Feeding canines raw food has grown in popularity in recent years, as advocates cite numerous health benefits. However, the advantages touted are mainly anecdotal and have yet to be proven.
Despite the lack of studies on this diet’s real benefits for dogs, the number of owners switching to a raw food diet continues to grow. If you are considering a raw food diet for your dog, below is what you need to know so that you can make an educated choice.
What is raw food diet?
Raw food diet (RFD) is just what it reads – it’s a canine diet that typically consists of raw or uncooked products such as the following:
· Muscle meat
· Organ meats like livers and kidneys
· Whole or ground bones
· Uncooked eggs
· Raw fruits and vegetables
· Unpasteurised milk
RFD can be freeze-dried or dehydrated. It can also be prepared at home or commercially prepared.
Is it safe for dogs to eat raw meat?
Whether adorable Bordoodle puppies or tough Rottweilers, dogs can eat raw meat. However, RFD may not provide all canines with the complete and balanced nutrition they need. For instance, puppies may benefit from other diets, as they are still developing. The same goes for senior dogs, as they have a weakened immune system.
What are the benefits of RFD?
According to advocates of RFD, potential benefits include the following:
#1 Healthier skin
One of the reasons why a dog may suffer from skin conditions, like itchiness, redness, and flakiness, is because of the food it eats. Raw foods contain amino acids that support the protein function of skin cells, and omega fatty acids that keep inflammation at bay. They also contain enzymes that promote cellular regeneration, and intracellular moisture that provides skin hydration.
Unlike the nutrients found in commercially prepared food, those found in raw food are more bioavailable for dogs to digest. This means that a canine can absorb nutrients, like protein, fat, and starch, more efficiently, decreasing the likelihood of dandruff or dry skin.
#2 Fewer allergies
Kibbles and other commercially produced dog foods contain many fillers that can cause stress on the digestive system, resulting later on in a compromised immune system. When the immune system can no longer defend a canine’s body, allergic reactions like rashes and itchy paws can appear.
By feeding your dog a natural raw diet, you help reduce its likelihood of producing allergy symptoms. This is because raw foods do not contain preservatives, additives, and by-products that can cause reactions.
#3 Reduced weight
Many owners know that the main ingredients in a lot of processed dog foods are almost always carbohydrate fillers that are loaded with calories and enhanced with additives. This is why it comes as no surprise that many canines are overweight.
Raw food does not contain carbs or sugars that are difficult for a dog to burn off. It does not trigger insulin release which leads to fat storage.
What are the risks of RFD?
While there are reasons to switch to raw foods, there are also reasons to be cautious. Below are potential risks to feeding your dog RFD:
#1 Bacterial infection
Many experts advise against feeding dogs raw food, as it is likely to be contaminated with bacteria like E. Coli and Salmonella. Even if a canine does not get sick from the bacteria, it can shed the microorganism into the home, affecting its inhabitants.
Bacteria can be transmitted to humans and other pets through saliva or feces. Dogs tend to lick their owners and inanimate objects like blankets, furniture, toys, and countertops, exposing everyone in the home to potentially disease-causing microorganisms. Serious effects include dehydration and hospitalisation.
#2 Intestinal damage
Because bones are part of RFDs, many experts advise against the practice. Dogs can not only break their teeth while chewing on a bone, but they can also choke on it. In worse cases, a bone can pierce through a canine’s intestines and cause blockage or damage. Such an injury can be life-threatening.
#3 Nutritional deficiency
Many RFDs are not nutritionally balanced and complete. They do not have adequate levels of protein, carbohydrates, fats, water, vitamins, and minerals that are essential to a dog’s growth and development. Unlike high-quality dog foods, they are not formulated to specifically meet the needs of a canine as it goes through its different life stages.
It is important that you first consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist before deciding to switch to RFD. This way, they can discuss with you the best recipes to follow so that you can provide your canine with balanced nutrition. They can also talk to you about the risks involved in RFD and help you make an informed decision.