image via PetMD
Many pet owners jumped on the raw food bandwagon in reaction to the exposés of the pet food industry's use of chemical, non-nutritional, and over-processed ingredients. Not much has changed in that arena, but what has changed is that studies conducted during the raw food trend now show the harm of raw food to our dogs, cats, and to us - even if we don't eat the food ourselves.
One theme justifies the raw food diet by citing that dogs and cats eat raw food in the wild - the meat and bones of their prey....
Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that a wolf's prey - a live rabbit, a chicken, or a fish, for example - is healthy. Second, To assume that the raw meat, raw chicken, or raw fish that we buy in the store is healthy is an incorrect assumption. And that's what the newest studies say about store-bought meat, chicken and fish. It's not healthy to eat them raw. Not for you and not for your dog or cat.
image via Stepintomyworld
The latest scientific study, published in the British Veterinary Record, looked at packaged meat-based diets for dogs and cats and finds the very same issues found in prior studies: Bacteria and parasites.
First of all, animals raised as a food source are themselves fed all kinds of fillers to grow and fatten them, as well as antibiotics to keep them from getting sick from what they eat.
Cows Eat Skittles, For Pete's Sake
I'll never forget my mental image of cows eating Skittles, a fact which became widely known when a flat-bed truck, on its way to a cattle ranch, spilled its Skittles all over a country road in Wisconsin. The Skittles were missing an 's,' so they were being taken to the cows to chomp down which led the public to learn that Skittles were being fed to cows for years! Farmers excuse the practice, saying that Skittles are cheaper than corn.
Here's a real image, so you don't have to imagine.
image via Dairy Herd Management
Processed meat and poultry contain bacteria and parasites
The bacteria that live in the intestines of cows such as Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes may not make the cow sick, but if you or your pet eat that raw cow meat, or you even touch the raw meat without washing its remains off your hands, you may get sick - very sick. And Salmonella and Listeria are not the only bacteria living in the guts of our animal food sources.
Then, there are also parasites in the fresh meats you purchase at the store, even high-end meats. While freezing meat will kill the parasites, it does not kill bacteria.
Aside from the toxins present in raw food, there's another issue with a raw food diet. It needs to be enhanced by other nutrients, some found in other foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and some in supplements. Your cat and dog are not wild, and they would not live as long in the wild as they do as domestic pets.
So, what should you feed?
If you're taking this information to heart and wondering what you should do, thoroughly cooking the food that you would otherwise feed your pets raw would be one way to go, but you will need to consult your veterinarian about other foods and/or supplements they need in their diets. The other nutrients, fed in an appropriate balance, will help your pets live longer. You should especially consult with your pet's vet about the fat content in your pet's food; older pets require far less fat than younger dogs, and too much can cause serious medical conditions.
As for me, I'm not going to purchase canned dog food or kibble. Those foods have their own issues. But I am going to purchase some of The Honest Kitchen's Grain Free Base Mix Dog Food. It has everything but the meat (or chicken, or fish, etc.). In addition to 11 vitamin and mineral rich fruits and vegetables, this Base Mix also contains the extra supplements required for your dog. For the protein, which dog's need a lot of, I'm going to cook the meat, the chicken, the lamb, the fish... My dog's food will be even more tasty to him if it's cooked, and he'll be getting even more nutrients than he was getting from a raw diet.
The same issues are present in most cat foods - filler. Here again, I'd go for The Honest Kitchen Grain Free Cat Food, but that includes dehydrated poultry - chicken or turkey - so you don't need to add a protein source unless you want to - make it a cooked protein source.
What will you do? If your pets are on a raw food diet, will you switch to another?