Raw food diet: The good, the bad and the uncooked | TeamDogs

Raw food diet: The good, the bad and the uncooked

Raw food diets are popular but are they right for you?

Rebecca Goodman

Posted 59d ago

Raw food diets, as the name suggests, are exactly that - raw food, usually meat and some uncooked fruits and vegetables. They’ve become increasingly popular and many specialist brands now provide raw dog food which you can buy in mainstream pet shops.

The alternative is using cooked food, which is still by far the most popular way to feed a dog, but what are the pros and cons of each and would your dog benefit from a change of diet? There are strong arguments on both sides and any decision to do with your dog’s diet needs to be carefully considered and it may be helpful to discuss it with your vet first.

The pros

Raw food has traditionally been fed to working dogs, such as greyhounds. The argument towards feeding raw food is that it is often seen as a purer form of pet food, as you know exactly what is in it. The benefits from eating a raw food diet can include a glossier coat, more energy, and even better poos.

The pet food producer, Natures Menu, describe their raw products as having “nothing artificial, chemical or unpronounceable” in them, and says they can improve a dog’s digestion, skin, and teeth among other things.

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There are different options with raw food, you could make it yourself although this is generally not advised. Raw food meant for humans, such as from the butchers, should also not be fed to dogs. This is because it is designed to be cooked and therefore may contain a higher level of bacteria. 

Instead you can buy it from a raw food supplier. It usually arrives frozen and before serving it to your dog you need to thaw it fully. There are lots of different options from pre-made dog food, made with ingredients like meat, grains or vegetables, or you can often make your own food at home with the ingredients supplied by a raw food producer. 

Feeding raw food certainly requires a lot more effort, and is usually more expensive, although those who choose this diet believe the negatives are outweighed by the benefits.

Caption: Raw dog food usually contains meat and vegetables (Credit: Getty Images)

The cons

However, there are actually no studies to support that raw feeding is better than traditional dog food – and it can cause problems, especially if the food isn’t balanced or hasn’t been prepared correctly, says PDSA vet Lynne James.

As a charity Lynne says they don’t recommend that pet owners prepare their own food, whether cooked or raw. She said: “It’s so easy to get the nutritional balance wrong without help from a specialist in pet nutrition, and unfortunately, this could cause your dog to become ill. 

“Raw food, especially meat, also contains bacteria, parasites and other pathogens that would normally be killed during the cooking process. So feeding raw food brings extra risks, not just to your pet’s health but also to other people in your household.”

If anyone lives in the home who has a higher risk of infections, such as those who are pregnant or very young children, it’s also not advised to feed raw food to your pet because of the increased risk of disease from bacteria and pathogens on the raw food.

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Nicola Wordsworth, owner of artisan eco dog brand Pup Suds, said: “Personally, I wouldn’t feed raw. Domestic dogs haven’t been fed on a raw diet for many years and therefore I don’t believe their stomachs can always cope with it – evolution and all that. Not to say it doesn’t work for some. If you followed that route, then we should be eating raw too!

“People who feed raw are a little too evangelistic about it in my experience – almost to the point of saying that we are hurting our dogs by feeding them cooked food.”

The diet you pick will depend upon your own circumstances including your budget and lifestyle but also on the type of dog you have. Whatever you decide, it’s crucial to make sure your dog is getting the right food and nutrients and it is a good idea to speak to a vet before you make a drastic change.

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