Beyond Raw Food: Other Beneficial Diet Options for Your Pup


The raw diet has been one of the most recent fads sweeping the dog food world, with it’s emphasis on feeding dogs the foods that they would have encountered before becoming domesticated, such as meaty bones and veggie scraps.

Dr. Ian Billinghurst, who came up with the diet came up with the acronym BARF (Bones And Raw Food) to remember the diet by, which isn’t too far off from some of the potential mishaps that can occur when following this plan.

“The natural diet and natural conditions under which the ancestors or wild cousins of our dogs live include grave dangers such as lack of shelter, starvation, attack by potential food, attack by other predators and the non use of medical intervention,” Billinghurst has warned. “In other words, natural diets and natural conditions can be deadly! They are not what we want for our pets.” And this is why Billinghurst believes in mimicking, not replicating the original diet.

Related: Purina Gets Slapped With Lawsuit Over Claims Food Is Poisoning Dogs

For those that aren’t feeling the whole raw movement, below are some other doggy meal plans that prove there is more than just the BARF diet for your precious pups.

Keep in mind this is not nutritional advice for your dog. We are not medical professionals. Please consult your vet before making any diet decisions. 

Antioxidant Protection

Dog food diets that are rich in antioxidants are touted to keep pooches’ brains sharp and ideally fight cognitive dysfunction as they age. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome is common is dogs and bears a striking resemblance to the Alzheimer’s the human species can face. Part of this can be attributed to oxidative damage in the brain, which may be prevented and reduced by getting proper antioxidants through their diet. This includes supplementing vitamin E and vitamin C into the diet, as well as making sure that 10 percent of their diet is made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, according to Modern Dog magazine. Hill’s Pet Nutrition offers prepackaged and antioxidant rich dog food that leaves the guesswork out of the process for you.

Limited Ingredient Diets

For pups with allergies, putting them on a limited ingredient diet might be the only way to go. It’s similar to how humans address the issue: until you know what’s causing the allergy, you use the process of elimination to rule out potential aggressors. A limited ingredient diet for a dog usually includes only one protein and one carbohydrate, and they are generally free of soy, grain and dairy.

Related: 7 Deadly Sins: The People Food You Should Never Feed Your Dog

Examples would be potato and duck, or sweet potato and venison like those available from Natural Balance. For some dogs switching to this diet can even get rid of their food sensitivities all together. Don’t expect an overnight miracle, however. It can take up to eight to 12 weeks for a dog’s system to flush out allergens and start reacting differently to the new diet.

Home Cooked

For many of us, getting some pizza on the go counts as a successful dinner, but for our dogs, a home cooked meal is a main priority. The only way to know for sure that you’re feeding your pup organic ingredients is to make it yourself out of people food. (The USDA does not yet cover animal food under the organic label.) The key to making this diet a success is ensuring that your pet is getting all of the nutritional elements he needs. Supporters of home cooking tend to follow a “balance over time” approach, where as long as he gets everything he needs over a week or two he’ll be fine. (As opposed to attempting to get every nutrient into every meal every single day.)

Meats should make up about half of each meal while fruit and vegetables can be added to aid in digestive health. Feeding your dog from your own pantry requires that you’re highly knowledgeable about what is safe for your dog to eat or not…beyond chocolate. Grains are controversial, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure and raw broccoli or cauliflower can suppress thyroid function. (Here is more foods that are toxic to your dog.) So know that not everything goes, and they might need additional supplements on top of the food. Plus, you have to put down your pizza and commit to this whole cooking thing.

Related: Breuer Premium Delivers Gourmet Dog Meals to New Yorkers That Will Have You and Your Dog Drooling

Digestive Support

You’re not the only one who can benefit from downing some probiotics and fiber to keep things moving. Certain brands of dog food add ingredients to encourage digestive support, such as Holistic Select, which also opts out of using grains. Grains have come under a bit of controversy in the dog food world, after being a popular choice in dry foods for a number of years. With the carbs from the grains removed from dog food, all that fiber has to come from somewhere! You don’t necessarily have to buy a specific digestive support dog food however, as you can also get supplements to add to any meal.

Related: From Poinsettias to Christmas Lights, Here’s How to Keep Your Dog Safe This Holiday Season

Image via Flickr/Yiseol Kenworthy

By Kate Ferguson

Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class and hot sauce.

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