“Is a Primal Diet, the Right Diet?”: Pros and Cons to Consider

A question I get asked by customers a lot is “What should I feed my dog?” This is often a lengthy conversation as there are so many options to weigh and discuss. A long with the diet trends humans are experiencing, diet and “clean food” trends for dogs has grown right along with it. Since we consider dogs as part of the family now, a good diet for them is as important as a good diet or us. Besides, the question of, “What should I feed my dog?”, I am often asked, “Should I feed a raw diet to my dog?”. The majority of dog owners feed a commercial canned or kibble food but the raw food-based diet approach has grown over the last decade in lock step with the organic, paleo, and raw food diets humans are involved with.

 One of the arguments to support feeding a raw diet is that it is more “natural” diet for dogs. This school of thought comes from the idea that in the wild, dogs eat a diet of mostly raw meat and bones therefore all dogs should adopt this diet. However, we consider that selective breeding has occurred since this time and the current dogs we have in our homes do not digest food the same way a wild dog does.

 So then the question is “How the heck do I choose the right diet?” The reality is a dog owner can research diet for months and still be undecided. In order to find the right diet for your dog, you have to find that BEST fits.

Below I have outlined the benefits and risks regarding raw diets to help you in your research.  YOU must decide if the benefits of a raw diet is the best fit for your dog.

From my experience, competition and show dogs consume a raw or partially raw diet. Many professionals in the industry supplement raw along with kibble as part of their dog’s diet.  These supplemental pieces can be in the forms of raw meat, bone, and athletic supplements. Those professionals claim that by feeding a raw diet their dogs have outstanding coat sheen, beautifully clean teeth, fresh-smelling breath, no allergy symptoms, a decrease in the signs of panosteitis in growing breeds, and live a longer and healthier life.

Based on these claims, and typical confusion on whether to go raw or not, here are a few pros and cons of the raw food diet.

RAW DIET: The Pros

  1. Raw diets allow you to meet your dog’s specific NEEDS.  This could be foods to stay away from due to allergies and specific nutrient requirements.
  2. Fresh food brings Fresh breath. The diet that is freshly prepared is considered a healthier choice.  The bones in a raw diet cultivate good dental hygiene for your dog.
  3. LOWERS the Safety Risk : A diet you prepare at home avoids the commercial diets that have pet food recalls. At home, you have total control over what you include in the ingredients and recipes.


RAW DIET: The Cons

  1. IT TAKES TIME! because of the time consuming nature of making raw diets (especially homemade diets), it may not be feasible to manage on top of managing all the other aspects of you and your dogs life. PLUS, this can be expensive to do for large breeds.
  2. “Did I miss something?”  The fact us, even our own home cooked meals lack all the necessary nutrients we need to take in that day. The same could be true when preparing your dogs meal and there can be nutritional deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.  In fact, raw vegetable can often be poorly digested by dogs as it ofter has too much fiber.
  3. Your dog COULD get SICK! Raw diets can contain Salmonella and other bacteria that can be shed in the stools.  This can be transferred to items around the house and create a human risk to children.  Feeding bones can create intestinal blockage or chocking. This safety risk is often expressed verbally in the veterinary medicine world.
All in all this is a decision YOU have to make based on your dog, and your lifestyle. I offer no recommendation other than study, be honest about your situation, and follow through with what makes sense.
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