Many people are surprised to learn that I feed my dog, Bella, a raw diet. I chose to switch her over from premium kibble to a raw diet as a puppy because I felt that it was a healthier, more natural diet for a dog. Feeding Bella quality dog food has always been important to me, and when I first brought her home, I chose to feed her premium kibble. However, she didn’t really seem to enjoy eating kibble, regardless of the brand. So, I began researching to find out if there was be a better option for her, and learned about the benefits of raw dog food.
Most people don’t even know that raw food is something that you can feed your dog. While I knew it was an option after my childhood dog developed diabetes, I thought of it as a diet that you would choose if your dog was sick or had allergies. I didn’t realize that it was a healthy choice for healthy dogs until I began researching dog food options and read Give A Dog A Bone.
When I tell people that I feed my dog raw food, the most common question I get is, “Why do you feed raw instead of kibble?” The easiest way to explain it is comparing eating cereal to eating fresh foods. While both theoretically can have all the vitamins you need, I feel that eating the same thing every single time you eat can’t possibly be the best way to get those nutrients. Much of the reading I’ve done does suggests that there are negative effects from cooking dog food, such as kibble, but since there is no science that can conclusively say one is better than the other, I’ll just say the primary reason I choose to feed raw is because it is more natural. In terms of diet, more natural often goes hand in hand with biologically appropriate, which basically means that your dog should eat the food it is physically and genetically designed to eat. At the very least, raw dog food, prepared correctly with human-grade ingredients, is as good as kibble, and it likely offers more nutrients then home-cooked dog food because of the inclusion of bone.
What happens when you cook dog food?
- Cooking destroys the naturally-occurring enzymes, amino acids, and vitamins essential to a dog’s diet.
- Cooking results in cross-linking which binds things on a cellular level creating new substances and preventing absorption of nutrients.
- Cooked food weakens the dog’s immune system making it prone to degenerative diseases.
On a daily basis, I prefer to feed my dog a diet that she would eat naturally, taking advantage of the health benefits of minimally-processed REAL food, and avoid all the supposed negative effects of cooked food, just in case.
Despite the fact that raw food is at least comparable to kibble, many people are still opposed to the idea of feeding their dog raw food. This is mainly because the vet recommended a type of kibble or the owners think raw food is too expensive. Our vet is pretty open-minded, and while he does prefer owners to feed kibble, he is also OK with us feeding human-grade raw food, especially since there haven’t been any negative effects on Bella’s health over the past 7 years. The vet’s preference for kibble is largely because of the guaranteed included nutrients, not because it’s cooked. We include a supplement to ensure all the nutrients are there, but there is a nutritionist at the vet’s office if we choose to meet with them. Another reason vets recommend kibble over a raw diet is that there is some danger of dogs choking on bone when eating a raw diet. While I have fed whole chicken thighs to Bella in the past, I now choose to grind her raw dog food, eliminating any choking concerns. As for cost, I prepare my own raw dog food to make it affordable for us, and the health benefits of the raw food will hopefully prevent the need for sick visits to the vet, saving me money in the future.
Why do I choose raw dog food over cooked?
- It’s more natural or biologically appropriate.
- It allows my dog to have a variety of foods.
- Raw doesn’t have the potential negative effects that cooking does.
- Homemade raw dog food costs me about the same amount as feeding high quality kibble.
- Best of all, my dog loves it and is always excited for dinner!
Choosing raw dog food over cooked dog food may not be the right choice for everyone, but as the most natural diet we have access to, it certainly is for us. If you’re considering making the switch, please discuss it with your vet first and make sure it’s a healthy choice for your pup!