To Raw, or not to Raw…

Pet owners and veterinary professionals alike want what is best for their pets.  And just like other members of your family, what you feed your loved ones is a top priority.   It is true that not all pet foods are equal.  As your veterinary team, we would like to use our knowledge to help you make the best choice for your pet

We have had increasingly more questions about raw food.  We understand that you are asking about it because you think it may be better for your pets.   In reality, many kibble diets have veterinary professionals and nutritionists working hard behind the scenes to ensure every meal is nutritionally balanced.  It takes a lot of time and careful measurements to get all the nutrients your pet needs into every meal.

The topic of feeding RAW food to pets often tends to turn into a heated debate.  People tend to be strongly for or against this feeding.

While there are a large number of anecdotal (stories, not studies) claims about potential positive health effects of feeding raw meat to pets, there are many scientifically proven serious concerns about the risks to people and pets.

Infectious Disease Risks (to pets and their owners)

  • As with any raw meat there is potential for contamination with parasites and intestinal pathogens such as Salmonella, E. Coli, Clostridium, and Campylobacter to name a few. (this is why we cook our own food)
  • The other concern with infectious disease is to ourselves. Humans can be exposed to bacterial infections from doggy kisses, handling food, contamination of cooking or other household surfaces, and contact with pet’s stool. A recent study reported that 44% of dogs that ate raw meat diets shed Salmonella in their stool for up to 11 days.

MYTH- dogs and cats that ingest Salmonella Don’t get sick

TRUTH- most don’t but many do and it can cause vomiting/diarrhea and even fatal infections

Because of this, raw food diets should not be fed in a household with an infant/elderly or immune compromised person.

Even raw food advocates recommend cooking raw diets at times of GI upset (vomiting or diarrhea) because the gut wall is leaky making your pet prone to the spread of bacteria in the bloodstream and other organs.

Dietary Nutritional Imbalances

  • Issues of nutritional deficiencies in various raw food diets are well documented including improper Calcium to phosphorus ratios, too low or too high Vitamin amounts. These are most important in young growing animals.

MYTH- my dog only needs to eat raw meat

TRUTH-In the wild, dogs are like bears who eat both meat and plant-based foods like berries and legumes.  The domestic dog should be no different and their diet should include both meats and fiber-containing vegetables.

Bones

  • Feeding bones can cause obstruction or perforation of the esophagus/stomach, small intestine or colon.
  • Dog can fracture teeth from chewing on deer antlers and bones
  • We have had to remove bones lodged in dog’s mouths on many occasions

We encourage you to do research from home and always welcome you to discuss what is best for you, your family and your pet.  If you choose to feed your pet a raw meat-based diet we recommend you use a commercially prepared diet that has been through AAFCO approved feeding trials and uses high pressure pasteurization to prepare their food. We can provide the names of these diets for you. 

Alternatively, if you want to make your own raw food, we can recommend an on-line site to properly balance the diets.   You could also consider making a COOKED home-made diet, we have several recipes available here at the clinic.

If you have any further questions, please give us a call.

There is an excellent blog available called “Worms and Germs” that has great resources.  Click here to visit.

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