Top Dog Tips - Raw Dog Food DietHey guys! I hope you enjoyed my first Let's Talk column. I love being able to write these and connect with you all on a more personal level. I like reporting dog-related news and sharing all the research I do for you, but I’m also passionate about sharing my experiences and personal opinions on dog related issues and topics. As always, I welcome all your comments or ideas about canines down below in the comments section.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about switching my dog to a new dog food diet. Our family recently lost one of our boxers, Maddie, to lymphoma and that has gotten me thinking about the importance of the dog foods that we feed our pets.

There are so many options on the market right now and a lot of popular homemade recipes floating around as well, so what’s the best option?

I’ve had dogs my entire life, and when I was younger all of our family dogs were fed traditional commercial dog food. It wasn’t the bottom of the barrel cheap stuff, but it was just your average dog food. No special ingredients, and it had fillers, preservatives, and additives I’m sure. When I got my first dog on my own, a boxer named Roxy, I began feeding her the same type of dog food.

Raw Dog Food Diet
Raw Dog Food vs Regular Dog Food

This was a few years back when the push for healthier human food was beginning to take off. Everyone was looking for all-natural products, organic foods, and healthier options. There were constantly articles in the newspaper and segments on the nightly news about certain chemicals causing cancer and other human diseases. Like many people at the time, I began to slightly change my own diet.

I certainly don’t eat healthy and I do eat processed foods from time to time, but I’ve cut out a lot of the junk that I used to eat and I began thinking that it may be wise to do the same thing for my dogs. Now I feed them a higher quality food with no wheat, no corn, and no soy fillers. Real protein is the number one ingredient in their dog food, and I can certainly notice a difference.

They eat less, poop less, their coats are healthier, and they’ve lost weight. Until recently I thought that this food was good enough, but lately I’ve been wondering if we should switch to a raw food diet. Dogs descend from wild animals that would not be happy eating a diet consisting on dry kibble and a few dog treats every now and then. They crave whole foods, vegetables, and nutrients that are not found in most commercial dog food.

Raw Food Diet
Photo: Larry Hoffman

Yes, I did think about just switching them to an even healthier dry kibble, but if I’m going to spend the money on top of the line dog food, why not just go raw? I know the risks of salmonella and I’ve read about the other risks as well, but it just seems to me that the positive effects of the raw food diet drastically outweigh the risks.

I am a firm believer that it is the toxins, chemicals, and junk in our foods that is leading to the drastic increase in human diseases and I believe the same to be true for dogs as well. Going back to a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein seems like the best option to me. So, like any good dog owner, before I switch to anything new I do the research.

That’s where it gets tricky. About the only consistent thing in all the research that I’ve done on raw food diets for dogs is the overwhelming amount of conflicting information. Likewise, the raw dog food diet is fairly new in the pet industry and there isn’t a lot of research to back up any of the positive or negative information claimed about the diet. I like research. Research proves facts to be true and when it comes to my family (furry children included) I like facts.

I don’t want to switch my pet’s diet based on an assumption by many leading researchers. Yes, these people are experts in their field, and they certainly know a lot more about canine nutrition than I do, but I want to see research. I want to see 100% proven to be true facts showing which diet is best for my dog. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen any time soon.

All dogs are different and they all have their own individual dietary needs, so it is up to us as pet owners to do as much research as we can to select the diet that we believe will best meet those needs. Of course, our veterinarians are here to help us with this quest, and mine is wonderful! I certainly depend on her advice and take note of all the pointers that she provides, but ultimately the decision is still up to me.

Raw Food Diet
Photo: Personal Creations

As I mentioned earlier, we lost one of our boxers a couple of months back. We have another boxer, Chloe (who you may recognize from last week’s column), and she is very lonely. Boxers are a very social breed who enjoy the companionship of humans and form strong bonds with other dogs. We have decided to bring a puppy into our family to help Chloe deal with the loss of her sister. I want to begin feeding a raw food diet when the puppy comes on the first of September.

I will be spending the next three weeks slowly transitioning Chloe to a raw food diet and by the time the puppy gets here she should be eating 100% raw. Due to the excessive amount of dog food recalls in the past few months, I will be making my own homemade dog food. As I mentioned last week, Chloe has a heart condition so she will be eating a heart healthy diet with most of her protein coming from fish and chicken.

I will use a lot of the same ingredients for the puppy’s food although she will need a differently balanced puppy diet than Chloe. I’m interested to see how our new puppy does with the diet. I wonder if her overall health will be better than others dogs that we’ve had that ate commercial dog food? Chloe is relatively healthy, other than her heart condition of course, but I’m hoping that the raw food diet will increase her energy level and add to her overall health and wellbeing as well.

Chloe has had eye infections, urinary tract infections, and digestive health issues in the past, so I’m curious to see how she will do on the raw food diet. I’ve consulted with our veterinarian extensively on this and she believes that this new diet will be better for both Chloe and our new puppy. She did caution me to make sure that I stick to reputable recipes to make sure that both Chloe and the puppy are getting the nutrients they need.

We’ve discussed the recommended daily allowances for both dogs. Obviously, while the puppy is young and growing her food will need to be rich in the nutrients that will help her grow, and Chloe will need a little different diet because she is middle-aged. If you’re considering any change in diet, especially to a raw diet, you should consult your vet to find out the recommended daily allowances for your pet. One of the biggest risks with this diet is nutritional deficiencies.

I understand the risks of diseases like salmonella and e coli, but we will make sure our meat is fresh and organic. I would love to hear your experiences with feeding your dog a raw diet, whether positive or negative. The more information we can gather, the better. I’ll keep you posted on our transition as well and give you updates about how our girls are doing with it. If you’ve got any tips or tricks to share, please do in the comment section below.

Now it's your turn.

What are your thoughts on raw dog food diets? Do you have any experiences to share? Any tips, pros and cons of using a raw dog food diet with your own pooch? Let me know and let's talk!