Raw Food Diet For Dogs (Risks and Benefits)

When you plan to get a dog for yourself, one of your top priorities as a dog owner is providing shelter and food and giving them the best treatment.

As a dog owner, you will want to provide them with the best and most nutritious food, the problem however is deciding what food type is best for them.

In this article, you’ll learn about the raw food diet for dogs, the risk of raw foods, and also the benefits.

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What You Should Know About Raw food

To be healthy, you must also ensure a proper diet. When you ask Dog owners what they feed their dogs,  you’re most likely getting a response of one commercial dog food or another. However, is that all there is to feed a dog? Let’s have a look at another option, shall we?

Read more on some other healthy foods for dogs

What is a Raw Food Dog Diet?

Raw food for dogs usually consists of organic meat, bones, raw eggs, dairy products, muscle meat, vegetables, and many more. Raw feeding, therefore, can be simply put as the process of feeding your dogs raw food like vegetables, meat, and fruits. The two major types of dog-feeding techniques are:

  • Biologically Appropriate Raw food(BARF) was formed by a veterinary surgeon called Ian Billinghurst. In this technique, the dogs are fed 60-80% raw meaty bones like poultry neck, wings, and back and 20 -40% dairy, fruits, vegetables, and plenty of supplements.
  • The prey model diet strictly mimics a dog’s natural diet in the wild. This raw food diet for dogs suggests 80 percent muscle meat, 10 percent bone, and 10 percent organ meat.

Raw food for dogs is available in different types:

  • Homemade
  • Commercial
  • Freeze-dried
  • Dehydrated

Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst was the first proponent of raw diets for domesticated dogs. He claimed that adult dogs could eat raw, meaty bones and vegetable scraps often consumed by wild dogs. If you want to try out a raw diet, here are some safe options:

  • Muscle meat
  • Whole or ground bones
  • Organ meat
  • Raw eggs
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits (apples)
  • Some dairy products
raw food diet for dogs

Risk of feeding your dog raw meat 

Studies have shown that dogs who eat raw meats have more balanced gut microbiomes, showing a sign of healthier gut function. However, when you place your dog on a raw food diet, it could come with some health risks to the dog as well as the people in your household. As stated by a DVM,  veterinarian, and professor, Alison Meindl, at Colorado State University.

Below are some of the risks of a raw food diet for dogs. 

  1. Bacterial infection

    Raw diets have a high chance of introducing contamination to bacteria such as salmonella and E. Coil. These bacteria have dogs as well as humans as secondary hosts during a single life cycle. If they don’t get your dog seriously ill, to an extent where it begins to show apparent symptoms, the bacteria could get introduced into your household via the feces of the dog leading to a zoonotic infection, which could eventually be picked by your loved one or even other pet. Bacterial infections from E. Coli and salmonella are easily treatable. The major problem arises, however, in individuals with a weakened or impaired immune system. 
  1. Injury from bones 

    Bones are usually part of raw diets, and they may not be unsafe for dogs, especially as they risk getting their teeth broken while trying to chew on hard bones. In cases where the bones aren’t well chewed, and shards of the bones somehow get into their digestive tract, it could cause serious irritation and wounds to the dog’s intestine during contraction movements or even cause blockage. In some cases, these are life-threatening injuries that require immediate medical attention if the dog’s life is to be saved. 
  1. Unbalanced Diet

    When You place your dog on a raw diet, it essentially means you have taken your dog’s nutrition into your own hands, a decision that is both challenging and delicate. Raw food is one of the main appeals of the diet, and it could lead to severe health issues when not balanced correctly.

    The specific vitamins and minerals important for dog nutrition may not be present in raw ingredients, which means a raw diet could leave your dog deficient in required minerals. However, feeding your dog much protein, fat, or other nutrients could lead to diseases like anemia, low bone density, and liver failure.
  1. Time and money

    Preparing 100% raw food at home for your dog can be very tasking and time-consuming. In contrast to regular dog food, raw food for dogs are more expensive and quite less ubiquitous. If you and your family are trying to operate under a budget or don’t want to spend much time cooking, a raw food diet for dogs might not be the best choice.

Raw Diet safety

Despite the risk and the lack of scientific evidence on the benefits of a raw food diet for dogs, several dog owners still insist that raw food is the healthiest way to feed their dogs, and they’ve got the evidence to prove it.

A diet of meat, muscles, eggs, and vegetables have shown to boost muscle development even in men. Most large dog owners, therefore, opt for raw food to help bring out the desired stature in their dogs. If you still aren’t convinced that raw diets for dogs should be avoided, below are some safety guidelines which the FDA recommends to help reduce the risk of contamination to you and your dog ;

  • After handling pet raw food, ensure you avoid contact with your face and mouth.
  • Immediately after handling raw meat, ensure you wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Ensure you wash and disinfect all utensils, surfaces, and other objects that come into contact with the raw pet food. 
  • It’s advisable to freeze raw meat or poultry when not in use. However, freezing can’t guarantee the killing of all the bacteria. Seeing as Salmonella and E. Coli are often resistant to cold temperatures.
  •  Handle raw meat or poultry carefully to avoid spreading raw juices to other areas.
  • If your Dogs don’t finish their food, ensure you immediately dispose of the leftovers carefully.
  • After being licked by your dog, ensure you wash the area properly.
  • Try as much as possible to limit kissing your dog unless after a proper bath. 

Always wear disposable gloves when handling your dog’s food, and feed them on disposable plates so you can dispose of them immediately after use.

This, however, is a wasteful as well as an expensive measure. Getting a sterilizer for your dog’s food bowl is recommended or just resort to soaking the bowl in soapy hot water for at least 30 minutes before using it again. Young children and the elderly are especially susceptible to foodborne illnesses. Therefore, extreme care should be taken to ensure they do not come into contact with this dog food.

Your pet’s stool is also another way of contamination. Ensure you collect and safely discard your dog’s stool, try as much as possible not to come into direct contact with it, and ensure you disinfect the defecation area. Your hands should also be washed thoroughly after clearing feces is done.

Benefits of raw food diets for dogs

raw food diet for dogs

Food is important to humans as they are to dogs to carry out daily activities. When getting a raw food diet for dogs, considering the stress accompanying it, many would ask what the benefits of a raw food diet are. Well, how about a look at some of the advantages of raw food diets for dogs? 

  1. Cleaner teeth

    Research has shown that dogs and cats suffer dental diseases when they age three. Many dog owners know how challenging it is to brush their teeth, as it can be very difficult. It is even more challenging to get certain areas of their mouth washed as their dentition varies considerably from that of a man (which we are used to)

    Raw food diets for dogs, however, have been found to keep dental caries at bay. An advantage of nature and evolution has seen carnivorous animals grow a natural flora in their oral cavities to help prevent dental issues from raw meat consumption.
  1. Healthier skin and shinier coat

    Raw food for dogs provides your dog with the fatty acids and amino acids that are needed to help maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat. Dog’s skin and fur are almost entirely built from protein, and the body uses at least 30% of the protein consumed in the diet to maintain skin and coat condition. This is the main reason why natural raw dog food’s easily digestible protein content usually transforms a dull or lackluster coat into a shiny, glossy, healthy one. 
  1. Relief from food allergies and sensitivities

    Meals like wheat, soy, and corn are all potential allergens to dogs, and any diet containing these ingredients could cause considerable health conditions. Raw food, by nature, is usually grain-free and gluten-free. Raw food diet for dogs helps to maintain a healthy gut environment. The Imbalance within the gut is known to cause many unwanted symptoms. 

    However, adding food that nourishes, and removes food that irritates, is a significant step to resolving many conditions, such as ear, nose, digestive complaints, itching, paw licking, and even mobility issues.
  1. Increased vitality and energy

    Proteins, fats, and raw food diets are dogs’ most effective energy sources because they are rich in these vital macronutrients, which leads to more stable energy levels. Raw food diet for dogs provides the dog with vital energy needed to carry out daily activities.
  1. Boosted immune system

    A raw food diet for dogs helps their immune system and internal organ function and operate more effectively and adequately. As mentioned earlier, a raw food diet is highly supportive of gut health, and about 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, which makes sense that eating fresh and natural food benefits immune function. This means the body can easily absorb nutrients from food. 
  1. Smaller stools

    The side effect of switching from commercial meals to raw feeding is that stools are usually smaller as there is greatly less waste in a natural food diet

    Dog owners that feed their dogs raw food report an observable drop in the amount their dog produces and a reduction in the smell. Raw food is 100% natural with no added fillers, which means there’ll be less waste that comes out at the end of the day. The stool is usually smaller, has less odor, and is easier to pick up.
  2. Manageable weight

    One of the major reasons why most dog owners switch to raw or natural food diets is because of the dog’s weight. The major ingredients in many processed foods are calorie-loaded carbohydrate fillers, often enhanced with additives that make the dog want more, with little nutritional value. 


Raw food diet for dogs has its benefits and risk factors. After reading this article, if your preference still lies with the Raw food diet for dogs, you could simply follow the safety guidelines proposed by the FDA to help reduce or prevent contamination risks.

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