Should I Feed My Pet a Raw Food Diet?

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foodAthletes sometimes down raw eggs after their morning workout, and we’ve all heard that raw eggs can give dogs a shinier, glossier coat, but a totally raw food diet for your pet? Totally raw? Really?

Surprisingly, this trend is on the upswing around the country as a growing number of people pull away from the chemicals and processed foods in commercial pet food. The occasional recall can also create fears that perhaps safety standards aren’t always what they should be, but no matter how you look at it, we all want what’s best for our pets. The decision to feed your pet purchased food, cook your own pet food, or feed a raw food diet is a personal one, but feeding raw foods is not without risks.

Preparing your pet’s food at home – whether raw or cooked – allows you to control the quality of ingredients. And while we can all agree that fresh, wholesome ingredients are better for all of us, whether or not a raw food diet provides additional health benefits seems to be a matter of opinion. 

Consider nutrition. Like any meal you prepare at home, you run the risk of nutritional deficiencies and excesses—not enough of some vitamins, minerals or proteins, and too much of others. This could lead to severe nutritional deficiencies causing health problems. There are even commercially available raw food diets, but not all of these are nutritionally-balanced either. Many are meant to be supplements to the pet’s diet, so you must read the labels carefully.

Also consider the health risks. One study found through investigation that 80% of home prepared diets containing chicken were contaminated with Salmonella spp. Two separate investigations found the majority of commercially prepared raw food diets were contaminated with E. coli. And it’s not just Fido who’s at risk, you are, too, even if you’re not eating it. You handle the food during preparation, you handle the food bowl before and after the meal has been eaten, and dogs who continually eat a raw food diet can even shed the bacteria in their waste!

The bottom line is that the choice of giving your cat or dog a raw food diet is yours, but you need to be aware of the risks and find the best balance possible with nutritious foods. Talk to you veterinarian to find out what additional safety steps you can take at home for better food safety for yourself and your pet no matter what type of food you serve.

Here’s to better nutrition!

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