Raw Food Diet for Dogs: “What is natural isn’t necessarily safe or better.”

May 25, 2012

In a month where a major dog food is taking place because of salmonella contamination it may seem odd to bash feeding your dog yourself, from food that you purchase solely or that purpose. You are your own quality control inspector, monitor all ingredients and make small batches of food right in your own kitchen, instead of in some food processing factory thousands of miles away. Seems like a lot of positives strung together there. Hold on though, the truth, as usual, is more complex.

Yes, a home-prepared diet may be fine, even beneficial, if you buy quality ingredients and follow tested and approved recipes – like the ones designed by nutritionists at the American College of Veterinary Nutrition that are “complete and balanced” to ensure your dog gets everything she needs. The caveat here is that this diet should be cooked, and not raw. The reason for this is the same as it is for humans: to avoid bacterial contamination.

Ask how many of the enthusiasts feeding a raw food diet to their dog, also consume one themselves? After all, if the concept of being natural and eating like their wolf ancestors is great for dogs, why don’t we take a leaf from Paleolithic Man and do the same? This would mean eating only raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots and occasionally some fish and meat. No bread, no sugar, no cereals, no potatoes, no milk. It sure would change the consumption at your next Super Bowl blow-out.

This week The New York Times has an article (The Raw Food Diet for Pets) where a pretty, red-headed actress is profiled proclaiming the virtues of a raw food diet for her two Siberian huskies. She spends $250 a month feeding her dogs. That’s 8 dollars and change a day, compared to a super-premium commercial dry dog food at about 2 dollars a say.

You should always take medical and veterinary advice from unqualified, attractive actresses.

Look how well that’s worked out for Playboy’s silicon-inflated Jenny McCarthy and her anti-vaccine crusade: 95,341 preventable diseases and 888 deaths from June 23, 2007 to May 5, 2012. See The Jenny McCarthy Body Count.

And, as she states, her qualification is that she went to the “University of Google.” So much cheaper and easier than getting an actual degree from an accredited institution. I wonder if she uses a dentist who, instead of dental school, went to the University of Google, too.

[ Ladies, I apologize if I offended any of you who have chosen to surgically augment your figures by marking the fact that Ms. McCarthy’s charms are not all natural. Make your breasts the size of pontoons, for all I care. It’s not her cup-size I have an argument with, it’s her willful ignorance. ]

I commend Anahad O’Connor for including some balance in this article from Louise Murray, vice president of the A.S.P.C.A.’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and the author of “Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health:

“Animals in nature eat raw food but don’t live very long. They tend to have parasites and succumb to infections and things like that. What is natural isn’t necessarily safe or better.”

A 2006 study showed that among commercially available raw pet foods 7% contained salmonella and 56% contained E.coli bacteria. So are the companies selling raw foods really better than the dry kibble manufacturers?

One of the benefits you hear frequently from raw food enthusiasts is a shinier coat. What they don’t realize is that this results from the higher fat content of the diet, not any nutritional supremacy. Homemade raw diets often lack enough calcium and phosphorus in forms that can easily be absorbed by your dog.

Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, a nutrition professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University published a report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association in 2001. Her evaluation looked at five raw diets, three homemade and two commercially available. All were found to have “nutritional deficiencies or excesses that could cause serious health problems when given long term.”

Now I don’t know if Dr. Freeman is as pretty as the red-headed California actress or has breasts as prominent and as perky as Jenny McCarthy. But I respect her brains and the quality of her research. And when you want answers about your dog’s nutrition, that’s what really counts.

[ Dr. Freeman, no insult to your charms is intended. I’m sure you’re the hottest nutritional professor in the whole Cummings School. ]

Oh, and as far the other positive points claimed for the raw diet – repeat after me – the plural of anecdotes is not data. The Plural of Anecdotes is not Data. The PLURAL of ANECDOTES is not DATA. Thank you.





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