I’m sure you’ve had the experience of telling someone you feed your dog a raw diet, only to receive a opinion on raw feeding such as “Oh, he’ll choke on a bone for sure!” or simply, “Why?”
Mostly, the reactions will be negative simply because it’s not “normal” and people typically react defensively to the unfamiliar.
Try to realize that most people are generally just curious about raw food diets for dogs. They don’t mean to come off so negatively.
Here are the top negative reactions I’ve received from people about feeding my dogs raw, followed by some potential responses:
How to respond to negative opinions on raw feeding
1. “Your dog will get sick from the bacteria in the raw meat.”
While there is a slight risk a dog could get sick from the bacteria in raw meat, a dog could also get sick from bacteria in dry dog food.
Bacteria is everywhere, but let’s remember dogs are designed to eat meat. They have highly acidic stomachs made to handle a larger amount of bacteria than we can.
Dogs have teeth and jaws designed for ripping and tearing and swallowing large chunks. Eating raw meat is natural to a dog.
Quick response: Dogs are not furry humans. Their digestive systems are set up for consuming raw meat and bones. They can handle the bacteria found on fresh raw meat.
2. “Your dog will choke on a bone or it will get lodged in his intestines.”
This is just fear mongering from dry dog food companies and people who don’t understand raw dog food diets.
Edible raw bones like chicken and turkey bones are generally soft and safe for dogs to chew and eat.
Cooked bones can be dangerous because they are harder and potentially sharp.
Larger raw bones like beef and pork bones are unsafe for some dogs because some of these bones are harder and could crack a dog’s tooth. Larger, harder bones can also be unsafe for dogs to swallow.
Quick response: Raw turkey and chicken bones are soft and safe for dogs. It’s cooked bones that can be dangerous. To be safe, I supervise my dog whenever I give him bones.
3. “Homemade raw dog food is not balanced and your dog will not get the nutrients he needs.”
Miraculously, we humans seem to get by just fine by eating a variety of foods in any given day.
We even feed our children a variety of foods without measuring and balancing every single meal! Yikes! How could we be so careless? Oh, wait … it’s because we strive for balance over time. Why would it be any different for our dogs?
Quick response: My dog gets a variety of meats, fruits and veggies in his diet. Every meal is not perfectly balanced, but he eats a balanced diet over time just like you and I do.
4. “How nice that you can afford raw dog food. That’s too expensive for most people.”
Yes, this is true. Feeding raw dog food is generally more expensive than feeding dry dog food. I spend about $125 per month on homemade raw dog food without paying much attention to sales or going out of my way to find cheaper meat sources. And it costs much more than that to feed a commercial raw brand.
I shop at the grocery store and Costco for most of my dog’s homemade food. If cost were an issue, I could save money on raw dog food by buying in bulk, shopping when the meat is on sale or obtaining meat directly from hunters, farmers and ranchers.
Quick response: Feeding raw dog food doesn’t have to be expensive. The commercial brands are expensive, but I save a ton of money by buying the meat at Costco. It’s not much more than feeding a high-end dry food.
5. “It sounds way too complicated. Who has the time for that?”
It seems complicated at first, but once you get used to feeding raw it doesn’t take any extra thought. You will get used to picking up some extra meat for your dog when you visit the grocery store. You’ll find a system for storing and de-thawing the meat. You’ll have a few “recipes” you rotate.
Quick response: It’s not complicated. Today I took a chicken quarter out of the kitchen and handed it to my dog along with some veggies. Wow, that was hard.
6. “My vet says raw food diets are dangerous.”
Unfortunately, most traditional veterinarians still go around promoting the corn-based Hill’s Science Diet dry dog food as an acceptable brand due to its influence on the veterinary profession, according to Ted Kerasote in the book “Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs.” The textbook “Small Animal Clinical Nutrition” is written by people who work with Science Diet, and this book is given to vet students for free.
The textbook says that dry dog food typically contains up to 60 percent carbs and has no negative effects on dogs, according to Kerasote.
Really, most veterinarians do not learn about raw diets unless they do the research themselves.
Quick response: My dog’s vet was not thrilled at first about a raw diet for my dog, but she came around once she realized it was important to me. If your dog’s vet does not support a raw dog food diet, seek out a veterinarian who does.
See our article: Vets who support raw diets
7. “Raw food is way too messy.”
OK, it’s a little messier than feeding dry dog food, but it’s not that bad. I keep all my dog’s food in the bottom bin of our refrigerator or in the freezer.
I wipe up the counters as necessary, and I feed him from a bowl over a towel. When he’s done eating, I rinse the bowl quickly with warm water and a little dish soap. It’s really not that bad.
Quick response: I just put a towel under my dog’s bowl if I even use a bowl. Other than that I just use common sense and wash my hands and the counter tops as necessary. No big deal.
8. “I don’t have the freezer space to feed raw.”
Some dog owners prefer to invest in a large freezer for extra meat storage. This is great, but it’s definitely not a requirement. It’s nice to stock up on meat while it’s on sale, but it’s not necessary to buy a month’s worth at one time. Do what works for you.
Quick response: I don’t have a larger freezer, either. I buy about a week’s worth of food for my dog at a time, and there’s plenty of room for that in my refrigerator and small freezer.
What are some reactions you’ve received about feeding your dog a raw diet?
Let us know in the comments!