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One of the most popular trends in dog food these days is the raw food diet. Commercial dog foods are usually processed in a factory, loaded with artificial ingredients like flavors, dyes, and preservatives. The quality of commercial dog food varies greatly from one manufacturer or brand to another, and even among formulas from the same brand. Because so many commercial foods are made with low-quality ingredients or questionable production methods, more and more dog owners are turning to a raw food diet. The raw food diet can be very good for your dog if you do it right, but there are some challenges associated with it. In this article you will learn the basics about the raw food diet for dogs, including its pros and cons – you will also receive recommendations for commercial raw foods for dogs.
What is Raw Dog Food?
Raw dog foods are designed to mimic the diet of wild dogs (wolves). This diet is based on the idea that because dogs are descendant from wolves, they should follow a similar carnivorous diet. Most modern dog foods are loaded with carbohydrates (up to 50% or more) and many animal experts say that dogs are simply not genetically optimized to digest and metabolize the high carbohydrate content of most commercial dog foods. Compared to the traditional dry dog food, a raw food diet for dogs contains about 20% more protein, about 15% to 20% more fat, and as much as 60% less carbohydrate. Essentially, a raw food diet is closer to the type of diet that wild wolves would follow. Raw dog foods are typically made with muscle meat, organ meats, bones, raw eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, and some dairy. This type of food comes in several different forms including freeze-dried chunks, fresh blocks, or frozen patties.
Pros and Cons for Raw Dog Food
There are many benefits associated with raw dog food diets. Not only do they provide improved nutrition (and a more natural balance of nutrients) but they can also help to reduce allergy symptoms and improve digestion. Dogs on a raw food diet often exhibit firmer stools as well as healthier skin and coat – they may also have an easier time maintaining lean muscle mass and a healthy weight. There are many testimonials out there from the owners of chronically ill dogs that, after being switched to a raw food diet, exhibited a dramatic improvement in health. Another benefit of raw dog foods is that the ingredients list is usually much shorter than a dry food or canned food – you will know exactly what is going into your dog’s food. On the downside, raw dog foods can be very expensive, costing as much as $5 per day, compared to about $1 per day for a super-premium commercial dry food.
Though there are many benefits associated with the raw food diet for dogs, there are also some downsides. For one thing, raw dog food simply isn’t as convenient as a dry kibble or canned food. With dry foods you simply measure out the appropriate amount and place it in your dog’s bowl – for canned food, you just open the can and dump it in. With raw foods, the serving method varies depending on the type of product you choose. Some raw foods come in freeze-dried form while others are packaged fresh and need to be sliced. There is also a greater risk for contamination when handling raw foods, though the actual risk for a dog contracting food-borne disease from raw dog food is fairly low. For humans, however, the risk is a little higher. There is also the fact that raw dog foods need to be frozen or refrigerated and they do not have the long shelf-life of kibble or canned food.
Recommended Raw Food Diets for Dogs
If you are thinking about switching your dog over to a raw food diet you need to be very careful about which food you choose. While you may be able to find recipes for homemade raw food on the internet, it is not recommended that you make your own dog food unless you have a recipe from a certified animal nutritionist. Dogs require a delicate balance of nutrients in their diet and it can be difficult to achieve that balance with homemade dog food recipes. If you want to try out some raw food with your dog, consider one of the commercial products described below:
Bravo Balance Raw Frozen Food
The Bravo Balance line of raw frozen foods for dogs comes in three formulas – beef, chicken, and turkey. These raw foods are available in chub and patty varieties which makes it very easy to feed it to your dog – the patties are even individually wrapped and vacuum sealed for your convenience. All three products are made with a high-quality source of protein as the number one ingredient, followed by an assortment of organ meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other nutrients. The Bravo Balance line of raw frozen foods is made without any added hormones or antibiotics; no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives; and no gluten or grains. Additionally, this product is made in the USA by a family-owned company and it is rigorously tested for food safety before shipped off for distribution and sale.
K-9 Kraving Raw Frozen Dog Food
K-9 Kraving produces high-quality, human-grade raw dog food and treats formulated with input from Dr. Richard Patton, Ph.D., an animal nutritionist. These raw food products are made with all-natural ingredients of human-grade quality so you can rest assured that when you feed your dog K-9 Kraving raw food, you are feeding him the best. K-9 Kraving offers six basic frozen raw food formulas made with beef, chicken, duck, turkey, mackerel, and vegetables. Each formula is completely raw (uncooked and unheated), made with a specially formulated blend of fresh muscle meat, organ meat, ground bones, vegetables, and vitamin/mineral supplements. Because the product is completely raw, it retains all of its natural enzymes for maximum digestibility and nutrient absorption. Additionally, K-9 Kraving raw food meets AAFCO nutritional levels for all life stages and it is USDA inspected.
Nutrisca Raw Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Nutrisca offers two freeze-dried raw food formulas – one made with beef as the main ingredient, and another made with chicken. Both of these formulas are made with top-quality ingredients including fresh muscle meat, organ meat, ground bones, vegetables, and vitamin/mineral supplements. The Nutrisca Raw Freeze-Dried Chicken Recipe offers a guaranteed analysis of 40% protein and 30% fat which, when calculated on a dry matter basis, converts to 42% protein, 32% fat and 18% carbohydrates. In addition to fresh meat, organ meat, and bone, Nutrisca Raw Freeze-Dried foods also contain chelated minerals. Chelated minerals are those that have been chemically bound to protein molecules which makes them easier for your dog’s body to digest and absorb. Freeze-dried raw foods like this formula from Nutrisca offer a longer shelf-life than fresh and frozen raw foods which ensures maximum convenience for you as well as high-quality nutrition and flavor for your dog.
Stella and Chewy’s Freeze-Dried Food
When it comes to raw food for dogs, few companies offer as much selection as Stella and Chewy. This company produces both freeze-dried and frozen raw food, both of which are available in patty or morsel form for your convenience. Stella and Chewey’s raw food formulas are made with 90% to 95% fresh meat, organs, and bone as well as 100% organic fruits and vegetables. Each formula is guaranteed to be free from gluten, grains, and fillers as well as hormones and antibiotics. All of the protein sources used in these raw food formulas are grass-fed, cage-free, wild-caught, or farm-raised and the products are all manufactured safely in the United States. Some of the freeze-dried formulas available include Stella’s Super Beef, Chewy’s Chicken, Dandy Lamb, Surf N’ Turf, and Phenomenal Pheasant. Frozen patty and morsel options include the same flavors as well as Duck Duck Goose, Absolutely Rabbit, Simply Venison and Tantalizing Turkey.
If you are concerned about what kind of ingredients go into your dog’s food, you may want to think about switching to a raw food diet. Raw food diets are typically made with fewer ingredients than traditional commercial dry and canned foods – they are also free from artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors. While raw foods may have different storage requirements and a lower shelf life than dry and canned foods, many dog owners believe that they are well worth the hassle.