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The raw diet debate

Should dogs eat raw diets?
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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) have all come out against feeding our pets raw food diets. What exactly does that mean? It means that respected human and animal health organizations don't recommend feeding a raw food diet (commercially or home prepared) to dogs (or cats). Are they right? Are they wrong? There are many people on both sides of the fence that feel strongly about this topic. There will be no side choosing here, what you decide to feed your dog is your business and that of your veterinarian. But here are a few facts (not all, mind you) that can help you be informed on the issue.

To define the raw food in which we are talking about: raw or undercooked animal-source protein, which includes meat or products from chickens, turkeys, cows, pigs, fish, sheep, deer, buffalo, or other animal sources. It also includes raw, unpasteurized eggs and milk. These things can be present in both commercially available diets and the home prepared kind.

Now it's no secret that uncooked meat can be dangerous. It's why we as humans take care to wash our hands and surfaces well that raw meat comes in contact with before it's cooked. Since raw dog food is never cooked, this is where the greater concern comes in. Pathogens like Salmonella and Listeria can be harmful to both us and our pooches. The more places and longer raw sits out equal a greater likelihood for sickness to possibly occur.

Dog stomachs and GI tracts are much hardier than ours. Their ancestors the wolf eat raw meat full time. This is why some of our dogs can eat garbage and come out no worse for wear. Our canines can be considered omnivores with a carnivorous bias.

Immunocompromised people, babies, and the elderly (including pets) are more prone to sickness from a wide variety of illness, which can include those found in raw meat.

Do some research, talk to your vet (include all pertinent info like small children and mothers-to-be in the house), and make your own decision. A good number of folks swear by a raw food diet for their dog(s) health. Just be aware of the potential risk and be safe accordingly.

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