Sometimes clients feel quite passionate about their feeding preference, and I certainly understand because I've felt the same way. Respecting the dog means accepting different scenarios, and I include myself in that, so here's a quick example. Hudson came to us with very deep gum pockets, so the reality is that his mouth allows bacteria to fester. Raw meats would be risky for that reason. As much as his gums have improved and I was willing (ok, eager – and I'll explain why) to try a raw diet, he also has anal prolapse that's fully under control with a cooked diet but flares up every single time he's fed any raw meat. So, I cook, he's thriving and everyone's happy.
Why did I want a raw diet for him? Because after 20+ years of being mom to dogs with GI diseases, this was going to be my raw-fed dog. He was going to be healthy, and I'd finally make food that was faster to prepare. My mind was made up.
You really can't be all about the dog if ideology comes first. But frankly, I like the convenience of preparing raw diets and they're certainly an option for people with healthy dogs. It needs to be about your comfort level too. Not everyone wants to feed raw, and that's totally ok!
Assuming you're comfortable with both raw and cooked diets, there are good reasons to choose one over the other and none listed here are about a belief system. They're all about the dog.
Cooked diets appeal to picky dogs. Why? Their scents, the texture, and maybe because their people are eating them. Regardless of the reasons seeing a picky dog enjoy their food is no small thing.
Cooked diets can also be leaner because we have an opportunity to skim off fat, and they're more nutrient dense. Because there's less moisture in cooked meat, we can feed less volume of food and still meet requirements for those dogs that can't handle larger amounts in their bowls.
Raw diets work the other way – we can provide more volume of food and that's great for the dog that can handle greater amounts.
One reason someone may choose a raw diet, and feel that a cooked diet is inferior, is because they've read that raw foods contain living enzymes. There are very different distinctions to the types of enzymes: metabolic enzymes that carry out certain cellular functions, digestive enzymes et al. Enzymes need specific conditions (pH, temperature and co-enzymes) to function properly. How beneficial the external food enzymes in raw foods are to our dogs, who have short digestive tracts and are gulpers by design is individual – as I've mentioned I see some dogs thrive on raw and others on cooked diets.
The best diet is one that your dog will do well on regardless of anyone's preference. That means considering the breed, lifestyle, any disease the dog is dealing with, and that dog's preference as well.
"A dog desires affection more than its dinner. Well – almost.” – Charlotte Gray