The past few years I’ve been doing a fair bit of research into dog food, learning about proteins and essential nutrients and it’s a topic I didn’t want to write about until I could get facts and opinions from both sides of the ‘debate’. That is, to feed raw or not to feed raw?
I understand this is a very controversial subject many dog owners are rather passionate about, some on the other hand may never have heard of raw diets at all. I’m not looking for a concrete answer but I’m genuinely interested to hear your thoughts and opinions on the matter because part 2 of this feature will include a poll and discussion page so everybody can have their say.
Before I go into my thoughts on the matter, I’ll briefly go through some of the pros and cons of raw and kibble along with some interesting statements. These points are based on the testimonies of four people with different material interests in different diets as well as things which I was taught during my apprenticeship. However, this is NOT a scientific list and includes just a few opinions to get us started. As it stands, and as far as I’m aware, there is no conclusive scientific research. I would love to hear from anybody but particularly people who are trained in nutrition or who can present a relatively unbiased view!
At the bottom is a gallery of everyone’s submitted pictures of their dogs eating. I needed one for a featured picture and the response I got was overwhelming so I wanted to show everybody off!
I’ll try and not get technical here and hopefully I won’t make too much of a dogs dinner out of this. (Excuse the pun…)
Hold tight, we’re going in!
- Different selections and formulas depending on the development stage of the dog (puppy, adult, senior, pregnant etc.)
- Many regard it’s much easier to measure out
- Easily found in shops like supermarkets
- Easy to store, can be purchased in bulk amounts
- Price of feed is often cheaper
- Dry food rarely goes bad as long as used within the expiration date.
- The heating process can often cause some important nutrients to be lost, especially in the cheaper brands
- Many dogs (especially working dogs) require high amounts of protein and nutrients that are often lacking in dry foods
- Not as appealing as wet food, especially with fussy dogs
- Dry kibble brands are often lacking in quality to save costs to the manufacturer
- They can leave the dog thirsty, fresh water must always be available for the dog
- Often high in carbohydrates which have been reported to cause allergy and digestive problems
“At Eden we have tried to create a food which is as close to a dog’s ancestral diet as we can, dogs are carnivores which means they would have eaten prey animals and some fruit and vegetables. Eden is nutritionally aligned to this natural diet with 80% quality meat content, 20% fruit and vegetables and just as importantly none of the nasties such as Grains including Wheat, Maize, Corn, Rice, Beet Pulp, colourings, flavourings and artificial preservatives which are linked to allergies and many illnesses. Eden is therefore naturally hypo-allergenic.
To retain as much of the nutritional content as possible, Eden is gently steamed cooked at 90 Celsius locking in all the natural flavour of the meat whilst still ensuring the food is safely cooked.”
– Paul Conquest, Nutritionist & Proprietor of Eden Holistic Pet Foods
“I like to ensure that my puppies are getting not only the protein but also the other vitamins and minerals they need so that their muscle and bone structure develops just as it should.
The dry food I use is grain free to avoid the usual ‘bloating’ that can be associated with a dry diet, and provides a strong balance of 65% protein from free run animals alongside 35% fresh vegetables and botanicals. As the owner of a rescue pup with joint problems, my dry dog food also includes joint care, helping to ensure his legs stay strong for as long as possible.”
– Laura, Editor of The Puppy Tails
- Higher moisture content doesn’t dehydrate the dog
- Very tasty and desirable
- High quality ingredients, many of which are human grade foods
- Higher protein content which gives more energy and is excellent for active and working dogs
- Very low in carbohydrates
- Many owners report better eating habits, fewer allergies, shinier coats, healthier teeth and fewer trips to the vets
- Can often be very expensive
- Will require to be stored in a freezer
- Airway obstruction and choking from uncooked bones
- Preparation can be time consuming
- Raw meat can contain high bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella if not prepared properly
- Can be awkward to use when travelling with your dog
“I have always believed the lies that commercial pet food companies have told us about how healthy & balanced their food is for our dogs until I started looking into the ‘truth’ behind commercial pet food and was quite frankly sickened. I began to realise that the diet our dogs were on was in fact poisoning them!! I changed them over to a raw diet Its not complicated, our hounds are happier, healthier, their coats shine and they are full of vitality, the transformation has been nothing short of miraculous. I would ‘Never’ go back to commercial pet food again.”
– Donna Saunders, show Basset handler & breeder. www.houndsbaybassets.co.uk
“The difference with the raw diet is that it acts to encourage the dogs bodies own rebalancing systems, digestive tract health, detoxing abilities and its ability to create nutrients itself internally.
Just as bones are set up to mend themselves and cuts are set up to heal, all creatures internal organs are capable of rebalancing for health when given the correct conditions to do so. The moisture content and the enzyme content of the diet are key to these functions happening in the dogs body, as is the presence of natural unprocessed nutrients.
In this day and age of environmental toxins, electrical stresses and busier more stressful lifestyles our dogs have a lot to cope with, detox and rebalance from. Putting in all the nutrients every day is only a third of the issue, your dog needs to be able to digest them and then utilise them too!
There are now many cheap and economical, easy to serve raw pet foods available, many stringently tested for bacteria safety too. The traditional fears of raw feeding have now been addressed by professional raw pet food companies. I have been raw feeding and recommending raw feeding to friends for 18 years, I have never known anyone who switched to go back to processed foods.”
– Caroline Griffith, Nutritionist, Pet Nation Pioneer – www.carolinegriffith.com
These are just a few examples and I have no doubt there is a solution to every one of those cons above. It’s a very tough call!
As a former kennel manager myself, I’ve experienced just about every type of dog food on the market on a daily basis, from supermarkets budget kibble food to frozen meat from Natures Menu. However I’ve never really experienced a long term result to make my mind up.
I’ve seen dogs eat the same brand of dry food for 18 years and live a full and healthy life.
On the other hand almost everyone I’ve spoken to who feeds their dogs on raw say the same thing – ‘I’ve seen such a difference!’ Maybe it comes down to the individual dog or a particular brand? I suppose there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers here and at the end of the day it comes down to the owners preference.
I want to know what YOU think. Do you own a dog? Perhaps you’ve changed onto raw food for your working dog and have seen a huge difference? Maybe you’ve gone back to dry kibble as a result of upset stomachs or a bad experience with raw meat? I’d love to know!
Ps. Here is a selection of the photos submitted to me through Facebook, Twitter and email. I must admit, I was smiling throughout looking at these photos, thanks to all who made my day!