Have raw food adverts for dogs been catching your eye recently? The diet promises lots of health benefits for your pooch, including helping with skin allergies. But how true are these claims? Dr Scott Miller is here to debunk the mysteries of this increasingly popular canine diet.
A raw food diet (or raw feeding) is exactly as it sounds. Instead of cooked or processed foods, you give your dog raw ingredients for their meals and treats.
A raw food diet for dogs could include a mix of:
Many dog (and cat) owners who raw feed think it’s the more natural and healthy choice, mirroring what dogs would eat in the wild.
Companies like Raw Dog Food Cornwall claim raw food diets help your pet by:
Some companies argue that cooked commercial pet foods are too processed, not giving enough or the right kind of nutrition. Others even say that these processed meals could even cause your pet chronic health issues.
The University of Helsinki published a study in 2021 on how a puppy’s diet affected skin allergy symptoms in adult life. The study gave dog owners an online feeding survey about their puppies’ diets from two to six months of age.
The study found:
What’s important to remember is these findings only suggest – rather than prove – a dog raw food diet could be positive for your pooch. It’s really down to individual experiences than widely-proven results.
This is only one review with a relatively low number of case studies, meaning it’s hard to be guided by the findings. There’s also not a lot of other published research articles out there on raw feeding.
So, could a raw diet really help to relieve your dog’s skin allergies? It depends. If your dog is having skin problems, the safest option is to speak to your vet before switching to raw feeding.
While some pooches could see their skin improve by eating raw food, swapping to this type of diet could lead to other health problems.
Many vets don’t recommend giving your dog or cat a raw food diet as:
It’s possible that your pup could get e. coli or worms from eating raw meat. Low quality or cheaper meat cuts (such as from a supermarket) aren’t prepared in a hygienic way to safely eat raw.
Healthy adult dogs might be able to resist a lot of the organisms, but it doesn’t make them completely safe from infected raw foods. Immunosuppressed dogs, puppies, and senior canines are even more at risk of getting poorly.
Dogs can choke on raw bones, especially if they’re already small or chewed down into smaller pieces. In most raw foods, the bones are ground up to stop worries about choking. But there’s other potential problems with eating raw bones as part of a raw food diet, like:
Helping your dog’s skin allergies comes down to their individual needs – there’s no one-size-suits-all diet. Your vet can suggest a food plan or food exclusion trial to find the specific cause of the food allergy or intolerance. This will also help make sure your pet gets the nutrition they need for their age, breed, size, and any medical issues.
Aside from looking at their diet, vets can help your dog with skin allergy flare-ups by suggesting things like:
If you have a Petsure policy and want extra support on helping your dog’s skin allergies, reach out to FirstVet. With unlimited 24/7 access to video chats with a UK-registered vet, you can get advice on treatments for your pooch.
When the unexpected happens to your pup, having Petsure dog insurance gives you peace of mind that you’re covered.