Feeding your puppy or dog a raw food diet has become very popular over the last few years and the jury is still out on whether this can be harmful — both to us and our dogs — because of the bacteria and parasites present in raw-meat products.
There are two sides to the raw food argument and it’s difficult to know which to believe so you have to go with what you think is best for your puppy, or dog as they grow into adulthood. At this moment in time, I think I will be going down the combination route once Freya is fully grown, although raw for me will be meat from a butcher, rather than commercially produced and I will be freezing it first as apparently this virtually eliminates the risk of internal parasites.
For now, I feel confident that the kibble I am giving her and she really enjoys now (after weeks of worry) holds all the valuable nutrients she needs. You can read more about feeding a fussy dog in Freya’s story here.
The Negative Side of a Raw Food Diet
TIME magazine’s January 2018 article Feeding Pets a Raw-Meat Diet Can Be Dangerous for Them – and for You, puts forward the results from a recent paper published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) Veterinary Record: Zoonotic bacteria and parasites found in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs.
The research analysed 35 frozen pet-food products. E. coli bacteria was found in 40% of the samples and in 23% of the samples contained the particularly dangerous E. coli 0157. A high percentage also contained listeria and salmonella bacteria, along with a small percentage of potentially harmful parasites — Sarcocystis cruzi and Toxoplasma gondii. The TIME article and the free access to the initial paragraph of the paper give more in depth information; a fee is payable to download the full paper.
Further expert reading: Risks outweigh benefits of raw meat-based diets for pets
The Positive Side of a Raw Food Diet
The Raw Feeding Community, which began as a Facebook Page in 2012, supports those feeding their pets a raw food diet and provide them as much knowledge on raw diets as possible.
The Community believe there is evidence to support the idea that raw diets can be more beneficial and safer for meat-eating pets, when compared to a commercial dry food diet. In fact they believe that kibble may actually be putting some dogs at risk of a fatal heart condition.
There are many useful articles on feeding your meat-eating pets, which make interesting reading. Pages which feature the science of raw pet food, the official guide to switching and simple ways to improve your dog’s kibble, I found really helpful in making my decision.
Further expert reading: In support of bones and raw food diets
Up-date: November 2018
In November 2018, the results of a 24-month research investigation into
a species-appropriate diet (aka raw) for dogs was published. The study followed guidelines established by the European Pet Food Industry (FEDIAF) and trial standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
The research was commissioned and published in the UK by The Darling Experiment Limited, Honey’s Real Dog Food. You can read the full report here.