed a raw diet.
What makes things so complicated is labeling. Some say “full meal,” or “dinner.” Others say “whole prey.” However, these are all fairly good choices, just read the labels to determine if the “meal” covers everything your dog needs nutritionally.
Be sure to stay away from MBO. This stands for “meat and bone only.” This is NOT a complete meal and it’s missing several nutrients that your dog will need.
A full meal should contain the following: organ meats, fresh meat, fresh produce, and bone. You may consider buying meals from one of the many fresh dog food brands that have popped up recently.
What are the different types of “diets” I’m reading about?
You’ve likely seen the acronym “BARF”—this stands for bones and raw feeding . It’s the most popular formula for a raw diet. The BARF diet is as follows:
- 70 % muscle meat
- 5 % secreting organs
- 10% edible bone
- 2% fruit
- 8% vegetables
- 5% liver
The next model is the “prey” model. The prey model consists of:
- 5% other secreting organs
- 80% muscle meat
- 5% liver
- 10% edible bone
The prey diet contains no fruit or vegetables. Your dog does need some carbohydrates as well as some vitamins found only in produce.
What are the types of raw dog food?
Some raw foods can be purchased frozen. They are often sold in big blocks. You’ll have to thaw this enough to portion it properly for Fido. If you want to go frozen, go with a BARF diet model. You’ll be sure Fido gets all the nutrients he needs this way.
2. Freeze-dried, dehydrated, or air-dried
These meals are easier to store and usually easier to feed. You’ll need to make sure that your dog gets plenty of water, however. Again, the dehydrated version is best for traveling or for folks who don’t have a lot of time to prepare a raw meal. You CAN find these in a “ready to eat” variation.
If you so wish, you can provide a homemade raw diet for your dog. This is especially beneficial to dogs with digestive issues or other health issues. Before going this route, however, you should speak with a vet knowledgeable in holistic medicine. She can steer you in the right direction regarding what foods and how to prepare these foods in addition to any supplements you’ll need to provide your dog.
1. How do I start feeding my dog a raw diet?
You’re going to need to transition between commercial dog food and a raw diet. You’ll need to do this slowly, as the transition could actually hurt your dog’s tummy. It may take a few weeks to fully transition your dog to a raw food diet.
2. What is the perfect raw diet for a dog?
To be honest, this will actually be dependent upon your dog and her special needs. Some dogs do better with a pre-made, frozen raw diet that has all the nutrients your dog needs in the prepared food. Then there are pet parents who choose dehydrated dog food that is easier to provide.
Still, other pet parents will want to make their own raw food for Fido. This can be a challenge. You’ll want to consult a holistic vet so that you can determine exactly what foods your dog will need.
3. Can I feed my dog raw meat from the grocery store?
Yes, you can. However, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right amount of healthy fats in this raw meat. You’ll also want to be sure the bones in the meat – if any – won’t choke your dog.
4. Should I start my puppy on a raw diet?
Consult with your vet before beginning a puppy on a totally raw feeding.