Frozen dog food diets and other BARF and raw food diets are controversial. Some experts like them while others believe them to be dangerous to pets and people both.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Utilizing Raw Food for Dogs
Frozen dog food diets such as those produced by Nature’s Variety have become much more popular in the recent past. These diets have gained in popularity since the 2008 recall of huge numbers of commercially prepared pet food diets. However, these frozen dog food diets remain controversial.
What are Frozen Dog Food Diets?
Frozen dog foods are raw foods which are commercially produced and pre-packaged. These diets allow dog owners the luxury of providing their dogs with raw meat diets without having to do as much preparation as many of the home-cooked dog food diets require.
Frozen dog food diets are basically BARF (Bones and Raw Food) diets. Frozen dog foods may contain beef, chicken, lamb, venison or other raw meat ingredients.
At least one manufacturer (Nature’s Variety) produces frozen dog food from meats which have been inspected by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). These same raw meat diets have also undergone feeding trials following the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) protocols.
These diets are available in patties shaped much like a hamburger or as smaller bite sized morsels.
These diets are meant to be served raw, thawed to room temperature without cooking. However, some people prefer to cook the meat or lightly sear it.
Frozen dog food diets should be handled in the kitchen in the same way you would treat beef or chicken for human consumption. Always wash utensils, plates, bowls and other items which have contacted the food thoroughly. Handle the meat wearing gloves and wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling. Do not allow meat to thaw and then refreeze.
Advantages of Frozen Dog Food Diets
Proponents of feeding frozen dog food diets argue that raw meat diets more closely resemble what wild dogs would eat. They also point to the fact that wolves eat a raw meat diet in the wild and believe that dogs are descended from wolves. These people feel that BARF (Bones and Raw Food) diets are a more natural diet for dogs than canned or dry foods.
Proponents of feeding frozen dog food diets also claim that dogs receiving this diet:
- have an improved hair and skin coat with less shedding
- have fewer allergic skin problems
- are less likely to be overweight
- have healthier teeth
- have smaller, firmer feces
- have increased energy levels
Disadvantages of Frozen Dog Food Diets
Those who are opposed to feeding frozen dog food diets argue that these diets present an increased hazard to both the dog and the food handler. They point to the fact that raw meat diets have a higher potential for bacterial contamination which can affect both pets and people.
A study performed by staff of the Colorado State University in conjunction with the USDA was published in the Feb 2006 edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. This study evaluated 21 different raw meat diets which had been obtained from 3 different locations. This study found that over 50% of the samples contained E. coli and over 5% of the samples contained Salmonella. E.coli and Salmonella are both bacteria which can be responsible for severe intestinal disease in dogs and people. This same study detected that 99% of the raw meat diets, almost all of them, had some type of contamination. The study concluded that “owners feeding their pets these diets should be concerned about their pet’s health as well as their own health.”
The debate surrounding these frozen dog food diets and BARF or raw food dog diets will continue. Those involved with both sides of the issue feel very strongly. As a dog owner, if you are contemplating feeding one of these diets to your dog, you will need to weigh the risks and benefits of the diet and decide for yourself whether a frozen diet is right for you and your dog.