Many raw diets are also not nutritionally balanced or complete. Unless formulated by a veterinary nutrition expert, these diets can lead to malnutrition and health problems, says McKenzie. Feeding your dog a “Barf” diet (meaning “bones and raw food” or “biologically appropriate raw food”) has become popular in the United States in recent years, and now many UK pet owners are considering it as well. Dog owners who support a raw diet claim that it promotes a brighter coat and healthier skin, better energy levels and fewer digestive problems.
Raw food supporters claim they offer numerous benefits to dogs, including more energy and healthier teeth, skin and coat. Torres says there isn't much evidence demonstrating the benefits of feeding pets raw food, but there is evidence of health risks, such as exposure to pathogenic bacteria. Raw diets may provide some benefits, but the cost (financial, time and risk of contagion) is very high. It may be worth a try if your dog has certain medical problems, but for most families, a cooked and manufactured dog food diet will be a better option.
Raw food enthusiasts claim that the diet has given their pets more energy and healthier skin and coat. Bones from a raw food diet may be good for your dog's dental health. And the meat is denser in nutrients, which makes the stool smaller. Some dogs swallow food as if it were going out of style, but raw meals can be a little more complicated for the most delicate diners.
However, a recent study from Portugal found that, while commercial dog food of all kinds may harbor some unpleasant bacteria, raw dog food presents a high risk of transmitting antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can harm pets and immunocompromised people, while adding to a larger public health problem of antibiotic resistance. More and more companies are striving to create excellent, easy-to-feed and (relatively) affordable dog food, slowly baked (to retain moisture and nutrients) and made with high-quality, grain-free ingredients. Even veterinarians like Knueven, who support raw food diets for dogs, say that they are not suitable for all dogs. Some people want their dog's food to look more like what their wild ancestors would have eaten (the idea of biologically appropriate raw food).
Raw dog food poses public health threat by spreading antibiotic-resistant bacteria, say researchers. Some veterinarians warn that raw diets are not appropriate for dogs that share their home with young children or people with compromised immune systems. Dry foods or kibble have ingredients that vary by brand, but they must all be balanced and meet the nutritional needs of a dog. The inclusion of bones in a raw diet for dogs may provide the nutritional benefit of adding calcium and phosphorus, if the bones can be chewed and ingested.
They are a great alternative style of raw dog food for travel or last minute meals and can also be used as a treat or as a food decoration. No matter how average or unique your dog's dietary needs are, there is a raw dog food option to help your pet thrive. If you're in trouble because you forgot to defrost some raw meat for yourself, your first instinct might be to use the microwave to speed up the defrosting process, but avoid this practice to feed your dogs raw food. When you are ready, fast your dog for 12 hours and change a meal to raw, for a week, and then completely to a completely raw diet.