A raw diet will help your dog lose weight if it is balanced, your dog is otherwise healthy and receives the correct amount of exercise for their breed, age and individual metabolic rate.
The raw dog food revolution has been gathering pace for decades. One of the many queries dog owners have when weighing up the pros and cons of raw nutrition is whether a raw diet can help their dog lose weight.
Over the past four years, pet obesity has steadily risen and the signs of how this has taken its toll are starting to show. A scientific study claimed that there has been a 900% increase in diabetes as a direct result of obesity.
With such alarming data, it's little wonder that wondering whether a raw diet could provide the long term solution to helping our dog's weight management.
The longer answer on whether raw feeding and dog weight loss are linked is a little more complex. So let's dive in.
Dog obesity - the facts
Diabetes is just one of the possible conditions an overweight dog might suffer from. Heart conditions and the impact on joints are also concerns, and of course there's the direct impact it can have on the longevity of a dog.
Dog obesity is solvable and not everything is, so take heart if you are worried. If your dog is currently overweight and has no underlying health conditions, then it is possible and achievable to get them on the right track. Canine obesity shortens lives. So we owners may sometimes struggle to say no to those puppy dog eyes that demand a share of our cream cake, but by remembering that it could be contributing to shortening our dog's life, we can remain vigilant.
By investigating steps to take, you're already on the path to helping your dog lose weight and this guide will explain how feeding raw food can contribute.
The benefits of a raw diet for dogs
The main benefits of feeding your dog on a raw diet include:
- reduction of the risk of cancer
- elimination of irritating by-products like grains and gluten
- fewer allergies
- less propensity toward obesity
We asked Michael Deichert, a member of the support team at BARF-RAWFOOD.CO.UK for his thoughts and insights on the subject to see what we could learn.
What should you do first if you think your dog is overweight?
An enormous number of dogs in Europe are overweight. But many of their owners are in denial about it. The thought process of 'my dog is a little bit overweight' can someday maybe turn into obesity.
Vets talk about a beginning obesity, if the dog weighs at least 10% more than its normal weight. But there's also the risk of diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
One simple way to check if your dog might be overweight is to place your hands on the side of their chest. You should be able to feel his or her ribs. If not, this can be a sign that your dog is overweight. But of course it's good to pay a visit to your local vet if you are concerned.
This chart released by the PFMA in the UK as part of pet obesity awareness campaign can also help give a visual.
Dog obesity chart - could raw dog food help?
Typically, the main reason a dog is overweight is due to their being fed the wrong diet for them or their activity levels, too many treats or too little exercise. Or perhaps a combination of all.
So these are the points you can definitely work on with your four-legged friend. Make sure that there's enough exercise and that there's an appropriate diet. In my opinion, the most advisable one is a natural, raw diet.
So first check and then change!
Will a raw diet help my dog lose weight?
Yes, of course. A raw diet is a natural diet. The today's dog as a descendant of the wolf and although the external appearances of wolves to today's domestic dog are easy to see, the dog has kept the species determining characteristics.
Just as the wolf did, the dog also belongs to the carnivorous group – he is a meat eater (but not exclusively). So, it is very natural to feed raw.
Raw dog food calculator
The B.A.R.F abbreviation stands for 'Bones and Raw Food' or 'Biologically Appropriate Raw Food' and with a more natural, raw diet it gives dogs the possibility to consume a diet as it was originally meant to be by nature, as their ancestors did.
With an online 'B.A.R.F. Calculator' (we have one on our homepage here) you can calculate the daily nutritional needs and possibilities for your pet.
Nowadays dog food often contains too much sugar, too much grain or even chemical additives. Some might say it's the 'fast food' of the dog food industry.
B.A.R.F is good for more vitality. If you feed raw, you'll see that there are numerous benefits like a stronger immune system, an improved muscular system, stronger tendons and ligaments just to name a few. So if the diet is balanced, your dog can get back in a good shape.
Tips for helping dogs lose weight alongside diet
As I said above it's of absolute importance that a dog's lifestyle is active and suitable for their age and breed. It's also a great way to make use of the summer months to develop a routine in the warmer climate where you and your dog can get out and about.
You should also try to make their diet the main focus of their daily intake, so limit treats because it has to be in proportion.
Frozen vegetables can be a great way to give a treat and keep it healthy, for example.You also can reward with B.A.R.F. Procts, like small pieces of dried meat, cattle scalp or chicken necks for example. Those treats beware of plaque and prevent the formation of tartar.
Switching your dog to a raw diet
Usually, a change in diet can be made without any difficulties. However, in case your dog is highly sensitive, a gradual switch makes more sense. The procedure is quite simple: add a small amount of meat to the dog's current dry food and increase the percentage of meat per day, so you switch the balance from mostly dry and some meat to mostly meat and some dry, before eliminating the dry altogether. It is important to make sure that the total ration stays the same.
In general, the daily ration of raw food for an adult dog should be 2% of his body weight divided into two meals.
Preparing to feed raw dog food
Inform yourself, ask people who already have experience with raw feeding. Use the internet and have a look at the social media groups for example which share their experience. You also can ask a vet what he/she thinks about it.
How much does it cost on average to feed a small, medium or large dog breed on raw dog food?
Raw feeding can be a tricky challenge when you're just starting. Sometimes it's best to jump in and test. One of the biggest reasons people abandon raw before they've started is because they over analyse. Get enough raw food to last your dog at least two weeks and test. Most owners get a feel for quantity, weight etc soon enough.
Do you need a freezer to feed raw?
Yes. Pretty simple answer.
The size of the freezer will depend on how many dogs you have, their size and how much raw you intend to buy in one go.
The freezer that tends to get rave reviews from dog owners is this one:
Illustrative raw dog food cost (large breed)
We purchase raw chicken for our dogs at a price of £1.53 p/kg ($2.10 p/kg). This works at a price per day, per (large) dog of: 0.71p per day (0.97 USD). So raw feeding a large breed dog costs us: £259.15 per year ($355.36) or £21.59 per month ($29.61).
|Raw Food Breakdown||Costs (UK)||Costs (USD)|
|Per kg of Raw Dog Food||£1.53||$2.1|
|Feeding Cost Per Day||0.71||0.97|
|Feeding Cost Per Month||21.59||$29.61|
|Feeding Cost Per Year||259.15||$355.36|
Have you tried raw? If you have any advice for fellow dog owners considering switching please share by commenting below – we'd love to hear from you!