Opinion

Oz: Thoughts to consider before putting your dog or cat on a raw food diet

Improving general health by practicing a healthy lifestyle is constantly at the top of our society’s agenda.

Most of the leisure magazines are dealing with the current recommendations for the best diets and food, how to lose weight safely, and how to maintain good fitness and stay in shape.

This current debate on healthy lifestyle hasn’t skipped over the pets world.

Many pets owners are very concerned about their pets health condition and striving to improve it.

One of the main topics that is still considered controversial and being debated amongst different professional animal care givers and animal lovers is what is the optimal diet for companion animals such as cats and dogs.

Is it commercial pet food or diet based on raw meat? People’s desire to consume food that is as natural and unprocessed as possible also caused the increase in raw diet popularity amongst pet’s owners.

However, similarly to many other trends, raw diet trend is also controversial, some people swear by it, but feeding your pet raw diet does bear some risks.

Cats and dogs are considered carnivores. Raw diet supporters believe that it is important to feed pets the same diet that they have consumed years ago, when they still lived in the wild.

They believe that raw diet has the benefits of giving the animal a healthier coat, cleaner teeth and breath, reduced stool volume and odor, reduction in food associated allergies and better overall health.

Raw feeders believe that the heat that is involved in producing commercial food destroys a significant part of the essential nutrients and vitamins found in the meat.

The same rationale is the reason why raw feeders are also against feeding pets cooked home made food.

Raw diet supporters also disapprove the food additives found in commercial diet in addition to the meat.

These additives are usually based on grains, mainly corn. Raw diet supporters believe that the protein found in meat is superior to any of the proteins found in the grains and that these additives purpose is mainly to add bulk and act as fillers.

There are few different models for raw diets. The raw diet options differ in the meat vs. bones proportion offered to the pet. One theory suggests offering a whole carcass to the animal.

And the question of whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores, hence whether dogs need plant material in their diet, and if so, the proportion of such material.

Despite all the advantages mentioned, feeding pets raw diet also bear some significant risks. The main risks associated with the consumption of raw meat is the bacterial, parasitic and viral contamination. These pathogens are not only dangerous to the animal itself but also may be transmitted to humans.

Bones ingestion can lead to intestinal obstruction or perforation, choking, and teeth breaking. Commercial food companies are investing in research and offer a balanced diet that is compatible to the nutritional requirements of the animal. Feeding pets homemade food may subject them to nutritional deficiencies.

Some nutritional deficiencies may have severe and even lethal implications. As well,  exploring and preparing a balanced homemade food for pets is much more time consuming and expensive than buying pets commercial food.

As with many other popular trends, there is no absolute truth. Every theory has supporters and opponents. Because of the potential animal and human health risks, veterinarian organizations and public health agencies believe that the risks inherent in raw feeding outweigh the purported benefits.

Clearly if one chooses to attempt raw diet feeding, it should be done after a diligent research about the pet’s nutritional requirements according to its breed, age, any specific medical condition etc.

A veterinarian consultation can help you decide what diet is optimal to your pet’s lifestyle  and health requirements.

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