Raw Food Diet For Dogs?
Have you heard of a raw food diet for dogs? Dog lovers and general pet lovers alike pay close attention to what comes into their beloved pets’ mouths. What you feed your dog is basically the most important thing you should be mindful of when owning one.
Dogs Are Carnivores
Dogs are naturally and biologically carnivores. In fact today’s domesticated dogs are direct descendants of wolves. Wolves eat mainly raw meat and some fruit and vegetables. Sled dogs and racing greyhounds have been fed raw food for a very long time. The idea that dogs would benefit if feeding them the same diet as wolves has been proposed only around the past decade.
Australian Veterinarian’s Advice
In 1993, Dr. Ian Billinghurst, suggested it may be best for domesticated dogs to eat the same diet as wolves by adopting a raw food diet. Basically, this dog diet consists of mainly raw meat, bones, and pieces of vegetables. He also questioned the nutritional value of commercial dog foods. He stated they were unnatural and may be harmful for dogs. Dr. Ian Billinghurst called this new raw food diet for dogs the BARF diet. BARF stands for either Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
Benefits Of A Raw Food Diet For Dogs
Although modern day dog food is a convenient way to feed pets, evidence clearly indicates the nutritional deficit of kibble as compared to raw food.
In a nutritional comparison, commercial dog foods contain an unnecessarily high amount of carbohydrates at around 46-74%. This is around four times the amount of carbohydrates present in raw foods (14%). In addition the raw food diet contained high protein and fat value of 56% while commercial dog foods offered only an average of around 18-32%.
With the higher percentage of essential nutrients, the alternative diet has shown a number of substantiated benefits such as:
1. Healthier and shinier coats and skin
2. Smaller, firmer stools
3. Better digestion
4. Improved weight management
5. Cleaner and healthier teeth
6. Better sleep and energy
7. Reduced allergic reactions
There are numerous reports of the success of raw food diet in treating chronic illnesses in dogs. This may be due in part to the commercial food that the dog has been eating prior to being introduced to this alternative diet.
The FDA accepts the above facts as do many mainstream veterinarians. However, the raw food diet for dogs does not come without its own down sides.
Negative Effects of Raw Food and How to Avoid Them
Other than being expensive, time consuming, and hard to sustain, there are still many potential risks with this approach.
Raw Meat Contamination
Raw meats are highly susceptible to being contaminated by certain pathogens and other bacteria. Since a dog’s digestive system shorter and highly acidic, they are highly resistant to such contaminations. However, it poses a threat for the dog’s human owners. The bacteria from these foods are excreted in the dog’s stools and can easily be transferred to carpets and other household furniture as well.
This can be a threat for young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. By observing overall hygienic practices exposure to these pathogen residues can easily be avoided
Other Vitamins And Minerals
While rich in protein and fat, the raw food diet does not offer a lot when it comes to other vitamins and minerals. This is because dogs digest raw vegetables poorly. You can resolve this issue by lightly cooking the vegetables to aid in digestion. The best way to make sure your dog is getting balanced nutrition is to consult a veterinarian for advice.
Seek Professional Advice
This article is not a substitute for professional advice. If you are in any doubt or have any concerns about the health of your dog you may wish to consult with a professional for diagnosis and treatment at the earliest opportunity.
Image Credits: Alexandra Schmitt