WHY A NUTRITIONAL APPROACH?
It seems like an obvious answer to those who choose to feed homemade raw, however, the benefits of using nutritional guidelines for dogs and cats are largely ignored in pop culture raw feeding. While this site is not meant to stomp on ratio diets such as PMR or BARF, it does call to attention the risks of feeding ratio diets without the understanding of basic canine nutrition.
Briefly, those who feed using nutritonal guidelines are probably using The National Research Council’s Nutritional Requirements of Cats and Dogs.
A dog does not decide it no longer needs adequate levels of Vitamin D just because their food is no longer cooked. Raw is not excempt from the need of adequate vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids and the balance of many nutrients. (Canine and Feline Nutrition Chpt 1-4) A basic example is to say that “dogs need 80% muscle meat in their diet” (PMR) vs.” a dog needs at least x grams of protein and specific amino acids.” (NRC Nutritional Requirements of Cats and Dogs) You can feed a diet of 80% muscle meat and still be lacking in many vitamins and other nutrients. A very simplified example would be to compare the nutrient values of 80% lean ground beef with 93% lean ground beaf. Compare values using the USDA database.
At first, using nutritional guidelines for feeding dogs and cats can be harder than using ratio diets such as those outlined on Perfectly Rawsome. However, over time, the owner gets much better at putting together recipes. Since ratio diets do not address specific nutrients, owners are often left wondering if their dog is getting enough vitamins and minerals. Many raw feeding communities promote an attitude of “not taking seriously” dog nutrition because “wolves don’t have calculators.”
Sadly, the practice of feeding raw diets to dogs has become so polarized that otherwise reasonable dog folks are increasingly adopting a seemingly volatile “if you are not with us, you must be against us” mindset. This type of thinking has led to cult-like beliefs and devotion on one side and the banding together of opponents to issue position statements against raw feeding on the other.
It is always excellent when a dog is doing well! However, anecdotal data and Joe down the street are no replacements for already proven nutritional requirements of dogs and cats. Many raw feeding communities flat out reject any idea that dogs have specific nutritional requirements. Sadly, Case is not wrong in her words and it is up to us to spend time researching.
Back to the original question- why nutrition?
PEACE OF MIND
SAVE TIME LONG TERM
A short but important section: Understanding and knowing your dog’s nutritional needs will benefit their health within the power provided by dietary intake as opposed to just guessing. There are many nutritonal studies that show what happens when nutritonal needs are not met.
Certainly, there are cons.
Homemade recipes almost always mean increased costs compared to commercial dry feeds. Additionally, starting out with nutritional standards for dogs can be frustrating for owners who are in a rush to feed balanced diets. Attitude is important here. If you expect things to be hard, it will be hard. Homemade diets, regardless of style, will take much more of your time compared to commercial feed.
No other dog feeding issue in recent years has generated a greater number of heated arguments, flaming emails and vehemently divergent opinions than the subject of feeding raw versus cooked dog food.
Raw Fed and Nerdy is a place for students. Those who are learning about nutritional needs of dogs and cats. Students are often wrong, often correct, and most importantly are always learning. What makes nutrition communities unique is their unparalleled growth in nutritional knowledge when feeding their dog. They are fantastic in not just ingredients, but nutrition itself. A place that is safe for questions and critical thinking.
Why nutrition? Simply Put: To be able to feed our dogs and cats according to their nutritional needs- and being able to verify that we are doing so.