5 Mistakes Raw Feeders Make
In the summer of 2020, the first raw feeding commercial aired on network television and suddenly raw feeding was no longer a trend. A growing number of pet parents are looking for alternative ways to feed their dogs in an effort to combat allergies, digestive issues, and other health concerns. And while the benefits of raw feeding are enough to encourage most pet parents to make the switch, there are a few common mistakes that should be avoided.
Benefits of Raw Feeding (read more here)
- Healthy Skin and Coat due to the addition of Omega-3 fatty acids through fresh fish.
- Healthy Joints due to the lack of inflammation.
- Smaller, Less Smelly Poop because dogs on a raw diet produce less waste.
- Healthy Weight because it’s a low carb diet.
- Improved Muscle Mass due to lower weight and increased energy for exercise.
- Clean Teeth and Fresh Breath due to raw meaty bones and a healthier gut.
- Healthier Gut due to improved microbiome in the gut.
- Fewer Vet Visits due to improved immune system (healthy gut, healthy dog)
Risks of Raw Feeding
- Nutrient Deficiencies in a diet based solely on 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, and 10% organ meat. Although these ingredients cover the bulk of nutrients a dog needs, they don’t meet a dog’s nutritional needs as set by the NRC (Nutrient Requirements for Dogs and Cats). These aren’t the only guidelines available for us to follow, however, these may be the best we have at this time.
- Broken Teeth, choking, and other injuries when feeding a bone that isn’t a good fit for the dog. Pet parents feed bones to their dogs as a source of calcium, to clean their teeth, and to satisfy their chew drive. However, not all bones are a good fit for all dogs. For example, marrow bones are harder than other bones and may result in broken teeth with some dogs.
- Digestive Issues due to a diet that is too rich, is sourced from sick/diseased animals, or high in bacteria. Although a dog’s system is said to be made to handle raw meat and the bacteria, there are dogs that will struggle on this diet and would do better on a cooked diet.
5 Mistakes Raw Feeders Make
2020 is seeing an increase in the number of pet parents interested in transitioning their dogs to a fresh food diet. Here are five common mistakes that should be avoided.
1 - trying to feed a dog a wolf’s diet
Raw feeders are attempting to replicate the ancestral diet of the grey wolf, however, there is disagreement on what foods a wolf would eat. Some believe that wolves don’t eat vegetation or fish, and, therefore, don’t believe that these foods belong in a dog’s diet. However, vegetation provides fiber, food for the gut microbiome, and additional nutrients. Fish provides Omega 3 fatty acids that support skin and coat health, reverse inflammation, and support cognitive functions. Looking to a wolf’s diet for inspiration can be beneficial, but it’s important to remember that we’re feeding dogs and we need to focus what a dog needs in their diet.
SOLUTION: To avoid nutrient deficiencies, educate yourself about what your dog needs, consider having a meal formulated to get you started, or start with a quality commercial raw brand.
2 - buying every recommended supplement
In an effort to balance a dog’s diet, new raw feeders will either search for a multi-vitamin or several supplements to fill nutritional gaps. Multivitamins are mainly synthetic, questionably sourced, and difficult to digest and absorb. And the supplement market is vast and expensive and if you’re not careful, you can end up spending hundreds on products your dog doesn’t need. Instead of asking for a supplement list, focus on what your dog needs and not what strangers want to sell to you.
SOLUTION: Before you buy a supplement look and see if the nutrients are already covered in the diet. There are many websites (i.e. USDA, NutritionalData.Self.com) that provide you with the nutrient break down of many foods to get you started.
3 - failing to do research
When we feed kibble, it’s easy. We buy the best food we can afford and scoop the recommended amount into our dog’s dish. When it comes to DIY raw feeding, we’re faced with learning how to feed our dogs a nutritionally complete diet. Although the practice of raw feeding isn’t new, the industry and community is new and constantly evolving as we learn more about what our dogs need in their diet. While it’s not necessary to earn a degree in animal nutrition; it is important to stay abreast of information that will help us feed a healthy diet.
SOLUTION: Being active in the raw feeding community is a great start, because this is where new information will be shared first. Start with a raw feeding group that is a good fit for you, has an abundance of information, and is welcoming. And follow industry leaders on social media to remain abreast of nutritional and other information that helps us raise healthier dogs.
4 - trusting bloggers over veterinarians
A growing number of veterinarians are coming around to the idea of raw feeding. However, many aren’t on board and this has lead many pet parents to seek out popular blogs, websites, and influencers to learn about raw feeding. The raw feeding community has provided education and support for many pet parents. And while it’s frustrating not to have the support of your veterinarian, we need to be careful not to eliminate the role of a veterinarian in raising healthy dogs.
SOLUTION: Every dog that thrives and beats longevity expectations will convince a veterinarian to think twice about the natural options available to us. If your veterinarian isn’t supportive, have a frank conversation that addresses their concerns. As you explain how you feed your dog, you may be able to alleviate their concerns and gain their support.
5 - believing that raw feeding makes our dogs bulletproof
While feeding a raw food diet has improved the health of thousands of dogs, it’s only one component of raising healthier dogs. This is why we often see raw feeders who are conservative about vaccinations, choose natural flea and tick repellents, and avoid chemicals in their lawn care. Just as with humans, a dog’s health is dependent upon DNA, diet, environment, and more. A raw fed dog can get cancer, however, a raw fed dog may have a better chance of living a good life despite the cancer.
SOLUTION: Don’t feed raw to avoid cancer; feed raw because it’s a healthier diet that will improve your dog’s immune system so that they can survive cancer and other health issues. Feed raw to help your dog thrive.
Raw feeding is a healthier alternative for many dogs. However, if pet parents aren’t making a healthy diet, aren’t educating themselves on what their dogs needs, or refuse the use the resources the veterinarian community provides, our dogs may pay the price.