Going raw” has been something of a thing in the dog food world for some time now. It means switching your dog over to raw food completely, or using raw dog food as a complement to a kibble-based diet.
But many owners don’t understand how it works, nor are they up to speed on the benefits and potential risks. Given that confusion, let’s break it down so you can make an informed decision about whether a raw diet is right for your dog.
The Basics of Going Raw
For those owners who need to be educated the basics, they’re fairly simple. The raw diet for dogs is based on a combination of raw meat and bones, with a mix of fruits and veggies thrown into the mix to provide other vital nutrients.
Surprisingly, there’s precedence for this that dates back for longer than you’d think. Sled dogs and greyhounds used for racing have been trained using raw food for decades, based on the idea that it would help enhance their performance out on the trails or the track.
The first decision you’ll need to make if you’re going raw is whether you want to go exclusively raw, or mix raw in with kibble. To some extent this is a personal decision, for it depends on your budget and how well your dog responds to a raw food diet.
At this point, the benefits of going raw are fairly well established among veterinarians and dog owners. They include a shinier coat, fewer if any skin irritations, and better dental health due to the bones that are an essential part of the raw diet.
Many owners claim that their dogs display a higher energy level once they switch to raw, although this factor is obviously at least somewhat subjective. Smaller stools are part of the raw package, which means food is being digested better, and it makes the cleanup part of dog ownership easier as well.
There are risks associated with the raw diet, although those owners who have had success claim they’re minimal. The biggest one is that there are bacteria in dog food that can harm both dogs and their owners, so careful handling is a must.
Also, some dogs don’t take well to raw. These dogs tend to have digestive issues, and critics maintain that a raw diet is essentially unbalanced because of the issue with missing nutrients.
Finally, if you’re giving your dog a lot of bones, breakage can cause dental problems as well as issues with choking and internal punctures. The benefits do outweigh the risks, so a switch to raw dog food is at least worth considering.