Going raw

A nutritious diet goes a long way in keeping your dog happy and healthy

Precautions to take when feeding raw

When food is involved it is always necessary to practise good hygiene – this also goes for feeding your dog. The following tips will help prevent disease:

  • If you are feeding your pet a commercial raw diet, check the packaging to ensure the product has been adequately treated to avoid pathogens.
  • Do not buy the product if the container or packaging is damaged.
  • Keep your pet’s raw meat separate from the meat intended for your family to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Do not use the utensils that you used for your pet’s food to prepare food for your family.
  • Never allow cooked foods to come into contact with raw meat.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables prior to feeding and always wash your hands after handling raw food.
  • Regularly sanitise pet dishes, surfaces, cutting boards and utensils.
  • Rigorously control insects and other pests that may be attracted to the raw meat and could spread contamination.

Source: American Veterinary Medical Association

What is a raw diet?

Ingredients commonly used in raw pet food are the following:

  • Muscle as well as organ meats
  • Whole or ground bones
  • Raw eggs
  • Raw fruit and vegetables
  • Dairy products such as yoghurt

The tails are wagging, eyes sparkling and big doggy smiles are to be seen. If they could, they would be telling you to hurry up already. Sound familiar? It can only be feeding time!

Since your dog happily gobbles up whatever you give him, it’s up to you to make sure you give him what’s best for him! And this is where things can get complicated. In our lives today we are bombarded with information, and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to pet food. How can we possibly know what’s really best? We take a look at the option of raw pet food, which is becoming increasingly popular.

History in a nutshell

Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst first came up with the concept of raw pet food. He started experimenting with his own dogs, and eventually came to the conclusion that this option was of great benefit to a dog’s health, as he wrote in his 1993 book Give Your Dog a Bone: “No more skin problems, dental problems, eye problems, growth problems. The faeces were less smelly and there were less of them. Their breath became pleasant.” He also coined the well-known term ‘BARF’, which stands for ‘bones and raw food’ or ‘biologically appropriate raw foods’. The general idea is going back to how dogs lived in the wild. According to supporters of the raw diet, this is how dogs were meant to eat, ensuring optimal health.

Today still not everyone agrees that a raw diet is best for your pet, and with so many opinions out there, it is up to you to see what benefits your dog the most.

A dog owner’s perspective

Animaltalk reader Tammy de Oliveira says that her dogs have been on raw food for about two years, and that she would not consider going back to other kinds of food.

“The food I feed contains raw vegetables, seared or sautéed meat and many other healthy ingredients,” says Tammy.

A passionate animal lover, Tammy even went as far as visiting the kitchen where the food is produced to see how this food is made. “They always add love into the food!” she comments. Tammy’s advice for switching to raw food is to change your pet’s diet gradually, and to keep portion control in mind as it might look like you are feeding very little. “My dogs also get marrow bones to keep the jaw nice and strong and the teeth clean – these must be raw and my dogs are always supervised when chewing on them. I remove the bones once the dogs are done with them.”

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