It's no secret that dog owners want only the absolute best for their furry friends to ensure that they live a healthy, happy, and active life. Much like humans, dogs require a balanced and nutritious diet to maintain their health. Historically, kibble and canned dog food were the only choices on the market. But over the years, raw food options have become increasingly popular. When choosing the best dog food for your companion, which should you choose raw meat or grain-free?
Before you make any rash decisions, you should always discuss your pet's diet with your veterinarian. They are familiar with your dog's nutritional needs based on their health, lifestyle, and exercise level. Each dog will have different caloric requirements, so it's important to talk to a vet before deciding to change your dog's diet.
Raw Dog Food
A raw dog food diet consists mostly of organ meats, ground bone, muscle meat, raw eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs, and some dairy products such as yogurt.
Many pet owners who support the raw food diet claim that their animals will have healthier skin, shinier coats, better dental health, smaller stools, and significantly more energy.
While many benefits come from feeding your dog a raw food diet, there are some things owners should take into account before starting it. Feeding your friend, a raw food diet may be more time consuming than giving them kibble. Meticulous care is required in the preparation and the sanitation of fresh food. Also, feeding your dog raw food will be more expensive than kibble.
Avoiding Bacterial Contamination
Can dogs eat raw meat safely? All fresh meat may be contaminated with bacteria, like Salmonella and E. coli, causing illness in your pets.
This risk is higher with commercially manufactured raw meat diets and meat purchased from the grocery store than a carcass consumed by a wild dog because processing plants have a high potential for cross-contamination.
Dog owners should also know that the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) opposes the unregulated feeding of raw foods. Their policy states: "The AVMA discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens, because of the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans."
Despite this, there are still many raw food diet advocates that encourage feeding your dog fresh food. You know your dog best, and as a dog owner, it is your responsibility to care for them as best as you can. If you choose to elect this diet, find a vet that is just as familiar with this diet as you are. If a problem arises, they can help guide you in the proper handling and cleaning required to prevent possible health concerns.
Unfortunately, many of the ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ fertilizers may sound more appealing, but oftentimes are more dangerous. They contain bone meal, blood meal, feather meal, and fish meal. While these might be tempting for your dog to ingest, they are poor for their digestive systems. Remember to always read the warning labels on the bag. And, when in doubt, call your veterinarian.
Grain-Free Dog Kibble
What is Grain-Free?
The whole idea behind a grain-free diet stems from how dogs fed themselves initially in the wild—long before kibble existed.
Relying on unprocessed fresh foods high in protein and low in carbs, the grain-free diet is modeled after what we would call a paleo diet.
While the ingredients of dry food vary by brand, all kibble is required to meet the nutritional needs. The law regulates the content, calories, and nutritional value of commercially prepared kibble. All the ingredients in commercial dog food are blended and then cooked. Most of the elements are a combination of protein sources like beef, poultry, fish, and eggs, cereals, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Many pet owners who support the grain-free food diet claim that their animals will have reduced dental plaque, healthier gums, and less bacteria. Other benefits include more accessible storage, less risk of it being spoiled, and generally more cost-effective.
With various brands of dry dog foods available, going the grain-free route is typically smoother. Be sure to read the label to help you find the best possible brand for your dog. Remember that the first ingredient you see on the label is the most prevalent in that particular food.
The best dry dog foods have a single or novel protein source, such as lamb, chicken, or salmon. While grain-free diets exist, carbohydrates are required for energy, large-breed puppies, and extremely active dogs. If you decide to choose grain in your pet's diet, be aware that some dogs may have sensitivities to wheat, corn, or soybeans.
Some drawbacks to choosing a form of kibble for your dog's diet is that most dry dog foods need preservatives to prevent the fat from becoming rancid. Commonly used preservatives are controversial, such as ethoxyquin, BHA, and BHT. Opt for dry food that uses natural preservatives, such as tocopherols (vitamin E), citric acid (vitamin C), and rosemary extract. While healthier for your dog, the shelf life of these foods may be affected.
Go Beyond and Customize for Your Dog's Specific Needs
You know what is best for your dog, and you should always choose a diet to help your dog's health from free-range, grass-fed beef to cage-free poultry and organic vegetables. Opt for meats that are free of hormones, steroids, and antibiotics.
There are several ways to increase your dog's health, and we hope this article helped between choosing raw meat vs. grain when it comes to the health of your furry friend.
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