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Should I feed my dog raw food or dry food?
Pet owners are increasingly starting to provide raw food as a main diet to their pets. The claim is that a raw food diet
can booster the condition of the skin, coat, immunity and overall health of your animal as well as getting rid of bad breath, reducing the amount of feces and improving energy level and behavior.
For years, dog racing sites, mink farms, Zoos and other professional establishments have been utilizing the benefits of raw meat diets for their animals. It was assumed that these establishments were aware of the food safety and nutritional risks involved with this form of diet.
With the increasing number of common pet owners feeding raw diets to their pets there is a genuine concern by veterinary professionals that owners are only looking at the positives offered by the raw meat diet and may not understand the harm that can be caused. The goal of this report is to educate owners about the prospective side-effects of a raw food diet and the negative impact these may have on pets. Raw-meat promoters often fail to mention or just skim over the health risks involved and often owners are caught unaware when their pet’s health or their own is jeopardized.
Reports claim that raw food diets reduce the occurrence of many medical conditions including arthritis, pancreatitis and allergies. It is also pointed out that feeding an animal raw bone as a source of calcium will help to whiten teeth. Be aware however that at the current time these claims are only anecdotal. They are certainly a believable concept but not one that is supported by any scientific research or fact. Those who oppose the raw meat diet are fast to point out that feeding this diet can cause risks associated with microbial contamination (for both pets and humans), gastrointestinal perforation, choking, intestinal obstruction, as well as fractured teeth.
it is important to get the facts before making your final decision. It is also important to understand that raw meat diets and homemade diets do not always refer to the same thing. Lots of owners feed a homemade diet to their pets but that does not necessarily mean that they are feeding a “raw” diet.
There are three core types of raw food diet that are available to pet owners. These are: On the market complete raw food diets, homemade complete raw food diets and combination diets.
Commercial complete raw food diets are usually sold frozen. Due to the fact that these diets claim to be balanced and nutritionally complete they are under regulation by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Homemade complete raw food diets are prepared by the owner utilizing recipes found in books and on the internet. These diets are estimated to be balanced overall; however, individual meals are not guaranteed to be balanced. Also, there is no body overseeing the regulation of this form of diet. Bones and raw food (BARF) is a popular version of this type of diet that was created by Ian Billinghurst of Australia. Contrary to popular belief, Ian Billinghurst is not a veterinarian.
Combination diets consist of a raw meat diet supplemented with commercially available grain and supplement mixtures. This form of diet is also not regulated in any way.
More often than not owners will start their pet on a raw food diet before doing an adequate amount of research on it. Before choosing a raw food diet there are a variety of important factors that must be weighed. Ask yourself these questions before starting a raw food diet for your pet.
Am I prepared for the investment in time and money that is required to obtain and prepare raw food meals for my pet? The average person simply doesn’t have the time to cook their own healthy dinner, let alone prepare a raw food dinner for their pet! Due consideration must be provided when choosing recipes, obtaining ingredients and choosing the correct supplements. Homemade diets are also considerably more expensive to procure than off the market diets.
If you make the choice to feed a homemade diet you should also be sure to consult a certified veterinary nutritionist about your choice to make sure that the diet you have chosen is balanced for your individual pet. Remember that every pet is a unique individual with specific nutritional needs. Recipes need to be fitted to your pet based on age, breed, health status and lifestyle.
preparation for my pet becomes impossible for me to continue will I be able
to switch back to a commercial pet food?
The time and money required to provide an animal with a homemade
diet is often underestimated. Also
owners are sometimes required to train friends or family on the proper
preparation of their pet’s diet so that coverage is available when the
owner is ill or away. Once you
have started down this route however you may find it hard to turn back.
Your pet may simply refuse to eat any other foods!
Are the constant
consultations with veterinarians necessary to keep my pet in good health
within my budget? Pets on
homemade diets require two to three visits per year to the veterinarian to
ensure that they are remaining in good health without any nutrient
deficiency or excess. These
visits often result in routine blood tests and radiographs at the owners
Can I accept the
risks associated with feeding my pet a raw food diet? Be knowledgeable about the short and long term risks of
conditioning your pet to a raw food diet.
The pathogenic agents found in uncooked meat include E. coli,
Salmonella, Clostridium, Campylobacter and Yesinia. These organisms are able to infect not just the pet but also
the people living and interacting with the pet.
There are clear documented cases of this type of infection.
Beyond the risk of infection, there are also numerous problems in the
realm of nutrient balancing. Nutrient related problems may not present themselves for
years after the imbalance occurs. Finally,
there is the risk of intestinal perforation and blocking related to feeding
an animal raw bone.
Proponents of raw food diets will point out that this
form of feeding is the animals “natural” diet.
Wild dogs and cats do eat all their meat raw, but, is wild caught
meat the same thing as meat that comes from the supermarket?
No. Are we certain that
animals in the wild live healthier and longer lives than our domesticated
pets? No. Should you or I eat
the same food that was eaten by Neanderthals or monkeys? No.