Should You Feed Your JRT Raw?

Whenever there's a new trend in human health and diet, you can be sure that something similar in the pet world is not far behind.

Sometimes, these discoveries are great news — like a new treatment for disease, or a new surgical technique. Others turn out to be harmful fads.

Many people report experiencing benefits after starting a raw food diet. Not surprisingly, the idea has caught on in the pet world as well.

What is a raw food diet? And is it right for your Jack Russell?

What is a Raw Food Diet?

A raw food diet is just what it sounds like: feeding fresh, uncooked food to your dog. But it's more than just throwing some raw hamburger into their bowl. You have to make sure that you're feeding your dog food that's good for them. And you have to make sure that what you're putting in their bowl fulfills their nutritional needs.

Benefits of Feeding Raw

Throughout much of their evolution, dogs ate raw food. You might say that raw food is the most natural diet for a dog. Other benefits people have reported include:

  • Weight loss (in overweight dogs)
  • Weight gain (in underweight dogs)
  • Better skin and coat
  • More energy
  • Better digestion
  • Cleaner teeth
  • Relief from allergy symptoms

On top of that, when you're feeding your dog a raw diet, you're in complete control of the ingredients and the portions. This can be a great thing if you do it right. On the other hand, doing it wrong can lead to problems.

Doing it Wrong

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One of the benefits of pre-made commercial dog food is that manufacturers have to follow specific nutritional guidelines. This means that store-bought dog foods will all fulfill your dog's minimum nutritional needs. If you're not familiar with these standards, you run the risk of a nutritional deficiency. And that can cause your dog health problems.

Pet MD lays out the major “Don'ts” of feeding raw. Here are the highlights:

  • Don't switch to a raw diet without doing your research
  • Don't just give them raw meat
  • Don't forget the fruit and veg
  • Don't forget to research supplements
  • Don't be careless about meat-borne bacteria like salmonella

In a nutshell: know your Jack's specific nutritional needs, and plan his or her diet so that those needs are met.

Doing it Right

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The first thing to consider is the nutritional balance your dog needs. The Jack Russell Terrier is an athletic, energetic working dog. This means they have a quick metabolism, and burn through calories fast. At the same time, they have a small stomach, so don't let them stuff themselves. Finally, make sure they get plenty of protein.

Happy Jack Russell recommends the following balance of macronutrients:

For puppies:

  • 800 to 900 calories per day, divided into four to six meals
  • 22 percent protein, 8 percent fat

For adults:

  • 450 to 650 alories per day, divided into two to three meals
  • 18 percent protein, 5 percent fat

Finally, don't forget about amino acids and vitamins and minerals. Here are some resources for planning your dog's healthy raw diet.

Is a Raw Food Diet Right For Your Jack?

Every dog is different, even though they all share the same basic nutritional needs. If you're considering changing your dog's diet, talk to your vet, first, especially if your pet has any specific health issues.

A raw food diet can be healthy, nutritious, and tasty. But first you have to do your homework.