Should you switch to raw food for your senior dog?
A raw food diet literally means feeding dogs raw bones, meat, fruits, and vegetables. Many dog owners are getting on-board with the trend because they like the idea of returning to the diet that dogs had when they lived in the wild. Concerns over ingredients like grains and byproducts in commercial dog foods dog foods have only served to drive the acceptance of feeding raw food further.
The idea of feeding any dog a raw diet is controversial. When it comes to feeding it to a senior dog, the idea becomes even more questionable. Older dogs have different nutritional needs and they are more prone to some health conditions. Following are some reasons that it may not be the best idea to switch to raw food for your senior dog.
- Health Issues Like Cancer – About half of all dogs will get cancer during their senior years. Some breeds are also at a greater risk of developing the disease. When a dog has cancer, its immune system is compromised. Cancer treatments can further impact their ability to fight off infections. The problem with raw food for your senior dog with cancer is that you could be putting him at risk of bacterial infections. Since the food isn’t cooked, any bacteria on or in the food isn’t killed. What you think of as a healthy, natural diet could end up making your dog sicker.
- The Need for Balanced Nutrition – When you pour dog food out of the bag, you know what percentage of each ingredient you are giving your dog. Senior dog foods are formulated to give older dogs what they need to keep them strong. When you feed your dog a raw food diet, you have to be vigilant about giving your dog the right balance of nutrition. You need to source quality meats, be prepared to recognize allergens, and stay up-to-date on your pet’s health condition. In other words, it takes a lot of time and work to get it right. If you aren’t willing or able to put your time and money into doing a good job, then you and your dog will be better off if you don’t even try.
- You Can’t Afford to Buy the Best Quality Meat for Your Dog – Don’t feel bad if you can’t find affordable raw foods for your dog. Depending on your location, quality meats might cost more than you can afford to pay. Some places offer raw food in bulk, but that depends on your location. If you are going to feed your dog human-grade meats, you have to be prepared to pay the price.
- Dog Food Isn’t As Bad As You Think – For starters, ingredients like meat byproducts and grains aren’t as bad for dogs as you have been led to believe. Meat byproducts are animal parts other than the meat. They include organs like the lungs and kidneys but not teeth, hair, or hoofs. As for the grain, the biggest concern with feeding your senior dog food with grains is that it may add calories that he doesn’t need. Older dogs often have weight issues that require calorie management. Also, there are government regulations and standards set by the FDA about the safety of the ingredients used in dog food.
There are many kinds of specially formulated senior dog foods on the market today. The best brands include real meat as the first ingredient and they have all the added nutrients that older dogs need. In addition, they aid in weight management and address dental health to keep dogs their healthiest with virtually no effort.
Many people have had success with raw food diets for their dogs. But you may want to reconsider raw food for your senior dog. One factor that a large number of experts agree on is that raw food should only be given to young and adult dogs that have a strong immune system and are healthy overall.