If your dog is like the typical one in America, it eats a pretty simple diet of dry dog food. However, there is a new trend rising, and it’s gaining popularity quite rapidly. Raw food diets for dogs focus on feeding your pet fruits and vegetables, along with raw meat and bones. Ostensibly, it’s an almost exact duplicate of what your dog would eat in the “wild”, but is the diet really worth the money?
Why Consider Raw Food Diets for Dogs?
Why would someone consider feeding their dog a raw food diet in the first place? Really, it comes down to wanting to get away from over processed foods, potentially harmful byproducts, and the chance of contaminants being included in a wet or dry conventional dog food formula.
First, let’s address some of the potential benefits raw food diets for dogs may offer. These diets are higher in unprocessed vitamins, minerals and trace elements that your dog needs for good health. Many dog owners note that their pet’s coat is shinier on a raw food diet, and that their skin is healthier, as well. The tougher, more fibrous veggies and gnawing on real bones can also help keep your dog’s teeth cleaner. Finally, there’s the fact that your pet’s stools will be smaller and easier to clean up.
While there are plenty of potential benefits, there are also quite a few drawbacks to raw food diets for dogs.
One of the most obvious is cost – you’ll spend a great deal more to feed your dog raw meat, organs, bones and the like than you would even for the higher-end dry kibble on the market. However, the cost is only one potential downside.
There’s also the fact that feeding your dog an unbalanced diet can have serious negative impacts on his or her health, and it is completely up to you to determine what the right balance of meat, fruits and vegetables is for your pet (and, no, dogs are not carnivores and so should not eat only meat).
There is also the potential for smaller bones to choke your dog, or to cause harm to their teeth and gums.
Finally, there is the threat of bacteria. According to Psychology Today’s Canine Corner writer, Stanley Coren, PhD,
The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine tested over 1,000 samples of pet food for bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses. They were specifically interested in the bacteria which causes salmonella and for L. monocytogenes, which causes listeria.
Salmonella appeared in 7.6% of the samples of raw food, and listeria was more than twice as likely to be present, totaling 16% of the samples tested.
So, there is a significantly greater risk of introducing food toxicity to your pet with a raw food diet.
In the end, raw food diets for dogs are costly and risky. They do have some potential benefits, but only you can determine if those benefits outweigh the significant potential problems they can cause.