It's great that pet owners are becoming more proactive in understanding the kind of diet they're feeding the family's furry members. Unfortunately, really understanding what's good or bad for Sparky isn't so simple. There are many schools of thought about cooked and raw diets, as well as content.
BARF: Not for Everyone
The acronym BARF refers to a popular dog diet, and can mean bones and raw flesh, bones and raw food or biologically acceptable real food. Whatever the definition you choose, it advocates feeding Sparky a raw diet. The advocates of such diets believe that raw food mimics the diet of a dog's wild ancestors, who survived on raw meat and bones. Though there are benefits to feeding raw food to a dog, particularly if you prepare the diet yourself, there also are risks. A diet including cooked meat can address some of the risks of feeding raw meat.
Sparky is long removed from his wild ancestors. As Modern Dog Magazine points out, humans have bred dogs that range in size from tiny to extra large, and build, from slight to bulky. Applying a wild standard to a domesticated animal may not be appropriate. In fact, a 2012 study found that thousands of years of cross-breeding dogs has made it extremely difficult to trace the modern dog's roots back to its ancestors.
Cooked Meat is Safe and Healthy
Since Sparky's not quite so wild after all, you can rest assured that feeding him cooked meat is not only safe, but also can be healthy. As Just Food For Dogs notes, cooking meat, fruit and vegetables to the recommended temperature breaks down the food's structures, making it more digestible for your dog. Just as importantly, it keeps him safe from parasites and bacteria that raw meat contains.
A Balanced Diet
Just because cooked meat is good for Sparky doesn't mean he should eat it exclusively. Cooked or raw, meat alone won't provide him proper nutrition. Vegetables, fruits and grains provide your dog vitamins, minerals and fiber he needs to stay healthy. Cooked meat has been a safe part of the family dog's diet for years.
Ultimately it's up to you to determine whether Sparky will thrive most on a diet of cooked or raw meat. At this time there's nothing but anecdotal evidence on the benefit of feeding raw food; nothing scientifically proves the benefits of a raw diet. If you're concerned that cooking meat is bad for your pup, don't let that put you off a cooked diet for him.