Life with Dogs: Is a Raw Food Diet a Good Idea?


Life with Dogs: Is a Raw Food Diet a Good Idea?

Life with dogs is a joy for those of us lucky enough to have these tail-wagging creatures in our homes. Because we love them so much and want only what’s best for them, we’re always searching for new ways to keep them healthier, happier, and with us for as long as possible. Diet, of course, has a great influence on their quality of life, and the latest trend is to feed dogs a raw food diet. But is it a good idea or a dangerous fad? Here are some raw facts.

What Exactly is a Raw Food Diet?

Surprise! It’s pretty much what it sounds like: uncooked natural foods. Many proponents call it the BARF diet—(ew)—which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food. Basic components include:

  • Bones (raw and meaty)
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Muscle Meat
  • Organ Meat

Feeding a true BARF diet is a real commitment that many of us enjoying life with dogs do not have the time or motivation to follow through with. Let’s face it—it’s much easier to just pour kibble out of a bag and supplement with occasional treats and healthy goodies from our own dinner tables. But there are several different options here, so you don’t have to be “all in” or nothing when it comes to a raw food diet for dogs.

Raw Food Diets are Big Business

According to pet food industry experts, the majority of sales for commercially-prepared raw food options are to owners who want to add a little bit of raw goodness on top of kibble. The next biggest seller is “full meal” raw food products. One thing’s for sure: raw food diets are big business in America with sales of raw and raw alternative dog food more than doubling in just four years: from $117 million to $393 million in 2016.

So Should You Commit to a Raw Food Diet for Dogs?

The sales statistics above make perfect sense, when you consider recent trends for “people food” favor organic, raw, unprocessed, all-natural, food choices. But not all fads are healthy ones, of course.

The rationale for this type of diet is that today’s pooches’ wild ancestors ate raw meat, bones, skin, organs, fruits, berries, herbs, and grasses. If it worked for them, it can work for today’s dogs, right? Not necessarily.

The Arguments For and Against a Raw Food Diet

We checked with the experts at WebMD/Pets and here’s what they have to say:

Potential Benefits for Dogs

  • Healthier skin
  • Shiny coats
  • Whiter, cleaner teeth
  • Higher energy levels
  • Smaller poop

Potential Risks for Dogs

  • Possibility of having an unbalanced diet over the long term, which can adversely affect a dog’s health
  • Bones can cause internal punctures, broken teeth, or choking
  • Bacteria from raw meat can be very dangerous for dogs (and their humans too)

Tip of the Tail

Consult your vet before making any significant changes to your dog's diet. You will always see pro and con voices about raw-food diets on the internet, so make sure to read a balance of online materials so you can get the full picture before making a final decision. It’s just another decision we make in our life with dogs, but it’s an important one.


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Have you loved feeding your dog a raw food diet or do you have strong opinions against it? Tell us! Leave a comment and we’ll answer.


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