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blog – Unsafe Raw Diets for Dogs

raw diets

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The popularity of feeding raw meat to dogs continues. Your pupster can harken to his barbaric roots by ravaging the “genuine article”. Why not? What group of free-living wild dogs has ever barbecued their kill to safeguard against potentially dangerous microbes? It just wouldn’t be natural.

Well, I’ve met lots of dogs in my career and have never encountered a credentialed canine expert in microbiology or even intestinal disease. Not a single one has taken a food safety class, has made a cooking fire, or even knows how to light a stove. But they do fancy themselves predators and would eat what they killed, but the reality for wild canine survivors is mostly subsistence on carrion. They binge at the Roadkill Café. As a result of their dietary indiscretions they live shorter lives than domestic dogs who dine on dog diets. Commercial cooked canine cuisine is safer.

A couple of recent studies make the point. Researchers at the University of Melbourne found that dogs who eat raw chicken have a 70 fold increased risk of a neurologic disease called polyradiculoneuritis. Symptoms involve rear limb weakness that can advance to the front legs. Infection caused by the bacteria Campylobacter, found in some samples of uncooked chicken, is the cause in many cases.

It gets worse for well-intentioned but misinformed people who foist uncooked meat on their unsuspecting pets. A study at Utrecht University found that dogs on raw diets can put their human families at risk. High levels of disease-causing E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella were found in a significant number of samples tested. Some bacteria showed evidence of antibiotic resistance. Researchers warned that “Pets fed raw meat-based diets can pass pathogens to humans through direct contact, such as licking or brushing up against them.”  Do you feel sick reading this? I’m getting queasy just writing it.

Even when supplemented with vegetables raw meat diets are nutritionally inferior to good quality complete commercial dog foods. Miss America, the Nichol family dog, eats Royal Canin. She feels great, she looks beautiful (of course), and equally important, her human family is healthy.  May you and your dog live long and prosper.

 

Each week Dr. Jeff Nichol makes a short video or podcast to help bring out the best in pets. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Dr. Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). You can post pet behavioral or physical questions at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.