Raw food diets - are they really the best for our dogs? | TeamDogs

Raw food diets - are they really the best for our dogs?

Complete foods provide all the nutrients your pet needs if they're fed correctly

Charlotte Regen

Posted 2 months ago ago

Getting your dog on the right food can be a minefield. 

There are so many different products and diets out there, it’s hard to decipher what is best for them. 

Grain-free, wet, dry and natural are just some of the choices dog owners face. But are we overthinking it all? 

A lot of dogs have sensitive stomachs and some foods just do not suit them, and that’s okay because us humans are the same. 

But let’s take it back to basics. Is a raw food diet really the best? 

A raw food diet is exactly what you think it is - raw meat. 

According to the PDSA, owners who feed their dogs a raw diet often claim that they see a lot of positive changes in their pet, such as a shinier coat, more energy and less stinky poos!

However, the animal charity says a lot of the claimed benefits from raw diets can be easily achieved by making sure you’re feeding your pet any balanced, age-appropriate diet.

Just like everything in life, there are pros and cons. 

Some of the issues associated with feeding your dog raw meat - especially if you’re preparing it yourself - are bacteria, parasites and other pathogens that would normally be killed during the cooking process.

Not only is it a risk to your pet’s health but also to you and the people in your household.

Even with the greatest care, the risk of cross-contamination is much higher so you could accidentally spread bacterias such as E.coli, salmonella and even tuberculosis through the food or your pet.

The PDSA advises feeding your pet a complete commercial diet to make sure they stay healthy. This will provide all the nutrients your pet needs if fed correctly according to their weight and age.

Whether you opt for a raw food diet or not, PDSA vets do not advise making your pet’s food at home yourself. If you do choose a raw diet after speaking with your vet, they suggest always go for a commercially prepared option because suppliers must take precautions to make sure all pet food is packaged correctly to certain hygiene standards - which is super important with raw food. 

Companies making complete pet foods will also have to make sure that foods will contain everything your pet needs to stay healthy.

If your pet is on a raw food diet or you are going to switch to one, it’s really important to make sure your home is hygienic, here are some tips:

  • Keep everything (storage boxes, bowls, cutlery, etc) you use to prepare or handle raw food separate. 
  • Stainless steel bowls and metal or glass boxes are best as, unlike plastic, they won’t develop tiny cracks on their surfaces which can harbour bacteria.
  • Always wash your hands before and after handling your pet’s food.
  • Feeding a raw diet will require planning as you’ll need to safely defrost food before feeding it to your pet.
  • Use a sealed container to allow the food to thaw in the fridge without compromising the safety of your own food. 
  • You can’t microwave raw diets to speed up the defrosting process as this can cause uneven thawing, creating hot spots which can cook parts of the food and heat others to unsafe temperatures.
  • Wash everything thoroughly after feeding. Always sanitise any surfaces you’ve prepared raw food on.
  • Once frozen meats are defrosted, they must be consumed by your pet within 24 hours and never re-frozen.
  • Remember that your pet’s saliva and poo can contain lots more potentially dangerous bacteria if they are fed raw food so always wash your hands after touching them.

PDSA vet Lynne James said: “A lot of people who feed their dogs a raw diet do so because they see it as being a more “natural” alternative to traditional dog food. 

“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.

“We wouldn’t recommend preparing your own pet food – whether cooked or raw – as 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. 

“Dog nutritional needs are complex and just feeding meat or vegetables is unlikely to meet their daily requirements.

“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.

“Whatever type of diet you pick, the best food for your dog is a high-quality commercial complete diet that’s right for their life stage.”

You should always speak to your vet if you’re considering changing your pet’s diet.


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