My dog will eat anything. I'm not kidding—the other night, she happily ate a piece of paper.

Disregarding her dreams of being able to someday open the fridge and eat like a human, I've always wondered just how healthy the food she's supposed to eat really is. Even though my family buys a relatively expensive brand of pet food, it's still concerning to see how few of the ingredients I recognize. Would a pre-domesticated diet of raw meat and vegetable scraps be better for my furry friend?

The Problem With Kibble

As pet owners, we take for granted the kibble we buy from the store. Lots of dog and cat food brands use fillers in their products like corn and flour to save costs on more expensive ingredients like actual meat and veggies.

Some owners, doubting brand-name kibble, have devoted themselves to feeding their animals raw meat—yes, raw—in an attempt to return their pets to the ways dogs and cats are biologically supposed to eat. Traditionally, cats are strict carnivores, while dogs can have some other foods without negative effects because of their long history of domestication.

It makes you wonder how dog food companies can justify their use of ingredients that don't belong in a canine's digestive system. Ultimately, it boils down to money. Since the main goal of a company is profit, not the health benefits of the product, is it possible to trust any dog food at all?

Switching to Raw

The raw-based dog diet incorporates mostly raw meat. One owner says that dogs should be fed anywhere from 30% to 50% "raw meaty bones," while the rest of her dog's diet is made up of organ meat, tripe (stomach lining), raw eggs, and fruits and veggies. 

The appeal of this diet is that you're the only person responsible for your pet's health. You get to decide how much meat and other supplementary foods your dog gets, and you're no longer left wondering what kind of ingredients are in the doggy bowl.

The Kibble vs Raw Debate

A lot of veterinarians have been challenging raw feeding in the past few years. According to one article, vets call it a "fad", and dismiss it. Personally, I don't take this advice very seriously, considering how pet food companies actually pay veterinarians to push their brands. How can a pet owner be expected to take their vet's advice when the vet is motivated to make themselves more money instead of actually helping?

There are also common misconceptions about the bacterial risks of feeding dogs raw meat. If I have to wash my hands every time I touch raw chicken, won't my dog be affected by eating it? This study found that while no dog has contracted salmonella from a raw diet (dogs naturally pass salmonella through their digestive system in the first place), it poses a health risk to humans who come into contact with the dog poop.

Ultimately, it's up to you as a dog owner whether you want to pursue a raw diet for your pet.

In my opinion, as long as you're sanitary, careful, and attentive to your dog's reactions to the diet change, you can effectively feed your dog raw food.