Not only does this time of year mean good eating for humans, it’s great eating for dogs. At least it is for those lucky enough to be raw fed!
Turkey, squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins are all ready to be gobbled up by your furry friend. We understand the idea of raw feeding can be a little intimidating or off-putting for some pet owners, but it’s not all blood and guts.
What is Raw Feeding?
Essentially, raw feeding is all about feeding your domesticated dog a natural diet based on a well-informed ‘guesstimate’ of what their wild wolf ancestors would have eaten. A raw diet is a diet that consists of uncooked meat like muscle and organ tissue, bones that are either whole or crushed, fruit, vegetables, and occasionally dairy, including eggs. (Think of it like the dog equivalent of paleo or keto!)
Before you grab that chef’s hat and start mixing up a gourmet doggie dish, there are two main variations of raw diets you should know:
Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet (BARF)
While the BARF model doesn't sound appealing for humans, it is the model with the least amount of raw meat. Those who follow the BARF Model believe that vegetables are an essential part of a dog's diet and provide many nutrients that are beneficial to your pup's health.
- BARF Guidelines: 70% muscle meat, 10% raw edible bone, 5% liver, 5% other secreting organ, and 10% vegetables and fruit.
The Prey Model is based on the idea that our sweet little pups are predatory carnivores at their core and would hunt and consume whole prey in the wild, including muscle meat, bones, and internal organs. Those who follow the Prey Model believe that vegetables and fruit aren't necessary for a dog's diet and only serve as fillers.
- Prey Model Guidelines: 80% meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ meat, with 5% of organ meats fed as liver.
What Are the Benefits to Raw Feeding?
Pet parents who have made the transition to raw feeding say the benefits run the gamut from digestion and dental health to disease prevention.
Bone & Joint Health
There is no better way to support bone health than with bones! The natural source of calcium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen, and marrow all lead to healthy growth in puppies as well as maintaining great joint and bone health for your dog throughout their life.
Doggie immune systems thrive on a raw diet. Raw muscle meats provide high-quality and easily digestible proteins and an array of essential fats, vitamins, and minerals which are not diminished through the cooking process. In addition, raw fruits and vegetables add an abundance of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and enzymes beneficial to your pup’s overall health.
Healthy Skin & Shiny Coat
Your pooch will be strutting their stuff at the dog park with a shiny coat and healthy skin thanks to the natural oils and omega fatty acids in raw foods. Many of these ingredients also provide anti-inflammatory benefits, perfect for dogs with allergies or inflammatory skin diseases.
Healthy Teeth & Gums
Get ready to be blinded by your pup’s pearly whites! Raw, meaty bones are known as nature’s toothbrush for our dogs, helping to get into those tricky places between their teeth and assisting with removing plaque. Not to mention, natural enzymes work chemically in your dog’s mouth to promote healthy gums. Finally, adding ingredients like celery and occasionally even peppermint can even freshen up your dogs’ breath.
Here's a benefit for you and your pup! By not feeding Fido processed foods, more of what goes in is absorbed and utilized, so less comes out the other end. And what does come out will be less pungent in odor too!
What Are the Risks to Raw Feeding?
Uncooked meats can carry bacteria or parasites that could make you and your pup very sick. However, dogs have built-in protection, as their digestive tract is shorter and more acidic, making them less susceptible to these types of bacteria than humans. One of the best things you can do as a pet parent to stay safe is to wash your hands with soap and water after preparing or handling the food.
There's also the risk of choking hazards, like bits of bone or ingredients that haven't been chopped small enough. That's why, if you are thinking about transitioning to raw feeding, it is best to consult your vet first and do your research! A raw dog food diet may not be appropriate for your pup—and that’s ok!