There is a lot of hype these days about raw food diets for our pets. Advocates say that feeding a raw diet increases general and oral health, promoting longevity. They also cite resolution of disease, such as chronic skin and gastrointestinal issues. Raw food diets are typically more palatable to your pet and subjectively lead to shinier coats and better stool consistency.
The ingredients of raw food diets vary widely depending on the manufacturer, but the common theme is raw meat, whether that be beef, poultry, rabbit, or something more exotic. Bones or bone meal and raw fruits and vegetables are commonly included, as are fish or fish oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.
If you want to feed your pet a raw diet, there are various commercially available products to choose from, or you may prefer to make your own food. However, it is important to note that there have been no peer-reviewed studies regarding the benefits of a raw food diet. In fact, veterinary associations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association, British Veterinary Association and Canadian Veterinary Medical Association have warned of the health risks that could arise from feeding raw foods to pets.
Meats sold for human consumption are meant to be cooked before being eaten. Bacterial or parasitic contamination can occur, with pathogens such as Campylobacter and Salmonella having the potential for severe gastrointestinal consequences to pets and pet parents alike. Additionally, a raw diet prepared at home should be reviewed by a veterinary nutritionist to ensure that it is complete and balanced.
While most healthy adult animals will tolerate a raw food diet, not all raw food diets are sufficient, and because of the risks associated with it, you should consult with your veterinarian before starting your pet on a raw food diet.