At Wisconsin Pet Care, we can never say this enough: Good nutrition is one of the most important components to the overall health and wellness of your dog and cat. We’ve focused our efforts on explaining the pros and cons of all diets, including a raw diet. And it is still our belief that a raw diet is the closest to mimicking what your dog or cat would eat in the wild. However, recent reports have raised concerns on whether raw food causes salmonella poisoning. This week we hope to debunk some common myths about the dangers of raw food diets.
We hear from concerned pet owners over and over that their vets tell them that raw diets are bad. The most discussed reason is due to salmonella. People automatically think that raw equals bad. Please remember that the digestive tract of a cat or dog is much shorter than a human, and if your dog or cat ingests something foreign to their system they will most likely vomit it up before it goes through the GI tract. Here is some information on a digestive tract in dogs: http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/carn_herb_comparison2.html
The biggest benefit of a raw diet is the fact that you know exactly what your dog is eating. That means, if you pay for organic, grass-fed meat, that’s what you are going to be putting in his dish. As raw diets go mainstream, it is more important than ever to be careful about, not only the quality of meat, but also the balance of ingredients in a homemade pet diet. Most of us think that using a low-fat chicken breast is healthy and high in protein, but just like humans, your pet companion needs so much more than that. In the wild, you do not find dogs and cats going after a chicken purely for their breasts. Instead, they eat the eyes, the cartilage, the organs, and even the bones. Each of these parts hosts vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
This is where salmonella myths are born. Most of us do not eat the “delicacies” of an animal and so we are not well-informed about the potential bacteria they can harbor. Salmonella isn’t as common in human-grade cuts of meat, including the bones and organs available in a butcher shop near you. However, that doesn’t mean you can throw conventional meat handling wisdom out the proverbial window. Keep the following points in mind when preparing the meat for your pet’s food:
*ALWAYS wash your hands before and after handling any and all meat products.
*If the meat is discolored, has a questionable odor, or is past the “expiration date”, do not feed it to your dog or cat.
*Meat should be thawed in the refrigerator – DO NOT allow it to sit out on the counter to thaw and DO NOT defrost it in the microwave.
*If you are still concerned about the bacteria on meat, there are food-grade meat disinfectants that will wash away surface bacteria.
More concerning, however, is the outbreak of commercial foods harboring salmonella. Most kibbles are made from scrap, animal-grade meats (which can include meat from animals that are sick or disabled) and are breeding grounds for bacteria. It seems that at least one of the commercial food suppliers is always in the news due to food recall. Most often, they all lead back to unsanitary food preparation conditions. That is why it is so important to feed your animal a raw diet. You control the cleanliness in the preparation of your pet’s food, the quality of meat, and the level of vitamins and minerals. No matter how clean your food prep area is, or what grade of meat you have, it is important to do your research before preparing a raw diet. There are many recipe books available from licensed nutritionists that can give you the ins and outs of all cuts of meat, and help you to ensure that you are preparing a healthy and balanced diet for your pet.