Raw Diet for Dogs
Over the past few years there has been an increasing amount of dog owners switching their dogs to a raw dog food diet. This has actually brought about some debate over raw feeding and left many dog owners unsure about raw or “BARF” diets. Even though canines have evolved for over 50 thousand years on a raw diet, some are resistant to the thought of a raw dog food diet. This is I believe is largely due to a lack of education on the subject ,even by many veterinarians. Some of the warnings with feeding a raw dog food diet are completely unwarranted and others concerns are worth looking into, especially if certain health issues are in the picture. I shed some light on this in the book to help you understand raw feeding and designing a “proper” canine diet.
Raw food health benefits
Many dog owners like myself, who have been feeding raw dog food diets have noted many health benefits, some of which are noticeable almost immediately. Less odor and a shiner coat are usually experienced, as well as clean teeth and improved breath if raw bones are included in the diet. Though these outer improvements are nice and well received, these are actually the result of a deeper health benefits. Raw diets promote a healthy digestive track and strong immune system. Absorbing raw nutrients easily and efficiently, the bodies organs can function at their optimum levels.
Raw Dog Food Concerns
There are still many dog owners, as well as some veterinarians, who do not feel comfortable with feeding a raw dog food diet. They have health and safety concerns that often stem from a misunderstanding of the canine digestive track, or a misunderstanding of nutrition. That being said, there are some points and concerns that are bit more legitimate. All dogs are different and have different factors to consider, especially if disease is in the picture. I address the most common concerns, as well as some less considered in the raw food chapter.
- Concerns with bacteria such as e coli and salmonella.
- Concerns with choking on bones and lacerations in the intestinal track.
- Feeding a canine with a weakened immune system, or on chemotherapy.
Though these concerns are generally not an issue, there are some unique circumstances that I address in the book, as well as go over the BARF diet and raw feeding in greater detail.
Dog Food Companies
It is believed by many raw feeders that veterinarians are influenced by academic departments and professional associations that rely upon funding from pet food companies. For example, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, makers of Science Diet and a range of prescription-only food, is a major sponsor of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Another common belief is that veterinarians lack adequate education on raw diets or nutrition in general. Frequently, veterinary schools receive nutrition training that is sponsored or directly provided to students by pet food manufacturers. The Wall Street Journal reports that Hill’s “spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year funding university research and nutrition courses at every one of the 27 U.S. veterinary colleges” and that vets profit as much as 40% from sales of Science Diet and other foods sold from their offices. Raw feeders are often skeptical of the motives that some veterinarians have in recommending the commercial foods they sell, pointing out the conflict of interest in them doing so.
Besides the BARF diet, there are other ways to feed a raw diet. Dr. Richard Pitcairn, a Holistic Veterinarian offers a wonderful book titled “Natural Health For Dogs And Cats” which includes recipes using a raw diet. This is one of our personal favorites.