Beth Ann Stoy
Obsessive pet parents are always looking for ways to give their dog every possible luxury - from dog friend bars to canine fashion, and monthly toy subscriptions to daycares that rival the quality of similar establishments for human children. But what if one of the best luxuries that could be afforded to your furry friend is far less extravagant?
It’s common knowledge that dogs are descended from wolves, and while their dietary needs may no longer exactly coincide with these fierce ancestors, they certainly aren’t in any need of “meat by-products” or “corn gluten meal”. You want to bring your pet to the same establishments you frequent, so why would you try to feed your fur baby something you don’t even want to smell?
An up and coming diet for dogs in the raw food diet. This diet has gained popularity in recent years as commercial dog foods get further and further from being nutritious options and the concern for the overall health of our pets increases. Although a “raw” diet implies meat, and this may also raise some red flags regarding the cost, but reality is that the cost of feeding a medium sized dog on this diet is only about the same as buying a black coffee every day. Besides that, the benefits in terms of your dog’s overall health and appearance, like a healthier coat and teeth, will far outweigh the small drawback of spending slightly more on dog food. Not to mention that this could also entail less costly veterinarian visits down the line.
What exactly goes into a diet like this, though? You should ideally be feeding your dog 2% to 4% of it’s ideal adult body weight, although very active dogs may require more. This should consist of meat with some amount of fat, raw bones (cooked bones can splinter and injure your dog), raw or lightly steamed veggies, eggs, a source of dairy (yogurt is commonly used), and supplemental oils, such as fish oil and some fatty acids. When buying meat, a good rule of thumb for beef is 80% meat and 20% fat; feeding your dog too little fat had adverse effects on their ability to store vitamins and consequently, their health. If you have friends who hunt or work in a butcher shop, they could also make for a convenient source of scraps that may not be traditionally tasty/appetizing to humans, but for dogs, they provide good nutrients and are quite palatable, not to mention cushioning the blow to your wallet.
While the pros seem to be accumulating at this point, there are a few risks associated with this diet, including bacteria that can be found in raw foods such as meat and eggs, giving your dog an unbalanced diet, and the risk of choking on bones. However, most of these can be minimized by a diligent owner - besides, isn’t your dog just as likely to choke on chewed up scraps of toy? At least let them risk their lives for something that is good for them. Ultimately, everyone should do their own research and consult their veterinarian to decide if the raw food diet is appropriate for them and what variation of the raw food diet will work best for their dog and budget.
So next time you are about to jump on the latest fad diet to try and get your own health in check, consider letting Fido in on the fun in a way that is healthy for him!