Although raw food diets have gained popularity over the last few years, the staff of Sturgeon Animal Hospital do not recommend these diets for our patients based on the following information:
The Risk of Nutritional Deficiencies:
There is currently no reliable scientific evidence to support the claims of raw food diets that they are nutritionally superior to other commercially processed diets. Furthermore, most raw diets have not undergone feeding trials and may not provide complete and balanced nutrition. Processed, traditional-style diets are required by AAFCO to ensure that their diets are complete and balanced at every meal, however raw diets are not required to do so. Nutritional deficiencies and imbalances can cause permanent damage to an animal’s internal organs or impede proper bone growth.
The Risk of Bacterial and Parasitic Infection, Both To Humans and the Pet:
Raw foods contain many types of bacteria and can even contain parasites. Many of these organisms are not killed by freezing, and can lead to serious illness and even death. While some animals may be more resistant to some of these pathogens than humans are, there are still documented cases of illness in animals that can be directly traced back to the raw diets they were eating. In addition, animals that are not sick themselves still shed bacteria in their stool or saliva and transmit them to humans. Children, immune-suppressed adults, and the elderly are at the greatest risk of infection by these pathogens. The most common risks include Salmonella (often from chicken), E.Coli (from beef) and Yersinia enterocolitica (from pork). Other concerns include Camplyobacter, Streptococcus, Staphlococcus, Listeria, toxoplasmosis, roundworms and tapeworms. The FDA’s stance on feeding raw diets is as follows: “The FDA does not believe raw meat foods for animals are consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks, particularly when such products are brought into the home and/or used to feed domestic pets.”
The Risk of Foreign Bodies:
Many raw diets also include bone or other hard-to-digest components. These components can cause gastrointestinal obstruction or perforation, resulting in the need for surgery and the hospitalization of your pet. In some cases, these conditions can also be fatal. Bones and other hard components can also cause injury to the oral cavity, including dental fractures.
Some Other Points To Consider:
The most common positive change that owners report when transitioning to a raw diet is that they noticed an improvement to their pet’s skin condition and haircoat. This change is most often noted when switching the pet off of a low-quality, commercially processed diet. It is important to note that feeding any diet with higher quality ingredients (including those provided by a high-quality commercially processed diet) than what was previously being fed would yield these results. While these positive changes can be encouraging in the short-term, it will take a longer period of time to notice the negative and sometimes irreversible changes caused by the nutritional imbalances found in the raw foods.
While it is generally accepted as fact that domestic dogs and cats descended from their wild cousins, it is important to note that domestication has changed the lives of our pets for the better. Wild dogs, on average, live a maximum of 8 years and often succumb to starvation, nutritional deficiencies, food borne illness, foreign bodies, environmental factors, and diseases like distemper. With modern medicine and nutrition, we often see our own household pets far out-live the lifespan of their wild counterparts.
Our clinic recommends feeding high quality commercial diets because they are nutritionally balanced with the proper levels of nutrients, vitamins and minerals and pose the lowest risk to your pet and family. When purchased at our veterinary clinic under your pet’s file, we are able to maintain an electronic record of all foods that were purchased. This means that, in the event of a food recall or other concern, we are able to directly contact our clients who have purchased that food and notify them. The foods that we carry at our clinic cater to a wide range of specific medical conditions to better suit the needs of each individual pet. Our veterinarians and technicians are always happy to discuss your pet and their nutritional needs with you to help you make the most informed choice.