Non-Traditional Diets for Dogs

by Ledan Seja
    Your pup may eat better than you when trying various alternative diets.

    Your pup may eat better than you when trying various alternative diets.

    Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images

    Non-traditional diets for dogs are taking the pet crowd by storm for a variety of reasons. While preparing your pooch's dish may sound like a great way to improve his health, a few concerns also arise amidst the health benefits. Every alternative diet is controversial in some way; always consult an experienced veterinarian before drastically changing your dog's diet or putting him on a homemade diet, or otherwise regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

    What Dogs Need

    First and foremost, your pup needs proteins in his diet. Proteins supply amino acids, including those that your dog can't synthesize on his own. Protein provides energy and is the basic building block of your pup's body. Animal proteins, such as chicken and lamb, have ideal amino acid profiles. Certain vegetables also contain the needed amino acids, but aren't complete. Your dog also needs healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. While carbohydrates, such as grains, weren't part of their ancestor's diets, the domesticated dog's body uses carbohydrates as a source of energy.

    Raw

    Raw diets for dogs are based on their wolf ancestor's diet. In the wild, dogs hunt and scavenge for meats. The first thing wild dogs go for is the internal organs. These organs are loaded with protein, healthy fats, minerals and vitamins. While the diet sometimes varies slightly, the base is raw meat and bones, raw vegetables and raw organ meats. All products in this diet should be organic, or at the very least, hormone- and additive-free. The raw diet for dogs is highly controversial with experts on both sides of the fence. Some issues within the controversies include bacterial infections, dangers with bones and potential toxins. Another controversy stems from the domestication of dogs: as dogs were domesticated, their natural diet slowly evolved into eating more of what their humans were eating instead of hunting. This meant grains, vegetables and fruits were eaten in a higher percentage than what their ancestors ate.

    Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

    Dogs typically are considered omnivores, meaning they eat plants and animals. In the wild, wolves and other dogs primarily eat meat, but will take vegetation, nuts or fruit on seldom occasion. Vegetarian and vegan diets are growing in popularity for dogs, particularly with owners who adopt this type of diet for themselves. As with their humans who eat a veg-friendly diet, dogs on this diet rely on plants and vegetables to provide them with their essential amino acids and proteins, which not always is a simple task. Supplements are needed with this type of diet.

    Considerations

    Creating a balanced diet at home isn't impossible, but it's not always simple, either. It also can be costly when done properly. Proper amounts of protein, fats, vitamins, calcium and other nutrients are needed in a delicate balance for your pooch's overall health. Too much or too little of something can have drastic effects on your dog's body, immune system, coat or skin. Ask your veterinarian for tips on a homemade diet, what your dog may be lacking in his current diet and what to expect when making the switch.

    Photo Credits

    • Janie Airey/Lifesize/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Ledan Seja has been writing since 2009, specializing in natural ecosystems, gardening and landscape design, the environment, wildlife, insects, pet rescue and childcare. Her work has appeared in various online publications.

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