My Response to the Global News Anti-Raw Dog Food Article
In January, 2018, many news outlets picked up a story that researchers from Utrecht University had concluded that raw meat diets could contain bacteria and parasites.
Fear mongering articles such as these offer an uninformed and heavily biased view of fresh, species appropriate diets for dogs.
What follows is my response to the author of a Global News article that ran with the headline: " Don't feed your pet raw meat - it is dangerous for both pets and humans experts warn"...
Dear Global News,
Articles such as yours are valuable for the discussion they create, and this will hopefully lead more pet owners to realize that a processed diet of kibble is not the best choice of food for pets.
In the interest of balanced reporting, there are some points in your article that need to be clarified.
True, a very small percentage of raw meat intended for both human and pet consumption is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria such as salmonella, E-coli and Listeria. Frequently we hear about food recalls due to bacteria, and are regularly cautioned to cook meats well and wash our produce thoroughly before eating them.
Humans are at risk for this type of contamination; most dogs are not. A healthy dog’s digestive system is very well equipped to handle pathogenic bacteria, without becoming ill.
The risk of coming into contact with bacteria is the same whether we handle raw meat to be fed to dogs, or cooked for our dinner. Proper food hygiene, hand washing and washing of bowls, utensils, surfaces and counters are required in all cases. This is true of home cooked diets, raw meat diets and kibble diets. Kibble can be contaminated with salmonella, and is at risk for contamination by mycotoxins.
Correct meat freezing protocol eliminates parasites in most cases.
The notion that feeding a raw, species appropriate diet to our pets is somehow trendy is far off the mark. Kibble only became popular in the 1960s thanks to a very successful ad campaign by the Pet Food Institute which convinced pet owners that kibble was the best choice of food for their pets. Prior to this, dogs and cats managed to survive and thrive for hundreds of years eating prey, raw meat and table scraps from humans.
As pet owners we cannot ignore the relationship between our pets’ highly processed diets and the staggering numbers of pet obesity, diabetes, auto-immune diseases, chronic disease, allergies, and cancer.
Your article references the 2013 Vet Med Today study that says some raw diets are at risk for nutritional imbalances and may be deficient in Vitamins A and E, and too high in Vitamin D, according to AAFCO recommendations. Some human diets are deficient in a number of minerals and vitamins. Does that mean we should all eat a processed nugget of junk loaded with synthetic vitamins and minerals? Of course not. Should we educate ourselves and evaluate our pet’s diet and our own, and make adjustments where needed? You bet.
People and their pets benefit from a diet of unprocessed, fresh whole food. Dogs and cats are the only species on the planet that are told to eat more processed food, not less.
Food matters. The idea that a dog should eat, for his entire life, a processed nugget of food that has been cooked at high temperatures several times over, loaded with synthetic vitamins and minerals, salt, sugar and other preservatives, extruded into a pellet, and then bagged where it can remain “fresh” for years, is unfathomable.
The 2016 documentary, Pet Fooled, does a great job of explaining the problems with kibble and also touches on the health benefits of feeding our pets a fresh, species appropriate diet.