Thinking of introducing raw food to your Chihuahua’s menu options? Here are the pros and cons.
The growing trend of feeding uncooked meat and vegetables to our dogs has resulted in a whole refrigerated section full of new options. The appeal? Less processing and fewer mystery ingredients. But there’s a downside: the potential for pups who scarf down raw meat to develop bacterial illnesses that they than share with the dogs around them.
Avoid any feeding strategy that sounds extreme.
Some raw food advocates go so far as to feed their dogs meat and only meat. Or they add raw potatoes – a recipe for indigestion if you use white potatoes, not sweet potatoes. Providing a balanced diet is more important than following any one philosophy. Dogs need a variety of nutrients, such as vitamin D, delivered in their food.
Another consideration: It’s almost impossible to deliver the right calcium-to-phosphorus ratio with raw feeding. Raw meaty bones have the proportion just right – but can you tell how big a bite your dog takes? A diet overly rich in calcium and phosphorus increases the risk of improper bone growth, bowed front legs and osteochondrosis, which can lead to degenerative arthritis and lameness. The correct ratio, is around 1.2 parts calcium to every one part phosphorus.
Stick with tested food, to be safe.
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is a nonprofit organization that sets standards for pet food. Some of these new raw foods are balanced to AAFCO standards – and some aren’t. If the package doesn’t have the AAFCO statement, you should assume that it doesn’t meet the standards.
Raw doesn’t necessarily mean unprocessed.
One reason pet owners want to switch to raw food is that they don’t trust commercial processing. But the truth is that any processing of food changes its nutritional value by killing beneficial enzymes or denaturing some of the protein. That includes, not only cooking, but also freezing and dehydrating the food. However, cooking the food does make it easier for your dog to digest it.
Do feed raw food as a snack.
Treats are the best way to add some raw food without risking bacterial infection or losing nutrition. Try giving her a small piece of raw chicken neck or back with the bone smashed up. Gnawing raw meaty bones helps dogs relearn their natural ability to chew. Never feed her cooked bones, since they become too brittle to be safe.