If you've found yourself wondering about raw dog food pros and cons it stands to reason you're either feeding raw and pondering whether it's the right diet for your dog, or you're considering raw as a diet for your dog and you're asking the question whether raw is the right approach?
In this guide to weighing up the pros and cons of raw dog food, we'll explain the good, the not so good and the various stated benefits of feeding raw for dogs as provided by a recognised expert in the field of raw dog food.
If you've ever spent time in any only dog communities, social media etc, you'll know that raw dog food pros and cons are one of THE hottest of hot topics discussed amongst dog owners and canine nutrition experts.
The pros and cons of feeding raw might be hotly debated by advocates and opponents, but if you're here you want to know the facts. It's not simply about whether feeding a raw diet is good or bad, it's about whether it's the right nutritional approach for your specific dog. It's about whether raw dog food pros and cons are weighted one way or another to the benefit of your dog based on their age, breed, lifestyle and lifestage.
The trend of feeding dogs on a raw diet has continued to rise over the last two decades with advocates of the raw dog food diet shouting from the rooftops about their dog's health and wellbeing, visibly shown through their shiny, glossy coat. Raw dog food feeders can be quite evangelical about the many pros of feeding a raw diet.
As a dog owner committed your dog's health, if you're weighing up the pros and cons of raw dog food, you want honest advice on the good and not so good about a raw feeding approach.
One of the first things you should know before switching your dog's food is that your dog's diet has a massive impact on how they behave, their health and their all-round wellbeing. It's not a decision to be entered in to lightly.
An introduction to raw dog food
The BARF diet, as it is also known, was first coined in Australia by a veterinarian but as with everything, evolution has brought about new approaches to the raw diet including complete meals, which mean dog owners don't need to be put off about feeding the diet worrying if their dog is getting everything they need.
With the changes to the diet in mind and taking guidance from dog owners about the benefits and hurdles of feeding a raw diet, K9 Magazine decided to ask vet Sue Armstrong, more about raw dog food's pros and cons - so you can make an informed decision about whether feeding raw is the right approach for your dog.
Raw dog food pros
Interest in feeding raw has increased in recent years with owners reporting health benefits including shiny coats and healthier skin, and so health (inside and out) has to be considered the biggest pro in feeding your dog on a raw diet.
Sue explains why she thinks more dog owners have considered feeding raw dog food - the pros of feeding raw dog food - and shares the most common question dog owners have asked her about feeding raw.
"Until the last few years, feeding raw meant home formulating the diet, which was not only very time consuming for owners but very often would not be done well as there was very little good information available for people.
"Now the information base is growing and companies like ours have taken the work out of feeding raw for busy people by producing balanced complete high quality food that is simply defrosted and fed. We are also now a step further on, as many owners are seeing first hand animals that are fed on high quality raw and they are making their own minds up from the evidence before them."
"The most common question we get about feeding a raw dog food diet is about oral health. Many people are worried that because the food is wet that they will need to feed a biscuit with it for their dog’s teeth!
"This is a common misunderstanding that people have - that dry dog food is good for their teeth. It is often the high carbohydrate (sugar) content of foods rather than whether or not it is wet or dry that causes a lot of dental disease in dogs."
Before we ask more about the cons of feeding raw dog food, we wanted to ask Sue about her experiences with dog owners who might have fed raw before and stopped.
In your experience, what's the most common query or concern raised from dog owners in this position who stopped and are wondering if they should try again?
She told us it doesn't happen very often these days but added that could be because raw dog food is a much better quality these days.
"We have had some who tried years ago when the quality of the products on the market was not as good and mainly basic incomplete minced products who need the reassurance that things have improved. So for many of them, they are asking if the food is complete."
Raw dog food cons
If you're already researching a raw diet for your dog then the feeding of meat isn't an obvious concern to you, so what is?
Well, from what we've discovered preparation and storage are two of the biggest cons and hurdles dog owners have about feeding the diet.
The practicalities of feeding raw dog food
On the practical side when weighing up raw dog food pros and cons, Sue advises:
"Dog owners need to be sure that they have adequate storage in a suitable freezer and have a low shelf available in the fridge for the defrosted product.
"They need to consider the age of the dog and any illnesses that the dog might have that might mean that there are some varieties that would be more suitable than others and they need to be clear about how to transition across slowly from their old form of feeding to raw.
"The gut has to adapt to a new form of food and this takes a few weeks. Downloading a transition sheet well ahead of time can help owners understand how to do this safely.
And what about storage. How can dog owners prepare adequately?
"This will depend upon their proximity to one of our local stockists as for those who can buy it as they need it then they may not even need a freezer.
"I have a large male GSD who eats a Kilo pack a day, so I have always two defrosted and two in the freezer so I am never caught out by a weekend. For those who prefer to buy online and in bulk then a small freezer will be reasonable even for a very large dog."
Raw dog food pros and cons: summary
To sum up the topic of raw dog food pros and cons:
The pros of raw dog food centre around health, with regular feeders of raw reporting a dog's coat, skin, teeth and digestive system all benefiting from the more natural diet.
The cons of raw dog food focus mainly around storage and preparation, which is an issue to be considered before feeding raw, but both are potentially easy solved with some research into how best to handle raw dog food and insight into how much food you'll need to feed and order, to know how much you'll need to store.
Sue concludes with some final words of advice for dog owners considering the various raw dog food pros and cons:
"Do your research. Learn to read dog food food labels and really look at what is in different types of food. Talk to us and to others who are already using complete raw food."