Many dog owners stand by the benefits of a raw dog food diet. Advocates claim that the consumption of raw meat improves the health and appearance of their canine’s skin and hair, increases the strength of their teeth and reduces the size and smell of their stools.
But what exactly does a raw dog food diet consist of, and is it suitable for all dogs?
What is a raw dog food diet?
A diet of raw dog food (also known as a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet) mainly consists of raw meat and bone from other animals, including chicken, cow, lamb and pig. The diet may also contain other ingredients, such as vegetables, fruits and seeds.
The concept is intended to mirror the diet that dogs would consume in the wild. Its recent popularity also correlates with a demand for natural and organic foods in human food; dogs are often seen as ‘part of the family’ in today’s households, so owners want to give them the best treatment, including improving their diet.
5 benefits of a raw dog food diet
The benefits of a raw dog food diet can vary from dog to dog, but the general benefits include:
1. Healthier chompers
It’s possible that a raw food diet can help prevent gum disease, tooth loss and bad breath in dogs. By chomping on the uncooked bones of other animals, dogs naturally strengthen their teeth and gums. Plus, the absence of the sugars in carbohydrates (which are often present in traditional dog food) may help control gum disease.
2. Improved digestion
Dogs’ stomachs have a low pH (on average from pH1.5 to pH2.1) in order to digest the high levels of protein found in their diet. It is thought that the higher the presence of protein in a diet, the lower the stomach pH; by comparison, the average pH of a human’s stomach is between pH1.5 and pH3.5. Therefore, it’s biologically appropriate to feed dogs a diet that is high in protein, such as a raw food diet.
3. Stable energy levels
A complete, balanced diet can sustain dogs with stable energy released throughout the day, as opposed to a carbohydrate-rich diet, which can cause energy spikes due to the presence of sugar. If your dog often exhibits hyperactivity after feeding, kibble may be the cause.
4. Healthier skin and coat
Does your dog have dry skin? Shed more than normal? Or experience other unexplained skin conditions that don’t appear to get better with prescribed treatment? It could be the lack of enzymes in their processed dog food. Raw meat contains plenty of naturally occurring enzymes that get destroyed once it is cooked, so by feeding your dog a raw food diet, they may be able to receive the full benefits of the enzymes, which often result in healthier skin and a shinier, fuller coat.
5. Smaller, less smelly stools
Diarrhoea and foul-smelling dog stools are not normal, and can indicate a digestive issue. Some dog owners find that, by feeding their dog a raw dog food diet, the dog’s stools become harder, smaller and less smelly.
What you should consider before feeding your dog a raw food diet
All dogs have individual needs, and so a raw dog food diet may not be appropriate in all cases. Before you introduce your dog to raw food, you should make the following considerations:
- Vet advice – you should always consult your vet before starting your dog on a raw food diet to make sure that they do not have any conditions that may be negatively impacted by the diet.
- Meat quality – not all meats are appropriate for canine consumption, especially if they have been enhanced with hormones. High quality raw dog food brands such as Poppy’s Picnic refrain from using meat that has been enhanced with hormones and other chemicals, and often feature organic ingredients in their recipes.
- Existing diet – if your dog responds well to kibble and doesn’t exhibit digestive issues, there may be no need to change their diet just for the sake of it.
- Cost – Some raw dog foods can be expensive. You should factor this into your household budget to make sure that your dog’s diet is economically sustainable, so that you don’t have to resort to switching them back to kibble, as they may not respond well to so many changes in their diet.
Which raw dog food should I buy?
There are many brands offering different types of raw dog food made with varying recipes. With so much choice, it can be difficult to know which brands to trust in supplying your dog with high quality nutrition.
If in doubt, look for brands that are members of the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA). These brands must adhere to strict quality standards to ensure the production of safe, nutritious pet food.
Doing your own research is important when deciding upon your dog’s diet. After all, they’re part of the family!