Is a raw food diet right for your dog or is just a fad trading on the popularity of raw food diets for humans?
Racing greyhounds, for instance, have traditionally been fed a raw food diet. Some years ago, Australian vet Ian Billinghurst proposed a raw food diet for all dogs as it is closer to what dogs would have eaten before they became domesticated.
The raw food diet is sometimes referred to as BARF – biologically appropriate raw feeding, or bones and raw food. Other experts have disagreed with Billinghurst, saying a raw food diet is not necessary and could be harmful.
The definition of a raw food diet is roughly raw meat, organ meat, raw eggs, bones, vegetables and fruit.
The proponents of a raw food diet for dogs say benefits could include shinier coats, cleaner teeth, more energy and better health all-round. Commercial dog food is often high in carbohydrates – higher than what a wild dog would eat, and this can lead to health problems such as obesity.
Dog food is also a relatively new invention, having been created in the 1860s. Before then, people’s dogs would have eaten scraps from the table or anything they could scavenge or kill.
Risks from a raw food diet include the threat from bacteria in meat and the dangers of whole bones to dogs, such as choking breaking teeth or internal punctures. There is also the possibility that a raw food diet might be unbalanced.
A raw food diet, whether you do it yourself or choose a dog food brand that supplies uncooked, unprocessed food, will be more expensive than regular dog food. It will also be more time consuming if you choose the DIY route.
There are commercial options for a raw food diet. Wolf Tucker in the UK is one option. The company supplies raw foods for puppies and adult dogs as well as feeding guides. Other raw food diet producers include Natures Menu and Natural Instinct. Barfpetfoods gives nutrition guidelines for dogs and puppies on a homemade/raw food diet, and the United Kingdom Raw Meaty Bones group offers support and advice for people who want to feed their dog raw food.
Remember – if you do decide to make all your dog’s food from scratch, you need to know how to provide him with a balanced diet. Please check with your vet or an expert who specialises in holistic nutrition.