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Old April 29th, 2007, 07:58 PM
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SuperWanda SuperWanda is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Winnipeg, Canada
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There was an article in our Winnipeg Free Press on Saturday about this very topic. I will cut and paste it:

Raw rah, or boo?
Two city veterinarians go paw-to-paw over the benefits and risks of a raw food pet diet.
By Cheryl Binning
THE recent scare over tainted pet food has caused some concerned pet owners to search out alternatives to commercial dog and cat food. One of the more popular -- and controversial -- pet diets involves raw meats.
Uncooked meat is typically purchased from specialty pet food stores that sell whole carcasses that have been ground up into tiny bits and frozen in buckets or sold as patties. Pet owners may also buy meat directly from butchers and other meat suppliers. Proponents of this diet say raw meat contains many natural vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are removed during the cooking process and that dogs and cats fed uncooked meat have shinier coats, better teeth and overall improved health.
But the majority of the veterinarian community has not supported the raw food trend. Many veterinarians say scientific evidence has not proven any health benefits from this diet, and they express concern over the safety of handling and feeding raw meat.
Before making any changes to your pet's diet, it is a good idea to get all the facts. So I asked two veterinarians, one who recommends raw food diets and one who doesn't, to weigh in on the debate. Their discussion may help you make an informed choice.
Benefits of a raw food diet, by Dr. Lea Stogdale, Aesops Veterinary Care:
Raw food can be an excellent choice for your dog or cat. After all, these pets developed by eating raw animals, and their digestion has not changed. Their temperament, size and colour have been altered by selection, but their physiology has not been altered by domestication. The closest our city pets can come to their natural food is a balanced and complete raw food diet.
To do this safely for yourself and your pet, the meat must be handled in the same careful, safe manner that you handle meat for your own consumption. The meat should be human-grade quality, thawed in the refrigerator, and eaten by the pet within half an hour of being put in the dish. This keeps the food safe from developing significant E. coli and salmonella levels (the stomach acid of cats and dogs kills most bacteria).
If the raw food is handled safely, and the diet is complete and balanced, there is no reason why an animal would become sick. Thus far, there have been no reports of human illness as a result of feeding raw food to pets.
The raw meat needs to have some ground-up vegetables added, as well as some supplements. These include calcium citrate and a multivitamin-mineral mixture. The actual recipe and supplements will vary with the individual dog or cat, depending on age, activity level, body condition and any medical problems and should be discussed with your veterinarian.
Pets that particularly benefit from a raw diet include those with poor coats, who lack energy or have allergies (scratching or recurrent ear infections), are underweight or obese, and those with chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea, constipation, cancer, heart or kidney disease.
Risks of a raw food diet, by Dr. Ron Worb, Anderson Animal Hospital:
The vast majority of veterinarians do not feel comfortable recommending a raw meat diet for pets. This is in accordance with the position taken jointly by both the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Their November 2006 position paper states: "There is evidence of potential health risks, for pets fed raw meat-based diets, and for humans in contact with such pets." (See www.canadianveterinarians.net).
Unfortunately, although there are anecdotal claims, there is little scientific evidence to support the safety or effectiveness of these diets. There are now multiple peer-reviewed studies documenting potential risks for both pets and people from pets eating raw foods. Bacterial pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli are present in both raw meat and in the pet's stool. The bacteria are a source of potentially significant infection to people and to pets. There is a higher risk of human infections if pets on these raw meat diets are in contact with people who have compromised immune function, including very young children.
Pets eating raw bones are at higher risk for developing intestinal blockage or punctures, constipation and fractured teeth that may require major surgery. Veterinarians and pet owners are not able to guarantee they are feeding a complete and balanced diet without a very specific nutrient analysis performed by a nutritionist. Independent analysis of some commercial brands of raw meat diets has been performed. These diets did not live up to the pet food companies' own nutritional claims. In some of these cases, the calcium and phosphorous levels have been too high and the protein levels lower than the label stated. These imbalances can cause serious health problems. With the present data available, it is clear the risks of feeding raw meat greatly outweighs any perceived benefits.
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