Among dog owners, raw food diets have been becoming more popular as time goes on; it stems from a belief that a dog’s natural diet, if they were not domesticated pets, would consist of raw foods. Many also feel a raw food diet plan will provide a range health benefits for dogs.
And while this belief makes some logical sense; dogs evolved from the same common ancestor as wolves did. The jury is still out on whether or not a raw food diet is really any better than purchasing standard, cooked dog food or kibble.
The purpose of this article is to discuss what can make up a raw diet plan for staffies as well as examining some of the potential health advantages and risks. Using this information, you can go forward and make an informed decision on what kind of diet to feed your dog.
What is a Raw Food Diet?
A common term used to describe these diets is “BARF”, which is simply an acronym that stands for bones and raw food. A raw or BARF diet will usually consist of the following, muscle meat, often still on the bone, bones, either whole or ground, organ meats such as livers and kidney, raw eggs, vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and celery, apples or other fruit and some dairy, such as yogurt.
The idea of feeding your dog these kinds of foods is to mimic what you’d expect a dog in the wild would eat. In other words, what a wolf would eat. Therefore, bringing a dog back to its most primal dietary conditions.
Raw diet advocates believe by turning to a raw food diet a dog’s health will be better because they’re living and eating like they were always meant too. Of course, when you think about it this way, there is certainly some sense to the reasoning.
As you’ll discover in the following section, there could be some excellent health benefits to feeding your dog a raw food diet.
Benefits of a Raw Food Diet for Dogs
Since owners tend to be very protective of their dogs (as they should be), you won't be shocked that such a popular diet can provide some essential health benefits. As you’ll see from the following list, the dogs on these diet plans do take advantage of some incredible health benefits they offer:
Whiter teeth, free of tartar and dental disease
Shinier, softer coats
Allergies tend to disappear
Your staffy will have more energy
Improved breath odour
With this in mind, it’s hard not to believe a raw food diet is the way to go with all of these health benefits. However, these advantages might not be worth it if some of the potential downsides that we will touch upon in the next section are to be believed.
There is also the argument that you could get all of the essential nutrients from a high-quality cooked dog food so there is no need for this raw diet plan hype.
Health Risks of a Raw Food Diet
After reading the pros section, you’re probably wondering what could be so bad about a raw food diet plan? Well, below you’ll find some of the nightmarish things these plans will make your staffy more prone to experience.
It is worth noting that these risks can be minimized and removed by using pre-made raw foods that have been produced by a top-quality manufacturer.
You probably already know that raw meat can contain awful bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella, which both can cause substantial health problems for your dog. These two harmful bacteria contaminate more meat than you think.
In fact, “an analysis of 35 commercial raw dog and cat foods, researchers found that 86% of products contained potentially dangerous bacteria.” When you see figures like these, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify feeding your dog a raw diet.
You might be saying to yourself, “well that’s just the commercial raw dog food, I can do this myself.” Well, a raw food diet doesn’t just pose a risk to your staffy, but you as well.
Humans get sick from bacteria and parasites lurking in raw-meat products, too. In fact, humans may face higher risks than their pets, who can be carriers of these pathogens even when they don’t become sick themselves.
Unless you’re a canine nutritionist, your homemade raw food diet plan probably isn’t going to have the same nutritional value as a well-researched, high-quality commercial pet food would. These manufactured pet foods have to reach certain nutritional guidelines that make sure your staffy’s getting all the nutrients they need.
Now, you can alleviate this concern by opting for a commercial made raw food. Unfortunately, some of these products still have issues in several nutritional areas and many barely meet the afore mentioned guidelines. Doing some research and finding a trustworthy manufacturer is crucial.
The main deficiency issues lie in trying to include the right amount of calcium and phosphorus into your dog’s raw diet. And without these two essential nutrients, your staffy’s never going to be in their best condition.
To judge this correctly for yourself, you’ll need to put in a lot of time that must dog owners just don’t have.
A large part of many raw food diets is bones. And staffies, in particular, are notorious for trying to swallow bones whole. They get so excited about their newest chew toy that the decide what the hell and eat it in one gulp.
Certain types of bone can also splinter as your dog swallows them, which can be very damaging and painful to them.
What I will say is that the choking of bones is a very common argument used by those who are against using raw food diets. Because of this, I feel the arguments are somewhat biased especially since cooked bones tend to splinter even more easily than raw ones.
The video below explains how raw bones can be safe for your dog.
However, the risk might still be there if you are feeding your dog a lot of bones.
Stomach and Digestion Issues
Any change in diet will cause some issues in the stool department. But thanks to the bacteria living inside the raw food, it can become more severe and unpleasant for your dog.
After all, the main portion of your staffy’s new diet will be meat; it’s a significant change from the daily kibble or wet food you’ve been feeding them in the past. And dog’s digest raw meat in a very different manner than they do kibble or wet food.
Final Thoughts - Are Raw Food Diets a Good Idea?
Currently, I don’t feel the potential health benefits of eating exclusively raw foods have enough backing to convince me. I’m even more hesitant because of the availability of manufactured foods that contain all-natural ingredients alongside the necessary nutrients.
At the moment, I suggest sticking with standard dog foods due to the potential risks associated with raw food diets. It will cause you less stress and anxiety.
As long as you are choosing quality food from trusted brands, you should be able to get the majority of the benefits a raw diet would offer your dog anyway. To help you out, you can read our article on the best dog food for staffies.
Finally, it should go without saying that you must always check with a registered veterinary professional before making adjustments to your dog's diet.