I remember when we first brought Sully home. I became obsessive about “bests”, the best food, the best bowls, the best exercise, the best supplements, the best toys, etc, etc. I read everything I could find that ranked dog-related products or services. In my research, I learned that the “raw diet” was largely considered the most healthy and beneficial option for feeding a dog. I held this belief firmly until yesterday. As a matter of chance, someone on a forum that I frequent asked about resources for learning about dog food.
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I always default to scholar.google.com for questions like this(are you surprised!? 😛 ). But as I began scrolling through the results, I was taken aback. There were, literally, no studies showing any benefits of a raw diet and, in fact, there were dozens upon dozens showing a slew of potential risks to both the dog and their humans!
If we were financially capable of doing so, our entire crew would have been eating raw for the last three years. So reading peer-reviewed research that was telling me how skewed the risk/reward ratio of these diets is(much more risk than reward) was assaulting to my sensibilities and beliefs as a “good” dog owner.
Most, if not all, of the risks that are addressed in these studies is from bacteria that can be found in raw meats. E. Coli and Salmonella were the subjects of many of the papers and the results were not good for the raw feeder. After considering what I was reading, it actually makes perfect sense. If you ever watch any of the competition shows on Food Network, you are bound to see or hear a judge accost one of the contestants for cross-contaminating their protein sources. This is exactly because of the bacteria that is associated with each of the different kinds of meat and the ability of that bacteria to make us sick! So, it stands to reason that feeding those same proteins to our dogs comes with the same associated risks.
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While there are no large scale studies on the benefits and risks associated with a raw food diet, it seems that the evidence we do have would suggest that commercial wet/dry food is a much safer alternative, that provides the same level of nutritional value to our furry friends. I think I will still keep an open mind on the subject of raw feeding as many dog owners I know have plenty of anecdotal evidence of it being very beneficial, but for now, I will be avoiding commercial or homemade raw diets for our crew!