The use of raw food diets has increased dramatically over the past few years. Several books have been written and there is a plethora of information regarding these diets made from a mixture of raw food (including bones, meat and a variety of vegetables and nutritional supplements). Proponents of these diets are concerned that present day dog and cat foods are highly processed and are missing some of the quality and nutritional value that whole foods provided for countless generations of pets.
One significant concern regarding raw diets is that the readily available sources of raw meat are not intended to be eaten in a raw state. Although nutritionally, wild dogs and cats have survived for many generations on raw foods, the raw chicken, beef or other meat that is bought in today’s grocery stores have a variety of bacteria that can cause disease in both dogs and cats. It is for this reason that we do not condone the feeding of raw foods to your pet.
While it is true that processed pet foods are a relatively new concept for nutrition, they have eliminated many nutritional deficiencies that veterinarians have been called upon to treat. Today’s prepared foods are exceptionally convenient and pet food companies are constantly coming up with new formulas based on new nutritional information.
Just like human nutrition, though, components of the food we eat and the importance to our health are constantly being discovered. We know the levels of nutrients below which our veterinary patients develop signs of deficiency, but information is constantly being discovered regarding what is necessary nutritionally in health and disease. For instance, recent studies have shown that certain types of cancer (i.e., lymphoma) grow much faster in the dogs that are fed high carbohydrate food. Purina dog food, for instance, derives 61% of its calories from carbohydrates. Additionally, multiple studies have shown that fatty acids found in fish can be beneficial to slow the rate of cancer growth.
For those who are interested in preparing foods at home, please refer to Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.