Is A Raw Keto Diet For Dogs Good? The 5 Questions You Should Be Asking
Before we jump into what is a reasonably controversial subject, we’d like to make it clear that we’re not Veterinarians. We’re dog owners. And while we’ve consulted our own Veterinarian on the benefits of a raw keto diet for our dogs, the advice we’ve received is specific to our circumstances and may not be applicable to yours.
Additionally, we’re going to share a number of other perspectives in this article that we’ve gained through our own research. Conversely, these perspectives, are necessarily general in nature and, again, may not apply to your circumstances.
What we’re saying is … when it comes to the health and care of your fur babies, no one is better qualified than your family vet to give advice that's tailored to your circumstances. While it’s great to do your own research (so you can ask the right questions and evaluate responses), your best resource when it comes to giving your dog kids their best life is a qualified Veterinarian.
With that out of the way, we will nonetheless attempt to answer the questions most people have regarding whether a raw keto diet for dogs is the right thing for them:
- What exactly is a raw keto diet for dogs?
- What are the benefits?
- What are the concerns?
- For whom is a raw keto diet most suitable?
- How to feed a raw keto diet to your dog?
What is a Ketogenic (or keto) Dog Diet?
On a ketogenic diet, dogs eat high-quality protein, healthy fats, and low (or no) carbs. What this translates to, in terms of the food itself, is typically meat, organs, and bones. Essentially a diet very similar to dogs' ancestral cousins: wolves.
Ketogenic raw food promotes a state of Ketosis. Ketosis is a normal metabolic process that occurs when a body doesn't have enough carbohydrates from food to burn for energy. The body will burn fat instead, making ketones. In other words, a ketogenic diet helps your body switch from burning sugar (carbs) to burning fat.
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What are the benefits of a raw keto diet for dogs?
Proponents of a keto diet for dogs espouse the idea of species-appropriate food. They argue that when dogs eat real, fresh food - that resembles how they would eat in the wild - they’re better equipped to live the long, healthy lives nature intended them to.
Studies have shown that dogs who are fed kibble, for example, have elevated levels of metabolic stress and systemic inflammation. This results from the increased metabolic activity required to compensate for being fed - to borrow the above phrase - species-inappropriate food. Studies have also shown that this increased ‘metabolic stress’ leads to an increased risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Still other studies indicate that a raw keto diet can reverse diseases such as cancer in humans and even improve epileptic conditions. By extension, supporters of a ketogenic diet for dogs assert that such a diet can do the same for them.
What concerns are there in feeding a raw keto diet to your dog?
In short, further studies of the benefits (or harm) of a raw keto diet for dogs are needed. As with almost any topic relating to health and nutrition, there are significant complexities in the interactions that occur at a cellular level, as well as the number of variables involved. As with similar discussions for humans, this can lead to different conclusions, depending on how the study was conducted, its initial hypothesis, and what the study was 'controlling for'.
In short, we’re unlikely to know in the medium term, with any certainty at least, whether a raw keto diet for dogs is the right way to go. What we’re left with, just as we are when it comes to decisions about our own health, is a need to inform ourselves as best we can … and then draw the best conclusions we can.
What is certain is that you’ll find people who vehemently support a raw keto diet for dogs … and those that don’t.
Personally, what we keep coming back to, is the fundamental observation that a dog, like a wolf, would naturally eat a diet of raw food (with low to no carbs) but for the 'interference' of humans.
For whom is a raw keto diet most suitable?
Many who dislike the idea of a raw keto diet for dogs are concerned by ‘fad’ human diets that are often applied to our pets … without much thought. Think vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, paleo and the like. We agree with this concern.
However, in the case of keto, eating a raw food diet is far less complicated for a dog than it is for humans and they already higher on the raw food scale. For a start, most dogs don’t regularly consume beer and candy (we hope).
You may wish to consider trying a keto-diet if you have a dog suffering from cancer, epilepsy, or inflammation related disorders (as we mentioned earlier). There is at least some preclinical and clinical data to support efficacy in these areas.
On the flipside, we recommend you consider very carefully (and consult your vet) if you are thinking about trying a keto diet with a diabetic dog, as well as very young or very old dogs.
How to feed a raw keto diet to your dog?
With a lack of conclusive evidence available to either support or 'debunk' the benefits a raw keto diet for dogs, you may wish to take a risk-based approach.
We recommend that you:
1. Discuss your intentions with your vet
2. Understand the various ratios typically used in keto diets (ratio of fat versus protein versus carbohydrate). Determine which one makes the most sense for you if making at home, or consider a pre-made keto diet product from a reputable company. We like
3. Observe and monitor your dog’s physical and behavioral changes
We sincerely hope the above information helps you start to develop your own conclusions about whether a raw keto diet for dogs is the right fit for you and a basis for further consultation and discussion with your family vet.