Many pet parents, guardians and slaves that have switched their fur kids to a raw and real food diet have noticed the massive improvements that real food has made in their pet’s health. From their healthy skin and shiny coat, their dental health, and even improved allergies or yeast infection issues, you would think that veterinarians would be just as excited about this great diet. Yet, when many of these pet parents or guardians tell their vet about switching to a raw diet, they aren’t always met with support.
Don’t give up hope if your vet isn’t thrilled about raw fooding. Sometimes your vet just needs to be reassured that you have done your research and you are providing a safe and balanced diet. Show them that the meals you are feeding is registered with the Dept of Agriculture, complies with Act 36 of 1947 & AAFCO standard(s), that there are many integrated vets, such as Dr Anuska Viljoen, that produce their own offerings Simply Pets & Simply Natural. When talking to your vet about raw, let them voice their concerns and avoid getting defensive or hostile if they say something that you deem offensive. Try to understand where they are coming from. Develop a relationship with your vet and stay on top of your fur kids’ preventative care such as annual blood-work, and you will prove to your vet that you care about your fur kid’s well-being and strive to do what is best for him or her. If you feel your vet is treating you unfairly, find a different one that better suits you and your fur kids’ needs.
So why aren’t vets recommending raw diets more often, if raw has helped improve the health of so many pets? Below is a list of the top 5 topics cited during a recent poll done by The Raw Feeding Community:
- Liability – your vet may avoid recommending raw due to potential liability. If they recommended for you to feed your fur kids a raw diet and something went wrong – such as anything we discuss in this article – they fear they may be held liable for that. Unfortunately, even if they believe raw is a safe and effective diet, vets don’t always feel comfortable recommending it to every client.
- Lack of studies – the unfortunate fact of the matter is, there is a lack of peer-reviewed studies to actually prove that raw is safe and effective. Anecdotal evidence may be everywhere, but that just isn’t enough for many in the veterinary community. As raw diets gain popularity, there will surely be more studies done, and many are in the works. But in the meantime, most vets don’t feel like they can absolutely guarantee to their clients that raw diets are safe and effective. They want to be able to back up their recommendations with peer-reviewed clinical studies, see our article on this topic.
- Salmonella and e. coli risk – our new-age pathological fear. Studies have shown that dogs that eat raw diets may shed more salmonella in their stool than kibble fed dogs. Furthermore, many of the studies also show that dogs that eat treats such as dehydrated pig ears also may shed an increased amount of salmonella in their faeces, which means that this isn’t just limited to raw diets. However, this shouldn’t be a major concern unless you are NOT properly cleaning up after your dog and using proper food handling techniques. Do not allow your dog to eat raw meat on carpet if you follow the prey model; instead, make sure you provide them with an easy to clean area for them to eat their meals, such as a crate, a tiled floor, or outside. Otherwise, if you are following the minced BARF or Supplemented BARF diets, ensure you feed in stainless steel or glass bowls. After your dog eats, you should clean the surface that your dog ate off of, or hose down the area if it is outside. Take extra precaution to keep your environment clean if you have children, immunocompromised persons, or elderly persons living in your household and / or visiting your household frequently. Read about this fear and the typical objections that you will find in our article here, also read our tips on safe handling;
- Cracked teeth, blockages, or choking from raw meaty bones – raw meaty bones or “RMBs” can be safe to feed your dog (or cat, or ferret for that matter). But you still need to make sure you’re feeding the right kind of bones, and in the right amounts – or they can cause serious problems. Weight-bearing bones, like beef femurs, are more dense than a dog’s teeth, and can cause serious fractures that may require extensive dental procedures to fix and prevent infection. If your dog tries to gulp a bone too fast and swallow it whole, he might choke on it. To prevent this, you need to remember a common saying in the Raw Feeding Community: “know thy dog.” If you know your dog tries to eat fast, it might not be safe to give him whole raw meaty bones, or you might need to take precautions such as feeding RMBs that are bigger than your dog’s head or feeding the food partially or completely frozen, so that he is unable to swallow it whole. Watching your fur kids closely while they are consuming bones, regardless of if they are a “gulper” or not, is extremely important. Always supervise meals so that you can prevent freak accidents from occurring, and refrain from feeding bones that you feel like might not be a good fit for your fur kids (too small, too big, too easily swallowed, etc). Blockages can also occur if pets gulp pieces of bone that are too large to digest, or if they eat too many bones to digest all at once. It is very important to do your research and know how much bone you need to be feeding your particular dog based on age and size. Read our tips on the topic here.
- Unbalanced home-made diets – when some vets hear you say, “I just switched my dog to a raw diet,” their mind might jump to the last patient they saw whose owner switched to a raw diet… the patient who came in lethargic and half-dead, with serious nutritional deficiencies. Unfortunately, vets do see more raw diets done WRONG than they see raw diets done RIGHT. Sometimes they just need to be reassured that you have done your research on how to prepare a balanced diet if you D.I.Y., and that you aren’t just feeding chicken wings (or heads) and ground beef every day. Your vet isn’t just assuming you aren’t competent enough to prepare a home-made diet. Studies such as the one 1 from Cambridge have been done showing that not all pet parents and guardians are capable of following strict nutritional directions for an extended period of time, and this can cause health issues in the long run if pet parents starts cutting corners that cause the diet to become unbalanced. Maybe it’s time to consider our frozen raw super-licious pet cuisine, formulated to ensure nutritional completeness for your master and for your fur kids.
And if you have not switched your fur kids yet, checkout our posts Facebook posts here on Ten Top Tips for Those New to Raw or more about his master’s choices in food. Looking for a vet that does support real food, checkout our directory.
References and Research:
- 1.Oliveira MCC, Brunetto MA, da Silva FL, et al. Evaluation of the owner’s perception in the use of homemade diets for the nutritional management of dogs. J nutr sci. 2014. doi:10.1017/jns.2014.24