Raw food diets not only mimic what your dog’s ancestors ate in the wild—they are also packed with natural flavors and valuable nutrients.
Some owners opt to make their pooch’s raw pet food at home with raw meats, organs and bones. This process can be fun and gratifying, but it’s also time-consuming and messy. Fortunately, there are freeze-dried and frozen options; these choices take the guesswork out of a raw food diet.
Designed for Raw Protein
Whether a fluffy Pomeranian or a rough-and-tumble big mixed breed, your dog is designed for raw protein. Pull back your dog’s gums and check out those powerful, pointy teeth. Their jaws chop up and down—not in a side-to-side grinding motion—which is ideal for cutting meat into chunks.
A dog’s gut and digestive system is also optimized for meat. Meat-eating animals—like dogs—also have a higher concentration of stomach acid to break down meat and bone. Dogs’ intestinal tracts are short and smooth, designed to push protein through quickly.
Raw dog food, also known as the BARF Diet (an acronym that stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food), is about more than just meat. It’s a mix of muscle meat, bones (either whole or ground), organ meats such as the liver and kidneys, raw eggs, vegetables and fruit.
Conventional Kibble Can’t Mimic Raw Food
Most conventional kibble contains grains like corn, oatmeal or rice to bind the protein source together. Grain-free dog food doesn’t use these inexpensive, lower-quality binders; instead, you’ll find ingredients such as potato, peas or lentils.
As you’ve already learned, dogs simply aren’t designed to ingest a lot of carbohydrates. “All carbohydrates, no matter what the type, ultimately break down into sugar,” notes Dr. Laurie Coger, veterinarian and owner of HealthyDogWorkshop.com. “Sugars feed obesity, cancer, and inflammation in the body, leading to diabetes, arthritis, chronic ear and skin infections, and worse.”
Conventional kibble can contain substandard ingredients, artificial colors and flavors, preservatives and other food-grade chemicals. The process of creating kibble can strip otherwise wholesale ingredients of their nutritional values. Manufacturers try to add these nutrients back in via synthetic vitamins and other enzymes, but it’s simply not the same as food in its natural, raw state.
Raw Dog Food Benefits
Proponents of the BARF Diet say that there are many raw dog food benefits. “Owners often mention that their dogs don’t smell anymore!” notes Dr. Coger. Other BARF benefits may include shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, higher energy levels and improved digestion.
Such pet nutrition may also improve a dog’s immune functioning. “I have seen several cancer dogs exceed their projected survival time, with no chemotherapy, by switching to fresh food and supplements,” says Dr. Coger.