Some people insist on a raw diet for their dogs. Others warn against it. Who is ‘right’?
A raw diet is one that completely excludes any processed commercial dog food. Even today where the options for dog food are aplenty, there are still many raw food advocates, believing that it mirrors what dogs in the wild eat, and hence is the best option. The opposing view, however, speaks of the possibility of bacterial contamination and imbalanced nutrition, believing that our domesticated pet dogs have evolved and no longer require the same diet as their ancestors.
For: Yes To A Raw Diet!
According to advocates of the raw diet, dog food should never be cooked as it depletes most of the nutritional value. Dogs should be given a range of raw meaty bones such as beefs or lamb, or better still, whole items such as chicken and fish. The modern day domesticated dogs have the same digestive tract as dogs – and even wolves – in the wild, and their food should be in the raw natural state as nature intended.
Feeders of the raw diet claim that the first thing you will notice is a lack of doggy odour, and no more bad breath. Gum disease and expensive visits to the vet to de-scale teeth will become a thing of the past as teeth are naturally cleaned when they gnaw at the bones. Also, the ripping and chewing action works to develop important jaw, neck and shoulder muscles, while preparing the stomach for the incoming food mass, giving it time to get the acids moving. It also slows down the eating process, making for better digestion, and overeating will no longer be a problem. In addition, with nutrients being more efficiently absorbed by the body, less stools are produced and these are firmer, helping dogs to express their anal glands naturally.
Supporters of the raw diet also argue that commercial dog food, besides being more expensive in the long run, do not provide any of these benefits. They claim that these are often laden with preservatives, dyes and have added flavourings to make the food palatable. The small kibble size encourages dogs to wolf down their meals, sometimes leading to instances of choking, regurgitation and indigestion. Most commercial dog foods list grains like rice as a main ingredient and this is often the cause of many health problems associated with pet dogs, with the most common being allergies, arthritis and obesity.
The bottom line, supporters of feeding raw say, is that they not only save on the cost of food and expensive vet bills, but their dogs are also healthier, more energetic and live longer lives.
Against: Who needs a Raw Diet?
Those who do not believe in feeding their dogs raw food also have a solid case. While food poisoning cases are not as well documented in animals as they are in humans, there is plenty of evidence to show that bacteria can be transmitted to pet dogs though raw meat and improper handling.
Bacterial infections, such as Salmonellosis, Campylobacteriosis and E.coli, can cause vomiting, haemorrhagic or watery diarrhoea, abdominal pains, fever and lethargy. In severe cases, they can lead to problems with the central nervous system and even be fatal. Then there is Toxoplasmosis, which causes stillbirth and abortions, fever, eye damage, muscle pain, depression, poor appetite and weight loss, cough and respiratory distress, and seizures and other central nervous system issues.
Even with proper handling of raw food and taking into account a healthy dog’s natural immune system’s ability to handle a small amounts of bacteria, there is still the problem of an imbalanced diet. If humans need a wide range of nutrients and the right proportion of food groups to maintain good health, why should a dog be fed only a few food items consistently? Commercial pet foods help to address this problem by supplementing the food with vitamins, minerals and other elements needed for dogs to thrive.
Besides, say these naysayers of feeding raw, why should we try to replicate what dogs ate in the wild? They often suffered from nutritional deficiencies and were parasite-infested. They argue that pet dogs should have the benefit of modern science and advanced technology, just like humans do.
So which side are you on? Share your thoughts!