Six Common Mistakes People Make with Raw Dog Food
Lots of pet owners are coming around to the idea that feeding dogs kibble is a bad idea, instead, smart dog owners are choosing to feed raw food diets that better suit a dog’s physiological needs and is more appropriate for a canine digestive system.
At Rawmate we are true believers of the benefits to the overall health and wellbeing of our dogs. In fact, we believe that a dogs health and vitality is directly linked to the food they eat.
We recognise that some folks prefer to do things themselves, which is all fine and dandy except it turns out feeding a raw diet to your dog isn’t quite as straightforward as loading up on cheap mince and doling out a dollop of raw meat every day. Not that your dog is likely to complain, but for various reasons, that’s not the healthiest approach to take. There is a little bit more to it.
We found that there are six really common mistakes people make when they set out to prepare their dog’s dinners from scratch. Here they are so you can avoid these common pitfalls.
1. Canine Nutritional Deficiencies
The idea that a raw dog food diet equals daily hunks of meat and nothing else is not accurate and, in fact, can lead to nutritional and immune system deficiencies over time.
Providing a well-balanced and complete diet is more complicated than that. After all, wolves didn’t have the luxury of heading to the grocery store to select top grade sirloin for dinner.
Wolves (and other canids) eat just about all of their prey - muscle meats, yes, but also organs, offal, hair, feathers, skin and bones.
A well-balanced raw diet more or less follows the 5:1:1 proportion rule with about 70% of the diet coming from muscle meat and raw meaty bones, another 15% made up of organ meats and offal and the balance from vegetables, fruits, oils, and supplements.
That final 15% may also include eggs, seaweed, cod liver oil and cheese, though the best diets mix and match not relying on any one ingredient to round out the meal plan.
2. Poor Dosage Of Vitamins And Supplements
Nutritional guidelines for a ‘complete and balanced’ dog food from organisations like the US Food and Drug Association or AAFCO provide information based on dry ingredients. These figures and percentages are quite different when you look at canned, freeze dried, fresh, or raw foods.
Higher water content can change the percentage by weight of all ingredients and when you are assessing how much of any ingredient your dog needs (and gets) from food, don’t forget to take this into account.
3. Whole Foods Are Key, Consult Expert Help
For certain vitamins and minerals, too much of a good thing can be dangerous, particularly in the case of fat-soluble vitamins, which can build up in tissues until toxic levels are reached causing health problems.
It’s also important to understand that in some cases it’s not just the net amount of a particular vitamin or mineral that’s important but the correct balance or ratio of more than one ingredient that’s critical.
Calcium and phosphorous, for example, must be provided in the correct proportions and it’s important to find the right balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
Feeding a diet that consists of wide variety of whole foods helps but if you are planning to go all-in and make your dog’s meals, it’s not a bad idea to consult with an expert in canine nutrition to make sure you are covering all the bases.
While your first impulse might be to run to your vet and ask all your questions, keep in mind that the amount of canine nutritional training a vet receives is minimal.
Sometimes, the only exposure a vet will have to nutritional information and education comes from representatives employed by dog food manufacturers, which, of course, calls into question just how unbiased that information could possibly be.
We discussed the need for the separation of vets and dog food sales at length in our blog titled: Conflict Of Interest
4. Including Too Much (and the wrong type of) Filler
By now you are likely aware that many commercial dog foods contain a rather large percentage of fillers - cheap corn, wheat and rice (and derivatives) that are not easily digested by dogs and which have no place in a dog’s diet.
That said, small amounts of fruit (berries, for example, are packed full of antioxidants and vitamins) and vegetables can provide roughage and micronutrients.
Keep in mind, though, that dogs are not well-designed when it comes to digesting some vegetables. Lightly cooking or steaming vegetables like carrots and pumpkin helps start breaking down the nutrients, which makes them more readily bioavailable for your dog.
Certain very starchy vegetables (like potatoes) should be avoided and some fruits like grapes or avocados should never be fed as they are toxic for dogs. If your dog enjoys gnawing on a watermelon rind, that’s not a problem, but make sure they don’t get hold of pits from plums or peaches, which can get lodged in the digestive tract.
5. Poor Food Safety Standards
You’d think there wouldn’t be any need to even mention this, but use common sense when you are handling raw meat. Don’t let your dog’s raw meal sit on the counter for three days before you feed it.
- Wash your hands after handling raw food.
- Clean all work surfaces (use a disinfectant spray) and run any dishes or utensils through the dishwasher.
- Don’t let your toddler lick out the dog food bowl --this one isn’t rocket science, but it’s important.
Yes, raw food may be a potential source of salmonella and other nasty bugs, but so can your hamburger meat before it hits the grill.
What is just as much of a concern is the fact that plenty of dry dog foods also contain bacteria and there have been reports of human health issues caused by careless handling of kibble.
Here are some interesting articles to add to your reading list:
6. Switching to a Raw Diet too Quickly
Changing from kibble to a raw diet overnight isn’t necessarily a good idea.
Your dog’s gut bacteria and digestive system may need a little time to adjust.
If your dog has a particularly sensitive system, you may need to change things gradually, slowly replacing a portion of dry food with some raw until, eventually, you are only feeding the raw diet.
Most dogs soon adjust and never look back.
If you are one of those considering the option to start raw feeding, we applaud you.
That’s exactly how all dogs should be fed! That said, we know that real life can be complicated and between getting the kids to swimming lessons and yourself to work.
Finding time to research, source and prepare whole food ingredients in the correct proportions for your beloved pup can be a bit unrealistic.
Q: Is Raw feeding my dog dangerous?
A: No more dangerous than feeding Kibble
Q: Is Salmonella a likely scenario with Raw food?
A: No more dangerous than feeding dry dog food
Q: How can I avoid salmonella poisoning?
A: Wash your hands thoroughly
Our Rawmate subscription, premium, raw dog food meal plan takes all the guesswork out of preparation.
We do all the running around for you, finding the very best quality ingredients for your dog’s naturally raw dinners.
We prepare everything and then freeze pre-portioned meals ready for shipment to wherever your dog lives.
Once your subscription is set up, those deliveries just keep coming so all you have to do is remember to pull the next day’s meals from the freezer so they can thaw.
With dinner taken care of, you have time to do what you should be doing with your dog, having fun!
Go for a walk, take an obedience class together, or curl up on the couch and binge watch some nature shows - whatever makes you and your pooch happy!
Post a photo of you and your dog doing what you enjoy most. Use the hashtag #rawmate - we’d love to see what you’re up to!