The Benefits & Risks of the Raw Diet

Raw diet – the benefits & risks

Raw food diet has become extremely popular in the last few years and there are good reasons for it. However, it is not without its risks. This article will assess both the risks and benefits of it to help you make wiser choices for you pooch!

RISKS of a raw food diet

The risks of feeding your dog a raw food diet centre around the possible bacteria and other pathogens found in raw food, which also present a risk to us humans. Let’s take a look at these.

Salmonella

The most common pathogen found in raw food is Salmonella, a type of bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness. It is not specific to raw food for your dog as it is commonly found in eggs, meat intended for human consumption.  Dogs have shorter gastorintestinal tract, speeding up the food’s transit time which also means that any pathogen found in their stomach will cause a less significant threat to them. As such, the risk is actually to the human, especially to frail people like young infants, the elderly, and immune-compromised people (e.g. those with immune system diseases such as Lupus, or those on immune-suppressing drugs like steroids or chemotherapy).

Salmonella rarely poses any real threat to healthy animals. In fact, dogs can actually be carriers simply from environmental exposure (rest assured, the vast majority of human cases are unrelated to dogs!). If you feed your dog raw food, always ensure good hygiene and to be on the safe side it is prudent to avoid feeding pets non-organic raw ground beef, due to severe contamination problems in the meat packing industry.

Listeria

Listeria is another common environmental bacterium. The vast majority of Listeria cases in people come from processed foods, like cheese, raw vegetables and cold cuts. Healthy people (and pets) are resistant and don’t usually become ill from this bug.

Safe handling

Common sense says that handling raw meat diets for pets is no different from buying raw meat at the grocery store to make hamburgers for your family. By always following good hygiene and safe handling of all raw animal products, you’ll virtually eliminate the risk of illness for your pet and your family.

BENEFITS of raw food diet

Raw meat diets are credited with restoring the health of dogs. Advocates of the diet report big improvements in skin, coat, energy, and overall wellbeing. Raw diets have helped many pets recover from a wide variety of health problems, including allergies, asthma, urinary tract problems, digestive issues, dental disease, immune disorders, degenerative diseases, and epilepsy.

Is it suitable for all pets?

The simple answer is NO. Just like there are many diets available to humans (omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, Keto, Paleo, Low-fat, etc.) it doesn’t mean that one diet suit all humans!

Similarly, raw diets aren’t for every pet. Animals with inflammatory conditions of the gut, and those taking immune-suppressing drugs, should not be fed raw meat until their systems have time to heal.

Additionally, not all dogs like raw diet. There are many pet-owners who put their dogs on raw diet and whilst the dog has seemed to thrive on it initially, after a while some dogs can lose interest and/or appetite and have to be put on a different diet. Like us, every dog is unique and what suits one dog, doesn’t necessarily suit all!

Take-away

Remember that there are no two dogs alike and therefore there is no single diet or food brand that suit every dog! Whilst many people talk about the benefits of a raw diet there can be multitude reasons why you don’t want to follow the trend and/or your dog doesn’t wish to be on a raw food diet.

The best you can do is to ensure that you choose a premium quality food (be it raw, wet or complete dry food), provide a bit of variety (you wouldn’t want to live on chicken only, would you?), supplement with steamed veg and some either raw or cooked meat (no seasoning etc.). You can even mix feed (dry and raw) as dogs are very adoptable. And the most important of all give your dog plenty of exercise and LOVE.

Bernadett 

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