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Posted on 03-28-2018
Pros and Cons of Raw Food Pet Diets
The latest round of commercial pet food recalls has many dog and cat owners searching for a better way to feed their pets. Raw food diets can seem like the perfect alternative to commercial foods, but there are a few caveats to keep in mind.
The greatest concern with raw food diets is that they are, well, raw. The pet owner is handling raw meat which may be contaminated with pathogens such as E.coli, salmonella, and listeria. Proper handling and sanitation procedures should always be followed when feeding raw meat to pets. Pets consuming food contaminated with pathogens may become ill or spread illness to their human household. Many veterinarians advise their clients to cook their pet’s food rather than feed raw diets. This helps eliminate some of the concerns about potential contamination.
Raw food diets are not cheap. Costs can be reduced by buying meat in bulk and freezing it for future use, but pound-for-pound, raw or home prepared pet diets will be more expensive than commercial foods. Preparing pet food at home is also more time consuming. Pet owners must purchase and prepare all ingredients rather than just offering a scoop of kibble. Some pet owners may find they do not have the time or inclination to add another chore to their list.
Raw or home prepared diets may not be nutritionally complete. A veterinarian can advise pet owners about the types of supplements that may be necessary to round out a raw diet. It is a good idea to feed a variety of foods rather than focusing on meat alone. Eggs, some fruits and vegetables, and dairy products, such as yogurt, are healthy additions to a home prepared diet. BalanceIt.com provides veterinary-based guidance and recipes for palatable and nutritionally balanced pet diets.
Bones, either raw or cooked, should never be included in the pet’s diet. Any nutritional value bones may have is not worth the potential consequences to the pet’s health.
Overall, many pet owners consider the benefits of raw or home prepared diets to outweigh the risks. Benefits can include healthier teeth, shinier coats, and higher energy levels.
Following proper handling and sanitation procedures can help ensure safety for pets and their families. Proper procedures include frequent handwashing when handling raw foods, using clean utensils and cutting boards, and thorough cleaning of all food prep areas.
Pet owners concerned about food safety, either commercial, raw, or home prepared, should schedule an appointment with a veterinarian who can help them choose a safe and appropriate feeding regimen for their pet.
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