Dog owners who are looking for a solution to allergies, digestive problems, skin and coat problems, degenerative diseases have turned to a raw dog food diet (aka BARF). Many people think that to provide their dogs with a balanced diet, they should feed them raw, healthy food. If properly fed, animal health advocates say that this diet will optimize the health and lifespan of your pet.
What is a raw dog food diet?
According to many people, this diet can provide your dog with everything it needs in a much more natural way. Users claim that their pet’s allergies start to disappear quickly, their coat improves and that recurrent ear infections stop. Get more information about dog food allergies here. The idea behind raw food is to provide dogs with their natural diet, or the things they would eat by nature. It’s not just about giving your dog large pieces of raw meat; other elements are necessary for a diet to be truly healthy and balanced.
Before you even consider giving your dog a raw food diet, you will need to spend a lot of time researching, reading the different opinions on this feeding method and learning about the pros and cons of it. Developing an appropriate and balanced raw food diet can also be difficult, as it involves a variety of foods, including raw meat, bones, vegetables, and supplements.
What does a raw dog food diet consist of?
On a raw dog food diet, you shouldn’t be feeding your dog cooked cereals, dry foods or kibble, even if companies have listed “with real meat” or “all-natural formula based on rice and chicken” on the label. Make sure to read all the ingredients on the back of the package.
A raw diet should consist of:
- Muscle meat, often with bone
- Bones, whole or crushed
- Organ meats such as livers and kidneys
- Raw eggs
- Vegetables like broccoli and spinach
- Dairy products such as yogurt
Some people also add cooked rice to get a more nutriet rich diet.
Consumption of raw food has been the subject of the ongoing controversy over bacterial infections. When preparing red meat for pets, you must take extra care to avoid contamination. Constantly cleaning the kitchen counter, using a clean knife, and washing hands.
Provide your dog with a minimum of 5% and a maximum of 20% of organ meat. The liver, gizzard, heart and kidneys are excellent options, they are healthy and contain enough fat content. The rest of the fat recommended amount will come from the skin of the meat or from adding other oils to the recipe. Make sure to buy the meat either fresh from the market or frozen, this ensures that it is not contaminated.
Fruits and vegetables
Only 20 to 40% of your dog’s diet should come from fruits and vegetables, which provide him with vitamins. There are some fruits that you should avoid as they can be harmful like grapes, bananas, apples, raisins, onions, high doses of garlic, raw potatoes and fruit pits. The same applies to vegetables, avoid peas, carrots, celery, and squash. Read more about safe and non-safe fruit for dogs here.
Advantages of raw dog food
- Healthier teeth
- Better weight and digestion management
- Not allergenic
- Harder, smaller and less smelly stools
- More energy
- Better endurance
- Strengthens the immune system and metabolism
- Improved liver, pancreatic and intestinal health
The raw food diet also includes the consumption of parts of animals that are generally avoided by humans which helps reduce waste. What is good for our pets is also good for our environment, so it’s a win-win situation.
Why don’t all veterinarians recommend a raw diet?
Despite the many health benefits, people might not know how to properly balance all of the micronutrients that dogs need, and this can lead to deficiencies and future health problems.
Is raw food safe for dogs?
Yes, when the meat comes from 100% grass-fed animals and the commercial kitchen that processed it is clean and safe. At home, store and handle raw dog food as you would with any meat.
IMPORTANT: The raw diet is only safe for dogs 12 weeks and older.
Try these homemade raw dog food (BARF) recipes
Recipe 1: Rice with chicken
It is one of the easiest dishes to prepare in a dog’s raw food diet. Adjust the amounts of food according to the weight and the level of physical activity of your dog.
- 75% of the ratio will be a raw chicken carcass.
- 25% of the ration will be rice.
- In a saucepan, pour a tablespoon of olive oil and heat.
- Add the rice and let it soak in the hot oil, stirring regularly.
- Pour water until you reach double the volume of rice and bring to a boil.
- Cook in a small stock for 10 minutes.
- Mix the cooked rice with the raw chicken and serve.
Serve the bones raw and adapted to the size of your dog’s mouth. If you cook them, they could split upon chewing and get lodged anywhere in the digestive tract.
Recipe 2: Fish with vegetables
To accompany this recipe, you can use seasonal vegetables, but unlike meat, you have to cook the veggies as they can be hard to digest.
The ingredients required for this recipe are:
- 50% of the weight from hake fish
- 50% of the weight divided between carrot, potato, red pepper and spinach
- Clean the fish: remove the scales, the skin and the bones. Cut it into pieces and set aside.
- Peel the vegetables and cut them into pieces.
- Fill a pan with water and add the potato and carrot. Bring the water to a boil.
- After five minutes, add the pepper and spinach.
- Cook for five minutes, then turn off the heat and drain the vegetables well.
- Mix them in a bowl with the raw fish and serve your dog.