The Raw Food Diet For Dogs: Better Than Dry Food?

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“My dog’s seizures were getting worse and worse. They would come in clusters, and as time went on each cluster consisted of more seizures and happened more frequently. One day, when scouring the internet for anything that might help her, I read about the raw food diet for dogs.

At that point the seizures were significant enough I knew there wasn’t much to lose, so I educated myself and worked with my vet to create a raw food plan to help her seizures.

To my surprise, soon after switching to raw Allie’s seizures began to diminish.

Not only was the number of seizures in each cluster diminishing, but the clusters occurred further and further apart. I was astonished at the change.”

The Growing Popularity of the Raw Diet

The popularity and awareness of feeding a raw food diet for dogs has grown exponentially in the past 5 years.

As pet owners become more interested and educated in how food content and quality affect their dog’s health and well-being, the raw food diet has seen a jump in popularity, as has high quality dried dog food containing ingredients that are organic and free range.

In addition to health benefits, pet owners are considering the raw diet in response to specific issues their pet is facing such as allergies, skin issues, seizures, and more.

If you’re thinking about the raw diet, the best place to start is to educate yourself about feeding raw vs dry.

The best decisions for your pet are educated decisions: take the time to read the pros and cons below before deciding if a raw diet is right for your pet and if it will work with your lifestyle.

Facts about feeding a raw food diet for dogs:

raw dog food meat vegetables and egg

The raw food diet consists of raw meat, bone, organ meat, vegetables, eggs, yogurt, and supplements. If you make your own, you need to educate yourself on a number of details such as:

  • What kind of meat should I use?
  • Which organ meats and what amounts?
  • What veggies are OK and which ones should I avoid?
  • Which supplements do I need to add to my dog’s meals?
  • What other supplements or food do I want to add to address my dog’s specific health issue?

What are the advantages of raw dog food?

  • Control/safety. Dried dog food has been the subject of a number of recalls over the past 5 years. Making your own dog meals gives you total control of the ingredients you choose to feed your dog and where they are purchased from.
  • Addresses and minimizes health issues. If your dog suffers from allergies, seizures, or other issue, the raw diet can be a huge help.
  • General health. When you feed a raw diet, you are avoiding all the preservatives added to commercial diets. The food you are feeding your dog has not been heated or dried so retains more of the nutrients.
  • Picky eaters love it. Raw meat appeals to the pickiest of eaters. I had one foster that I could not get to eat no matter what I sprinkled or mixed into his food; when I started adding raw he would eat up the raw and leave the rest!

What are the drawbacks of raw dog food? 

  • Proper handling necessary. This one is just common sense. When you prepare raw meat for your own dinner, you wash your hands when you’re done.

    Same goes for feeding your dog raw. Raw meat can carry harmful bacteria, so you need to observe appropriate precautions: wash preparation areas and wash your hands after feeding your dog. 
  • Messier. Depending on if you feed your dog ground meat or chicken parts, you may need to feed your dog outside or in an easily cleaned area as there can be some spatter mess that occurs. 
  • Cost. Feeding raw is generally more expensive than a dry food diet. This will depend on the dry food you buy (free range organic dried food also has a high cost) and if you buy prepared raw food vs making it yourself. 
  • Time. Feeding raw requires planning and research on the front end if you are making your own meals (this is not an issue if you buy prepared raw meals).

    You can do all the research yourself, or make an appointment with a holistic vet who consults about diets.

    I chose to do both, I came up with a rough diet plan and then my vet reviewed it to be sure it addressed all nutritional needs. He also added supplements to help diminish Allie’s seizures. 
  • Travel. Trips become a little more difficult logistically because you need to keep your dog’s food refrigerated. Some people choose to use a high quality dry food for trips, other buy prepared raw at their destination. 

Should I make my own?

Once you decide to try feeding your dog a raw diet, you need to decide if you are going to buy a commercially prepared raw dog food or if you want to make your own. This article about homemade dog food pros and cons will help you explore this choice in-depth.

The two biggest considerations are:

  1. Finances: can you afford to buy the commercially prepared raw dog food? If you can’t, this might make your decision to make your own food!

  2. Time: Making your own raw food takes more time.

    At the beginning it requires a front end investment of time to research and learn about what you need to feed your dog to be sure you are giving it all the nutrients it needs.

    Beyond that, meal time takes longer as well. Some people prefer to make a bunch or meals at once and freeze them, others prefer to put together the ingredients for each meal at the time of feeding.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and give it a try, Dogs Naturally Magazine has a great article called The Raw Food Primer that gives the reader baseline knowledge about feeding a raw diet.

Not sure if feeding raw is something you can do right now?

If you can’t feed raw don’t beat yourself up. Focus on giving your dog as natural and holistic a lifestyle as possible, and know that will look different for each person.

If you need or want to continue feeding your dog a dry food diet, that’s ok.  Educate yourself in order to minimize the drawbacks and help you choose the best dry food for your dog.

Feeding a Dry Food Diet

dry dog food in a bowl vs raw

What are the advantages of dry food?

  • Convenience. This one is obvious. There is nothing to thaw, nothing to mix together, just plop the dried food in their bowl and you’re done.
  • Nutritional balance. Manufacturers formulate dry foods to supply all the nutritional needs of your dog; everything is already added and you don’t have to worry about missing any vital nutrients.

What Drawbacks does dried dog food have?

  • Quality. This is a big one. You have no control over the quality of ingredients that are added to your dog’s food. There is a large range of quality between different brands, and there are many brands out there that contain low quality, poor nutrition sources of food, along with fillers you don’t want your dog eating.
  • Safety. One of the major reasons many switch away from dry dog food is the possibility of poisoning due to contamination or toxicity causing dog food recalls.
  • Unappealing to picky dogs. If you have a picky eater, dried food isn’t as appealing as raw or home cooked food. 

If you think a dried food diet is the best option for you, there is a lot of helpful information at PetFoodRatings.org, including a list of the Top Rated Dry Dog Foods.

Regardless of if you choose to feed your dog raw or dry food, what is important is that you are taking the time to educate yourself before deciding.

Be sure you choose a food that fits your lifestyle and addresses your dog’s nutritional needs. Dogs are like people, they will feel better and be healthier in less stressful environments.

Finding a food that keeps your life in balance lets you be a happy owner and enjoy quality time with your pet.

What food options have you found to be the best for your dog? I’d love to hear stories of how the food you use helped with a specific medical or behavioral issue your dog was having.

Share your story so others can benefit from your experience!

Naturally,

Karen

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Karen Pedersen Written by:

Karen is an independent copywriter who loves dogs and everything about them. She is married to Scott, has 4 kids, and likes to take a natural and holistic approach to living and pet ownership.

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