Vet Watch — December

A Dietary Heads Up

I thought I would take a little time to explore some of the misconceptions about Raw Meat based Diets (RMBD) for pets.

Lately a lot of attention has been given to the idea that raw Food diets for our furry friends (and I’m talking about dogs and cats here, not reptiles, birds, rodents etc) have an advantage over cooked diets (whether commercial or home prepared).

The various sources promoting this idea rely on permutations of the “Naturalistic Fallacy” (i.e. if its Natural it must be good. You know, like Botulism or Uranium..)

Its worthwhile remembering that dogs and cats have been associated with humans for at least 10,000 years, and eating our foods, so declaring that dogs for example should eat ‘naturally’ as wolves do is to ignore the many changes that domestication has wrought on the average domestic dog’s digestive tract.

So here’s a few things to consider:

1)There are no reputable scientific studies showing any benefit to RMBD.

2) There are numerous health risks associated with a RMBD e.g. nutritional imbalances and deficiencies, gastroenteritis and sepsis, fractured teeth and damaged digestive tracts, increased rates of pancreatitis and hyperthyroidism.

3) Increased risk of parasites, some of which are potential human health risks.

4) Increased risk of bacterial contamination, especially Salmonella, Clostridium, Campylobacter and E.Coli, which in addition to causing disease in pets pose potential human health risks.

And heres a few myths often cited by the RMBD lobby;

1) Benefits are proven?…Nope. e.g. the shiny coats and small stool often described are generally due to a high fat content and digestibility. The fat can be problematic (e.g. obesity and pancreatitis).

2) It’s what animals eat in the wild. The lifespan of the average wolf is only a few years, so their long term needs are not the same as a 14 year old domestic dog. Studies of deceased Cape Hunting dogs of about 7 years age show similar dental disease to domestic dogs of the same age on commercial cooked dry diets, in spite of a lifetime munching Wilderbeast bones.

3) Cooking destroys enzymes?….Irrelevant. The enzymes required for digestion are supplied by the animal’s digestive tract. Enzymes in food are not needed for digestion.

4) Grains in commercial foods are merely filler…Not so, they contain important protein, vitamins and minerals. Grains are unlikely to cause allergies. Most dietary allergies are due to commonly consumed dietary proteins.

5) Commercial diets contain by-products that are harmful…By-products are just those organs and meats other than animal muscle. A large proportion of a ’wild diet’ will contain these so-called by products, and without them would be nutritionally poor. The term ‘By-product’ is used in many cases as an emotional appeal, without any nutritional meaning.

So…be careful, theres a lot of misinfor-mation out there! That goes for all pet foods, not just RMBD. Don’t be guilted into decisions by appeals to what sounds good as opposed to what is known.

For more info check this link from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association www.wsava.org/nutrition-toolkit.

Happy New Year! And merry Christmas to all our loyal followers and their wonderful pets. Evan Kosack, Lennox Head Vet Clinic

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