- There is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that the benefits of a raw diet outweigh the potential risks.
- Potential risks of a raw meat diet include: gastroenteritis (vomiting and diarrhea) from high dietary fat and/or bacterial infection from Salmonella or Clostridium, sepsis, and fractured teeth from large bone fragments.
- Up to 44% of commercial raw pet diets are contaminated with Salmonella, which can be shed in feces and cause disease in pets and can also be transmitted to humans.
- The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) that oversees pet food ingredients defines a meat by-product as “the non-rendered clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals.”
- By-products in pet food are animal organs, such as liver, lungs, bone that the animal would likely ingest in its wild state and are higher in essential nutrients and palatable.
- Hooves, horns, teeth, hair, feces, and roadkill do NOT constitute “meat by-product.” These elements are not included in high quality pet food.
- If you are against animal by-products, than you should probably avoid Fido’s favorite raw hide, pig ears or bully stick, as these items are by definition by-products.
- Inclusion of these animal materials also reduces waste by allowing the entire animal to be used for the nutrition of humans and pets.
I know many people out there have been eagerly awaiting the second popular myth of veterinary nutrition today. So without further adieu:
Myth 2: Grain-free is the way to be.
- Many grain-containing diets are comparable in nutritional profiles to grain-free diets. Many grain-free formulations use tapioca, pea, or potato in place of corn meal or oats. However, potato and tapioca often contain less protein and more sugars than grains themselves, such as corn meal.
- Grains are an uncommon source of food allergies- see above under the corn myth for more information.
- Diets that contain grains do not automatically lead to obesity; any diet if fed improperly can contribute to obesity. Many grain-free diets are also calorie dense, and as a result can contribute to weight management issues.
- Low carbohydrate diets have not been proven to be of benefit in diabetic dogs, nor have they been proven to cause diabetes mellitus in dogs.
- It is important to focus on the overall dietary quality and the overall nutrient profile versus concentrating on an individual ingredient. Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess the nutritional profile due to current minimum label requirements. (Which is why your veterinarian may be your best resource on choosing a diet!)
Overall, grain-free may be the right choice for your pet if your dog has an intolerance to grains or a need for a low carbohydrate diet. But remember, that grain-free diets do not necessarily offer health benefits over grain-containing diets.
- A “filler” is an ingredient that does not have any nutritional value or benefit.
- Corn (and other grains) contributes protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and when properly prepared, is a highly digestible (>97%) carbohydrate source.
- People have attributed food allergies to corn. Documented food allergies are quite rare (~1% of all all skin disease), When they do occur, most are caused by animal-based protein ingredients, such as beef, dairy, or chicken rather than by plant-based ingredients.