Many people choose to feed their dogs natural food, which makes sense really. I mean, we can all picture in our minds our dogs ancestors out in the wild eating raw meat and bones, so surely this is the best way to feed our dogs? Well maybe not… Is natural dog food as healthy as we think it is?
Natural dog food does have positive attributes, but there are also some pretty big negatives too. These drawbacks can be very serious and could potentially make our dog very sick indeed. Natural dog food vs. commercial dog food is a debate that’s been going on for quite some time now.
A lot of people do feed their dog’s natural food and truly believe they can see differences in their dog’s health. They feel the results are completely positive. Others, though, have been feeding their dogs traditional commercially bought dog food and their pets are perfectly healthy with no issues at all.
So, is feeding your dog natural food the way to go? Is it really beneficial to his health? Is it just a trend that will soon pass? Is it really worth the extra expense? As you can see there are plenty of questions that need answering, but first we need to get an idea as to what exactly natural food really means.
How Healthy Natural Dog Food Really Is? A Critical Look
What is natural dog food?
Well, as the name suggests natural dog food is basically dog food that only contains natural ingredients. It basically means there is nothing in there that shouldn’t be.
Remember, though, that just because dog food may be classed as natural, it doesn’t mean that it’s of great quality. Dog food regulations are very limited and so you can never guarantee that you’re getting a top quality product.
Natural dog food means that your dog’s food will only be from a plant, animal and also mined sources and can be either in an unprocessed state or a processed state.
It’s important that you don’t get your labels confused, as foods that are called gourmet or premium don’t mean that the food is natural. These are terms that the manufactures use to try and get people to buy the product, making them believe that they are better for their dogs to eat.
RECOMMENDED: 10 Best Dog Foods for Adult Dogs
Gourmet and premium foods are exactly the same as other commercially bought foods but may contain more jelly or gravy for instance. Therefore we as dog owners think that they are better for our dogs.
Another point to make is that just because a dog food may contain the word natural it really may not be as it appears to be. It could just simply mean that there are no additives in the food. Look at the packaging and make absolutely sure that you are getting exactly what you want.
Commercially bought natural dog food
Most dog food manufactures have caught on to the fact that dog owners want a healthier option and are looking to feed their dogs more naturally. In turn, they have created a variety of natural pet food options. The stores are absolutely full of all different types of dog food.
Our options include traditional dog food that’s been around forever as well as foods that are labelled as gourmet, premium, grain free, all-natural and so on…the list never ends. However, are these all just fads? Is there really a need for this many choices?
If you are planning on switching your dog to a more natural way of eating, commercially bought natural dog food is probably your best option. These foods have been created by pet nutritionists and will be balanced and complete to ensure your dog is getting all the proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats that he needs in order to be healthy and happy.
Homemade natural dog food
Dogs need a balanced diet and if the balance isn’t spot on then your dog’s health could suffer.
Dogs need vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins to ensure they thrive in life. If that balance is way out of proportion, then your dog could potentially become ill.
Yes, your homemade food will be all natural and will contain no colors, flavors or grains, but you have to make sure you do it right. You really should work with your veterinarian or a canine nutritionist to make sure that you're feeding your a pet a diet that meets his individual needs.
There are positive aspects of feeding your dog homemade natural food, however these haven’t been scientifically proven and research is still being carried out on the natural food diet. Vets are divided, and some recommend that dog owners stay well away from it as they believe that the negatives outweigh the positives.
Pet owners do report that their dog’s teeth are healthier, their coats are shinier, their stools are smaller and that they generally appear healthier with far fewer allergies when fed a natural diet. Really, the choice is up to you and your vet to decide what would be best for your dog's individual needs and nutritional requirements.
However there are many drawbacks to this diet, as well. They include oral injuries, impacted bones, fractured teeth, pancreatitis, choking, vitamin deficiencies and also gastroenteritis. These are very serious health issues and some are potentially life threatening.
This is why vets are so divided. Yes, you’re getting all natural ingredients, but at what cost?
If you really do want your dog to switch to an all natural diet, rather than making it from scratch yourself there are recipes that you can follow which will ensure that what your preparing for your dog will be complete and balanced.
A simple diet of raw food will contain 70% animal protein and calcium and the other 30% is vegetables that could include broccoli, green peas, sweet potato, carrots and many others.
The BARF diet is sometimes recommended for dogs that suffer from allergies and certain medical conditions. This does help, but not for the reason you might think. It’s not for the fact that your dog is eating the raw food, it’s because the ingredient that was causing the allergies has been eliminated from your dog’s diet.
However, you can still eliminate the ingredient with commercially bought dog food. There is a wide range of good quality dog food that doesn’t include certain ingredients, so the results will be the same.
You will still be providing your dog with balanced nutrition that has been made by nutritionists. You then won’t have to worry about all the negatives that come with a raw food diet such as parasites, choking, oral injuries or vitamin deficiencies.