Pet nutrition has been a hot topic for the last decade, as consumers become more aware of what commercial products are made of, and more savvy to slick advertising as opposed to sound nutritional information.
‘Holistic,’ ‘grain free,’ and ‘natural’ are some of the buzzwords being used now to make one product stand out from the rest, but now that everyone is using the same language, the message gets confused.
Dry pet food is the cornerstone of pet nutrition. Since its introduction in the 1860s, grain-based dry kibble with little or no meat have been sold as dog food. It wasn’t until the 1950s that some meat actually found its way into kibble, and not until the ‘70s that significant amounts of meat started to be used. After all, a dog was just a dog for most people, not a pet or valued family member.
But all along, there have been people that believed raw meat was the best food for your dog. Some used offal (lungs, livers, hearts), some used carcasses, and some, actual muscle meat.
And raw bones as well. These are, after all, what dogs evolved with as a diet. They, like us, were not meant to eat grains and other carbs. But the convenience of kibble won out for most dog owners.
Now, there is a groundswell of support for a return to raw diets. Holistic vets swear by them, show dog breeders rely on them to put their dogs in top shape. And ask any musher, they all use raw meat as the basis for their teams, and there are no dogs that have higher nutritional requirements than sled dogs.
Does your dog need raw food? If they have food allergies (many dogs have developed allergies to wheat, soy and corn proteins that were the basis for kibble foods for a century), digestive problems, or other health issues, then raw diets can help them a lot. Raw is easier to digest and has more nutritional punch.
Some people are concerned about feeding raw, but dogs aren’t. No wild dog ever owned a stove, and they ate every bit of any animal found or killed. The only concern about raw is not for the animal, but the people in its life. Raw meats can harbour salmonella, and improperly handled, there is a risk to us. So, when using a raw diet, make sure to use standard raw meat handling protocols, and be extra careful around young children and people with suppressed immune systems.
Is it worth the extra cost, bother and risks? You bet! And as more people start using it, it is becoming cheaper, easier and more convenient. Worth checking into, for sure.
Jeff McFarlane of Aardvark Pets in St. Vital has served the pet community for 40 years. Contact Jeff with yoru questions or ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.aardvarkpets.com.