Raw Dog Food for Beginners - All You Need to Know!

For years now, dog owners have been feeding raw dog food to their dogs, particularly for dogs who are struggling with allergies, weight issues and problems with the digestive system. Pet owners have turned to raw dog food because feeding dogs the way nature has intended means that dogs get their nutrients from nutrients that a dog’s body has been designed to digest. 

If you are just starting out in researching whether or not raw dog food is the way you should go with your dog’s diet, you’ve landed on the right article. All about raw dog food for beginners below!

Raw Dog Food for Beginners - All You Need to Know
Photo by Anoir Chafik on Unsplash

What is raw dog food?

As the name suggests, raw dog food is, well, raw and uncooked. It is feeding your dog what it has been anatomically designed to eat. There are many questions regarding whether dogs can eat raw meat or not. Well, whether dogs are domesticated or not, a dog has many carnivorous traits, though they are actually omnivores, and they absolutely love meat. Just take a look at their teeth. It is designed to rip meat apart! 

However, you cannot just feed your dog raw meat and deem your work done. A raw food diet for dogs must contain all the essential nutrients for them to thrive. This includes protein, bones and a little bit of vegetables.

Benefits of Raw Dog Food

A raw diet for your dog is biologically appropriate for your dog. With that being said, there are several health benefits if your dog eats raw and natural whole foods. Among the benefits include: 

  • Reduced allergies
  • Shinier coat and less shedding
  • Stronger immunity
  • Better cognitive skills
  • Increased energy 
  • Healthier stool
  • Better weight management
  • Better eye health
  • Improved ear health
  • Better gut health
  • Less inflammation
  • Improved digestion

Disadvantages of Raw Dog Food

With the pros come a few cons. Although feeding your dog a raw diet looks perfect on paper, the reality is that there are some minor inconveniences that come with the territory. 

Among the disadvantages are:

1. Cost

As compared to kibble, raw dog food is definitely more expensive. However, keep in mind that the advantages of raw dog food likely outweigh the costs and the vet bills that come with an unhealthy dog. 

Although it may be hard to justify the cost, some dog supplements may also not be needed after switching over to raw dog food. Therefore, costs basically come out to be the same, just that it is not as clear cut. 

2. Safety

Raw dog food has received a bad rap as there has been a lot of confusion and safety of food handling practices. 

Raw Feeding Safety Tips for Dogs

We have long been taught that the bacteria in meat is harmful, particularly salmonella, E. coli and listeria. This is why raw meat should be prepared and handled with caution. 

However, a dog’s digestive system is designed to handle a certain amount of bacteria. Dogs have an extremely acidic stomach which kills many types of bacteria. Their stomach also processes food much faster than humans, which means that the raw food goes through their system fast enough so that bacteria is unable to populate their digestive system. 

With that being said, there are a few extra safety tips when handling raw dog food for beginners, which include: 

  1. Storing properly in glass, ceramic or metal containers
  2. Wash your hands before and after handling raw meat 
  3. Disinfect the natural way with a dilution of 10% vinegar.
  4. Safe feeding. Do not let raw meat sit out for more than half an hour to prevent bacteria growth.
  5. Avoid plastic bowls when feeding

As you are a beginner, you would likely still be in doubt when handling raw dog food. Safe raw dog food just takes practice and some knowledge!

3. Preparation

You will need time if you want to make your dog go on a raw diet as there is preparation and more work involved. You will have to make a meal plan for your dog, portion out the food and defrost the correct amount of food, all of which can be rather time consuming and a drawback for many. 

How to Choose the Best Raw Diet for Your Dog

There are so many choices, styles and flavours when it comes to feeding your dog raw food. The most important thing to do is to ensure your dog is receiving what it needs. You can always ask your vet to put together a proper meal plan if you are unsure about how to go about it. 

Ideally, a complete, full dog meal will have fresh meat, bone, organ meats and fresh produce. This way, your dog receives all the vitamins and minerals naturally. 

In order to choose the best raw diet for your dog, you have to have a strong foundation when it comes to feeding your dog.

Raw food foundations

There are two models of which most raw feeding styles are based on - the BARF diet and the Prey Model diet. 

Both of these models will suit most dogs and have been around for decades. 

BARF Diet

The BARF diet for dogs stands for Bones and Raw Feeding. Of the BARF diet and Prey Model diet, the BARF diet is more popular. 

Basically, this diet is to ensure that there are enough essential nutrients so that your dog does not lack. 

The breakdown of the BARF diet is: 

  • 70% muscle meat
  • 10% edible bone
  • 8% vegetables
  • 5% liver
  • 5% other organs
  • 2% fruit

Prey Model

The Prey Model diet is more suitable for pet owners who have cats and dogs because this diet is a more natural diet for a carnivore. 

The breakdown of the Prey Model is:

  • 80% muscle meat
  • 10% edible bone
  • 5% liver
  • 5% other organs

The lack of fruits and vegetables is a drawback for the Prey Model. As the fibre from fruits and vegetables support dog digestion, the lack of it poses a problem. Animal fibre can be included in place of fruits and vegetables. 

Types of Raw Dog Food

As you know, there are several types of raw dog food. The best way to choose the best type of raw dog food for your dog is to figure out what your dog needs and see which type is best suited for your lifestyle. Types of raw dog food include:

Frozen raw dog food

Typically sold in pre-portioned patties or in large blocks, you will have to plan and portion out your dog’s meals if you purchase frozen raw dog food. To meet your dog’s nutritional needs, it is better to feed it a full raw meal so that no extra supplements are needed. 

Freeze-dried, dehydrated or air-dried raw dog food

Freeze-dried or dehydrated raw dog food is easier to store. It is a great option if you are travelling and for portioning smaller meals. Freeze-dried raw dog food is usually packed in a more condensed form so you can just throw it into your luggage to travel. 

This option is also much easier to handle so if you do not like to handle raw meat, freeze-dried raw dog food is the way to go. It usually comes in one of the three following options:

  • Ready to eat - can be rehydrated or mixed with bone broth but will need time to absorb the liquid
  • Rehydrate - once rehydrated, texture will be similar to a canned diet
  • Premixes - rehydrate and add to a meat of your own choosing

Homemade 

As you practice feeding your dog homemade raw dog food, your confidence will grow. Eventually, raw dog food for beginners will be a thing of the past as you take more control of your dog’s health. 

As the cost of raw dog food is increasing, feeding homemade food allows you to source for your own ingredients. If there are any doubts, talk to your vet to get recommendations on what to do as a poorly balanced diet for your dog could have long term health consequences. 

General Raw Feeding Guidelines 

A raw diet needs to be customized to suit your dog’s nutritional needs. Just because raw dog food is good does not mean that each formula is balanced. 

Keep in mind that there are different nutritional requirements for dogs at different stages of their life such as puppies and nutritional requirements again differ from breed to breed. 

Raw Food for Large and Small Breeds

Modify your dog’s raw food diet to support its breed characteristic. While the basics of nutrition are the same, most dog breeds differ in terms of skeletal structure and metabolism so you have to take that into account. 

Raw Diets for Puppies and Senior Dogs

Puppies and senior dogs require an increase in certain nutrients as their bodies are growing and changing. Consider that puppies and senior dogs require the following nutrients and add it to their diet accordingly, whether through supplements or from natural sources: 

  • Omega Fatty Acids
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorous

As you can see, raw dog food for puppies and senior dogs have slightly different requirements. Adjust accordingly. 

Conclusion

We get it. Raw dog food for beginners is always intimidating, seeing as you have to take into account food handling, portioning and your dog’s nutritional needs. If you decide to go this route for your dog, check out Petcubes’ range of raw dog food. It may be easier for you to handle. Also, check with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet and read these additional 10 simple tips when raw feeding your dog.

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