The Ultimate Guide to Raw Feeding for Dogs: Understanding the Fresh Food Diet
The raw food diet for dogs, also known as “BARF” or “fresh food diet”, has been gaining popularity among dog owners in recent years. This diet consists of feeding dogs uncooked meats, bones, fruits, vegetables, and other raw ingredients.
In this article, we will explore what the raw diet for dogs entails, its benefits, and some tips for getting started feeding raw.
WHAT IS RAW DIET FOR DOGS?
The raw diet aims to mimic the natural ancestral diet of dogs in the wild. Before domestication, dogs ate whole prey items such as birds, mice, rabbits and other small animals.
This provided them with a balanced mix of raw meat, bones, organs, fat, and vegetation in the stomach contents.
The raw diet aims to mimic the natural ancestral diet of dogs in the wild.
The raw dog food diet tries to replicate this balance. It typically contains:
- Raw meaty bones - Provides calcium, phosphorus and dental health benefits
- Muscle meat - Supplies protein and amino acids
- Organ meats - Important source of vitamins and minerals
- Vegetables and fruits - Fibre, phytonutrients, antioxidants
- Eggs, dairy - Excellent protein, fatty acids, and minerals
- Some fat, oils - Healthy fatty acid balance
There are no carbohydrate-heavy, processed kibbles or canned foods in the raw diet. Supporters claim this nutrient-dense, species-appropriate diet improves dogs’ health and wellbeing.
THE BENEFITS OF RAW FEEDING DOGS
There are several benefits attributed to the raw dog food diet:
Cooking destroys some volatile vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and other nutrients in food. Feeding raw is thought to maximize nutrient absorption from ingredients, compared to heavily processed foods.
Digestion & Stools
The natural enzymes in raw foods may help improve digestion. Pet owners typically report smaller, firmer stools from dogs on the raw diet.
Chewing raw meaty bones may help clean teeth and gums. The abrasive action scrapes away plaque and tartar build-up. This could reduce dental disease risk.
Cooking can create allergenic protein compounds. Eliminating heavily processed ingredients may decrease allergy risks for sensitive dogs.
Raw diets have high protein and low carbohydrates. This nutrient profile can help dogs feel fuller while consuming fewer calories, aiding weight loss.
How Much Raw Food to Feed?
Determining how much raw food to feed your dog depends on factors like age, weight, and activity level. Generally, adult dogs should eat around 2-3% of their body weight per day, while puppies require more due to their growth and development. Use our calculation tool to determine the right amount of food for your dog.
Raw foods provide natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may boost the immune system. Some of the natural enzymes in raw food have anti-inflammatory properties too.
While further research is needed to verify some of the benefits of raw feeding, owners that feed raw swear by the diet’s transformative effects on their pets’ health.
GETTING STARTED WITH THE RAW DOG FOOD DIET
Interested in trying out the raw diet for your dog? Here are some tips to do it safely and effectively:
- Consult your vet, especially for dogs with pre-existing health conditions
- Read up and learn all you can about raw feeding before switching
- Start slow, transitioning your dog gradually over 2-4 weeks
- Stick to reputable brands that follow food safety standards
- Provide a variety of proteins, animal parts, veggies and fruits
- Balance with calcium, bones and organs like liver, kidney, heart
- Supplement with fatty acids, vitamins if needed
- Store raw food safely in the fridge or freezer
- Thaw frozen raw food before serving, don't microwave it
- Keep a consistent schedule, feed at same times daily
- Monitor your dog’s health and adjust quantities as needed
The key to feeding your dog a fresh food diet is balance and variety. Consider trying our complete recipes or supplement your dog's diet with our selection of healthy treats. Remember, transitioning should be done gradually, and a body condition score can help assess whether your dog's diet is working.
Speak with your veterinarian to decide if raw feeding could be right for your dog.
While the diet’s reported benefits are exciting, it does require effort and planning compared to conventional dog foods. But for many dog owners, the rewards of fresh food feeding make it all worthwhile.