What You Need to Know Before Switching Your Dog to a Raw Food Diet

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by Nicole Kenedy

Designed to simulate the natural ancestral diet of wolves, raw dog food is made from fresh, whole ingredients. Though recipes vary, common ingredients like muscle or organ meats, whole or ground bone, raw eggs, and dog-friendly fruits and vegetables create clean, hearty meals for your domesticated canine descendants. 

And beyond being naturally agreeable to your pup’s palate, raw dog food offers a number of excellent benefits for overall dog health.

Benefits of a Raw Food Diet

As we’ve touched on previously, the most important thing to consider when choosing any pet food is nutrition. Going with a raw food diet makes answering that question easy as the right raw ingredients allow dogs to process nutrients as intended, promoting better general health. 

How does raw food help dogs absorb nutrients? By encouraging proper digestion. Offering superior digestibility, raw food gives dogs the chance to make the most of every meal as their digestive system utilizes more vitamins and nutrients, and eliminates less waste with less work. As an added benefit, this improved digestion results in better weight management as well as smaller, firmer stools.

Over time, greater nutrient intake increases energy and helps boost immune function, reducing the risk of ailments and diseases as dogs age.

And raw food delivers benefits both inside and out. One of first things pet parents notice after starting their dog on a raw diet is a healthier, shinier coat. Natural, bioavailable, problem-solving components—like amino acids that support cellular protein function, and enzymes that aid cellular regeneration and intra-cellular hydration—promote healthier skin and fur and reduce the possibility of allergic reactions. 

Raw food can even improve your pup’s smile. Thanks to the combination of enzymes from raw meat and a little healthy friction as your dog crunches and grinds tasty meat and bones, a raw diet can help remove plaque and tartar from teeth and cut down and potential dental infections. 

How to Choose a Raw Food Diet

While there’s no debating the benefits of going raw, there are still a few things to consider when making the switch—specifically, which type of raw diet is best for you and your pup?

If your lifestyle allows you to opt for a homemade diet, that’s great. However, it’s critical that you familiarize yourself with the basics of canine nutrition. Before you get started, be sure the ingredients you select achieve nutritional balance, so your dog is getting exactly what he or she needs. Additionally, don’t forget to address logistics, as raw food requires more time, more prep, more cleanup, and proper cold storage.

Want to go the commercial route instead? Though it may cost a little more, that’s a great option too as the legwork of addressing proper prep and nutrition are done for you. Both frozen and freeze-dried foods are excellent raw diet alternatives, and while essentially the same from a nutritional standpoint, the latter is more concentrated, shelf stable, and doesn’t require cold storage.

Of course, a combination of both homemade and commercial may be what’s best for you and your dog. And for those not quite ready to make the switch in full, there’s still another choice: traditional canned and kibble products paired with raw options to improve palatability and provide increased nutrition. A blend of kibble with raw mixers, toppers, or freeze-dried raw bites can be introduced as part of your dog’s diet to craft a complete meal. 

Ready to get started? One final recommendation: if you’re considering moving your dog to a raw diet, be sure to visit your local pet store first. From a large selection to knowledgeable staff, you can access the opinions and options needed to fit your budget and help your dog live a happier, healthier life.

Author: Nicole Kenedy, a Store Manager at DOGPerfect. Nicole has over 10 years of experience in the pet industry and is an expert when it comes to helping pet parents choose the right food for their dog. DOGPerfect is a local, independently owned pet supply store with locations in Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, and University Park. Learn more at www.dogperfect.com 

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