The joy of having a pet dog is sublime. You get a friend, a companion, and an excited supporter who is always by your side and loves you unconditionally.
That’s why a lot of people are gradually looking to adopt dogs to experience the joy of becoming pet parents. With the drastic rise in the number of dog parents by the day, debates also keep increasing within the community.
The latest topic of contention among these pet parents concerns healthier food options for dogs. So which one is a healthier alternative, cooked or raw food?
If you’re also confused about the same, I’ll bet you’ve come to the perfect place to get some clarity. I’ve done a detailed analysis of both alternatives to help my fellow dog parents decide whether cooked dog food is best for their pups or if they should opt for raw food. Dive right in to find out everything about the two options and make up your mind!
All About Raw Food for Dogs
As the name suggests, raw dog food is a unique way of feeding your furry friend without any cooking involved. While you might think it’s just plain old meat, there’s a lot more to it in reality.
The raw diet for dogs comes packed with a bunch of nutrients that dogs need, and they are usually derived from uncooked organic ingredients. Wondering why people offer raw food to their dogs? Well, the whole idea behind this raw food diet is to mimic what dogs might have in their natural habitats or the wild.
Dogs aren’t strictly carnivores like their wolf ancestors and can handle some plant-based stuff, thanks to their evolutionary journey. But we can’t ignore that they’re primarily attracted to that meaty goodness.
So when we classify a pet dog, we can call it a “scavenging carnivore,” which means it can chow down on various foods, even though it doesn’t totally fit the omnivore or herbivore brackets. So, if you’re opting for the full raw food route, your pooch will get all the nutrients they need to stay healthy!
However, there are different versions of the raw diet that we’re referring to. The first type is the prey food diet, which involves giving your dog whole prey, small animals with all the feathers and fur. They’ll get some additional plant nutrients through the stomach contents of these animals, which are usually herbivores.
On the other hand, some raw food diets like BARF include a small helping of fruits and vegetables on the side. Picture this: a raw food feast for your pup, including muscle meat, organ meat, bones, and some vegetables supplementing their nutritional needs.
This meal contains a balance of everything your dog needs, including vitamins, minerals, and more. A lot of store-bought raw diets also mince everything up, making it super convenient for you and your pup.
So, if you’re thinking about shaking up your dog’s dining routine, raw dog food might be something to consider!
Know Everything About Cooked Dog Food for Your Pet Dogs
Cooked food for dogs is similar to the food you prepare for your consumption. It’s just the processed grub you give your four-legged buddies and contains a mix of meat, grains, and vegetables, all cooked and ready to go.
You can find cooked food in dry, canned, and even fresh forms. The manufacturers aim to ensure it has all the nutrients your pooch will need to stay healthy. And you know the best part of cooked dog food? Well, you will find tons of cooked food options out there.
Now, while the ingredients might vary, most of these cooked dog foods have a few things in common. They usually throw in some extra vitamins and minerals to make sure your pup gets everything it needs.
But wait, there’s more. Some of these cooked meals for dogs even come with special extras like probiotics or omega-3 fatty acids.
Compared to raw food diets, cooked dog food is a bit more convenient as it has a longer shelf life. If you’re a busy pet parent, this cooked dog food can be your savior. Moreover, you don’t have to sweat over the nutritional value. Your pup gets the goodness they need without you having to overthink their meals. I think it’s like a one-stop solution for keeping your dog happy, healthy, and well-fed!
Raw Dog Food Vs Cooked Dog Food: What’s the Difference?
Now that you know quite a lot about the two options, let’s delve deeper into the comparison. Here’s a detailed difference between raw and cooked dog foods.
1. Health Benefits
As a pet parent, it’s natural for you to be concerned about how the food impacts your pup’s health. A lot of people believe that since a raw diet is natural, it will be better for the digestive system of your dog and absorb all the nutrients. However, there are no solid or research-backed claims to support this.
On the other hand, cooked food can be a great way to add some variety to a dog’s diet. Since you’re cooking the meals yourself, it will give you the liberty to control the ingredients and make changes to them to suit your pup’s nutritional needs. And not just that, cooking the food will also help kill the harmful bacteria that might be present in the ingredients.
Let’s move on to nutrition now. The raw dog food will be exactly the meal your dog would eat naturally and contains all the ingredients that your dog’s body recognizes, which makes it much easier to utilize the food to the most to support their health.
But when you cook the ingredients, they tend to lose some of the essential nutrients. Due to this, many dog food manufacturers have the option to add synthetic additives to replace all the nutrients destroyed during the cooking process, which might not be very beneficial for your dog.
If you decide to give raw food to your dog, you would have to invest in good quality ingredients, whether fresh or frozen. Not only that, but you would also have to store it properly and away from your food to avoid contamination.
I would also recommend you use different bowls, utensils, and surfaces to prepare raw meals for your dog. Sounds complicated and tiring, doesn’t it?
Well, such problems don’t arise in the case of cooked food options like kibble. It will be easy to store and wouldn’t require any special arrangements. Even for wet dog food, all you’ll have to do is stack it on the shelf and use it as needed.
If your home or kitchen doesn’t have a lot of space, it could be difficult to store the ingredients and utensils to prepare raw foods. Here you can opt for cooked dog food!
4. Risks Associated
Are there any health risks associated with these two dog food variants? Well, both come with a different set of concerns. Although raw food is more natural, there is a chance of bacterial contamination in the raw meat.
If your pup consumes such raw foods, they can develop many illnesses, like E. coli poisoning and salmonella. Moreover, raw food diets could also lead to either nutritional excess or deficiency in dogs if the pet owners are not aware of their nutritional needs.
While cooked dog foods might seem safer, they are also not entirely free from health risks. So you must be aware of this issue. These processed meals can contain high fat and calories, causing excessive weight gain and obesity.
Next up is an important concern for every pet owner, cost! Since raw meals contain a lot of meat and careful handling, you can’t prepare them in vast quantities. It implies that giving raw food to your dog might not be very affordable. This might not be suitable if you are on a tight budget.
Cooked food, on the other hand, is available widely in stores and even online. The prices of these dog foods available in the market tend to range between $0.50 to $2 per pound, and it varies as per the brand as well as the quality of the dog food.
As there are both pros and cons to cooked food as well as raw diets, you can decide which one fits within your budget.
6. Preferences and Lifestyle
I’m sure you feel your dog has a unique personality, don’t you? Well, similarly, the food preferences might also be different.
While some dogs eat everything you put in their bowl or even steal from your plate, others can be more picky. Although you can introduce raw dog food to your pet at any time, it may take you some time and a lot of effort. This is because your dog often takes time to get accustomed to new foods.
Besides that, you must also consider the lifestyle when deciding between cooked and raw diets. If you work and travel frequently with your dog, it would be challenging for you to carry or source raw ingredients, and there’s also a higher contamination risk.
Here, offering conventionally cooked food, be it kibble or wet canned food, would be more convenient and safe. But if you want to stick to raw foods for your furry friend, you can try freeze-dried foods, which might not be very palatable to every dog!
What’s The Verdict?
In this debate between raw vs. cooked foods for dogs, it all comes down to what’s best for your pup and more convenient for you. If you have the time, space, and money to provide raw food to your dog, you can go for that.
However, in case you are a busy pet parent with limited resources, you might want to stick to cooked foods available in the market.
No matter what you decide, make sure you first take into consideration your dog’s dietary needs, health conditions, and preferences!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Healthiest Diet For Your Dog?
A diet consisting of healthy and natural ingredients like meat, vegetables, and even fruits is ideal for dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Cooked Meat Every Day?
Yes, your dog can consume cooked meat daily, provided it is safe for consumption. You must also ensure it provides your dog with a balance of nutrients to stay healthy.
How Is Raw Food Better For Dogs Than Cooked Food?
Raw food that you give your dog will contain a lot of amino acids that are beneficial for their overall health, but the cooking process can destroy them.
What to feed a dog is a question that plagues most parents. And deciding between raw and cooked food can make things even more tricky.
Well, now that you know about the pros and cons of both raw and cooked dog foods, you can decide what will suit your pup the most. If you’re still confused or have some doubts, consult a veterinarian to better understand your furry companion’s needs and give them the best diet!
Ankita Sharma is a passionate pet lover and head of content at Pet Food Brands. With her extensive knowledge and research, she provides pet owners with top-quality information on dog food and nutrition. Her dedication to improving the lives of dogs makes her a leading voice in the industry.