As a retailer of all formats of food we have seen a rise in those feeding a raw diet to their dogs.
The ideal that a dog eats a diet of muscle meat, offal and bone with other additions is a simple and effective approach to meeting the needs of your beloved pet. From a cost perspective feeding a raw diet and particularly doing it yourself can be both rewarding for the dog and cheaper for the owner. Dogs fed on a raw diet are often seen as the picture of health and vitality with boundless energy and vigor for life. Teeth are often pearly white and reduced trips to the vets are often quoted as one of the benefits of the diet.
So, why is it that so many Vets are against owners feeding a raw diet? Is it the perceived dangers of a bone shard causing an injury or worse? is it the lost revenue from sales of dog food the Practise otherwise offers? No, I don;t think it is. I really believe that Vets feel that a home prepared meal and even a ready meal is not put gather with the right amount of know how and that they fear your dog’s diet is lacking.
Lets face it, who among us is able to state (Many I’m sure) and then prove (Very few) that their dogs diet is complete and balanced for example? We know that to be balanced a diet should embrace the 6 main food groups of Fat, Protein, Carbs, Vitamins, Minerals and Water and that to be complete should include 37 nutrients. At least thats one suggestion. EU law defines a complete pet food as “any food which, by reason of its composition, is sufficient for a daily ration” and defines a daily ration as “The average total quantity of a specific pet food that is needed daily by a pet of a given species, age category and life style or activity to satisfy all its energy and nutrient requirements”. Hardly helpful.
Given a more prepared diet how can we ensure our dogs are getting a complete and balanced diet. We know dogs can’t live on meat alone, we know that around half of the amino acids they need are only found through diet and that they need essential fatty acids such as the omegas. So if these and other nutrients are only available through diet can we comfortably say we are meeting our dogs needs and if not whats the impact now or later in their lives.
Will we simply bury our mistakes? Will we see deficiencies coming through in their old age? Dr Karen Becker the renowned US Vet states that in her view a raw diet done correctly is the best diet for our canines but, and its a huge but, a raw diet done badly is the worst possible diet. In her book “Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats” Dr Becker outlines ways to ensure that the raw diet you’re feeding meets the needs of your dog. So, the moral of the story is simply this, feed a diet that meets the needs of your pet using all your knowledge and available budget and based on their age, lifestyle, activity, and health.
Whilst its easy to get it right its equally easy to get it wrong and the art is knowing the difference.