We all want the best for our furry friends, which is why when it comes to food, we want to find the most sustainable and nutritious option. Raw foodism, or the practice of consuming uncooked ingredients, has been buzzing around for the last few decades. However, recently, Raw foodism or rawism has become an ongoing topic that’s peaked many pet owners’ interests. Should you or should you not feed your pets uncooked food? There have been numerous research and academic papers pointing to the fact that raw foods, but more specifically raw meat-based diets (RMBD), can be less than ideal to incorporate in some of your domestic animals’ meal plan for various reasons. But first, let’s identify the reasons why people have been considering RMBD in the first place.
Raw is more nutritious than cooked:
We’ve all heard through the grapevine that nutrients are lost when our food undergoes some chemical transformation through heat. The part that contains the most vitamins are under vegetable and fruit skin, which is often peeled away way for preparation. It’s not out of the ordinary to associate that the best way to optimize our nutritional intake is to take foods in their purest, or in this case, rawest form. Although this can be true about vegetables, raw meats do not increase nutritional value for your canine or feline friends. In fact, there is a reverse effect.
The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), which describes RMBD as “uncooked ingredients that are derived from domesticated or wild-caught animal species” in the cases of “home-prepared”, “commercially prepared” or “commercially available using high-pressure pasteurization”, have stated that young animals can experience nutritional deficiency when fed raw meat. In another study by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), research shows that raw meats may also have double the recommended amount of vitamins, which can ultimately be harmful to your pet’s diet.
Natural is better than Processed:
It’s also a common understanding that our adorable domesticized creatures, specifically dogs, are descendants of the more carnivorous and wild wolves. However, today’s dogs and wolves have great genetic distance of over 10,000, which means that the physiology of both animals are different enough to warrant different diets. Having said this, what we perceive as natural may not be natural at all. A few thousand years ago, canines could chow down on raw meat but years of genetic mutation has changed the lining of dogs’ stomach, which make them naturally omnivores. This can be said the same about humans when comparing ourselves to our own predecessors. Although it is true that we consumed raw flesh before discovering fire, our stomachs, as much as dogs, have evolved. We no longer have the correct bacteria to digest uncooked meats, but have been equipped to break down more starchy or processed foods
The Risk in Raw Meats:
The AVMA, CVMA, and the Delta Society Pet Partner Program have strongly discouraged the inclusion of raw and undercooked meat in dog and cat diets. There is little to no regulation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to ensure that raw meats are upheld to any specific standard for non-human consumption. As a result, uncooked meats are possibly festered with pathogens, including salmonella, escherichia, e. Coli, and campylobacter, which can make both your pet and yourself extremely ill. Parasites like tapeworms and toxoplasma can be found inside of your cat and dog. When an animal has been affected or have become ill, there is a great risk of spreading illness among those within the same vicinity of the affected pet, including humans and animals. Pathogens can transmit when both animals and humans come in contact with the affected pet through the animal’s saliva, blood, urine, mucus, and feces. Most infections occur during oral-fecal routines, but there is a risk of getting ill through petting, and being bitten or scratched by the affected pet.
At the end of the day, before we take the extra mile in caring for our pets we should consult with an expert before going forward. The CVMA has recommended that owners and vets should speak with a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to help figure out what is appropriate for your pet’s diet. In some incidents when your pet is prescribed home-prepared diets, it is highly recommended to speak with a nutritionist to ensure that meals are meeting appropriate nutritional standards, and whether the prepared ingredients are safe to consume.