Raw food diets–are they a good choice?

“Raw” foods: uncooked, unprocessed, organic grains, fruits and vegetables, are advocated for good health.  I think there are a lot of good things to be said about adopting a healthier diet for ourselves.  And certainly we want to feed our pets a healthy diet, too.  Many people recommend feeding raw food–raw meat and bones, to dogs and cats for best health.  But that kind of raw food is NOT the best choice for a number of reasons.  I’d like to go over some of the myths and concerns about raw food diets in the next several articles.

Advocates of a raw meat diet for pets say that the benefits are proven.  This just isn’t true.  There are no scientific studies done that show any benefits of feeding a raw food diet.  You can find testimonials from people who say a raw food diet gave their dog a shiny coat or a small stool because the diets are generally high in fat and digestibility.  But these same properties can be achieved with commercial cooked diets without the risks of raw meat.  It may take some trial and error to find the best commercial food for your dog or cat, including trying both dry and canned, but with all the foods available, there should be at least one that is great for your pet.

Raw meat can easily be contaminated with E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, and other bacteria.  These bacteria can cause disease in your dog or cat, yourself, your children, and anyone who might be in contact with your pet or your pet’s food or food bowl.  We all know how sick people can get from contaminated meat and food products.  It is very important to cook meats thoroughly to kill bacteria.  Freezing meat will NOT kill most of these bacteria.

In the next installment, I’ll discuss other myths you might have heard about feeding raw meat.