Updated: Feb 3
From the WebMD Archives & AKC.
Raw dog food diets can be sometimes controversial. But there is no question that the popularity of these diets, which emphasize raw meat & bones, is on the up.
Many Racing greyhounds and working dogs have long eaten raw food diets, known as BARF diets ( Bones and Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food and now extending those feeding practices to our family pets is becoming more common.
In 1993 it was suggested that adult dogs would thrive on an evolutionary diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated, Raw, meaty bones and vegetable scraps and Grain-based commercial pet foods could be harmful to a dog's health.
Many of the mainstream veterinarians at the time though disagreed and the risks of raw diets have been documented in several studies published in veterinary journals.
More recently with the popularity of the Raw Dog Food generation, new raw dog food diets have emerged, which include commercially processed raw foods like Yorkshire Raw dog foods, that are frozen or freeze-dried and combination diets that use various blends of grains, vegetables, and vitamins that are mixed with raw meat to make up a complete balanced diet.
What Does a Raw Dog Diet Mean?
A Raw Dog Diet generally means that it is a diet based on uncooked ingredients, mainly meat. It includes muscle meat with bones as well as organ meat. However, a completely raw meal should include some raw ingredients such as vegetables and fruits. This diet is the closest to the natural and ancestral diet of dogs. So if your dog is on a Raw diet that includes only meat and bones, make sure to get some vegetables or supplements into their diet too.
Pro's and Con's
Higher energy levels
Threats to human and dog health from bacteria in raw meat
An unbalanced diet that may damage the health of dogs if given for an extended period
Potential for whole bones to choke an animal, break teeth or cause an internal puncture
Raw Versus Kibble
Some industry professionals warn that raw diets are not appropriate for dogs who live in homes with young children or people with a low immune system. Special care is required when handling and preparing raw food. Dogs with pancreatitis, cancer, or other diseases may require cooked food.
With a raw food diet, dogs are able to absorb more of the ingredients, which means a dog poops less frequently and overall. Your dog is able to go longer on less food, compared to a kibble diet.
Also, because dogs aren’t eating as much junk, they spend less time and energy digesting their food. kibble can stay in a dog’s stomach for 7-9 hours, whereas raw food only takes 1-2 hours to digest. Less energy spent digesting food = more energy to have fun.
You do need to make sure that the raw food you choose is good enough for your dog. Here in the UK, vets and owners can easily source complete and balanced ready-prepared frozen raw food meals, that are made to the same European standards as the other pet foods we find in our supermarkets or vets.
High-quality prepared raw foods should come from Defra-registered producers. These foods are governed by more stringent bacteriological rules than even human-grade raw meat products and are supplied in clean, easily understandable packaging. Always make sure your Raw dog food is from a DEFRA registered producer.
Dry food, or kibble, has many ingredients and flavors that vary by brand, but all are required to be balanced and meet the nutritional needs of a dog. Under the regulation, “all animal foods must be safe to eat, produced under sanitary conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be truthfully labeled.”
The ingredients in kibble are mixed together and then cooked. Ingredients include protein sources such as beef, poultry, fish, and eggs, grains, cereals, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
There are now manufacturers like GA Pet Food Partners who supply Grain Free, Hypoallergenic and Wheat Gluten, Soy & Dairy Free and even Superfood products in the market with no additives or preservatives.
Most dry dog foods have preservatives to prevent the fat from becoming rancid, so check this when deciding on which kibble to buy. Some brands are heavy on carbohydrates or have low-quality ingredients and added sugar, s make sure you read the labels carefully.
Some people who feed their dog's kibble suggest the potential benefits can reduce dental plaque, healthier gums, reduced risk of bacteria, easier storage, less risk of spoilage, and cost-effectiveness.
Whichever food you decide for your dog, take advice from your Veterinary practice or nutritionist to make sure it is suitable for your dog.