MAll people choose to feed their dogs natural food, which really makes sense. I mean, we can all imagine our canine ancestors eating raw meat and bones in the wild, so surely that’s the best way to feed our dogs? Well, maybe not…is natural dog food as healthy as we think?
Natural dog food has positive attributes, but there are some pretty major negative attributes as well. These disadvantages can be very serious and actually make our dog very ill. Natural dog food vs. commercial dog food is a debate that has been going on for quite some time.
Many people feed their dogs natural foods with a genuine belief that they can tell the difference in their dog’s health. They perceive the results as absolutely positive. Others, however, feed their dogs traditional commercial dog food and their pets are perfectly healthy and have no problems.
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So, is feeding your dog natural food the right way to go? Is it really healthy? Is it just a trend that will soon be over? Is the extra effort really worth it? As you can see, there are many questions that need to be answeredbut first we need to get an idea of what exactly natural nutrition really means.
How healthy is natural dog food really? A critical look
What is natural dog food?
Well, as the name suggests, natural dog food is basically dog food that contains only natural ingredients. It basically means there’s nothing in it that shouldn’t be.
However, remember that just because dog food can be classified as natural doesn’t mean it’s of high quality. Dog food regulations are very limited, so you can never guarantee that you are getting the highest quality product.
Natural dog food means that your dog’s food comes only from plant, animal and also mined sources and can be in both unprocessed and processed states.
It’s important not to get your labels mixed up, as food labeled gourmet or premium doesn’t mean the food is natural. These are terms that manufacturers use to try to get people to buy the product, believing it’s better for their dogs to eat.
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Gourmet and premium foods are exactly the same as other store-bought foods, but may contain more jelly or sauce, for example. Therefore, as dog owners, we think they are better for our dogs.
Another point is that just because a dog food can contain the word naturally it really can’t be what it seems. It could simply mean that the food does not contain any additives. Look at the packaging and make sure you are getting exactly what you want.
Store bought natural dog food
Most dog food manufacturers have recognized that dog owners want a healthier option and want to feed their dogs more naturally. In turn, they have created a variety of natural pet food options. The stores are absolutely packed with all kinds of dog food.
Our options include traditional dog foods that have been around for ages, as well as foods labeled gourmet, premium, grain-free, all-natural and so on… the list never ends. But are these all just fads? Do we really need that many options?
If you are planning to transition your dog to a more natural diet, commercially available natural dog food is probably the best option. Formulated by animal nutritionists, these foods are balanced and complete to ensure your dog is getting all the protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats they need to be healthy and happy.
Homemade natural dog food
Some people make their dog’s food from scratch at home. However, this can be something negative.
Dogs need a balanced diet and if the balance isn’t right, your dog’s health can suffer.
Dogs need vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and protein to ensure they thrive in life. If this balance is totally out of proportion, your dog could potentially become ill.
Yes, your homemade food will be all natural with no coloring, flavoring or grains, but you need to make sure you’re doing it right. You really should work with your veterinarian or a canine nutritionist to ensure you are feeding your pet a diet that meets their individual needs.
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There are positive aspects of feeding your dog home-made natural food, however these have not been scientifically proven and research is still being done on the natural food. Vets are divided, and some recommend that dog owners stay away from it, believing the negatives outweigh the positives.
Pet owners report that their dog’s teeth are healthier, their coat is shinier, their stools are smaller, and they generally appear healthier and have far fewer allergies when fed a natural diet. Really, the choice is up to you and your veterinarian to decide what works best for your dog’s individual needs and dietary requirements.
However, there are also many disadvantages of this diet. These include mouth injuries, broken bones, broken teeth, pancreatitis, choking, vitamin deficiencies and also gastroenteritis. These are very serious health issues and some are potentially life threatening.
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That’s why vets are so divided. Yes, you get all-natural ingredients, but at what price?
If you really want your dog to switch to a natural diet rather than preparing it yourself, there are recipes you can follow to ensure what you are preparing for your dog is complete and balanced.
A simple raw food diet contains 70% animal protein and calcium and the other 30% is vegetables, which can include broccoli, green peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, and many others.
The BARF diet is sometimes recommended for dogs suffering from allergies and certain medical conditions. That helps, but not for the reason you might think. This isn’t because your dog is eating the raw food, it’s because the ingredient that caused the allergies has been removed from your dog’s diet.
However, you can eliminate the ingredient with commercial dog food. There is a wide range of quality dog food that does not contain certain ingredients, so the results are the same.
You continue to provide your dog with a balanced diet created by nutritionists. You then no longer have to worry about all the negative side effects of a raw food diet such as parasites, choking, mouth injuries or vitamin deficiencies.