It seems like every few years a new dieting trend emerges, and the latest health craze has begun to spread out to our furry friends.
WHAT IS A RAW PET FOOD DIET?
Similar to the popular paleo diet, or the ancestral diet, the concept behind a raw only nutritional regimen is that you eat only the things that our prehistoric predecessors would have eaten. That means everything you eat is unprocessed, grain-free, and supposedly much cleaner burning than the crud we typically consume.
While a diet like this can be a great way to trim a lot of the hydrogenated oils and trans fats out of our diets, when it comes to our pets, is a raw food diet a good idea? Recent studies are starting to think that it isn’t.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
What might otherwise seem like a natural fit, a raw food only diet similar to what their wolven brothers and sisters consume might not satisfy our precious pooches dietary needs. However, as it would happen, our dogs have not been wolves, or anything close to wolves, for nearly 10,000 years. That means that their dietary needs are in no way the same as their more wild cousins.
Now, there are plenty of advocates out there for feeding your pet a raw diet, claiming that the unprocessed, fresh foods gives their pet:
- an especially shiny coat
- improved skin health
- a boosted immune system
- cleaner teeth
- help controlling their weight
However, none of these claims have been tested, let alone proven, in any sort of scientific study.
RISKS OF THE RAW PET FOOD DIET
What has been proven, on the other hand, is the fact that a raw diet of this nature leaves our pets at a much greater risk of contracting a virus, such as
- E. Coli
Moreover, by feeding your pet a raw food only diet, the onus is on you to make sure that they are getting all of their essential nutrients. Pet food is generally crafted to meet all of your dog or cat’s dietary needs. A raw diet, on the other hand, is entirely crafted by you, so you will need to carefully select the things you include to make sure that your pet is maintaining a healthy diet.
HOW TO HANDLE YOUR PET’S DIET
The CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital has the following recommendations when it comes to feeding our furry friends:
- Make sure they are eating a well balanced diet
- Ensure that the food they are eating is designed for their age and size (specifically, don’t feed a puppy or kitten food suited for “all ages”)
- Make sure the brand of food you buy has strict quality control, and has a board nutritionist on staff.
- IF YOU DO CHOOSE TO PREPARE FOOD – make sure the diet is discussed with a veterinary nutritionist to make sure that it suits your pet’s needs. Also, any meat used should be cooked to an internal temp of at least 165 degrees to ensure that any unwanted organisms are cooked off.
- Make sure to employ a smooth transition when switching diets – generally ween your pet off their old food over the course of 5-7 days.
- If you have any questions about your pet’s diet, consult with your vet
PetPlus is a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding, and more.
Colorado State University News – Pet Health: Raw-food diets come with risks, and claims of nutritional benefits are unfounded
AVMA – Raw or Undercooked Source Protein in Cat and Dog Food