Can Chihuahuas Eat Raw Meat?
A healthy and balanced diet is imperative for your Chihuahua's long and happy life. However, it has always been an enormous dilemma for pet owners and veterinarians, whether it is better to keep a dog on a raw diet (which, except for raw meat, also includes bones and animal by-products) or stick to commercially manufactured food.
Many say that raw meat is the natural and only healthy way to feed any dog, including Chihuahua. No matter how tiny and pretty they might be, all dogs are predators that originate from wolves and jackals. However, many experts emphasize that most bred dogs, especially miniature types like Chihuahua, have gone through a heavy genetic modification. Therefore, their bodies and especially digestive systems have nothing to do with those of savage predators.
In this article, we decided to take a closer look at the matter of Chihuahua's diet, their biological needs, and peculiarities of their digestive system to understand whether you can introduce your pet to raw meat as a permanent diet or occasional treats.
The BARF Diet.
The concept of keeping a dog on raw food only is known as the BARF diet. A pretty controversial term when we talk about food, isn't it? However, this unmusical term is an abbreviation. Some refer to it as the "Bones And Raw Food", while others prefer "Biologically Appropriate Raw Food" terminology. And the difference between those concepts and approaches is usually the main contraversion about whether dogs should get raw food as their primary diet or not.
The adepts of BARF usually refer to claims made by Ian Billinghurst – and an Australian veterinarian. In 1993 he published an article that focused on the observation that the practice of feeding raw food to sled and working dogs roots back in ancient times as the only way to provide dog nutrition that would correspond to its natural needs.
But Chihuahuas are not sled or working dogs. Therefore the concerns about their overall ability to process raw meat are pretty understandable. Moreover, both owners and vets remain somewhat reluctant about the idea that dogs that went through complicated and multileveled breeding and transformation have the exact biological needs as their ancestors.
There are two main questions that one should answer to decide whether to feed a Chihuahua raw meat:
- Does it make any sense at all?
- Is it safe for Chihuahua?
Now let's answer those questions one-by-one.
Does Raw Meat Make Any Sense In a Chihuahua's Diet?
The idea of feeding Chihuahua raw meat comes from the fact that all dogs are the offsprings of wolves, jackals, and other canids. No matter what kind of genetic transformation they have gone through during the breeding process, Chihuahuas are no fewer predators than any other wild canine. From that point of view, the demand for raw uncooked food, including raw meat, seems absolutely natural.
However, the claims about the origin and ancestors of modern dogs are not entirely true. Recent genetic research revealed that all dogs, including Chihuahuas, are more related to each other than any other canine known to humankind. In other words, dogs don't originate from wolves or jackals but have an alternative ancestor now called "wolf-like animal". Scientists assume that this animal existed somewhere between 9000 and 3500 BC and was the exact canine that became domesticated by ancient people.
And here comes the main controversion. On the one hand, it goes without saying that "Wolf-like animals" initially ate raw meat in wild nature. But since it started entering a human household, the wolf-like animal has undoubtfully started eating food from a human's diet. And we know that ancient people were already cooking their food in various ways back then.
Therefore to say that dog comes from animals who eat raw food only and have always been doing so throughout history to modern-day is not true. The initial ancestor of your Chihuahua does not exist anymore. It has transformed thousands of years into your cuddly pet. And as long as those transformations have taken such a long period and undoubtfully included introduction o cooked food, there is a big question, whether you Chihuahua needs raw meat in his or her diet.
There are documented recipes of the first specific dog diets that date back to 37 BC and 70 AD. Above all, those records emphasize that dogs should be given wheat, vegetable oils, juices, and cooked beans for better digestion, healthier muscle and bone structure. Manuscripts that date back to 651 AD, found in central Europe, emphasize that it is crucial to cooking meat for dogs to avoid poisoning and even suggest introducing milk to the dog's diet.
Of course, all those introductions have significantly altered the way modern dogs consume and digest raw meat. The genetic differences between dogs and other known canines demonstrate that they cannot transfer raw meat into energy on the same level as their wild relatives.
In other words, historically and genetically, raw meat does not make too much sense in your Chihuahua's diet.
Is It Safe To Feed Raw Meat To Your Chihuahua?
The necessity of raw meat in a Chihuahua's diet becomes pretty vague once we analyze the breed's genetics. But even if you decline the idea of introducing your dog to the BARF diet, you may still want to treat your pet with a piece of raw chicken from time to time. Therefore it is crucial to understand whether raw meat is safe for a Chihuahua's gentle digestive system.
You may find various respected publications, including those made by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, that warn about the risk of feeding any dog with raw or home-cooked food. Except for raw meat, those foods include uncooked eggs, unpasteurized milk, bare bones, raw internal organs, and raw meat from fish, mammals, and chicken.
Those risks include:
- Gastrointestinal issues – fragments of bones can damage a dog's digestive organs causing internal bleedings and inflammations
- Pathogen contamination – raw food is a fruitful soil for salmonella and other parasites, which are incredibly resistant to cooking and freezing
- Damaged teeth – unlike most dog breeds, Chihuahuas have relatively soft teeth, which are pretty vulnerable to mechanical damage from bone fragments and other hard objects you may find in raw food. It is also a genetic matter as the first records about Chihuahuas that date back to 3000 BC describe their diet based on cooked meat and vegetables, which reduced their genetic need to have hard and sharp teeth.
Except for the described risks for your Chihuahua, raw meat can carry specific danger for you as the dog owner, the person who will cook the food, and be in close contact with the animal. Salmonella and other parasites transfer easily from dogs to their owners through bowel movements, shedding, and physical touch.
What Are the Benefits of Raw Meat For Your Chihuahua?
Despite all the known risks and genetic contraversion, raw meat does have its benefits for a Chihuahua once you introduce it properly to your dog's diet:
- Higher energy level – some vets notice that dogs who eat primarily raw food are more energetic and active
- Stronger digestive system – some beneficial enzymes contained in raw meat get destroyed entirely by cooking. However, they appear to be somewhat helpful for Chihuahua's digestive system
- Dogs who eat primarily raw food don't get exposed to chemicals, preservatives, and artificial food colorings commonly found in commercial dog food.
Feeding Raw Meat to Your Chihuahua Safely.
Once you decide to adopt the benefits of raw meat for your Chihuahua and wish to avoid all the associated risks, it is crucial to properly introduce raw meat to your pet's diet.
Here are some essential tips:
- Don't try to feed raw meat to Chihuahua puppies younger than one-year-old. Their digestive system is still not ready to process it
- From all the meats, beef has the lowest chance to contain salmonella, while the chicken is the most dangerous product from this point of view
- Never do radical diet switches! Start introducing your Chihuahua to raw meat through just one treat per several days. Observe your dog's reaction to the new product, his behavior, and bowel movements. Then you may offer one whole raw meat meal per weak and increase the number of servings gradually. Once you notice changes in stool, unusual behavior, shedding, and other symptoms of digestive disorder exclude raw meat from your Chihuahua's diet and consult a vet immediately
- Consult a vet before making any changes in your dog's diet. Depending on the health condition, age, and other factors, your Chihuahua may need additional vitamin and mineral supplements once introduced to a raw diet.
A proper diet will significantly expand your Chihuahua's lifespan and grant you many happy years with your healthy and joyful pet. When it comes to food, we all want to provide our furry friends with the best options. However, sometimes it can be hard to make an informed decision as what worked perfectly for one dog may become unnecessary and even dangerous for another.
When it comes to whether give your Chihuahua raw meat or avoid it, most professionals recommend compromising instead of going to extremes. Consult your veterinarian about your dog's needs and peculiarities and ask about diet options that would fit his or her demands.