Raw Food (BARF Diet) vs Cooked Homemade Food

As if the whole controversy of whether to make your own dog food or buy natural dog food were not difficult enough, along comes the idea of whether or not to feed your dog raw food versus cooked food.

Those who favor feeding their dogs raw food like to point out that, in the wild, dogs would only eat raw meat, so why not feed them raw food?

Personally, I can come up with a couple of reasons as to why I wouldn’t feed a dog raw food.

Basically, they are the same reasons I wouldn’t feed raw food to a person.

Reasons To Cook Your Dog’s Food

One of those reasons is salmonella poisoning, which dogs can get just as easily as humans can.

Do humans eat raw eggs and in some cases nearly raw meat?… Sure they do, but just because a person or a dog can eat raw food doesn’t necessarily mean that they should.

Something that many dog owners who feed their pets a raw diet don’t consider is the fact that salmonella bacteria can be transferred via dog feces and saliva. So, if your dog eats raw foods with salmonella bacteria and then licks your kid’s hand or face, your dog could be transferring the bacteria to your child who could become sick with salmonella poisoning.That’s one reason why I prefer cooking my dog’s food before serving it to him.

Another reason to cook your dog’s food is E. coli. (Here’s what you need to know about dogs and E. coli.) Plus, anyone who has been in a modern slaughter house knows that even though there is some attempt at being sanitary, those slaughtering and processing the meat aren’t always successful. In fact, if you’ve seen any of videos available on modern slaughter houses, or meat processing plants they can be enough to make you want to go vegetarian yourself!

Both E. coli and Salmonella organisms can infect other animals and people, so even though the majority of dogs may not exhibit symptoms, they can none-the-less pass the contamination to other animals or people. Serious outbreaks of these diseases can kill or debilitate children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems. Source

And finally, another point in favor of cooking your dog’s food, is that dogs have been eating cooked food for generations and their systems are accustomed to it now. In fact, a dog’s digestive system is not made to digest raw vegetables at all. For starters:

  • Dogs don’t have the teeth to grind vegetables down because their teeth are carnivore teeth.
  • Dogs have a short digestive system which is incapable of breaking down raw vegetables.
  • Dogs don’t have any digestive enzymes in their mouth to break plant matter down.

For all of these reasons, raw vegetables have a tendency to pass right through your dog giving him no chance to benefit from the nutrients that might otherwise be available to him were the vegetables cut down into small pieces and cooked.

Another possibility of course — if you want to keep feeding him raw food — is to puree the vegetables first. The same is true of grains, they must be cooked before your dog can digest them and receive the nutrients into his system.

One last thing to remember is that a dog’s digestive system is very sensitive, and switching from cooked food to raw food too quickly can be another problem for your dog and can cause serious digestive discomfort for him.

The B.A.R.F. Diet

Dog owners who feed their dogs a raw diet usually go with the BARF diet, which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food or Bones And Raw Food.

A dog on the BARF diet is mainly fed raw bones that are meaty, offal (which is the organ part of the protein source), vegetables, cottage cheese, and eggs with their shells.

Those who provide their dogs the BARF diet typically believe:

  • Since dogs in the wild did not eat grains, and cannot easily digest them, then there is no reason to feed dogs grains now.
  • Since dogs ate raw foods in the wild, then cooking a dog’s food changes its chemical make-up making it more difficult for the dog to digest.
  • There is also the argument that raw foods give your dog’s diet variety, and this is necessary to keep the dog interested in his food and to keep him healthy.

Another Reason To Cook Homemade Dog Food

While I can understand some dog owners wanting to feed their pets a raw diet, one thing I think is important to remember is that all of our domesticated dogs were created from humans breeding wolves over millenia until we got the different breeds we have today.

To summarize:

  • Our dogs have been eating cooked food for generations, and they are no longer wolves and have not been for a very long time.
  • Treating our dogs’ digestive systems as though they are still out in the wild really doesn’t make sense to me because they’ve been domesticated for so long.
  • I think the evidence for cooked dog food being safer outweighs giving your dog a
    raw food diet which can be dangerous to people because of the dog’s ability to pass bacteria from the raw food they are eating to us.

Photo credits: This Year’s Love

Videos: Making Homemade Natural Dog Food

More Homemade Dog Food Tips

Biggest Myths About Raw Food For Dogs

Veterinary Q&A: The BARF Diet

Cautions On Raw Food Diets And Epileptic Dogs

Bacteria And Raw Pet Foods

Homemade Beef Dog Food Recipe

Causes Of Diarrhea In Puppies And Kittens

One Dog’s Raw Food Diet

Simple Advice If Raw Feeding Your Dog

About Regina

Some of my favorite things to write about are topics that have to do with living green, saving money, pregnancy, weddings, and dogs. When I’m not writing, I love to spend time with my husband, read, create 3D artwork and Native American beadwork.

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