Raw Pet Diets: What does the science say?

Before we begin our journey on investigating the lastest trend, raw pet diets, please watch this video. Trust me, it is important that you watch it.

Great, now that you have given me about 20 minutes of your life (hopefully you do not hate me already), we can now discuss raw pet diets.

This past year I was constantly asked about them and after tons of harassment from my friends, family, and colleagues I am finally breaking my silence. Raw diets terrify me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great that more pet owners are concerned about what their pets are consuming. However, the advice I have been seeing online is absolutely cringeworthy. Even in the forums geared towards us animal scientists, veterinary professionals and other types of animal professionals, individuals are handing out some really lackluster and dangerous advice. It is dangerous because it simply is not based on any scientific evidence. There are no clinical trials showing safety and efficacy. Period.

Since you listened to Dr. Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University, you should know how important it is to trust science and the scientists that bring it to the general public. No matter how often I put this disclaimer out there I still get eye rolls…scientists are not purposely trying to be elitist. I get things wrong, I do. However, I correct my findings when presented with new data. I could go on and on about the scientific process but I will save that for another post. The takeaway message is please, trust science and trust the experts in the field. I learned about animal nutrition for numerous different species during my undergraduate studies. When I sat down with my advisor before graduating to calculate my degrees into “real life” hours, we came up with about 9,120 hours and that was just undergrad. I estimate somewhere around 600 hours of that being nutrition which is amazing sure but it is not enough to make me an expert in nutrition. Those 600 “real life” hours come to about half a year of nutrition only formal education. Veterinary nutritionists obtain WAY MORE than that. I got to chat with some veterinary nutritionists and animal food scientists at the Midwest Veterinary Conference in February and seriously I thought of Wayne’s World while listening to them…

Back on track…veterinary nutritionists, KNOW about nutrition guys. We need to trust them when it comes to their field of expertise. The current scientific consensus is simply this: Do not attempt raw feeding without consulting with a veterinary nutritionist. The internet, no matter how appealing the advice may be, is not a substitute for working with a veterinary nutritionist. You need to plan a diet guided by a real-life expert. Be very skeptical of self-proclaimed “nutrition specialists.” If they are not certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, walk away. Close your laptop. Throw your phone on the ground. I don’t care what you need to do but do not take non-expert advice when it comes to your pets’ health. Period.

Still, insist on feeding raw? Okay, I have a compromise for you made by veterinary nutritionists! It is called BalanceIt. I personally ran it by nutrition experts at the Midwest Veterinary Conference who all said it was great.

Hopefully, you don’t hate me and have stuck around long enough for some additional readings. Enjoy!

Real Pet Nutrition Resources:

 

P.S.– I applaud you, a human being who by biological design, has significant diet plasticity enabling you to survive off of a vegan lifestyle but guess what? It is NOT appropriate for your pet that needs meat. Sorry, not sorry. If your pet does not have a biological need for meat, then you’re cool! Like lagomorphs, ahem, I mean rabbits.

 

References:

  1. The Center for Food Security and Public Health.
  2. The Institute for International Cooperation for Animal Biologics.
  3. The Association of American Feed Control Officials.
  4. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Estimates of Foodborne Illnesses in the United States.
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  24. Finley, R. et al. The risk of Salmonella shedding by dogs fed Salmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets. Canadian Veterinary Journal. 2007;8:69-75.
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