Raw diet for dogs myths and facts

Jul 11, 2012 at 4:00 p.m. ET

Many pet owners have heard the buzz about raw diets for dogs, but what is it really like? Let's separate the myths from the facts when to comes to feeding raw.

Raw dog food

Myth: A raw diet is dangerous for you and your pet

When prepared responsibly, a raw diet can be a rewarding feeding option for both you and your pet. Unlike a human's digestive system, a dog's digestive tract is short and is made for digesting raw meat. Dr. Lew Olson writes in Raw & Natural Nutrition for Dogs, "This is accomplished by the strong hydrochloric acid in the dog's stomach, which can break down harmful bacteria and fully digest animal proteins, bones and fat." From a nutrition standpoint, as long as you're feeding a balanced raw diet under the advisement of your veterinarian and are thorough in washing your pet's bowls after feeding, a raw diet is not dangerous for any of the parties involved.

Hungry dogFact: A raw diet is much more expensive than feeding kibble

No one puts their pet on a raw diet to save money. It's true that feeding raw will cost more than your regular kibble, and, depending on your dog's size and nutritional needs, it could be a lot more. Preparing your dog's meals at home and making a week's worth of food at a time will be cheaper than buying premade raw diets that are commercially available. Before making the switch to raw, consult with your dog's veterinarian to work up a feeding plan and a budget to break down the costs.

Myth: Feeding raw is time-consuming

Well, feeding raw can be time-consuming depending on your definition of the word. If you're making your dog's meals from scratch, there's the planning aspect of that as well as the actual hands on time in the kitchen. Feeding raw will take longer than just dumping kibble into a bowl if you go the homemade route. But if you're pressed for time and still want to feed raw, the easiest way is to feed a premade raw meal option from brands like Primal Pet Foods and Wysong. Feeding your dog a premade raw diet takes less than a minute to measure out (add water if freeze dried) and put in a bowl. Couldn't be easier!

Fact: A raw diet for dogs is messy

While this is true in most cases, ultimately your dog's size, types of meals and eating habits determine how messy of an endeavor feeding raw will be. A good rule of thumb is to cut up your furry family member's food into small, easily chewable pieces so he'll be less likely to move his food around the room while eating. If he has long ears that tend to fall into his food bowl, purchase a snood to keep the ears tied back at mealtime. Also, whenever possible, feed your pup outside so cleanup is a snap.

Keep in mind that there is no one right way to feed a dog and only you and your veterinarian can decide what's best for your pet. Always consult your veterinarian before switching your dog to a raw diet.

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