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In recent years, the trend of feeding raw diets to dogs has been on the rise. With that rising trend comes rising controversy over the subject. Proponents of the raw dog food diet (a diet centering on raw meat, bones, fruits and vegetables) claim it is more biologically appropriate and leads to better long-term health in canines. Last week, Dom even published an article on this.

However, there is no concrete evidence to support this. Studies continue, but there is mounting evidence to support the notion that a raw diet could actually be harmful to your dog. Mainstream veterinarians and the FDA tend to oppose the raw diet (PDF), and studies supporting this opposition have been published in veterinary journals.

Reasons NOT to Feed Your Dog Raw Dog FoodOne study performed in 2001 concluded that raw dog food diets (both commercial and homemade) were nutrient deficient or excessive in ways which could negatively impact health significantly. This study was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association medical journal and have been widely referenced by vets and other studies.

The subject of raw is highly controversial, and the decision is a very subjective one. We have previously discussed BARF diet here. There's ton of information available on the subject for you to educate yourself. No matter what you decide to feed your dog, you are encouraged to consult your veterinarian, along with the latest scientific research.

Educate yourself on your dog’s breed, conditions, size, and medical history. Observe how he reacts to certain foods. And, if you decide to feed raw, just be safe and do your homework on all of the above points. We've had a dog nutrition specialist, a PhD in nutrition on one of our podcasts discussing nutrition for canines, so have a listen here.

Your dog can live a long, happy and healthy life, and that journey starts and ends with the diet you choose. Just choose what you feel most benefits your canine companion based on facts and research rather than propaganda, and be sure to seek guidance from a veterinarian or a certified canine nutritionist (with a PhD) before making the final decision.

RELATED: Raw Diet for Dogs 101 – The Ultimate Guide

7 Reasons Not to Feed Your Dog Raw Dog Food

reasons not to feed your dog raw1. Bacterial contaminants

Studies of raw pet food diets show that the meats can contain bacterial contamination. Raw meat may contain any of the following:

  • coli bacteria
  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Clostridium botulinium
  • Staphylococcus aureus

All of these are known to be canine (and human) pathogens. Additional canine pathogens include the following:

  • Neospora caninum (found in raw beef)
  • Nanophyetus salmincola (found in raw salmon)
  • Trichinella spiralis (found in raw pork and wild game like as deer, elk, and moose)

These bacterial pathogens can not only cause illness, but can be fatal as well.

2. Hazards of Bones

Bones can lead to choking and puncturing of internal digestive organs. They can splinter, causing damage to the throat, stomach or intestines. Bones can also lead to chipped or broken teeth.

3. Preexisting conditions

Dogs with preexisting medical conditions can have their delicate health further negatively impacted by the nutritional deficiencies or excesses provided by a raw diet. Raw dog food diets can prove unhealthy for pets with liver issues, pancreatitis, and digestive issues.

Dogs on chemotherapy and dogs who have immunosuppressive diseases can also suffer further from a raw diet. If your dog has a chronic disorder or disease, you should only administer the diet recommended by your veterinarian.

RELATED: 11 Best Superfoods for Dogs That May Improve Their Health

reasons not to feed your dog raw

4. Improper ratios

Puppies need the proper balance of calcium, protein, fat, calcium, and phosphorous. Without these balances in place, they can suffer from stunted growth and bone deformation. This may also lead to dental issues (as teeth are bones).

For puppies and adult dogs alike, too much vitamin A can be toxic over an extended period of time. Raw dog food diets high in liver contain excessive vitamin A. It's tough to find the right ratios of nutrients when feeding a raw diet.

5. Nutritional Deficiencies

The simple truth is that most dog owners are not veterinarians. Getting the nutritional balance of your dog’s food correct is a science. Raw diets not properly prepared can be deficient in vital nutrients, which will have a negative impact on your dog’s health over time.

The problem with nutritional deficiencies is that they take a long time to present. So, you likely will not notice an issue in your dog’s health until he has had the issue for a long time.

6. Digestibility

It is difficult for dogs to digest raw vegetables. In fact, most of the nutrients in vegetables become more available to dogs after they are cooked and ground. Raw vegetables are often poorly digested by dogs.

7. Expense

Making or purchasing raw diets can be costly, time consuming, and inconvenient. The ingredients required for homemade recipes are numerous, and spoil quickly. The recipes can take a lot of time and effort to put together, and they must be made often.

It is very difficult to travel with raw food as well. It's also hard to provide this diet to a dog who is being watched by a friend or boarding facility. And it is difficult to store, requiring refrigeration and freezing.

RELATED: 15 Cheap Ways To Prevent Most Common Health Issues in Dogs

reasons not to feed your dog raw

Countering the Raw Proponents and Dispelling Myths

People who support raw diets for dogs have their own claims about why is it necessary and effective. But, some of those arguments make claims which may not be valid or true. Here are a few:

Myth #1: Dogs are Wolves, and Should Eat Like Wolves

Raw advocates surmise that because dogs evolved from wolves (who are carnivores), it is only logical that they should eat as wild wolves eat – namely, carcasses. The problem is that domesticated dog species are significantly removed from wolves.

Dogs have been evolving alongside man as our companions for at least 18,000 years, and dogs broke away from wolves genetically speaking approximately 40,000 years ago. This leaves a lot of time for evolution.

Dogs, unlike cats, are not obligate carnivores. They are omnivores, and as such, they can handle a variety of foods for digestion. In fact, wolves eat a substantial amount of vegetable matter in the wild.

Myth #2: Commercial Diets Lack Proper Nutritional Content

Is raw diet healthy for dogsCommercial diets are scientifically formulated according to AAFCO standards to be in accordance with the complex nutritional profiles and requirements of dogs. The science of creating good, nutritionally balanced foods is a never ending endeavor.

Veterinarians and nutritional experts learn more every year about how to improve upon formulated dog foods.

The foods are tested in feeding trials extensively before hitting market shelves. On the other hand, commercial raw diets are less often tested, and homemade diets almost never are.

Raw diets are therefore unlikely to be as nutritionally balanced as commercially produced and vigorously tested dog foods. It's just a fact.

I recommend reading this article from the people who know much better than I do.

Myth #3: Commercial Diets Cause Canine Illness

There is no real evidence to support this claim. Furthermore, because dogs are living longer now than they used to, there is a higher prevalence of age-related illnesses in our canine companions.

Myth #4: Dogs React Badly to Grains

Lab testing actually demonstrates that cooked grains can be a great source of energy for dogs, along with providing protein and other nutrients. The claim that dogs cannot digest grains is also not valid; as stated above, dogs are omnivores who are capable of digesting a variety of foods besides meat.

People also blame grains for food allergies in dogs. While this can be true, it is more often the case that dogs are allergic to meat than to other food sources.

Myth #5: Cooking Dog Food Has Negative Affects

Raw proponents claim that cooking food can destroy all the nutrients. While it stands to reason that cooking does deplete some nutritional content, there is a science to cooking at the correct temperatures to retain maximum nutrition. And, it is important to remember that cooking is the key to destroying the things we want to destroy in food – pathogens.

READ NEXT: 3 Common Canine Diseases Linked to Dog Food

9 COMMENTS

  1. Very uninformed article. I have several dogs that are raw fed. I’ve been raw feeding for over 15 years. My vet is constantly amazed at how healthy my dogs are, much more healthy than the kibble-fed dogs she sees.

  2. I realized this was a bogus article when I read “a PhD in nutrition”. Sorry, but fancy book learning doesn’t mean you know anything – it just shows that you spent a lot of time in school and passed someones id of a curriculum.

    My beloved mini dachshund passed away late last year after suffering the last year of his life (10 years) with Cushings disease and diabetes. He also was completely blind for his last six months of life. We had fed him what was described by pet stores and ads as really great nutritious dog food all of his life and thought we were feeding him properly. A manufactured, dry kibble “food”. Didn’t help that we fed him table scraps and potato chips.

    So after a couple of weeks of missing the little guy, we got another pup. The lady we got him from at 9 weeks fed raw and gave us all the guidelines for raw feeding. I do not want to see this dog suffer the way my last one did, which I am sure was mostly due to his diet. I do shamefully take full responsibility for that. So I just recently took him in (at 12 weeks) to the local vet (whom all my friends just love) for his first shots. When I informed the young, late twenties- something pregnant vet that the pup had been raw fed since birth she almost had a nervous breakdown! She immediately donned her rubber gloves and a mask, and after giving him not much of a look over, berated us about how our entire house is just one big salmonella infestation. I’m sure she would love to have called in a haz-mat team to our house and quarantine us.

    Articles like this only prove that the dog food manufacturers are in control of indoctrinating new veterinarians. Just like in anything else, merely follow the money to see who’s pulling the strings. Don’t let fancy college know-it-alls try to bs you.

    • Just because someone did “a ton of studies” doesn’t mean it’s true. You believe what you want. Like I said follow the money. They are ALL marketing gimmicks.

      • SO what is your point? You must be that little snowflake of a vet I went to whining about salmonella and god knows what. Go crawl into your safe space with your puppy (no raw food),rock back and forth and sing Kumbaya.

        If you don’t like feeding raw, don’t do it. But stop telling me and others not to just because YOU think it’s wrong.

  3. Lol no. My dog was like crap and constant diarhea on kibble, something raw food fixed immediatelly.
    1. They have shorter digestive system which means less chance of them getting it. To be safe, you just check the source of the meat you buy and where you buy it from. Also, chances a dog will get salmonella from raw is the same as with kibble.
    2. If you feed the right size of bone for the size of the dog and teach him how to properly eat them, nothing will happen. Old wives tale that doesn’t apply to raw bones.
    3. My dog has digestive problems yet thrives on raw food. Neeeext
    4. Not a problem if you have done your research.
    5. See #4
    6. No, not they are not. They can digest vegetables just fine.
    7. Traveling with KIBBLE is hard. I never carry food for him wherever we go. I just visit a new butcher and get fresh meat on the spot. Much easier than trying to calculate how much kibble I should carry where we’re going. As for price, it depends. For my dog it’s around the price of Acana/TOTW monthly.
    But sure, suggest cooking food over raw /rolleyes

    • 20-35% of poultry for human consumption are positive for Salmonella spp. and 50% contaminated with Camplylobacter spp. Which is completely legal because it says that poultry must be cooked to completion to avoid contamination. In a study of 240 samples of 20 raw meat diets 48% were positive for salmonella. 44% of dogs were positive for Salmonella after 1 meal of naturally contaminated raw food and shed for up to 11 days (through bodily fluids) . In most cases they will be asymptomatic. which is all great and dandy until your dog is licking other people and kids. There is no “less chance of getting a bacterial infection because of their “shorter” digestive system” thats just an inane thought. Diamond food company that owns a bunch of different pet food brands is known for having a lot of recalls for contamination. So you still have to look at which company owns which pet food label and check their history for recalls. Now, boarded nutritionists do say a lot of dogs do just fine on a raw diet. they don’t knock it. however, there are disadvantages a big one being public safety concern. Those on a raw diet will get one or more of the aforementioned bacterial species. they will shed it and when someone gets infected thats where the problem lies. Fractured teeth from chewing too hard on the bones is another issue and foreign bodies due to bones is also common. 86% of raw diets are unbalanced and lack essential nutrients. if you consult a boarded nutritionist to balance the diet and you are aware of the public safety concerns and simply think you and those around you are invincible. You acknowledge that foreign bodies and fractured teeth are a possible risk. then cool you’re on the right track. but sure, dogs have a shorter digestive tract making them less likely to contract a bacterial infection. *rolls eyes*

      Disclaimer: Im not knocking the diet. Boarded nutritionist do see that a lot of pets do well on the diet. But all diets have their disadvantages, none are perfect. Also, just to add. nutritionists don’t get paid by the pet food companies a lot of them are people who care about their pets’ diet and did research to see what was the best way of feeding them out there. They’ve all critiqued all pet food companies including the veterinary exclusive diets and have all said that there is no perfect diet for every patient. there is a diet that works for everyone which may not work for others.

      • Salmonella danger depends on the region. Based on Salmonella control programs in EU, 1% and less of the whole flock populations are allowed to be positive by the end of each year. By numbers, that’s a very, very slim posibility of a dog getting into contact with them. Where did you get the numbers, and what region is that from? Because last Salmonella outbreak in EU was from sesame-based foods in Greece, Germany and Czech Re in 2016-2017 due to a new Salmonella bacteria previously unknown. Salmonella poisoning from meats have drastically decreased the past couple years. At this point, the biggest concern in raw diets is Trichinosis, which most raw feeders are aware of and thus avoid pork meat. As for Campylobacter, they already exist in dogs’ intestines. Healthy dogs may shed them in feaces as well. On the same note, a dog with a healthy and strong immune system will not have his bacteria grow to unnatural numbers. Cleaning after all domesticated and not dogs, healthy or not, with overgrown or normal levels of Campylobacter should keep the public safe and healthy. As well as cleaning the dog’s bowls, our hands etc. I have no idea about the Diamond company and it’s diets. Personally, I don’t trust manufacturers. You can never be sure what parts go into the food and what quality they are. Plus, I don’t think it sells in my country(considering I’ve never heard of it), so I have no say on that matter.
        86% of raw diets… Which diets? Commercial raw diets are known to be lacking, but most who feed raw (that I know of) do homemade PMR and BARF diets after researching percentages and what should go in and not in the dog. As well as checked meat sources.

        I don’t see how I imply otherwise? All dogs are different and require different foods. Raw is not fix all, but is not the devil they make it out to be either. I know dogs who did poorly on raw and did marvelous with kibble. Heck, some dogs will do best with vegetable/vegan diets due to allergies as well. In my case, however, it was raw that fixed my dog’s intestine problems, diarhea and made his exams excellent. Let alone that he gained weight, something kibble never managed to do in the two years he was on it.

  4. This article is very uniformed. They are just wanting people to purchase processed food. I feed my dogs the majority raw food they also get a third of a cup of grain free kibble every day. They are very healthy. Beautiful shiny coats. I donate need to take mine to the vet as they just don’t get sick.! Often vets are ill informed as far as diets for dogs are concerned.
    Dogs in the wild only ate raw and a few other things. The genetics follow on throughout the centuries.

  5. The fact that dogs are domesticated does not mean they should eat commercially processed foods. Processed foods did not come about until the very late 1800’s. What were our furry friends fed prior to commercially processed foods, for human convenience? Contaminants are from improper handling by the human. Proper washing of hands and the countertop will eliminate any possible contaminants. RAW soft bones are perfectly fine for the dogs to eat, they do not splinter. Cooked or dried bones on the other hand will splinter. Lastly, look at a dogs teeth, then look at a wolves teeth, a wild dogs teeth or even a dingo’s teeth, not much difference comparing them all to our domesticated dogs. Domesticated dogs teeth have not changed over the thousands of years they have been domesticated. Domestic dog’s teeth are still designed to tear flesh and crush bones. Raw feeding does not mean to just through your furry friend raw chicken, turkey, pork or red meat and think they will be healthy. You need to look at what predators eat after they make a kill. Predators go for the heart and liver first, then lungs, pancreas and stomach, then the flesh and bones. As a raw food feeder to my dogs for 2 yeats, which by the way they way have perfect check ups and don’t need teeth cleanings, they not only eat flesh and soft bones but also organ meat, 20% of their weekly feeding to be exact. My one senior dog had severe onset of hip dysplasia and after 6 months on the raw food diet her condition turned around, she still has hip dysplasia but it doesn’t take her forever to get up off her bed and she runs around more and acts like a puppy again. I have found many of these anti-raw food diet articles to be backed by commercially processed food companies. Why are they now starting to make dog food that closely resembles raw food diet?

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