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Raw Dog Food: Should Your Pup Try It?

raw dog food

Raw dog food is one of the latest fads in pet ownership. But this diet is controversial and comes with a number of health risks, so it isn’t something you should try without consulting your veterinarian. Here’s our guide to the raw food diet for dogs!

What Is Raw Dog Food?

Raw dog food consists of meat, fruits and vegetables and sometimes even bones. It’s sometimes called the BARF diet, which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. Some believe that these diets present several health benefits, however many veterinarians and the FDA disagree. This is why it’s crucial you speak to your vet before feeding your pet raw dog food.

Some raw food is made from scratch while other dog owners get theirs pre-made. Usually this diet contains:

  • Muscle meat
  • Bones (either whole bones or ground up)
  • Livers, kidneys and other organ meats
  • Raw eggs
  • Spinach, broccoli, celery and other veggies
  • Fruit such as apples
  • Yogurt or other dairy products

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Raw Food Diet for Dogs?

Supporters of raw dog food claim that it has a number of health benefits including:

  • Healthy skin
  • Shiny coats
  • Cleaner teeth
  • More energy
  • Smaller poops

However, by feeding your dog this type of diet, you also risk a number of health and safety issues:

  • Bones can become choking hazards! Yikes!
  • Bones may also break teeth or puncture something in your dog’s body after being swallowed.
  • Raw meat carries the risk of human or dog exposure to harmful bacteria.
  • Any kind of dog food that is formulated at home seriously runs the risk of not being a balanced diet. Dogs need a very precise balance of nutrients!

Also raw food can be expensive! Some folks make it themselves with yogurt, ground pork, turkey, beef, rice and other ingredients. To save money, they purchase ground meat when it’s on sale. All the same, it’s still not cheap. Really high-quality kibble might cost about $1 per day for a 30-pound dog while a commercially available, frozen, raw chicken diet might cost between $2.50 and $5 for that same dog. Plus, raw meat at the grocery store isn’t intended to be consumed raw so you risk health issues when you give it to your pets without cooking it.

Another Warning About This Diet

Even proponents of the raw food diet for dogs warn that the diet is not appropriate for every dog. This diet can be harmful for pups with late-stage kidney or severe liver failure because it’s so high in protein. Raw food is also not a wise choice for pooches with pancreatitis. We also recommend that dogs who have cancer, are on chemotherapy or have any immunosuppressive diseases should stay away from a raw diet.

Lastly puppies also shouldn’t eat strictly raw food. They’ve shown issues with this diet, due to problems getting the calcium and phosphorus ratio incorrect. This can result in growth issues and bone deformities.