It has been another crazy week at Tender Care. We did have an interesting case regarding a four month old Boxer puppy who was gassy, burpy and regurgitating her food. When the puppy came in, she weighed 16.6 pounds. For a four month old puppy she should weigh around 30 pounds. After talking to the owners, Dr. Jami found out that the puppy was on a raw diet. On the diet she was eating she was only getting around 300 calories. Puppies are suppose to get around 1,000 calories!
After discussing with the owner regarding calories, raw diets and what nutrients puppies need, we sent her home with a higher calorie food for a couple days to feed to get some weight on her.
There are may risks to both the pet that is eating the raw diet and the owner who is making the food. There is a chance that your pet and yourself could get Salmonella, E. Coli, Toxoplasmosis & Listeria.
Myths about raw diets*
1. "Their benefits are proven."
No scientific studies have shown benefits of raw food diets. Their appeal is based on word of mouth, testimonials, and perceived benefits. For example, raw food diets may result in a shiny coat and small stools, because they are generally high in fat and digestibility. However, these same properties can be achieved with commercial cooked diets without risks of raw meat diets.
2. "This is what animals eat in the wild."
Wolves in the wild do eat raw meat (in addition to berries, plants etc). However, the average lifespan for a wolf in the wild is only a few years. Therefore, what is nutritionally "optimal" for a wolf is not optimal for our pets who we hope will live long and healthy lives.
3. "Raw food diet ingredients are human grade."
Even meats purchased at the best of stores for people can be infected with bacteria, so purchasing "human grade" meat does not protect against the health risks of uncooked meats (would you eat raw hamburger?). Also, be aware that the term "human grade" has no legal definition for pet food.
4. "Freezing raw diets kills bacteria."
Most of the bacteria found in raw meat diets can easily survive freezing.
5. "As long as bones are raw, they're safe."
Bones, whether raw or cooked, can fracture dogs' and cats' teeth. Bone also can block or tear the esophagus, stomach or intestine. (we just look a bone out of the small intestine of a dog last week!!)
6. "Cooking destroys enzymes needed for digestion."
All the enzymes that dogs and cats (and people) need for digestion are already in the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, additional enzymes from food are not required for digestion. In fact, enzymes are proteins, so any enzymes that are eaten get broken down by the body and have no benefit in the digestion process.
7. "Grains are added to pet foods as fillers."
Corn, oats, rice, barley and other grains are healthy ingredients that contain protein, vitamins, and minerals; they are not added as fillers. There is no benefit of potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas or oatmeal compared to other carbohydrate sources, unless the animal has certain specific health problems.
8. "Dogs and cats have short gastrointestinal tracts so they won't get Salmonella infections."
Dogs' and cats' gastrointestinal tracts are not shorter compared to people when viewed in proportion to their smaller body size. Dogs and cats can become infected with Salmonella and other bacteria found in raw meat diets, just as people can (especially young, old or immunosuppressed individuals).
9. "Most commercial pet foods contain harmful ingredients."
Byproducts are the animal parts that Americans don't typically eat, such as livers, kidneys, or lungs. Byproducts have specific legal definitions for what they can and cannot include. For example, byproducts must be the clean parts of slaughtered animals and cannot include feathers, hair, horns, teeth and hooves. Basically, byproducts are the organs. Note that some pet foods actually list these ingredients (e.g., duck liver, beef lung). but these are really just "byproducts."
10. "If bones or chicken necks are added to raw meat diets, they're nutritionally balanced."
Most homemade (and even some commercial) raw meat diets are extremely deficient in calcium and a variety of other nutrients, even if chicken necks, bones, or egg shells are added. This can be disastrous in any animal but especially in young, growing pets.
If you still believe that a raw diet is the best food for your furry friend, it is best to consult with a veterinary nutritionist so that your pet gets all the nutrients it needs.
*information has found at www.vin.com