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It is natural for pet owners to want to do the very best for their four-legged friends. This includes wanting to give them the best possible diet. When it comes to dogs, how to choose the right diet can be confusing. You will get all kinds of advice, depending where you ask. The food aisle in the average pet store is huge and the choices seemingly endless. The newest fad is raw dog food, but of course raw dog food is much different from the ways we’ve traditionally fed our pets. So, is feeding a raw dog food diet to your dog a good idea?
VIDEO: Dr. Karen Becker Discusses The Benefits Of Raw Dog Food Diets
Raw Food – The Original
One of the many possible choices, when it comes to feeding your dog, is to provide a raw diet. Raw dog food is recommended by many people, who argue that in the wild, dogs don’t eat cooked or processed foods. Another argument is that with raw dog food, you know exactly what your dog is eating – no fillers or mystery ingredients. The idea of feeding raw food to dogs was first put forward by the Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst in 1993, who also argued that starches were harmful to dogs. Some of the arguments are quite persuasive, but the approach remains controversial, and you need to consider a few things before you start a raw food regimen for your dog.
Raw Food Can Be Demanding for the Owner
First of all, this is not an easy feeding method and it can be expensive. You will need to have a ready supply of fresh, high-quality meats and vegetables on hand. You must make sure that the meats are from reliable suppliers and free of harmful bacteria. It is not a good idea, for example, to feed your dog raw chicken, because of the high risk of salmonella. One real advantage with a ready-made, high-quality dog food is that you know it is safe for your dog.
Optimal Nutrition Is Key
You will also have to research quite carefully to make sure you give your dog the right combinations of raw foods to provide an adequate supply of necessary nutrients: proteins, fats, starches, vitamins and minerals. If you are already putting a lot of care into your own diet, you may be familiar with the nutrient content of various foods, and this can make it a little easier to put an adequate diet together for your dog. Again, with a ready dog food that is made for your particular size dog eliminates the guesswork of composing a nutritional diet for your dog.
Consult the Veterinarian
Last, but not least, you should discuss your plan with your veterinarian. There may be special considerations for your particular dog that need to be taken into account. Your veterinarian can also answer any questions you may have and provide expert advice with regard to the nutritional needs of your dog. If your veterinarian is opposed to raw dog food, you may need to look for another veterinarian, who will be supportive and provide the information you need.
What Is in Raw Dog Food?
Once you have all the information and you have a vet on your side, it is time to look at what you will need. A raw food diet for dogs typically consists of muscle meats, often on the bone, raw liver and raw eggs. To this most people add raw vegetables, like spinach and carrots, as well as fruits and some dairy, usually yogurt. Some people also give bone meal, i.e. ground up bones. You will probably have to experiment quite a bit to find out what kinds of vegetables and fruits your particular dog likes and will eat. Most likely, the dog will not balk at raw liver or bones.
The Problem with Bones
You should keep in mind, however, that the feeding of raw bones is one of the things that makes this diet controversial. Apart from the risk of bacterial contamination, which is a risk both with raw meat and raw bones, chewing on bones can harm the dog’s teeth, even shatter teeth. Dogs may eat bones in the wild, but dogs in the wild also don’t typically live long enough for missing or damaged teeth to become a real problem for them. A well-cared for domestic dog, on the other hand, is likely to have a long life, and this makes protecting the teeth far more important. Bone shards can also damage the dog’s stomach and intestines or choke the dog. So this element of raw dog food is a concern.
Proper Nutrition Can Be Challenging
Although proponents of raw dog food argue that is better nutritionally, that doesn’t always hold. It depends both on the dog and the dedication of the owners. You may put together a carefully balanced diet for your dog, only to find that your particular dog doesn’t like certain foods. If the dog regularly balks at eating foods that are a necessary part of a nutritionally sound, raw diet, then the dog can end up with deficiencies. It may not always be easy to find an adequate mix of foods that give optimal nutrition and that the dog will actually eat.
You Always Have Options
If in spite of the difficulties, you decide to give it a try, do make sure that you have a vet for support who can monitor the dog for any problems. Raw dog food may end up being a good choice for you and your dog, but in case you discover that your dog is picky or if the vet determines that the dog is not thriving, you always have the option of picking a high-quality dog food from the pet store. There are many excellent dog foods on the market and one of them will be right for your dog.