Feeding dogs, a raw diet has been on the rise in the last decade. But the risk-to-benefit ratio must be weighed before introducing it so that you know you are making the most cautious decision for your furry friend. Most veterinarians as well as the FDA disagree with a raw diet. Which begs the question – why then are people still keen on feeding raw?
There are certain breeds of dogs like the racing greyhounds and sled dogs that have always been fed raw because of their benefits. But it is only recently that raw feeding has been introduced to domesticated dogs as well. And it is this idea of feeding a biologically appropriate raw food that has interested many pet parents. Raw feeding for domesticated dogs was foregrounded by the Australian veterinarian, Ian Billinghurst in 1993. He recommended that adult canines would benefit greatly from being fed a raw diet which would consist mostly of organ meats, muscle meat, whole or ground bone, raw eggs, fruits and vegetables, and a diary supplement.
To understand why he insisted on a raw diet one must look at the benefits:
- Shinier coat and healthy skin: Raw pet food consists of active enzymes which makes it easier for our furry friends to absorb carbohydrates, proteins, and nutrients from their food. It also makes it easier for dogs to break down and digest this food. When the body absorbs the right nutrients, it shows through in their skin and coat. Dogs have been said to have shed less on being introduced to a raw diet. There is also a clear decrease in dandruff, dry skin, and coarse fur growth.
- Reduction in bad odor and allergies: Feeding raw as opposed to kibble allows the dog to absorb all the necessary nutrients which reduce dog gas as well as protects them from allergic reactions to processed food. A raw diet also naturally aids in oral cleanliness taking away musty breath.
- Smaller stools: Raw food is naturally digestible and therefore, produces less waste. A dog’s body absorbs most of the nutrients as fuel which leads to smaller and chalkier stool.
- Increased energy levels: Since raw food is naturally digestible, the body needs to spend less energy in breaking down the nutrients for absorption. This results in higher energy levels in your dogs.
Having listed the benefits, one must also weigh in on the risks of feeding raw:
- There are some inherent risks of feeding raw such as bacterial contamination with salmonella and E. coli. This is harmful to dogs as well as humans. It might not cause serious issues but may lead to an onset of diarrhea which may lead to dehydration.
- There is a huge parasitic infestation risk of feeding raw as well.
- The bones in a raw diet may cause a choking hazard or cause internal damage and should be carefully administered to dogs.
The process of feeding raw might sound like a daunting process. But with careful consideration and a cautious plan, one can go ahead with a raw diet. You must talk to veterinarian nutritionists to make an informed decision and decide on a meal plan most suitable for your pet.