Is Raw Food The Way To Go?

We all love our pets and want to keep them healthy and happy.  Most people would do anything to ensure that their pet lives a long life.  Nutrition is one part of pet care that can influence health and we all strive to feed our pets the best diet possible.

There are always controversies regarding the best food to offer your pet.  There are dozens of brands, formulations and types of dog food for you to choose.  Some pets enjoy canned foods, some enjoy dry food, and some will gladly eat anything you offer them. In recent years there has been a movement by some commercial companies to advocate raw food.  Several companies offer raw chicken, beef, and other animal proteins for consumers to purchase for their pets.  They claim that it’s a healthy and natural choice that mimics the natural way pets consume their food.  Websites are replete with testimonials championing the benefits of these diets and talking about the miraculous improvements in the health of the pets consuming these diets.

Unfortunately persuasive advertising and testimonials are hurting our pets. Raw food diets do not offer superior nutrition and are actually dangerous to feed. Recently the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association announced policies that recommended not feeding raw food to dogs or cats. Raw food is dangerous both to the pet who is consuming the diet and the people in the household.  The American Animal Hospital Association states that studies that have been done on both commercially available and homemade raw protein diets have found a high percentage (30–50%) of them contaminated with pathogenic organisms, and up to 30% of the dogs fed such diets may shed pathogenic organisms in their stool. Many of the pathogens found in raw protein diets can be transmitted to the human population by contact with the food itself, pet or environmental surfaces. A disturbing number of these organisms have also been shown to be resistant to multiple antimicrobials.

Raw food diets can contain Salmonella, E. coli and other organisms that can cause severe illness and even death in your pets. Even worse, pet owners can contract these infections while handling the food or cleaning up after their pet.  Diarrhea in the house can contaminate surfaces and be a source of infection for anyone who touches dirty surfaces.  Children and the elderly and particularly susceptible but anyone can become sick.

So what is the best food to feed your pet?  Commercial dog food is clearly the best choice because these foods are processed to provide the best nutrition and with high safety standards.  Raw foods are dangerous and offer no nutritional benefits for your pet.