In short there is only one answer and that is that you should never feed dogs a mix of raw dog food and dry food.
In fact, if you were going to liken it to mixing human foods together in the same manner, it would be like putting a salad on a pizza. The two just don’t complement each other. In addition to this, mixing dry with raw is not good for dogs. The absolute best nutrition that you can give them is a biologically appropriate raw food (BARF) diet mixed with some natural supplements.
Let’s take a look at why:
Over a period of time, dogs have become domesticated and cross bred to produce extensive breeds, large and small across the world. Despite this they still have the same anatomy as their ancestors with digestive systems that are built to consume and digest raw meat. Imagine a dog in the wild; they live off what they hunt and kill. They are hunter gatherers and will go out and find their food. They don’t have the opportunity to take it home, prep, season, cook and garnish it! They simply use what nature gave them to kill and eat the raw meat of their small animal prey and the stomach contents. As the animals that they catch are often herbivores, this is likely to be green matter such as grass and plants.
Unfortunately, pet food manufacturers have developed wet and dry recipes which are heavily processed, with many additives, to enhance the taste and make your dog want more. These foods may claim to contain meats like chicken, beef, duck and salmon but often in very small quantities, as little as 5%. The remaining elements are things that you wouldn’t dream of giving your beloved dog such as MSG (listed as hydrolysed protein), table salt, table sugar, sweet tasting propylene glycol (a derivative of antifreeze) and other spices/chemicals. In addition to this, the food you buy one month could be completely different to the same bought a month later. Processed dog foods aren’t always consistent with the components that they contain.
By contrast, a BARF diet is designed to give a dog exactly what they need. There are a few variations of raw diets which range from pure meat recipes to complete meat and vegetable mixes but these meals contain only pure ingredients, that you would find in nature, with no waste products added. A great by-product of this nutritionally balanced food means that less waste going in equals less coming out. That isn’t the only benefit though. Dog owners who feed raw food report extensive benefits including an increase in energy, a vitality in both appearance and behaviour, great skin and coat condition, better breath and less visits to the vets. Not only do you have a perfectly happy and healthy dog when feeding them raw, it also saves you money in vet bills.
There is absolutely no need to mix the two diets together. They get everything they need from a BARF raw diet. Many dog owners have the misconception that mixing foods will help to give them the valuable nutrients that they need or that it will bulk out their food. It will in fact have an adverse effect and could potentially make your dog very unwell.
The process required to cope with the digestion of kibble is completely different to that required to break down raw. Kibble contains a large amount of starch which increases the PH of the stomach. In order to break down the protein in raw food, this level needs to be below a certain level. If you mix foods you send the digestive system into confusion which can lead to an unhappy and unwell dog. Increasing the PH of the stomach means that bacteria like E coli and salmonella are more likely to survive. The dog’s PH level needs to be acidic to protect them from these bacteria and also to break down the chicken bone in their raw meals.
When making the transition from dry to a raw food diet, some people prefer to make the change gradually. This is the only instance in which mixing the two should be considered and then only for a short amount of time as it is prudent, once commenced, to switch to raw as quickly as possible. For some it can be a few days although for others it may take a few weeks. Some people will reduce the kibble and increase the raw at each meal time until the dog is only eating raw food while others, with a puppy or a dog with a robust digestive system, can make the rapid switch with the introduction of just the one food immediately.
In summary, mixing dry and raw foods together should be avoided unless switching from a dry to a raw food diet. If you are considering the switch and would like some help and advice then please do get in touch. We can advise you on what is best for your dog, what you should be feeding, how often and when as well as answering any questions you may have about a BARF diet. You can also take a look at our list of pure and complete raw meals here.