We all want to feed the best dog food for our pets. You might have found yourself scrounging the internet for the best solutions for your lifestyle. During this search, you might have stumbled upon the countless blogs raving about a raw diet. But, can these blogs be right about how easy the raw diet is? Let’s explore raw dog food pros and cons and some great resources to get you started.
What Is Raw Dog Food?
The idea of feeding a raw diet is to bring it back to the basics for dogs. Commercial dog food can be full of artificial ingredients, fillers, and preservatives. A raw diet is wholesome and can have added benefits that we will discuss later. For thousands of years, dogs ate fresh food, and they thrived. It mostly consisted of meat, bones, and organs and some fruits and vegetables. That is where we derive our raw diets today.
You may be wondering how going back to a raw diet is safe for our domesticated pets today. And while yes, our dogs have evolved, their nutritional needs haven’t changed much. Commercial dog food wasn’t invented until the 1800s and kibble in the early 1900s. So we are not turning the clock back thousands of years, just a few hundred.
What Are The Pros Of Raw Dog Food?
1) Healthy Skin And Coat
Most dogs on a raw diet have noticeably healthier skin and coat. This is because the food is higher in natural amino acids. These amino acids will clear up skin conditions caused by allergies and give your Doodle a shiny coat. Doodles can be prone to food allergies and skin conditions, so the raw diet can be of great use to treat and prevent.
2) Stronger Bones And Muscles
If you have a Doodle breed, they are especially prone to joint issues. Raw diets are higher in calcium and phosphorus than commercial foods, which makes bones grow healthier and muscles stronger. Stronger bones are also a great benefit to larger breeds like the Bernedoodle. A raw diet can be a preventative to future joint, bone, and muscle damage.
3) Weight Management
We all know a dog that has struggled with being overweight his whole life. Owners try everything that they can to get their dog into shape, but nothing works. If you have a dog like this, you may find that a raw diet can help your dog lose the extra pounds and keep it off. Commercial foods are higher in carbs, even if they are grain-free, because of the fillers that are needed to make a dry kibble. These hidden carbs can add pounds onto your dog that are hard to shed. Raw diets are high in protein and low in natural carbs, which help dogs lose weight.
4) Cancer Preventative
Some studies have shown that raw dog food can be a cancer preventative. While there is not enough evidence to see how these connect, you can’t ignore life experiences. There are thousands of stories of dogs that overcame cancer when switched to raw dog food if you look online.
5) Cleaner Teeth
The raw food diet consists of a lot of tendons, bones, and tough muscle to chew. All of this chewing helps keep your dog’s teeth cleaner and gums healthy. Vets report that dental exams of dogs on a raw diet have healthier teeth than your average dog. And since the food has a natural calcium source, it helps keep them healthier.
6) Smaller Stools
One benefit of raw food is that your dog will have smaller stools. Smaller stools might not seem like a pro at first until you understand what it means. The commercial feed has a lot of ingredients that can not be broken down and are mostly waste. Therefore commercial foods produce larger stools that smell bad and can sometimes be soft. Smaller stools that are solid and stink less are the result of your dog’s body absorbing more nutrients.
Most people get into homemade dog food because they want to know what their dog is eating. With a raw diet, the food is natural, with no preservatives, no dyes, and can be locally sourced.
The fantastic thing about a raw diet is that it is entirely customizable. If your dog doesn’t like a particular food or has allergies, then you can switch it out for another. You can do this without lowering your quality standards or compromising your dog’s nutrition like with commercial foods. You can even customize your food options between preprepared, homemade, or freeze-dried.
What Are The Cons Of Raw Dog Food?
1) Finicky Eaters
Some dogs do not take well to raw food. Whether it be a texture, smell, or taste factor, we don’t know. This can make it hard to find the best food to feed your dog.
2) Gastrointestinal Inflammation
For some dogs, a raw diet can give them intestinal problems. Gastrointestinal inflammation can lead to diarrhea, gas, and infections. For some dogs with severe issues, this diet might not be the best.
Preparing a raw meal can be very time-consuming. It can take hours to clean, weigh, and divide up meals to be frozen. And after all that hard work, you might find yourself needing to prep again in 3 weeks. It also takes a little bit of planning to defrost each meal for the week.
Raw food can be considerably more expensive than a traditional kibble diet. If you are doing homemade, you could check with your local co-ops to see if there are any near you. KeepTheTailWagging.com has a great list of co-ops in each state. And don’t forget to check your local butchers for anything you can get at a discount.
5) Can Be Nutrient Deficient
If a raw diet is not balanced and varied, you can deplete your dog of nutrients quickly. It is vital to have a balanced diet with many meat varieties every day. It is also important to switch out what recipes you use every week. Think about if you had only to eat chicken. While it is healthy, you would be missing other essential nutrients. This is why some people choose to use an added vitamin with this diet.
With raw food, there is always a risk of spreading contagions like salmonella to you and your dog. Always use clean habits when prepping and feeding your dog. These contagions can also be detrimental to dogs that have an immunocompromised system, like dogs with cancer.
Some owners fear the bones that are in a raw diet. These bones could get stuck in their digestive tract or gums. If this happens, medical procedures will be needed to remove them. That is why some owners choose to grind the bones, or use smaller fragments.
8) Equipment Needed
If you don’t already have them, you may have to invest in:
- Deep freeze
- Meat and bone grinder
- Chefs knives
- Jars for freezing
These can be expensive purchases for a beginner.
Tips For Sucess
Now that we have talked about raw dog food pros and cons, we discuss tips for success. These tips can help you ensure your dog’s safety and needs are met.
Consult a Nutritionist
Not all vets are dog nutritionists, and not all nutritionists are experienced in raw diets. It is important to talk to a trusted nutritionist about your dog’s specific needs before starting a raw food diet.
Keeping up with all routine check-ups and dental exams with your vet and nutritionist will help determine if anything needs to be changed.
Join A Facebook Group!
Facebook has lots of fantastic groups for feeding raw diets. You may even find one that is local to you! There you will be able to share any stories, recipes, or tips and tricks.
Start With Cooked Or Raw Treats
For some dogs, the transition needs to be very slow. Some experts say to start with cooking your dog’s food and slowly cook it less and less until you are left with raw. Or begin with raw treats and increase the amount fed throughout the day. Which method you use depends on your level of comfortability and your dog.
There are loads of recipe books from dog nutritionist that have meal plans and step by step instructions.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to provide a varied diet. We love following the 5:1:1 ratio. This ratio means that you will need five portions of meat with bone, one organ, and one veggie or fruit. This will provide your dog with the most complete diet possible. Most of the recipes you find online follow this model as well.
The best chart for feeding a raw diet is by Dogs.LoveToKnow.com. This chart not only goes by your dog’s weight but also by activity level to recommend portion sizes. This chart is a great tool when meal planning and dividing up perfect portions. You will have less waste and won’t have to worry if you are feeding your dog enough.
Now that you are all set to start your raw food journey, it is essential to talk about food safety tips. These deserve a section all on its own because it can have some significant repercussions.
You want to be sure to follow safe food handling not only for your dog but also for you and other family members. Salmonella can spread to you and other members by contact, and your dog could get sick with improper food handling. Following these precautions will limit exposure and cross-contamination.
- Always wash your hands before and after handling food.
- Only defrost enough food to be consumed within two days
- Store all frozen food in glass, ceramic, or metal containers. Plastic harbors germs within microscopic abrasions.
- Wash all bowls, prep utensils, water bowls, and anywhere that food touched after each meal
Recipes To Start
If you have weighed all the raw dog food pros and cons and would like to try it, here is a great start. We have listed below a few links to some of the best raw diet recipes.
1) Homemade Raw Dog Food by Running to the Kitchen
This starter meal has everything a dog could want. It is great to start for beginners and adds a variety of fruits and vegetables to your dog’s diet. You could feed this meal to your dog a few times a week, and they would love it.
2) Simple Raw Food Recipe by Dogs First
The recipe found by Dogs First is excellent because you can customize it to your dog’s taste. It gives a basic formula and measurements to create your own raw food. They even give you a list of meats and produce that you can mix and match. The possibilities are endless.
3) A Novice’s Guide To Raw Feeding For Dogs
This book will give you a complete course on raw feeding and how to do it correctly. They even have recipes and models to follow when making your raw food concoctions.
What If I Don’t Feel Comfortable Making Raw Food?
If you don’t feel like you can keep up with a DIY raw food, no worries, it does take a lot of time and commitment. Luckily for you, many brands make raw food that you can find in-store or delivered.
These three brands are excellent alternatives for those looking to feed raw but in a more convenient way. Raw feeding doesn’t have to be scary. Only you can make the best choice for your Doodle.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Doodle Board!!