Is A Raw Food Diet Safe
Though the raw food diet may have some advantages, the risks far outweigh the benefits.
A small 2017 study found that dogs who ate a raw food diet had a more balanced gut microbiome and showed signs of healthier gut functions. But “there have been no studies that demonstrate any long-term health benefits of raw diets compared to other types of pet food,” says Jennifer A. Larsen, DVM, the chief of nutrition service at UC Davis’ Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital.
Putting your dog on a raw food diet comes with risks to both the dog and the people living in your household, says Alison Meindl, DVM, a veterinarian and professor at Colorado State University.
Some of the risks of a raw diet include:
Bacterial infection. Compared to cooked diets, raw diets are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli, which can make your dog seriously ill. But even if your dog doesn’t get sick, your pup could shed bacteria into your household, which could then get picked up by another pet or human.
“These infectious organisms can be very dangerous to immunocompromised people living in the household with the dog,” Meindl says. This can include elderly people, young children, and people on immunosuppressive medication such as chemotherapy.
Nutritional deficiency. “Many raw diets are also not nutritionally balanced and complete. Unless formulated by an expert in veterinary nutrition, these diets can lead to malnutrition and health problems,” McKenzie says.
What Are The Risks And Benefits
Supporters of raw food claim that it offers numerous benefits to dogs, including more energy as well as healthier teeth, skin and coats. Torres says there isn’t much evidence proving the benefits of feeding pets raw food, but that there is evidence of the health risks, such as pathogenic bacterial exposure.
“It’s not that it couldn’t have benefits, it’s just that those benefits have yet to be proven,” Torres says. “Basically, we don’t have a lot of evidence to support the pros, and there’s evidence to support the risks not just to our pets, but also to the people and their environment.”
What Is The Healthiest Food For Dogs
The healthiest dog food for a given pooch will vary based on your dogs health history, size, age, breed, and a million other factors.
This is why it is so important to discuss your food choice with your vet. That said, weve already published an article detailing some of the healthiest dog foods.
Don’t Miss: Where To Buy Darwin’s Dog Food
Stay Safe When Feeding Your Pet
The FDA says the best safety move is to avoid the raw diet for your pet completely. Conventional dry, semi-moist, and canned pet foods, while not immune to contamination, are less likely to be tainted with pathogens than raw meat-based diets because theyre cooked. And, says Hartogensis at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, theyre also designed to provide your pet with all the nutrition they need.However, the FDA also acknowledges that some people prefer to feed their pets raw food. If thats what you decide, keep the following tips in mind:Talk to your vet. A survey published March 2017 in the peer-reviewed journal PeerJ found that among 2,171 pet owners, nearly 40 percent reported feeding their pets a diet of raw animal products. Of those, just nine percent had discussed this decision with their veterinarian, and 20 percent had used information they read online to determine what or how much raw animal product to feed their pets.
Finding And Buying Raw Food For Dogs
Finding raw food for dogs is pretty simple if you live near a populated area. Often times a butcher shop has scraps and leftovers they are willing to sell for cheap as the scraps are not normally sought after by humans. But dogs love it and you know the meat has come from high quality sources . You can often times find chicken necks, turkey necks, chicken or turkey feet, liver, hearts, pork necks and riblets, tripe or other stomach contents, cow tongue, and many other meat products which are difficult to sell. If you can find the right butcher, you can obtain these meat products for cheaper than you buy your kibble. Call around, you might be very surprised with what your butcher has!
And, of course, there is always your local grocery store or big box store. For the most part, you should buy your dog the same meats you would feed your own family if you want to feed your dog a good diet.
You May Like: Who Makes Dr Pol Pet Food
What Dog Foods Are Killing Dogs
A pet food recall is widening after the Food and Drug Administration announced that more than two dozen dogs died after eating Sportmix brand dry kibble. The statement issued on Monday said that the suspect is aflatoxin, a byproduct of a corn mold Aspergillus flavus, which at high levels can kill pets.
Discuss The Switch To A Raw Diet With Your Vet And A Veterinary Nutritionist
The decision as to whether to feed your pet a raw food diet should be made after carefully considering each of these points and talking with your veterinarian, and ideally, a veterinary nutritionist.
Your veterinarian can talk with you about the risks involved in raw food diets for dogs, particularly if your pet is young, old, or debilitated, to help you to make an informed decision.
Consulting with a veterinary nutritionist ensures that the recipe you follow provides balanced nutrition for your pet. These specialists will consider your dogs specific protein, fat, mineral, and vitamin requirements.
Dog mineral and vitamin requirements differ from humans, so supplements will likely be needed to ensure that the diet is balanced for your pets individual needs.
1. Miller EP, Ahle NW, DeBey MC. Chapter 11: Food Safety. In: Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 5th edition. : Hand, Thatcher, Remillard, et al. Mark Morris Institute. Topeka, Kansas. 2010.
2. Freeman LM, Chandler ML, Hamper BA, et al. Timely topics in nutrition: Current knowledge about the risks and benefits of raw meat-based diets for dogs and cats. JAVMA. 243: 1549-1558 2013.
3. Joffe DJ, Schlesinger DP. Preliminary assessment of the risk of Salmonella infection in dogs fed raw chicken diets. Canad Vet J. 43: 441-442 2002.
4. Finley R, Ribble D, Aramini J, et al. The risk of salmonellae shedding by dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets. Canad Vet J. 48: 69-75 2007.
You May Like: Can Chickens Eat Wet Dog Food
Risks Of Feeding Raw Eggs To Dogs
One of the risks that veterinarians are concerned about is the possibility of foodborne illness, such as salmonella. Bacteria like e. Coli, listeria and salmonella can be a problem with any raw food where there is no cooking to kill these pathogens. PetMD does note that there as yet have not been any serious health-related events involving the feeding of raw eggs to dogs. However, this does not mean that one couldn’t happen in the future. There’s also always the risk to humans when handling raw food, and that should be a consideration if you’re not following safe food handling practices.
Get The Calcium And Minerals Right
10% to 15% of your dogs total diet needs to be bone. Puppies need at least 12% and up to 15% bone.
Your dog needs a steady supply of minerals and trace minerals. Along with enzymes from proteins, minerals are important cofactors that fire all of the metabolic processes in your dogs body. If your dog is missing minerals, things can go very, very wrong. He can develop crippling joint disease, heart issues, seizures and more.
That might sound frightening, but its easy to get this step right with bones.
Bone is about 65% minerals, including phosphorus, magnesium and zinc and most importantly, calcium. Calcium and phosphorus work synergistically in your dogs body to move his muscles and control all of his body functions. So your dog needs a steady supply of these minerals.
Meat without any bone at all contains a lot of phosphorus and very little calcium.
If you fed your dog an all-meat diet without calcium, he would pull all of the calcium from his bones to get enough to move his muscles and control body processes. So if the diet is too low in calcium, youll often see bone and joint disease especially in growing puppies.
So raw feeders add bone to meals to ensure theres a steady supply of calcium and other important minerals.
If your dog were a wolf in the wild, he would eat whole animals like deer and rabbits. This type of wild prey averages about 12% bone with little variation. In fact, even eggs are 12% shell .
You May Like: Dr Pol Cat Food
How Do I Feed My Dog A Raw Food Diet
There are some important things to remember around nutrition and hygiene, to ensure that a raw food diet is as safe and healthy for your dog as possible:
- Make any abrupt changes to your dogs diet.
- Leave your dog unsupervised with bones and always avoid cooked bones, especially bird bones. On average the bone content in raw food is around 10% and it is the main source of calcium in a raw diet. Cooked bones are more likely to splinter, however, and can be very dangerous. Once a bone is small enough to fit inside the dogs mouth it should be removed and thrown away. If you are making homemade raw food from meat that does not have a bone content, look for a safe way to break raw bones into small pieces, such as wrapping them in clingfilm and a tea towel and beating with a rolling pin until the size of crumbled egg shells. For dental hygiene there are many natural alternatives to bones, such a deer antler, which is naturally shed by the deer and regrows each year.
- Keep defrosted raw meat in the fridge for more than 24 hours.
- Refreeze raw meat that has been defrosted.
- Feed the same raw food every day. With just one source of nutrients your dogs diet will be unbalanced.
What Did Our Test Dog Think
Our test dog Archie has been testing fresh foods for some time and he generally loves it. That being said, he wasnt a fan of some of FreshPets products.
We used the Grain-Free Beef and Pumpkin Recipe stew as a meal topper and he seemed to like it well enough, though it wasnt particularly appetizing by human standards.
The FreshPet Select Roasted Meals chicken recipe was much more well-received. It had a strong chicken aroma with visible pieces of chicken as well as preformed nuggets. Archie gobbled the food up with no problems.
Though FreshPets roasted meals and stews went over well, we cant say the same for the Vital Grain-Free Multi-Protein Recipe roll.
According to the feeding recommendations, you should cut the roll into slices then chop the slice into smaller pieces.
The roll looked like a sausage with pieces of carrot and unidentifiable white substance scattered throughout, but it didnt look very appetizing. Archie didnt think so either.
He sniffed the food and sampled it but then looked at me as if he was asking whether he really had to eat it.
Overall, I didnt have a problem with the FreshPet stews and roasted meals, but I cant say I recommend the rolls.
The recommended feeding amount was also concerning. FreshPet recommends about 1 pound of food per day for a dog of Archies size thats half of the 2-pound roll. C
Don’t Miss: Can You Buy Dog Food With Food Stamps
What Is A Raw
A raw diet for dogs is pretty much the dog version of a human Paleo diet. Essentially, eating like our ancestors did, natural and of the earth. Racing and sled dogs have eaten this way for years, but the idea of bringing this diet to a family pet is relatively new and can be hard to determine if it is right for your pet.
In 1993, an Australian vet named Ian Billinghurst proposed the idea of a BARF diet. This stands for: Biologically Appropriate Raw Foodwhat dogs ate before they became domesticated. Although this diet is widely popular, it remains controversial within the veterinary community and the Food and Drug Administration.
Like anything, there are both possible risks and benefits to feeding your dog this type of diet.
- Bacteria in raw meat that can affect the owner and/or the dog
- Diet may not be balanced enough
- Whole bones could choke animal, cause broken teeth or an internal puncture
- Smaller stools
Never did I ever think I would find a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing page on Instagram that consists of raw meatbut never say never. I came across in my initial searches of this interesting diet. The bowls of raw food she puts together are a work of art.
I spoke with Maddie, owner of Max, who provided helpful information on creating a balanced raw diet, where to get ingredients, and what she has learned from raw-feeding. AND, she was kind enough to share a five-day meal-plan to get you started raw feeding your dog!
Are Raw Eggs Good For Dogs
There is no nutritional benefit in feeding raw eggs to dogs.
There is, however, the risk of your dog contracting Salmonella infectionfrom a raw egg. This bacterial infection can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
For more information on egg safety, please refer to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this information on Salmonella applies to people and animals.
Recommended Reading: Costco Purina Pro Plan
Benefits Of Raw Dog Food
Some of the key benefits of raw dog foods include:
- Raw foods are, well, raw. Many raw ingredients including a variety of fruits and vegetables are most nutritious when kept in raw form. This means youll be stuffing Fido full of important vitamins and minerals.
- Many raw diets are made in the USA. While dog foods made in places like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Western Europe are often quite safe and well-made, US-made foods are almost always the safest and best-made options.
- Some commercially manufacturedraw dog foods are safer than homemade versions. The main risk associated with raw dog food diets is the handling and serving of raw meat which may contain food-borne illnesses. However, there are frozen/freeze-dried/dehydrated raw dog food options which help reduce this risk greatly.
- Raw dog foods often please picky eaters. Dogs may prefer the taste of a raw food diet which may make this a good option for picky pups. In addition, raw dog food might be a good option for pups with allergies, since youll be able to control exactly what your dog is consuming.
- Raw dog foods are less processed than other diets. Typically, raw foods contain fewer additives and preservatives than traditional kibbles. Keep in mind that less processing doesnt necessarily equate to a healthier food, but it may be beneficial for dogs with sensitive stomachs of food intolerances.
What Is Fresh Pet Food And Is It Actually Better
Were inundated with different types of pet food: kibble, raw, freeze-dried, grain-free, pâté, and more. The choices can be overwhelming, and they often look anything but appetizing. And when our social feeds advertise fresh pet food, its natural to want to know more about these pre-cooked concoctions of real meat and vegetables that ship directly to our doors.
Unlike traditional kibble pet food, fresh pet food resembles those pricey, chunky varieties of canned food. It has fewer or no preservatives, and it is kept in the fridge, to maintain freshness between servings. Fresh pet food is certainly more appealing in name, but we were curious about whether it was actually a more healthful option for dogs and cats. To find out more about fresh pet food diets, I spoke with Dr. Lindsey Bullen, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist who works with the Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas. Bullen has consulted with pet food companies before, but not with any of the services we mention below. I also priced some of the trendiest options for fresh dog food subscriptions, using a fictional 70-pound, 2-year-old golden retrieverone of the countrys most popular dog breeds, according to the American Kennel Club.
Recommended Reading: Purina Dog Food Rating
Dog Diseases That Require More Careful Raw Diet Transition
Diabetes If a dog is on insulin, any change in diet may require a change in the dose of the insulin. If the dog does not want to eat the food as the percent of raw is increased, then the dose of insulin will need to be adjusted accordingly that day. Since the dogs health is likely to improve on a 100% raw diet, the dose of insulin may need to be decreased. Careful monitoring by the owner with a home glucometer or visits to the veterinarian to continue checking the blood sugar may need to be done to get the dog regulated on the raw diet.
Pancreatitis Overall, a RAW diet is much healthier, but a dog with pancreatitis has a difficult time digesting fat and therefore any diet will need to be LOW fat. Also, a raw diet actually contains some of the enzymes needed for digestion, and so raw food will actually be easier for them to digest.
IBS This condition is a chronic issue that requires more fiber and more moisture. So, a raw diet would need to have more cooked vegetables included to adjust to this problem. Adding in canned pumpkin, steamed or canned green beans, zucchini or squash usually works well.
Chronic Diarrhea is another problem that needs to be addressed with the addition of probiotics to the raw diet. Also consider homeopathic treatment to take care of the underlying illness of the patient.