Raw food diets for dogs have become significantly more popular in the last decade. The internet has allowed people to become better informed and more opinionated on their dog's diets, and you can find the supplies for a raw food diet in most pet stores, including here at Pisces!
First, let's go over the basics of the raw food diet.
The raw food diet became popular in the 1990s, when it was coined the ‘biologically appropriate raw food diet – also known as BARF! The diet is meant to mimic what dogs would eat pre-domestication and is believed to be easier for your dog to digest as nutrients are more easily absorbed and utilised.
A raw food diet may consist of feeding meats like organ and muscle meat, whole or ground bones, and raw eggs alongside dog-safe fruits and vegetables, and sometimes dairy products like yoghurt.
So, why not just stick with kibble? Well, either works! Kibble has been around for ages, and it's the default choice for many dog owners. Kibble contains the nutritional needs of a dog, albeit while offering very little variety. A raw food diet is not only more exciting for your dog but comes with a bunch of benefits.
Here are some of the benefits of choosing to feed your dog a raw food diet:
A raw food diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, nutrients, fatty acids, and antioxidants. All of these work to support a dog's immune system by decreasing inflammation and boosting immune-cell function. Food allergies are also one of the most common causes of skin irritations in dogs, with many pets experiencing ailments like canine allergic dermatitis. A raw food diet can help eliminate problems caused by allergies, as it may mean no longer eating some of the ingredients that were causing issues.
However, a raw food diet is not appropriate for any animal whose immune system is compromised or suppressed. As always, be sure to check with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your pet's diet, especially to a raw food one.
Skin and Coat Health
A raw food diet is high in protein, with meat and bones serving as the main course most of the time. A dog's coat is made up almost entirely of protein. In fact, according to VCA Hospitals: “Up to 35% of a dog's daily protein intake is used to maintain her skin and coat.”
Therefore, a raw food diet can have a major impact on the health of a dog's coat due to its high protein content. A healthy coat also impacts healthy skin, as a healthy coat will produce natural oils that help moisturize your dog's skin underneath.
Bones work as a natural dental abrasive. Unlike us, dogs don’t brush their teeth and therefore need some way to scrape off plaque. Raw, meaty bones are a great way to maintain a dog's dental health, as it offers an opportunity for daily “cleaning” as they chew. A raw dog food diet also contains a high number of naturally occurring enzymes which help protect a dog's teeth and gums.
As per PetMD: “A nutritional raw bone is a kind that a dog can eat as a major source of calcium and phosphorus and should be ground up rather than fed whole.”
Can you imagine eating the same thing, day in, day out? Your four-legged friend's reaction to kibble is probably positive, and if dogs didn’t like it, they probably wouldn’t eat it. However, feeding a raw food diet can take mealtime from a necessary nutrient load up to an enriching and mentally stimulating activity.
Raw foods typically require more “work” on a dog's end, as they work to tear up pieces of meat or gnaw on a bone. They will also experience more variety day-to-day, even between the same types of foods as they receive different cuts of meat, etc.
Helps bowel movements
Much of the selling point for a raw food diet is that it is natural and meant to be easier on a dog's system by mimicking what they would be eating in the wild. Dogs can utilize more of the nutrients found in a raw food diet than in a kibble one. This means that food is digested more efficiently - resulting in less frequent bowel movements.
Not ready to fully commit to a raw food diet? Here are some alternatives:
Humans can be flexitarians – why can’t pets? Just because your dog eats kibble as their main meal does not mean that you cannot incorporate certain raw foods to supplement its diet. This allows owners to utilize the stability of a kibble diet with the health and enrichment benefits of a raw food diet. This can also allow your dog's digestive system to adjust to a raw food diet transitionally, which is always recommended.
Try Air or Freeze-dried Raw Foods
The premise of scarfing down on a hunk of raw meat can be jarring, we get it. Try feeding air or freeze-dried raw foods like Hurraw Dehydrated Raw Fish Dog Food.
While there are many benefits to a raw-food diet for your furry best friend, as previously mentioned, be sure to speak with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog's diet!