Raw dog food is also called BARF, which stands for the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones and Raw Food. This is a highly controversial topic for dog owners because there are those who believe it is the healthiest dog diet while others call it too risky. What is considered the best raw dog food though?
In this article we are going to explore the benefits of raw dog food diet and why many believe it to be the healthiest food for dogs.
As a dog owner, it is up to you to be responsible and reliable, therefore in order to keep your pet healthy you should consider the best options for the dog’s nutrients. You should try to make the tastiest but also healthiest meals for your pet in order for him or her to be happy.
Homemade Raw Food: What Type of Meat to Choose?
First, make sure to avoid mixing raw meat and commercial kibble together mostly because that would most likely upset your dog’s stomach. Additionally, cooking bones tends to be very dangerous since old bones tend to break when they are cooked, increasing the risk of piercing your pet’s digestive system.
Since that is definitely something that you would like to avoid as an owner, make sure to avoid that and give your dog raw soft bones. These bones are a great source of calcium.
If you would like to reduce the risks of parasites, then make sure to freeze the raw meat for at least two weeks beforehand. Many owners tend to avoid pork but it can be just fine just like salmon if it is handled properly.
Speaking of the quantity of raw meat and daily meals, make sure to not forget that adult dogs eat 2% to 3% of their weight per day. For example, if your dog weights 15 kg (33 lb.), then he should eat every day 300 g of food which represents 2% of his overall weight.
However, if your dog is extremely active then you can increase the quantity up to 3%, depending on his overall life style and health. Each dog is different and asks for a different treatment.
Another very important thing to know is that if you are changing your dog from kibble to raw diet, then you need to do it slowly and gradually. Start off with one type of raw meat, for example chicken and then monitor your dog’s appetite and behavior. Chicken is cheap and tasty, but you need to mix it with the dog’s previous food otherwise he will throw up and get diarrhea.
Gradually increase the quantity of the raw meat if your dog’s stool and behavior are normal. It is completely normal that the stool would change but if the change is extreme then it is better to stop introducing the new food.
The ideal raw diet should consist of:
- Meat, sinew, ligaments and fat
- Edible bones, but only the soft and raw ones
- Other organ meat such as lung and kidney
- Vegetables and fruits that are not poisonous for dogs
- Dairy products such as eggs and cottage cheese can be added in small amounts to your pet’s diet and they usually love them
Never give your dog the following food:
- Leaves and stems of vegetables
- All fruit pits and seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Raw dough
- Cooked bones
However, even if you provide your pet with an ideal diet, various supplements can be required. It is considered that even when frozen raw meat can lose some of its nutrients so many owners choose to add supplements.
Fish oils such as cod liver and plant oils can be great for shiny coats and healthy skin. That is because they are a source of omega-3 fatty acids that also improve the immune system. Safflower oil, vegetable oil, and coconut oil are examples of plant oils that can be used and only one teaspoon is enough.
A teaspoon should be added to a meal since it is an addition, not the replacement. There are also various vitamins and minerals that can be purchases at pet shops and that contain more than one supplement in one product.
Raw Dog Food for Young Dogs
Puppies are known as survivors who are able to get used to quickly not only to their environments but food as well. You can start feeding your puppy this diet when he is around 6 weeks of age; however, you should be cautious.
Raw meat and bones should be always minced together so you avoid any injuries or suffocation. If a puppy swallows a small piece of bone, he can hurt his stomach or even worse – suffocate.
From a month and 2 weeks of age and on, you can start feeding your puppy bigger pieces of meat, plus smaller soft bones for him to chew on. This chewing is important so the puppy can practice his jaw muscles and make them stronger.
The puppy should be encouraged to nip and rip at the meat so he can grow faster. When it comes to chicken, the wing tips should be cut off in order to prevent a pet choking on them. The same applies to fish bones which are never given, even to adult dogs.
Adult dogs are usually fed twice per day. It is believed that since dogs are omnivores, they are made to enjoy periods of fasting and that can be done once per week. Puppies under six months of age should be fed three times per day.
Things to Consider Before Feeding Raw Food
If you decide to make homemade raw food for your dog then you should make sure that it is balanced. Many vets have expressed concern when it comes to nutritional imbalance in dogs that are brought to them.
Your pet’s diet should consist of all the important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fatty acids. It is easy to overlook this when feeding raw meat because they think it is enough. If your dog does not get all the nutrients then he might develop problems with immune health, stomach and bone growth.
This does not mean that all commercially bought food is nutritionally balanced, but many brands offer the proper mixture of vitamins and minerals. There are owners who, unfortunately, do not know how to make a proper balance of all nutrients and feed their pets with raw meat only.
When it comes to parasites and bacteria, dogs are able to cope with them better than humans; however, there are still some that can cause concern. If you want to get rid of possible parasites, you should freeze the meat for three weeks before serving it but bear in mind that freezing cannot kill bacteria.
Of course, after serving and preparing the homemade raw meal, you should not only wash your hands but also clean all the utensils used in making the raw food and disinfect the surface you chopped it on.
The Prey Model
The prey model is a controversial style of raw diet that is based on a diet of wolves and wild dogs. As you already know, in the wild wolves eat the whole “prey” which includes everything except some really hard bones and stomach.
There are owners who believe that mimicking this kind of raw feeding would be the best for their dogs since they are the descendants of wolves. They give their dogs huge chunks of meat and other organs and bones.
This kind of feeding is not bad; however, unless you give the whole prey to your dog and instead just give him chunks of meat with additional organs then that diet might not be properly balanced.
One of the reasons for this is that our dogs as we know them today have evolved and demand various minerals and nutrients that sometimes cannot be even found in whole prey.
That means that even if you give most of the deer or sheep to your dog, the nutrient content of that animals will depend on how it was raised and where it lived. In that case your dog might need additional nutrients in a form of eggs and vegetables.
Additionally, you should take into consideration that prey can contain bacteria and parasites that may be harmful for your dog, so it is perhaps better to buy organic meat at the local store.
Commercial Raw Dog Food
If you unwilling to prepare homemade raw dog food, then you can check out commercially made raw meals. There are not many brands that offer this type of food since raw meat cannot be contained for a long period of time, but there are two types:
- Complete Raw Food is the most common one and it comes in a variety of packages. Most of these frozen meals also include additional nutrients in a form of vegetables and dairy supplements in order to provide your pet with a complete diet. That means that you can find not only frozen raw meat but also frozen raw bones, organs, fish – all in one. Some of the brands that offer this type of food are Steve’s Real Food for Dogs and Primal Formulas. These meals are high in proteins and fat and they are considered the best mixture of all needed nutrients. The downside of this food is that it is unfortunately very expensive.
- The second type is the commercial frozen diet that does not represent a complete diet but different meals that can be bought separately and combined. Some of the popular brands include: Mixes, Bravo! and Oma’s Pride. This means that you can buy frozen bones and combine them with frozen meat organs etc. You should know which nutrients your dog needs the most and then buy them according to that.
Raw Dog Food Recipe and Treats
If you have decided to prepare a homemade raw meal for your furry friend, then the best thing you can do is make a couple of daily meals and freeze them in storage bags for the later use.
The daily meal should weight 2% of your pet’s adult weight, so divide the amount according to that. Let’s say that your dog eats 300 g of food per day and that you would like to freeze the food that would last for at least one to two weeks. The following recipe should include:
- 2 kilos of raw ground meat of your choice;
- 3 kilos of chicken mice;
- 200 g of liver or kidneys;
- 2 whole eggs;
- one broccoli or carrot;
- 3 spoons of yoghurt;
- Get a large bowl that you will use for mixing the ingredients. Choose and buy the ground meat of your choice or the one your pet prefers (it can be beef, deer, etc.), put it into the bowl and add chicken mice which is affordable but tasty.
- Mix them together and then prepare the vegetables. Pick a piece of carrot, broccoli or cauliflower, blend them and add water and spoons of yoghurt to them. After they have become a soft mixture add them to the bowl with meat.
- After you have mixed everything together you should think carefully about any supplements or additional minerals. That depends on your dog’s age and general health, but many pet stores sell ground vitamins that can be easily added to the finished meals.
- Many owners go for coconut oil or vitamin C if their dogs are prone to skin allergies. Fish oils such as salmon oils are also popular and can be purchased at pet stores plus they do wonders for coats and skin. If you decide to add supplements of any kind, make sure to add only one spoon of oil or one spoon of grounded vitamin C.
- Mix all the ingredients well until they become one mixture, scale the mixture to be 300 g each and put into storage bags.
When it comes to treats, it is definitely easier to simply go to the pet shop and purchase a bag of popular treats. Your dog would probably love them, but are they that really good for him? However, they are very easy to make.
Instead of making large quantities, you can combine raw meat with cottage cheese and vegetables and roll them into small balls that will serve as snacks. The great things about this is that you can put more than one meatball into a storage bag and if you make a couple of storage bags they can last two to three weeks.
Do not use only one type of meat but rotate it from time to time. Also make sure to remember that these treats should be used to award good behavior and they should not replace regular full meals.
The Benefits and Risks
There are many reported advantaged when it comes to feeding your dog with raw meat, but there are also some potential risks. There should not be problems as long as you purchase healthy meat, the one you should purchase for your family.
However, the opinions of many vets differ on this subject and there is no scientific proof that would show whether the raw dog food diet is really the best.
- Shiny coat
- Clean and white teeth
- Healthy gums
- Higher energy levels
- Smaller and firmer stools
- The bacteria and parasites in raw meat can be dangerous to both humans and dogs
- The risk of broken teeth or internal punctures due to raw bones
To conclude the article, we have covered the most important and basic info regarding the best raw dog food. This dog diet is very controversial because of the belief that raw meat is unsafe and can create aggression in dogs.
However, there are also many benefits that have been noted. Raw meat decreases the bad odor in dogs and it reduces the stools. It is the source of all the important nutrients and minerals that cannot be found in kibble.
Many owners who feed their dogs with raw meat say that their coats are always shiny while the gums and teeth are white and healthy. There are no reported cases of allergies and skin problems. The stools become firmer which is a proof that raw meat consists of more useful minerals that can absorbed in bigger dosages than the ones from commercial food.
Dog’s digestive system cannot handle well grains and preservatives, which is why so many dog breeds have skin allergies and stomach problems.
The recipes in this article prove that it is not that difficult and expensive to prepare raw meat meals for your dog, as long as you perform a good research and make sure to monitor your dog’s reactions to his new diet.
Have you ever tried raw dog food diet and what do you think about it? Thanks for reading and if you have any thoughts to share with us, do not hesitate to let us know in the comments below.