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The Pros & Cons Of A Raw Food Diet For Your Dog

The Pros and Cons of a Raw Food Diet for your Dog Header

The Pros & Cons Of A Raw Food Diet For Your Dog

You might have heard your friends talking about feeding a raw diet, but what exactly is a raw diet? Is it giving your dog a raw steak from the local butcher? Not quite! Raw food for pets is still relatively new on store shelves but this raw food isn’t the same as ours. Raw food for pets is made to be a complete meal that provides everything your pet needs to live a happy, healthy life. But what are the pros and cons of feeding a raw diet?

Pros:

  1. Increased excitement for meal time: Some pet parents think their pets are picky eaters but in reality they’re just bored of what they’ve been getting. A raw diet can increase meal time excitement.
  2. Maintain weight or lose weight: Raw diets are deal for maintaining or loosing weight as they mimic what they would eat in the wild.
  3. Improved health: Raw diets can provide many health benefits such as: improved digestion, better skin and coat health, and increased energy.
  4. Less poop or less frequent: On an all raw diet ideally feces will turn grey and flake away after a few days. That means less pooper scooping. Some owners report their dog is still wanting going out as much but often times bowel movements are smaller.
  5. Better odor and breath: Raw diets can help with pet odor including eliminating that corn chip smell some dogs paws have from a diet too high in carbohydrates. It can also help make breath fresher as raw diets can naturally clean teeth.

Cons:

  1. Cost: Raw diets can be more expensive than kibble (dry food) depending on the size of your dog and what you currently are feeding.
  2. Bacteria in raw meat: While raw diets are tested to be safe, you are handling raw meat which means if handled improperly could lead to pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli infecting humans.
  3. Unbalanced diet: It’s important to do research before feeding your dog an all raw diet to ensure they are getting all the proper nutrients they need. Many owners are tempted to give their dogs only raw meat. This not only could lead to pathogens but it could also lead to a sick pet.
  4. Time consuming: For those owners preparing their dogs food, time can be a huge factor. Is your pet food frozen? You will still have to remember to let the food thaw in the fridge before serving (unless your pet likes it frozen solid).
  5. Less convenient: Raw diets do not travel well. Many hotels do not have a freezer large enough to accommodate the amount of raw you may need to bring. Certain brands of raw may not be available to purchase at your destination either.

Raw diets aren’t for everybody and that’s ok. Some pet parents feed all raw, others only do a meal or two each week, and some don’t do any raw. Perhaps you can make it one of your New Years resolutions to incorporate more raw into your pets diet. If you’re thinking about raw there are many different brands on the market to suit every need. Here are a few of the top raw commercial dog food brands on the market:

Benefits of Raw Feeding InfographicWhat do you feed your pet? Let us know in the comments or @WetNosesPetSitting. Curious about cats? This information applies to cats too.

Should You Feed Your Dog Raw Chicken?

 

The idea of feeding raw, healthy foods to your dog has become more popular in recent years with the increased knowledge about animal nutrition. So should you feed your dog raw chicken? The answer is yes, and no.

Feed Chicken in Moderation

There is a huge difference to feeding your dog raw chicken as the primary ingredient in their raw diet, versus giving your dog a chicken wing now and then. If you are considering feeding your dog a raw diet, there are many amazing resources on the internet and you should do your research first. As a general consensus, poultry should not be the main protein for a raw diet, so you will want to avoid it in general. But if you are wanting to feed your dog raw chicken as a small part of her raw diet, or in addition to her commercial diet, there are some great advantages to raw chicken.

If you are wondering why your dog should not eat raw chicken as her primary protein, take a look at this wonderful article by Dogs Naturally Magazine.

Advantages of Feeding Your Dog Raw Chicken

If you want to feed raw chicken in small amounts, there are many advantages:

  • Raw chicken can easily be found for an inexpensive price and is often on sale.
  • Raw chicken can be found in small pieces with bones for any size dog.
  • Chewing on raw bones helps clean dog teeth, avoiding the need for frequent dental cleanings.
  • Chicken makes a great snack! Check out our Pupsicles recipes.
  • Raw diets are shown to cause healthier skin, shinier coats, higher energy levels and smaller stools.

My dog is fed a raw diet but will not chew on large bones. I feed him small chicken cuts with bones a couple times a week to ensure his teeth stay healthy and shiny! It makes up a small percentage of his diet but the advantages are huge!

Common Concerns of Feeding Raw Chicken

When I talk to people about feeding raw food, I hear a lot of the same concerns repeated. Let me put your concerns to rest!

  1. Won’t raw chicken make my dog sick? Nope! Dogs have more stomach acid than humans and it helps them break down food and makes them less susceptible to things like salmonella. You still want to keep the chicken as fresh as possible, but how many times have you heard of a dog eating something gross on the street and then being fine? Dog stomachs can handle a lot in stride.
  2. Aren’t bones bad for dogs? Yes! Cooked bones are terrible for dogs and you should never, ever, feed your dog a cooked bone. The process of cooking bones makes them brittle and likely to shatter into shards, which can puncture the esophagus and stomach. However, raw bones are easy to chew and do not shatter, making them safe for dog consumption.
  3. Won’t my dog choke on the bone? Possibly. It is important to know your dog and find bones that are just large enough to stop her from swallowing them whole. Always supervise your dog while she is eating bones to make sure she does not do something silly, and never feed her around another dog where she would feel pressured to eat quickly.

dog chewing on raw chicken

How to Optimize Feeding Your Dog Raw Chicken

If you decide to go ahead and try feeding your dog raw chicken, there are a few ways to make sure you get the best chicken possible:

  1. Check out local chicken raisers, food co-ops and farmer’s markets. If you have the money, this is where you will find the highest quality chicken. You may be able to work out a deal for buying “dog quality” chicken, which generally means it would not taste good to a human for some reason. Sometimes egg raising farmers will need to cull their flocks (chickens stop laying eggs after a certain age) and they will sell the slaughtered hens for cheap.
  2. Research the source of chicken for local grocery stores. You do not want chicken that has additives, and many stores will add salt for flavor. Rule out these stores so you know where to focus your search.
  3. When you find stores that carry high quality chicken, keep an eye out for sales and buy in bulk. Chicken can freeze for a long time and your dog does not care about freezer burn. If you have the space consider getting a chest freezer to store only dog food.

Ways To Feed Your Dog Raw Chicken

I know the hold up for many people is that feeding your dog raw chicken is gross. You will hear no disagreements from me! So how can you keep the grossness to a minimum?

  1. Keep raw chicken in a separate area of your freezer. If you are going to feed only small amounts, consider dividing it up and wrapping it separately before freezing, so you can just thaw out the part you need. I buy in bulk, freeze it all in 1-2 lb batches, then thaw and separate out sections as I need them.
  2. Have a plan for where your dog will eat the raw chicken. My dog is only allowed to eat raw chicken out in the yard. Some people put their dog in a crate and some lay down a towel. Find a system that works for you.
  3. Have a schedule for feeding the raw chicken. This will stop you from feeding it too often and allows you a chance to thaw it in the fridge in advance.
  4. Clearly mark chicken that is for the dog! This was an early mistake I made and I would spend endless time sorting through my freezer trying to remember which was for the dog and which we should have for dinner.
  5. Make sure you get the right size bones for your dog. Every dog is different and some dogs will swallow small bones whole, defeating the purpose of cleaning their teeth. Try out some different sizes and see what works best for your dog. My dog believes in chewing up everything into tiny pieces, and gets daunted by large bones, so I only give him smaller ones.
  6. Clean up any left over meat, unless you do not mid your dog rolling in it. My dog’s favorite trick is to bury his meat then dig it up a week later to roll in it. Gross!

Give It a Try!

If you have been thinking about feeding your dog raw chicken, give it a try! It may seem like a hassle at first but once you get in a system it can be easy to do and has great benefits for your dog.

If you have been considering feeding a raw diet, see how I prepare food for my dog. I batch all his food for 1-2 weeks so I do not need to prep it every day.

How to Choose A Dog Food

 

Choosing a brand and type of dog food can be really overwhelming. There are hundreds of types on the market, all with various claims.

First, think about what you need. 

-Does your dog need grain free, or specific allergy food?

-What type of lifestyle does your dog have? Is he very active or does he loaf around all day? Ask your vet about this.

-Does your dog need a certain life-stage food?Is your dog a puppy,or an older adult dog? Puppies need higher calorie diets while they grow. An adult on puppy food will gain a lot of weight.

Some things to look for when looking at dog foods:

Single ingredient:This means that the food contains 95% or more of that ingredient.Anything else means that the food only needs to contain 25% of the advertised meat.

Ingredients list:Dog food ingredients are listed by weight.So if the first ingredient is chicken, then there is more chicken(by weight) than any other ingredient.Keep in mind some of the things you want more of may be farther down the list.Foods are weighed after the water is removed.

Grain Free: While some dogs have grain/gluten allergies, most can metabolize them. Grain free foods are often higher in protein, so this may be a better option for dogs who need a high protein diet.

Price point:Depending of what type and how many dogs you have, you could be buying 2 or more bags of food a month.Do not choose a food that you cannot afford to feed your dog long term. There are many high quality foods on the market that will not break the bank.

While choosing a dog food can be very confusing, doing your research and considering what your dog needs will make it much easier.Always consult your vet on diet changes, and transition foods slowly.