Thanks to a surge in awareness and research, raw feeding has gone from something very few pet parents did to a major health trend for dog and cat parents alike. Now, pet food stores stock countless raw offerings, from balanced meals, to raw treats, to bones. You can easily find raw feeding resources online, and many parents are now making their pets’ raw food rather than buying big bags of kibble.
But, is raw food safe for dogs?
Today we’re taking a look at some of the most common raw feeding myths – and busting them!
Is Raw Food Safe for Dogs? 5 Raw Feeding Myths Busted
Is raw food safe for dogs? We’re busting these myths wide open!
Myth #1: Raw Food Will Make Your Pet Sick
We hear this one the most when people ask is raw food safe for dogs. This one mainly surrounds the issue ‘harmful bacteria’ in raw meat. It’s the idea that you wouldn’t eat raw chicken or a raw steak, so your dog shouldn’t either, right? Or at least that’s what the myth tells us.
The thing is, our dogs’ and cats’ bodies are designed very differently from our own. Their digestive tracts are built to handle all kinds of bacteria with ease – bacteria that would make an average human not feel so great.
Take Salmonella as an example. Many opponents cite it as a concern with feeding raw. However, it can only survive in higher pH conditions and needs at least 12 hours incubation before it can do its nasty work.
In our stomachs, that would be an issue. However, the hydrochloric acid in a dog’s stomach is a protective enzyme against harmful pathogens like salmonella. Plus, their stomach is highly acidic and their digestive system is short. Bacteria is killed when ingested and passed within 4-6 hours as waste. Since the time to complete digestion is very short, the bacteria doesn’t stay in the body for long.
Bacteria is a non-issue. Raw food WON’T make your dog sick.
Myth #2: Raw Food Makes Dogs Aggressive
This idea, we assume, comes from the fact that raw meat is bloody (sorry), and thus raw food is bloody, and this makes a dog bloodthirsty?? That’s more than a stretch. But, it does make some pet parents nervous, and can turn them off going raw pretty easily.
Let’s set the record straight – raw feeding won’t make your pet aggressive. It just doesn’t work that way!
Aggression is often a sign of something else. It could be anxiety (fear-based aggression), it could be how an animal was raised, or it could be a medical condition. But it isn’t food.
If you feed raw, it won’t make your dog a harm for people or other pets.
Myth #3: Raw Food Isn’t Balanced
Kibble manufacturers love to keep this one alive.
And sure, if you’re just feeding raw muscle meat, it’s not going to be balanced. All-meat diets are NOT balanced. You cannot feed a diet of just meat to your dog and expect her to do well. Your dog needs bones and organ meat as well to obtain the proper nutrients.
If you follow raw feeding guidelines like the BARF diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding), giving your dog the appropriate muscle meat, organ meat, and bone content, their meals will be balanced. Add in vegetables, fruit, and things like eggs and sardines and that nutritional profile is even more impressive.
Plus, they’re not getting all those unnecessary carbs and filler that make up kibble – ingredients they don’t need and don’t want.
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Myth #4: Cooked Food is More Nutritious than Raw Food
Some of those who are opposed to raw will tell you that cooking your dog’s food is a far more nutritious way to feed.
However, the process of cooking destroys or alters proteins, vitamins, fats, and minerals. Therefore, cooking food makes some nutrients less available and others more available. For humans, cooked foods are often easier to chew and digest than raw foods, and therefore the nutrients are easier to absorb. However, as we mentioned, your pet’s digestive system is not built the same as your digestive system. It can break down food much better, making those nutrients more bioavailable in their raw form.
If you’re concerned about giving your dog a raw diet, cook it! That’s totally fine. Your pet will still be getting a healthy meal, and if you’re concerned about those vitamins and minerals, puree some raw fruits and veggies and find a supplement to fill any gaps. The point here is that cooked diets aren’t more nutritious, and thus better, than raw – that’s just not the case.
Myth #5: Raw Bones are Dangerous
If you’re avoiding raw bones because of this myth, we want to help you feel better with what you’re feeding.
Is raw food safe for dogs if it contains raw bones? Or are raw bones safe on their own?
First off, dogs need bone in their diet. Bones are rich in vital nutrients and can aid in dental care, growth, and digestion.
And no, if you pick the right ones for your dog, they’re not dangerous. Dogs can digest bones no problem. Bone requires a very acidic environment to break down, which dogs have. Raw fed dogs have an even more acidic stomach environment than kibble fed dogs, making it easier for them to digest bone quickly and efficiently.
Now, as to safety – raw bones are fine – but cooked bones are a NO-GO. Raw bones are malleable and break down in the digestive tract. Cooking changes the composition of bones, making them brittle and prone to fracturing. This is when they become a problem, as they can break and cause tearing in your dog’s digestive system. Never feed cooked bones.
Is Raw Food Safe for Dogs: Final Thoughts
So, is raw food safe for dogs? Not only is it safe, it’s super healthy!!
In the end, raw feeding myths are usually used as scare tactics to keep discerning pet parents from moving to a raw diet. There are plenty of honest, trustworthy raw companies making amazing, balanced, and complete commercial raw diets. If convenience is a worry for you, this should remove that concern. Or, you can make your own raw food at home – that way you can feel 100% confident in what is going into your pet’s food bowl.
As long as you’re following feeding guidelines and using safe food handling practices (just wash those hands and bowls), raw feeding shouldn’t pose a risk to to your pet. If you’re still concerned, do your research and speak to an animal nutritionist to learn all about the benefits of raw feeding and why it is not only safe, but nutritionally better overall.
The Veterinarious team is made up of pet owners, pet lovers, and pet experts from around the globe! We’ve banded together to create a community of like-minded pet people to give you the latest research and health advice for your beloved beast!