Raw food diets are controversial. Consisting of uncooked meat, fruits and vegetables raw food feeding programs are rising in popularity due to their touted health benefits. Unfortunately there is no definitive research to guide pet owners on whether this is right for their pet, leaving the discussion open to a lot of debate.
We live in a state of dedicated pet owners that are highly involved and engaged in their pet’s health and well being. Interest in raw food diets is increasing in our community clients are regularly asking us if these diets are okay for their pets.
So, is a raw food diet right for your pet?
Most veterinarians are against raw food diets and with good reason. Does this mean it’s a bad diet? Absolutely not. Let’s start with what we know and separate fact from fiction.
The biggest challenge is getting the right balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Even prepackaged raw diets have shown to have the wrong amounts of calcium and phosphorous, which can cause health issues.
Naysayers of raw food diets point out the potential contamination from E. coli and salmonella. Most pet owners who feed their pets a raw food diet know the potential risk and take proper precautions. There will likely be more E. coli in the stool, so owners with small children should factor that potential exposure into their decision.
In the end, these diets are simply not practical enough for most pet owners and given that even commercial manufacturers don’t get the proper balance of key minerals, so we don’t recommend them. However, that doesn’t mean that we discourage pet owners from giving it a try. We have seen pets thrive on these diets and they certainly have merit.
However, proceed with caution. Pets with kidney disease, immune compromised systems and puppies/kittens should avoid such diets. Remember that the reason people support raw food diets is the premise that this was the natural diet of their predecessors. Those diets consisted of eating the whole animal, which included bones, contents of the stomach (which would have included grains) and other parts of the animal. That created a balanced diet and for example, if you don’t happen to get the calcium/phosphorous ratio right in young pets, you can have growth and deformity issues.