Doggy Diets – The Raw-Meat Fad

F_AP15_Vet-dogandbone.jpgJust like human diets, canine diets go in and out of fashion. These days the fad is the raw-meat diet.

Feeding these diets has become an increasing trend among pet owners, on the basis that they are more ‘natural’. However the problem is that whereas the modern day carefully formulated diets like Hills science diet or Royal canin have undergone numerous tests and clinical trials over many years and stood the test of time, the raw food diets have had no research done.

And perhaps we forget that prior to the premium diets now available, that’s back pre 70’s and 80’s, raw meat and bone diets were commonly fed but not without problems. We saw many cases of bone and joint conditions in puppies, skin conditions, general poor health, and it was for these reasons that the premium diets were developed.

The biggest risk with raw-meat diets is basic food poisoning. High levels of salmonella, campylobacter and listeria are present on raw foods and gastroenteritis is common. It is also a risk to owners both by handling the raw meat, and becoming infected via their pet’s stools. In one study, 80% of raw chicken diets were cultured positive for salmonella, and 30% of the pets eating the diet had positive stool samples.

Traditionally dogs love to chew on a bone, and yes there maybe some dental benefits. However, when a bone becomes an obstruction it becomes life threatening and a very expensive problem. We commonly see bones stuck in the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, and intestine, requiring emergency surgery.

Feeding raw meat is a regression and ignores the many years of research and development that produced the modern day premium pet foods. Not only are there risks to animal health, but human health too. Sadly ‘natural’ isn’t always better.

Angela Ford
BVM&S MRCVS MACVSc Otaki Veterinary Centre

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