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Raw dog food: Benefits and risks

Raw dog food: benefits and risks

Raw dog food: benefits and risks

Is raw dog food the right way to go?

We as dog parents/lovers always want the best for our pooch. In this context, food or the diet holds the top priority. Dogs are the descendants of wolves. Because of this, a lot of argument has been going on about feeding dog the raw dog food. Many sources claim that raw dog food is better than all other types of dog diets available. But does it hold correct for the domesticated dogs?

In this post, I have uncovered the pros and cons of the different raw dog food. Read all the way till the end to find out which dietary option is better for your pooch.
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The types of raw dog food:

The BARF raw dog diet:

The Australian veterinarian, Ian Bellinghurst proposed to extend the administration of raw diet from the wild dogs to domestic dogs too. He referred to this as the B.A.R.F. diet.The word B.A.R.F. stands for ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food’ and ‘Bones and Raw food’. Nutritionist and veterinarian, Dr. Ian Billinghurst found this diet plan. This diet feeds dogs what they were evolved to eat – a raw diet which consists of fresh, uncooked and wild meat and greens.

This diet works well for most dogs as dogs have a shorter intestinal tract and strong stomach acids. The raw diet has a minimum amount of carbohydrates, is moderate in its fat quantities and high in protein.

The raw dog diet primarily consists of:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Raw meaty bones
  • Muscle meat
  • Organ meat
  • Supplements

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Benefits of the B.A.R.F. raw dog food:

Feeding raw food to your dog can have many health benefits such as:

  • Improvement in the skin, coat texture and shine.
  • More muscular, leaner build. In today’s world, 60% of dogs are obese or overweight which can lead to many health issues.
  • Less body and stool odor.
  • Calmer pooch.
  • Fresher breath and cleaner teeth.
  • A raw diet is utilized more by dog’s body resulting in improved digestion and smaller stools.
  • More energy.

Advantages of the B.A.R.F. raw dog diet (as proven by research):

  • Higher fecal microflora was observed in dogs who were fed raw food as compared to ones who were fed a commercially available diet.
  • Raw food fed dogs also exhibited better stool quality.
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Disadvantages of the B.A.R.F. raw dog food:

A study published in the journal of small animal practice in 2019 by Davies et al., has reviewed raw diets for dogs in reference to microbiological colonization of the gut. Their survey found increased malnutrition and infection affecting dogs as well as household members.

Raw food has also exhibited the risk of introducing antimicrobial resistant bacteria in dog’s intestine. Such bacteria can encode resistance towards antibiotics like cephalosporins.

Other infectious organisms which may get transmitted via raw diet include bacteria (like Listeria, E. coli, Compylobacter, Yersinia etc.), parasites (Toxoplasma gondii) and zoonotic agents (Brucella suis). Such infectious agents can colonize and cause disease in both dogs as well as their caregivers.

Raw dog diet has also shown to cause nutritional deficiencies (calcium/phosphorus imbalances, vitamin deficiencies). This mainly results from the caregiver’s need to simplify the recipe or certain ingredients might be unavailable.

The genetic makeup of dogs, contrary to what is commonly believed, is not similar to its wild ancestor, the gray wolves. The domestic dog has higher capacity to digest starch due to different gene expression patterns.

Not a recommendable diet for homes with young kids or immuno-compromised individuals. Raw food do present a risk of bacterial contamination.

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The prey model raw (PMR) diet:

This is the second type of raw dog diet. The PMR diet involves removal of all fruits, vegetables and grains from your dog’s diet and feeding him/her only food which closely resembles what their canine ancestors eat in the wild.

There are two types of PMR raw diet for dogs:

Whole prey model raw feeding:

This type of diet includes feeding your dog the complete animal, from feathers to tail, leaving no part behind. Wild prey is considered ideal for this type of diet. However, domesticated prey animals can also be used as food. The most commonly used animals in this type of diet include rabbit, duck and quail.Franken prey feeding:
This type of feeding is used for raw feeders who follow the guidelines of the PMR ratio:

  • 75-80% of muscle meat
  • 10% of raw edible bone
  • 5% of liver
  • 5% other organs
  • 0-5% of animal based fiber
Under the PMR model, the whole prey animal is not fed. They prefer to use a variety of ingredients to achieve the PMR ratio guidelines.

Advantages of the PMR raw dog food:

  • Higher energy levels
  • Shinier coat and healthy shin
  • Improvement in digestion
  • Cleaner, whiter teeth
  • Better weight control
  • Reduction in allergy
  • Better stool
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Disadvantages of the PMR raw dog food:

  • The threat to humans from the bacteria in the raw bone and meat is much greater than it is towards dogs. Thus, appropriate hygiene practices need to be in place.
  • Colonization of your dog’s intestine with antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • You must pay attention to your dog and make sure that he/she does not choke on the raw bone. Especially when transitioning from a different diet type towards PMR diet, keep an eye out for bilious vomiting and impacted intestines.

How to start on the raw meat diet for dogs?

Let’s say that you decide to start your pup on the raw dog diet. How do you know how much is the right quantity to feed your pup? Raw diets don’t really come packaged with instructions of how much to feed depending on the body weight of your pup.

First advice, no sudden changes. If your pup is on a different diet and you want to switch him/her to the raw dog diet, then wean them off their current diet and introduce the raw diet very slowly. This is done so that their bodies can smoothly adjust to the new type of diet.

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How much raw dog food to feed your dog?

For puppies, the recommended BARF feed quantity is 10% of their respective body weight divided into 3 to 4 feedings in one day. However, if you are feeding your pup the PMR diet, then you should start with a feed quantity which is 10% of the body weight when your pup is 8 weeks old and bring it down to 3% by the time your pup is 60 weeks old.For adult dogs, the recommended feed quantity as per the BARF diet is 2 to 3% of their body weight. As per the PMR diet, the feed quantity should be 2.5% of the dog’s body weight.

However, for both puppies and adult dogs the feeding quantity should be carefully monitored depending on the exercise level and age.

I also found Raw feeding calculators by which you can find out exactly how much BARF or PMR raw dog food to give your pup.

A few simple rules to keep in mind when feeding your pooch, the raw dog diet: 

  • The diet must be enriched in calcium (i.e. 1/3rd of the diet should preferably contain meaty bones).
  • Organs are the best source of multi-vitamins.
  • Muscle meat supports the production of essential hormones and enzymes in your dog’s body.
  • Fat is good for your pup when provided in the right quantities. If your pooch’s diet has too much fat, then it would reduce his vitamin and mineral intake.
  • Keep starch (grains, potatoes, peas) away from your dog’s diet.
  • Make sure to keep changing the types of meat in your dog’s diet, so that he/she does not get bored of eating the same food every day.
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Personal Experience
Since Delta (my son) was the runt of the litter. He has a sensitive stomach. Raw diet does not suit his stomach and he poops funny. Thus, Delta eats homemade dog food, and he is doing amazingly well.


First, I would like to congratulate all of you for taking such good care of your babies. It is a hard job, as they cannot tell us what they need or want. But you should take a moment and give yourself a pat on the back for being a wonderful parent. So now, that you have all the scientific evidences for and against the raw dog diet, it’s time for you to decide whether you want your dog to stay on his/her current diet or whether switching to a different diet is a better option. Let me know what are your thoughts about whether raw dog food is best for your pup..!

Also, let me know in the comment section if you want me to specifically write about a certain topic or make a video covering anything you need to know. I assure you, I will touch up on that as soon as possible.

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Frequently asked questions

Is raw dog food good for dogs?

Raw dog food is considered to be good for dogs. Raw dog diet has shown to exhibit better coat shine, smaller stools, increase in the energy levels and finally improvement in the dental health of dogs.

Why is raw dog diet bad for dogs?

Raw dog diet is bad for dogs since it contains bacteria which may colonize in your dog’s stomach. Furthermore, the diet must be balances to include the right quantity of proteins, vitamins and minerals. In case your dog receives unbalanced diet, it may cause health issues in future.

Do vets recommend raw dog food?

Vets would recommend raw diet if you can have a proper consultation with a dog nutritionist. Without the help of a nutritionist, their is a high chance that dog guardians may feed unbalanced raw diet to their dog which may cause diseases in future.

What are the types of raw dog food?

There are any two types of raw dog foods for dogs:
the PMR diet
the B.A.R.F. diet

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