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The Raging Debate of Raw Versus Cooked Dog Food

Among dog food enthusiasts the conundrum over cooked versus raw meals, which is better for Baron and which is an inferior product, continues to rage on. For some it is akin to a holy fervor and every bit as personal as a religious belief, which means it merits some close speculation and investigation. Is one method better than the other? That is up for each owner to decide but the facts are presented below.

Some naturalists will point out that raw meat is the way carnivores have always eaten in the wild. Indeed, man is the only animal who cooks his food. However, dogs are so far removed from their wild wolf ancestors that many do not last long in the wild and much of that is due to disease and parasites gained from their food sources. Most wild animals lead short and violent lives but we enjoy seeing our canine friends live long, happy and full lives free from strife and worry. The ‘wild card’, as it were, is not the best played hand when it comes to the argument of raw and cooked but there are plenty of other excellent points to consider.

Almost any time you apply heat to something the structure of it changes; heat alters compositions, often destroying the original product. In the case of food – any food – heat breaks down the natural proteins and damages nutrients, if not outright annihilates them depending on the extent to which the food is exposed to heat source. Heat also kills the pathogens and parasites that might be found in foods, especially meat. Not cooking meat increases the likelihood that such undesirables as salmonella and E.coli are more readily contracted. High heat has the power to alter certain fats and essential acids into undesirable, even carcinogenic, by-products. On the other hand, lightly cooking meats leaves a large amount of the desirable stuff intact while also destroying most bacteria and pathogens.

Raw foods have the benefit of all amino acids, proteins and nutrients kept intact but a dog cannot digest grains unless they are well cooked, which removes them as a carbohydrate source in their raw form. Vegetables also need to be cooked to a degree for a dog to benefit from any nutrients to be found within; else his digestive track is too short to break them down. On top of that, dogs have the teeth of the carnivores meaning they are designed to rip and tear flesh, not gnaw on plants. They also lack digestive enzymes in their saliva needed for breaking down plant matter. Cooking is a form of pre-digestion and the case of non-meat matter, it vastly benefits the canine and ends in less waste. Pureeing vegetables is a viable alternative to cooking.

Both schools of thought have their pros and cons, but some may prefer to look at it from a completely different view: that of highly-processed versus fresh. By its nature, the dry kibble offered in bags sees quite a bit of processing and it is best to think of ‘processed’ more along the lines of ‘a process by which the end product is farther and farther removed from its original state’. Many experts are now connecting processed foods with obesity and degenerative diseases more and more in both humans and domesticated animals as processed foods are both cooked and jammed full of foreign chemicals like preservatives. The steps a dog (or cat) food company goes through to create its kibble will not be discussed here but it may cause some alarm in more sensitive pet owners. While kibble is not known to have been the death of dogs and pets are actually living longer these days, there are better alternatives for delivering balanced nutrition and wholesome meals.

In then end it does not actually seem to matter if a dog eats raw meat or cooked meat but if raw is your choice, take pains to ensure it is suitable for human consumption. Do not feed your dog anything you would not eat or feed to another human. Do not serve Duke raw pork and be very careful with the chicken. Keep meats refrigerated, leaving them out only long enough to reach room temperature before feeding but avoid leaving the meat out for long where it has time to grow bacteria. Keep easily splintered bones, like pork and chicken, out of Duke’s reach. A dog will not get everything he needs from meat alone, so talk to your vet about supplements or cook him up some grains and veggies. Just remember that the less processed food is, the better it is for both you and Duke.

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