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Raw meat vs. cooked meat: What is best for your dog?

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Feeding our canine companions is a responsibility that all dog owners take seriously. Among the various debates surrounding dog nutrition, one of the most common is whether raw or cooked meat is better for our furry friends.

Raw Meat Diet for Dogs:

Raw meat diets for dogs closely mimics what dogs would eat in the wild. Raw feeding typically consists of uncooked meat, bones, and organs, often supplemented with fruits and vegetables.

According to Dr. Wilhem Markennen in “Pros and Cons: Raw vs Cooked Diet for Dogs” published in the Dogs United website, raw diets offer several benefits:

1. Nutritional Adequacy. Raw meat contains essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals in their natural form, which some would say are better preserved than in cooked meat.

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2. Improved Digestion. Some dogs with sensitive stomachs may fare better on raw diets due to the absence of certain additives and preservatives found in commercial dog food.

3. Healthier Coat and Skin. Some claim that raw diets can lead to shinier coats and healthier skin in dogs due to high quality protein and fats found in raw meat.

4. Dental Health. Chewing on raw bones can help promote dental health by reducing plaque and tartar buildup.

Dogs are natural carnivores that can digest raw meat. It is closer to what their canine ancestors would have eaten in the wild, but that does not necessarily mean raw meat is 100 per cent. beneficial. (Photo from Zontica // Shutterstock)

However, raw meat diets also come with potential risks:

1. Bacterial Contamination. Raw meat can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, which pose health risks to both dogs and humans. While dogs may have stronger stomach acids that can handle these bacteria better than humans, there is still a risk of illness.

2. Bone Hazards. Raw bones can splinter and cause choking, gastrointestinal obstruction, or puncture wounds in the digestive tract. It is crucial to supervise your dog while they are eating raw bones to prevent accidents.

3. Nutritional Imbalance. Without careful planning and supplementation, raw diets may lack essential nutrients, leading to deficiencies or imbalances that could negatively affect your dog’s health.

Cooked Meat Diets for Dogs:

Cooked meat diets offer a different approach to canine nutrition, with proponents highlighting several advantages:

1. Reduced Risk of Bacterial Contamination. Cooking meat at appropriate temperatures kills harmful bacteria, reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses for both dogs and humans.

2. Easier Digestion. Cooking breaks down some of the tougher connective tissues in meat, making it easier for dogs to digest. This can be particularly beneficial for older dogs or those with digestive issues.

3. Convenience. Preparing cooked meals for dogs can be more convenient for some owners, as it eliminates the need to handle raw meat and ensures portion control.

However, a cooked meat diet also have its disadvantages:

1. Nutrient Loss. Cooking meat can lead to the loss of vitamins and enzymes, potentially reducing the overall nutritional quality of the food.

2. Potential for Overcooking. Overcooking meat can further deplete its nutritional value.

3. Processed Ingredients. Commercial cooked dog food may contain additives, preservatives, and fillers that are less desirable for some dog owners.

Making a Decision

“When it comes to choosing between raw and cooked meat diets for your dog, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer,” says Markennen.

“Factors such as your dog’s age, health status, activity level, and personal preferences should all be taken into consideration. It’s essential to consult with your veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet,” Markennen adds.

If you decide to feed your dog a raw diet, you need to follow safe handling practices to minimize the risk of bacterial contamination.

Alternatively, if you opt for a cooked meat diet, ensure that the food is nutritionally balanced and free from potentially harmful additives.

In conclusion, both raw and cooked meat diets have its pros and cons. By weighing the benefits and risks of each approach and working closely with your veterinarian, you can make a decision that supports your dog’s overall health and happiness.

About the Author: Niko Gabriel Salgado is a graduate of consular and diplomatic affairs from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and worked at the House of Representatives. He is now an entrepreneur and a volunteer of the animal welfare group Save Animals of Love and Light- Save ALL.

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