The doggy debate: Should you feed your pet raw meat?
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) does not recommend feeding pets raw meat. But many pet owners disagree and do feed their pups raw meat. A veterinarian weighs in with the pros and cons of raw feedings.
Since the last time we talked, I've been eating, sleeping, fetching and walking. Now that we're all caught up, let's dish about raw meat.
For my last column, 10 Foods that are dangerous for dogs, and 5 that aren't, I learned that my buddies at the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) do not recommend feeding pets raw meat. I also learned that many of you do feed your pets raw meat and see this as a healthy pet diet go-to. So, I'm back with some info from my new friend, Dr. Cathy.
Cathy Alinovi, DVM, is the owner and veterinarian of Healthy PAWsibilities — formerly Hoofstock Veterinary Services — in rural Pine Village, Indiana. She treats 80 percent of what walks in the door with adequate nutrition, not expensive prescriptions. She's here to clear the air, and the palate, about feeding your pets raw meat.
Dr. Cathy says that from the literature to the vet classrooms, you'll be hard-pressed to find support for feeding your pet a raw diet. But there's a reason for that — and it's not what you may think. She explains, "Raw feeding is very controversial. As veterinarians, we learn in school that raw is bad, instructors cite published studies of the dangers of salmonella on raw food. The thing about published articles, it's not as interesting to publish a study demonstrating the safety of raw diets, so that will be next to impossible to find in the literature. Because of this, most veterinarians will not support raw food. Only the vets who've had some kind of an eye-opening experience will appreciate raw food. Honestly, I believe this is the case for the general dog-owning public. I am in the group of vets who had a life-altering experience, for my dogs, and I fully support raw feeding."
I asked Dr. Cathy what she tells new patients and pups who are interested in raw feeding. Below is Raw Feeding 101 with Dr. Cathy.
Raw diet pros
- It’s a species-specific diet
- Dogs stop shedding; their coats glow
- Healthy immune system
- You save on vet care as your dog is healthier
- Less yeast infections, less ear infections and less bladder infections
- Helps clean teeth
- In some cases, it's easier to digest
- There are great resources to help with nutritional balance
- Some great companies provide awesome products
- Can be less expensive, especially if you have a source like hunting
- The owner dictates what goes in it and can completely tailor to the dog’s needs
- You know the source of the ingredients
- Most dogs love it
Raw diet cons
- It can be messy
- Food handling is a safety and health concern
- Often requires a lot of storage space (freezers)
- Can be expensive depending on what dry food you compare it to
- Do-it-yourselves may have balance issues
- It can be a challenge to feed enough calcium for large-breed puppies
- It's very difficult when traveling
- Poor sourcing of ingredients in rural areas
- It can be expensive to source ingredients in rural areas
- Many boarding facilities are reluctant to handle raw food
I'm so curious about people's — and dogs' — experiences. Share with us your opinions. Have you tried a raw diet? Would you? Why or why not? Share in the comments below.