There are many people out there with strong opinions about dog food. We are here to look at the advantages and disadvantages for each type of dog food that you could feed your pet. With the increase of recalls, food allergies, and the desire to know where food is coming from, people are choosing to feed their dogs differently. Remember, each dog is an individual and may digest and enjoy foods differently. Before you make a decision, please discuss your plan with a veterinarian to make sure all essential nutrients are included.

Raw Diet

A raw diet consists of only raw ingredients such as: eggs, meats, bones, organs, vegetables, and fruits. People who keep their pets on a raw diet believe that domesticated dogs should be eating what canines eat in the wild. Surviving on an evolutionary diet can be tricky and all the proper nutrients need to be calculated. Dogs with a protein allergy may have a diet with limited raw components, but it can be easier to avoid the allergens. A raw diet is a great option for dogs with a grain allergy because there are essentially no grains involved. Here are some positive and negative outcomes that people report when feeding their pets a raw diet.

Positive
  • Healthier, shinier coat
  • Increased energy, more active
  • Smaller stools
  • Improved dental health
  • Meat/bones/organs can be stored in the freezer
Negative
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Expensive
  • Time consuming, clean dishes after every meal
  • Risk for contamination
  • Lack of market for ingredients
  • Lack of freezer space (this is also a negative because not everyone has access to a lot of freezer space)

Cooked Homemade Diet

A cooked homemade diet is a meal made up of cooked raw ingredients: broiled meat, seared fish, steamed vegetables, grains, and legumes. It could look very similar to a healthy balanced meal for both a pet and their owner! A homemade diet is a great option for dogs that are picky eaters or have allergies. The owner can control portion sizes, as well as which ingredients the diet consists of. Here are some positive and negative outcomes that people report when feeding their pets a homemade diet.

Positive
  • Decreased risk of contamination
  • Available at the grocery store, common ingredients
  • Smaller Stools
  • Complete control over what your dog is consuming
Negative
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Expensive
  • Time consuming, dishes and cook time
  • Short shelf life
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Dry Kibble

A kibble diet is a dry food purchased at a store with the required nutrients defined by AAFCO. The quality of the kibble usually corresponds with the price of the bag. Look for a kibble with protein as the first ingredient, and a combination of ingredients that you are familiar with. Dogs with health conditions often do well on kibble prescription diets, due to the recipe being formulated by veterinarians. Here are some positive and negative outcomes that people report when feeding their pets a kibble diet.

Positive
  • Decreased risk of contamination
  • Available at many stores
  • Nutrients balanced
  • Affordable, cost effective calories
  • Convenient, little prep time
  • Long shelf life
  • Increased dental health
Negative
  • Risk of Recall
  • Not highly regulated ingredients
  • Nutrition is in someone else’s control
  • Inaccurate measurements for weight of dog, obesity
  • Easier to consume, less foraging

The food an owner chooses will depend on the health status, activity level, and lifestyle of the dog. If you want, try a combination of these types of food! Many owners use raw vegetables or marrowbones for enrichment, but stick to kibble for meal times. However, due to the savvy, unregulated marketing of dog food sold in stores, dog owners can be fooled when purchasing kibble. Do your research and find the ingredients that your dog will thrive on.

If you choose to switch your dog’s diet, remember to adjust the dog slowly to prevent unnecessary gastrointestinal upset. Be aware of the specific foods to avoid and when in doubt, contact your vet.

Author

Caitlin is originally from Vermont and has been working with animals since she can remember. She studied Behavioral Neuroscience and is now Mastering in Animal Shelter Management in Colorado. Her hobbies include horseback riding, fostering animals, and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. She has volunteered at five different animal shelters and worked in three different vet hospitals. Her passions include animal health, behavior, and enrichment. Caitlin lives with her Chihuahua-Terrier mix, Norman, and currently works for a non-profit helping the pets of elderly and disabled: Pets Forever.

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