No, raw food diet is not good for dogs.

Raw food diet for dogs is a very controversial topic.

However, it is very popular among owners.

It means feeding your pet raw ingredients.

This includes mostly meat and some fruits and vegetables.

Let’s go into more detail about raw food diets for dogs!

Is a Raw Food Diet Good for Dogs?

  • Potential Benefits of Raw Diets
  • Potential Risks of Raw Diets
  • Types of Raw Food for Dogs
  • Important Considerations

Potential Benefits of Raw Diets

Raw meat and bones were great for Greyhounds and sled dogs in the past.

It is because it consists of whole ingredients. [1]

It is also believed that some components are heat labile.

For example, thiamin is such a component. [2]

Also, during thermic processes, other essential nutrients and enzymes can get destroyed.

Many owners report improved coat and skin after feeding a raw food diet.

83.5% of dog owners classified raw meat diets as highly nutritious. [3]

Raw meat diet contains high amounts of fats.

Therefore, it can promote healthy coats and skin.

Vets usually recommend healthy fats to improve skin and coat issues.

This includes omega-3 supplements.

But raw food diet is another way to achieve this.

Raw meat also has high protein content.

This will keep your pet satiated and contribute to weight control.

Commercial food contain high amounts of carbohydrates.

On the other side, raw meat is low in carbohydrates.

This is another way of keeping weight control with raw food.

Additionally, raw food does not contain additives and preservatives.

While on a raw food diet, your dog can experience an energy boost.

This will promote active behavior and contribute to weight management.

Better teeth are another benefit of eating raw meat and bones.

Soft food can lead to tartar buildup.

While bones and raw meat can mechanically clean teeth.

Carbohydrates from commercial food can stick to teeth.

This might lead to dental issues.

Fewer carbohydrates mean healthier teeth.

And this is possible with raw foods.

The lack of additives and preservatives can also promote healthy teeth.

Other important benefits of raw foods are the elimination of breath, body, and feces odors.

Also, significant energy boosts and positive behavior changes are possible.

An immunity boost exists due to the avoidance of thermic processes.

This keeps the food with its full nutrients.

Dogs are carnivores, and in the past, they benefited from eating raw foods. [4]

Potential Risks of Raw Diets


Raw Food

Processed Food

Nutritional content

-Natural and whole ingredients

-High moisture

-Rich in enzymes and nutrients

-Formulated according to guidelines

-Contains additives and preservatives

-Lacks natural nutrients

-Less diversity



-Acquires more money for supplements

-More affordable

-Prices vary according to brands

Preparation time

-Requires more time for preparing


-Easy to prepare


-Reduced risk of allergies

-Easier to digest for some pets

-Easily digestible for most pets

-Might contain allergenic ingredients

Dental Health

-Promotes healthy teeth

-Some foods are for dental diseases


-Serious risk of bacterial contamination

-Longer shelf life

-Minimal risk of bacterial contamination

The previously mentioned benefits are from owner’s reviews.

But strong scientific proof for the benefits does not exist.

Raw food diets for dogs are controversial, and there is a strong reason.

There are a few serious risks of raw food for dogs.

The first drawback of adding raw food to your dog’s kibble is balance.

It is very difficult to keep a nutritional balance in dogs in general.

Adding raw foods can make the formulation more difficult.

Nutritional disbalances can cause serious health issues in animals.

There are also some serious concerns regarding safety.

Bones and raw meat carry serious hazardous risks.

Bone fragments might choke your dog or break its teeth.

Also, there are reports of intestinal obstructions and perforations.

That is why dogs should consume raw food under supervision.

The most important risk is bacterial contamination.

Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) contains bacteria.

One study discovered that 80% of BARF food contains the bacteria Salmonella. [5] 

This is not surprising because raw chicken contains Salmonella species. [6]

Salmonella is also common in raw pork. [7]

It is also important to know that commercial foods don’t contain Salmonella.

There are some cases when bacteria might be present, but it is very rare.

During this research, Salmonella was present in dog’s stools.

So, handling raw food must be very careful.

This is especially important for dog owners with weak immune systems and young kids.

Types of Raw Food for Dogs

There are 3 main types of raw diets for dogs.

The first one is a commercially available complete raw food diet.

It provides a complete and balanced meal.

Also, when you feed your dog with this food, it won’t need any additional supplements.

It is usually sold in a frozen form.

Its availability depends on your geolocation.

The second one is a homemade complete raw-feeding diet.

It consists of many homemade recipes.

You can find many recipes from your vet, in books, or on the Internet.

The most popular diet is by Dr. Ian Billinghurst.

It is the BARF Diet.

It consists of 60% raw, meaty bones.

The rest of it can be different food.

The additional food usually includes:

  • Vegetables
  • Offal (liver, kidney)
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Brewer’s Yeast
  • Yoghurt
  • Grains and legumes

Although it is a balanced diet, there are some cautions.

Each meal should be variable during a period of 2-3 weeks.

Bear in mind that adding liver is completely different from hepatic diets for dogs.

But these diets also include several meals per day.

These diets are for dogs with liver diseases.

The typical schedule of this diet includes:

  • 10 meals of bones with
  • 4 meals of green leafy vegetables
  • 1 meal of starchy food
  • 1 meal of grains and legumes
  • 1 meal of meat
  • 2 meals of milk
  • 1-2 meals of ofall

This schedule is for a period of 2-3 weeks. [8]

In 1998, another diet became popular.

Kymythy Schultze is the developer.  [9]

This diet is a food pyramid with a main focus on raw meat (muscle and organs).

Considering organs, beef liver is one of the most nutritious organ meat for dogs.

You can also add raw eggs to the diet.

The second focus is on raw bones and raw vegetables.

There is another raw homemade diet.

Wendy Volhard is the founder of the diet.

Its breakfast contains cereal. This also includes:

  • Grains
  • Molasses
  • Oil
  • Egg
  • Yoghurt
  • Vitamins

The dinner consists of raw beef (muscle tissues and liver). It can also include:

  • Fresh and dry greens and herbs
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat germ
  • Bone meal
  • Garlic
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Kelp
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Cod liver oil
  • Vitamin C

Although we mention garlic, you should do your research.

Garlic is extremely toxic to dogs.  [10]

The third diet are combination diets.

It consists of commercially available grain and supplement mixes.

You should add raw meat to these combinations. [11]

Important Considerations

If you decide to feed your dog a raw diet, there are some considerations.

These are the most important considerations about a raw diet for dogs:

  • Research the diet thoroughly
  • Plan a well-balanced meal
  • Offer various proteins
  • Control and calculate the portion quantity
  • Carefully handle the raw meat
  • Carefully storage the meat
  • Choose safe and appropriate bones
  • Transition gradually to raw food
  • Provide appropriate supplementation
  • Monitor your dog’s health

Especially be careful when you handle raw meat.

Bacterial contamination may affect humans also.

Also, take into consideration your dog’s current health status.

Dogs with some underlying disease don’t benefit at all from raw food.

Young puppies also don’t benefit from raw food.  [12]

Don’t forget that raw diets can be costly.

It also takes a lot of time.

Raw food can be a good diet for dogs if the dog accepts it well.

How to Feed a Raw Food Diet to Dogs?

  • Start Slow
  • Use Proper Food Safety Practices
  • Feed a Variety of Raw Food Types

Start Slow

First week

Slowly increase the raw food

Second week

Add new protein sources

Third week

Combine protein sources and bones

The first step of adding raw food is to start it slowly.

We recommend throughout research.

If possible, we advise you a consultation with a veterinarian.

Take into consideration your dog’s previous health history, age, and specific needs.

Then, begin slowly.

In the first week, you should slowly increase the amount.

You can achieve this in 3 days.

On the first day, your dog can receive ⅓ of the amount.

The next day – ⅔ of the amount.

And on the third day, the full amount.

There is a slower option.

You can mix commercial pet food and raw food.

For example, the first meal can be a raw meal.

Then, the next meal can be commercial food.

In the beginning, don’t mix various types of meat.

If you start with chicken, continue with chicken.

This way, you will see if your dog develops allergic reactions to some meat types.

In the second week, you can add new protein sources.

But, some protein sources cannot suit some dogs.

Therefore, don’t panic if this happens.

In the first days, you should just observe.

If your dog develops some side effects, stop giving your dog raw food.

If there aren’t any side effects, you can continue.

After some time, you can increase the portions.

At the same time, you should decrease the old diet.

If your dog is fine after eating raw meat, you can continue further.

The next step should be adding raw bones and organ meats.

After a while, you can combine other meat types.

You can add beef meat or another type.

New diets can be strange for dogs.

They can face difficulties in adapting.

Therefore, make sure you weigh your dog regularly.

Optionally you can go for a vet check-up.

Implementing a new diet is stressful for our dogs.

Therefore, every dog has a certain adapting time.

Use Proper Food Safety Practices

Proper food safety practices can keep your dog healthy.

This is always important, but especially with raw food.

You should use high-quality raw food.

Lower-quality foods may harm your dog’s health.

Hygiene is also very important.

You should wash your hands carefully before and after preparing.

Storing raw food is crucial.

This is especially important for raw meat.

If the meat is not properly stored, it can additionally contaminate it.

This will increase the chances of some diseases and poisonings.

You should also use clean kitchen knives for preparing.

If you don’t know how to properly portion the raw food, contact a vet.

Too small or too big meal portions are risky for your dog.

Especially be careful with bones.

Bones are a serious choking hazard in dogs.

Therefore, monitor your dog while consuming the bones.

This way, you can prevent some serious consequences.

For commercial dog food cleaning the bowls is not crucial.

But for raw food, it is a must.

Your dog can eat raw food regularly.

But, you should carefully clean the bowl after each meal.

Feed a Variety of Raw Food Types

Various raw foods are not recommended in the first week.

But you can start mixing protein sources and other foods in the second week of adapting.

This will contribute to a balanced and whole diet.

But, you must carefully observe how your dog reacts to certain foods.

Precautions When Feeding a Raw Diet

  • Avoid Bones
  • Feed the Right Ratios
  • Watch for Changes in Behavior and Weight

Avoid Bones

You can add bones into your dog’s diet after the second week.

Bones are a serious choking hazard to dogs.

Therefore, if you give them bones, carefully observe.

Bones can also lead to gastrointestinal perforations and obstructions.

These health conditions require surgical interventions.

Feed the Right Ratios

Muscle meat


Organ meat




Vegetables and fruits


BARF diet should consist of 70-80% muscle meat. [13]

This includes:

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Lamb
  • Fish

Organ meat should be around 10% of the diet.

You can add liver, kidney, heart, and other organ meats.

Bones are not necessary.

But if you add bones, it should be around 10-15% of the diet.

The good thing about bones is that they provide dental health.

Vegetables and fruits should be around 10% of the whole diet.

This will provide your pet some essential nutrients.

Raw diets almost always include supplementation.

This can be calcium and omegas.

Watch for Changes in Behavior and Weight

If you notice any unusual behavior after this diet, contact your vet.

Some bacterial infections can lead to changed behavior.

For example, improperly stored meat can lead to botulism.

This is a serious disease that affects the nervous system. [14]

In such cases, dogs have weird behavior and tremors.

But some dogs can eat raw without any complications.

But changed behavior can be due to their food preference.

Dogs can protest if they want their old food back.

Too small or too big portions can lead to weight change.

Therefore, it is important to properly calculate the portions.

If you can’t do it by yourself, contact a vet.

Is It Healthier to Feed Your Dog Raw Food?

No, it is not healthier to feed your dog raw food.

But if you decide to feed your dog this way, be careful.

Take into consideration the possible benefits and risks.

Also, you can explore more about different types of raw diets and pick the best.

If you have any concerns about raw dog food, consult with your vet.