Dear Davi,

Are raw food diets for dogs ideal meal plans or dangerous fads?


Dexter the Dalmatian


Hi Dexter,

Many dogs have heard the buzz about BARF, or “Bones And Raw Food,” but let’s examine what it really is and if it’s right for you.

The Upsides: Simply put, a raw diet for dogs is composed primarily of raw meat – muscle and organ meat – and fruits, vegetables, raw eggs, dairy, and vitamin supplements. There are no hidden ingredients, no fillers. What you see is what you get.

Some suggest that a raw diet is an excellent source of high-quality nutrition that isn’t usually found in commercial pet foods.

Some claim this primal diet is a natural remedy to achieve healthier skin, a shinier coat and improved digestion.

A raw dog food diet mimics our primitive menu. The whole concept is based on our ancestor the wolf and his built-in desire to capture and eat another animal – the entire animal.

Raw meaty bone and muscle meat are the staples of a raw diet and can make up about 90 percent of a daily meal.

The bones that are part of the diet are considered to be good for dental hygiene.

Raw diets can be prepared to avoid foods to which a dog may be allergic and can be made to meet the dog’s specific nutrient requirements.

The Downsides: A raw diet does not consist of mere table scraps. KFC bones? Not part of a raw diet. And preparing a well-balanced raw food diet can be costly and time-consuming.

Raw vegetables, especially carrots, are poorly digested by dogs. The nutrients in vegetables are more easily digested when lightly cooked or ground into kibble.

There’s no scientific evidence to support claims of better health and immunity for pets eating raw food. In fact, many veterinarians discourage this practice and say it raises serious health concerns.

Canines no longer need a super-high protein diet to survive. Most wolves spend their days hunting and roaming, sometimes covering miles at a time. Most domesticated dogs have no need to hunt, and they rarely cover a fraction of that ground.

A dog might experience joint and bone problems due to being overfed protein.

Bones can cause choking, internal puncture, and chipped or broken teeth.

If not done correctly, eating raw could make the animal sick due to vitamin or mineral deficiency, not to mention the risk of infection from bacterial contamination.

Keep in mind that there’s no single right way to feed a dog. Both a balanced raw food diet and commercial dog food products lead to the same outcome. Feeding raw is a personal decision based on the health and welfare of the dog (or cat!), not the ingredients of the food.

If you want to try the raw diet, select prepared raw food meals. This fare is regulated and offers a balanced diet with essential supplements that takes the guesswork out of feeding time.

Want to learn more about raw feeding? There’s a free pet nutrition seminar 6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at Salty Paws Healthy Pet Market, 677 Atlantic Blvd., Atlantic Beach. A Primal Pet Foods representative will be on hand to answer questions. To reserve a spot, call 372-9433 or email [email protected]. Healthy eating to all!


Davi is a brown dachshund with an appetite for adventure. He loves sweet potato treats, playing at the park with friends, and exploring the unknown.