There is a debate that rages between the advocates of raw food diets and those who feel that traditional dry kibble is the best option. The truth is probably that each dog has its own needs, and those have to be combined with the needs of the dog owner. If you’re trying to decide what is best for you and your pooch, consider some of the pros and cons of each.
What is a Raw Food Diet?
Raw food diets for dogs are generally founded on the idea that in the wild raw foods, especially raw meat, would have been standard fare for canines before they were domesticated as house pets. Raw foods can be either exclusively fed or used to supplement your dog’s diet. Meats are not the only thing that you can feed raw. Foods like fresh eggs, apples, peaches, pumpkin, carrots, and zucchini are just some options. Many raw food diet proponents also like to give their dogs large, uncooked meat bones to satisfy their chewing need.
With increased interest in raw food diets there has also become an increase in commercially prepared raw food choices. These often come frozen or freeze dried and contain a mixture of vegetables, fruits, and grains, and the pet owner just adds the meat selection.
What are the Benefits of a Raw Food Diet?
The benefits of raw food diets vary from dog to dog. Pet owners who use raw food diets do so for varieties of reasons, and the benefits they see are varied as well:
- Shinier coats
- More energy
- Stronger teeth
- Healthier skin
- Better digestion
- Decreases in disease or chronic health condition symptoms
There are many stories from pet owners who turned to raw diets to help their dogs fight dangerous health conditions, and they have even been used as treatment of liver disease in dogs, because diet plays such an important role in major organ health.
What are the Risks of Raw Food Diets?
Every dog is different and there is no one diet plan that is without risks for dogs. Before you change or even plan your dog’s diet, consult with his care provider first to make sure you understand the risks and rewards. Some of the potential risks of raw food diets include:
- The dangers of bones served causing obstructions, chipped teeth, or even internal tears
- An unbalanced diet because of changes in availability of foods or the lack of understanding of nutritional content
- Health dangers for you as the pet owner, your family, and your dog because of raw meat bacteria issues
While not a risk, convenience is also another drawback of feeding a raw food diet to your dog. It is much more difficult to establish a feeding area for raw meats in your home, or to travel with raw food diet ingredients, than it is to travel with dry kibble.
What Are the Benefits of a Kibble Diet?
Some of the benefits of a kibble diet for your dog are more obvious – such as convenience and cost. It is much less time consuming to grab the bag and take it wherever you travel than to plan healthy raw meals for your dog. There are other benefits to a kibble diet as well.
- It is extremely challenging to create a balanced diet for puppies. They need a specific ratio of calcium and phosphorous in order to avoid bone deformities and other negative growth problems. Kibble takes away this challenge when you choose the right puppy food.
- Dogs that are more sedentary might get too much protein with a raw diet, but a kibble diet tells you precisely how much protein is provided. Too much for older dogs and those with kidney disease can be dangerously affected.
What are the Risks of a Kibble Diet?
Kibble is one of the most popular methods for feeding dogs, but it is not without risks.
- The chemicals, additives, and processing involved with kibble can detrimentally affect your dog’s health.
- Dogs that eat kibble are more likely to overeat, and then more likely to gain extra weight. This extra weight negatively affects your dog’s health.
- The proteins in many kibble options are not high quality which can strain your dog’s digestion and not benefit his health.
- There have been instances of recalls and concerns over contamination of commercially processed kibble dog foods.
How Do I Choose the Best Diet for My Dog?
The only way you will really know what is best for your dog is if you try different options. When you do change diets, just make sure you do it gradually and in small amounts. This way you won’t shock your dog’s system and you’ll be able to see signs of allergies or digestive problems. You might find that the best option for your dog is somewhere in between these two ends of the spectrum, such as adding raw foods to prepared foods. Let the health and behaviors of your dog be signs for what is working with your pet.
About the Author:
Freelance writer, mother of four, and domestic engineer Chris Oldenburg says she has her dream job writing about ideas that interest her. Chris is also an avid animal lover and recently wrote about resources for pet owners. Chris uses http://www.1stpetnaturals.com/ to find information on foods for her own dog. She also loves spending time outdoors, sharing adventures with her kids, and working in her gardens.