Raw food could spell problems for dogs

Should we feed our dogs raw food diets?

I suppose the idea behind raw diets is that all dogs hail from wolves and they eat raw meat so they must be best for our canine pals, too, right? Well, I am not so sure.

While I have clients who say their dogs have had sensitive tummies and are much better on raw food, I still feel the majority should be fed standard dog food.

Our dogs are not wolves. They are genetically different, having about 50 differences if DNA is compared. Dogs have been domesticated for about 10,000 years and have been fed diets prepared by humans.

Raw meat is likely to have bacterial contamination, and possibly parasitic contamination. Wild animals cope with these relatively well after generations of natural selection, something our pets don’t have.

Rawhide chews are also raw animal materials so take care with hygiene after handling. This may also be relevant in immunosuppressed animals, or the young and old who may have a reduced ability to fight off infection.

Dogs are not carnivores. They do not need meat to survive, unlike cats, and can live healthily on a balanced vegetarian diet.

Wild animals have to be fit. They are lean, living on a nutritional knife-edge and killing to avoid starvation. Lean animals live an average of two years longer than pets that are slightly heavier, but wild animals tend to have a shorter life-span. This is due in part to domestic dogs having a more sedentary lifestyle, but could it also be due to the nutritional benefit of complete dog food?

Dogs are not carnivores. They do not need meat to survive, unlike cats, and can live healthily on a balanced vegetarian diet.

No studies have been completed that compare raw and commercial food diets. Both seem palatable to our canine pals. However, bones should never be fed as these can lead to tooth fractures, and also intestinal blockages, often requiring surgical removal.

Also, studies definitely can confirm that commercial completed dog food diets are appropriate nutrition for pets and can be very carefully balanced to cater to specific needs.

If you are considering feeding your pet a raw food diet, please ensure it is balanced. Meat diets are deficient in calcium, but other nutrients may also be lacking. It is best to use an approved website.

So, should we feed our dogs on raw food diets? We don’t really know, but I, personally, am going to leave them for the wolves.

By Catriona Gibson, Vet