Should I Cook My Dogs Dinner?
A question that comes up quite a bit is whether you should cook your dogs dinner. I think this is often because people mostly eat cooked food, so cooking your dogs dinner makes sense too! There’s quite a bit of debate over the issue, with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) advising feeding a cooked diet, versus the millions of raw feeders worldwide doing exactly the opposite.
So, should you cook your dogs dinner?
My advice is invariably that a raw food diet is significantly better than a cooked one. Any benefits of cooking your dogs food are outweighed by the negative impact that it has on it’s nutritional content - if you follow a few simple rules.
But why you would want to cook your dogs dinner in the first place?
BENEFITS OF COOKING
There are two main reasons to cook your dogs dinner: reducing the risk of pathogens and making the food more digestible. The most common reason is reducing the pathogenic risk - indeed this is the very reason that the AVMA discourages feeding raw food.
Yes, all raw meat can be dangerous. But only if you don’t handle it properly. For this reason I don’t think that this argument is valid. If you are feeding human grade ingredients and use safe food handling practices raw meat is perfectly safe. It’s like saying that no one should have raw chicken in their fridge - it just doesn’t make sense!
Also keep in mind that cooked kibble accounts for nearly all pet food recalls. This list of recalls in Australia from petfoodreviews.com.au does not contain a single raw food. Go figure.
The other reason to feed a cooked diet is to make the food more digestible. Some dogs have sensitive digestive systems which may find cooked food easier to break down. In these very specific and rare cases a cooked diet may indeed be beneficial. However it could be a symptom of an underlying health issue so it is absolutely worth seeing your vet and getting to the bottom of the issue.
In the vast majority of cases, go raw!
WHY RAW IS BETTER
Applying heat to raw food fundamentally changes it, and in most cases this makes it less nutritious for dogs. Cooking denatures protein, as well as destroys vital enzymes and vitamins in food. It is for this reason that cooked food nearly always needs to have synthetic nutrients added to it to make it meet the nutritional guidelines.
Instead of adding additional processing steps and synthetic nutrients, why not just use quality ingredients and keep it in it’s original raw state? Whole food is always better than synthetic nutrition.
However there is no one size fits all way to best look after all dogs. Some dogs may be better off with a cooked diet. If you think this may be your dog, it’s important to realise that cooking their food will reduce the nutrition and you may need to consider supplementation to fill in the gaps.
On the whole, a properly formulated raw food diet provides the best nutrition for your dog. If you have a normal healthy dog, then this is absolutely the best option!