Why I can say a raw diet is not dangerous for dogs
I have just come across the response of a Victoria veterinarian, Dr. Chris Collis, in regards to the article “This raw deal is a good one” from the Dec. 10 Times Colonist and I feel obligated to respond.
I too am a veterinarian, with 24 years of clinical experience. In the early days of my practice, I also believed what I was taught by processed pet food companies that their food was the best.
However, as years progressed, I observed an alarming trend where feeding processed food and even special diets was not enough to keep my patients healthy. I continued to see a rising number of patients suffering from allergies, obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis and a variety of organ dysfunctions and cancer. The paradox was, that even though I knew that eating processed food is not good for people, I somehow blindly believed what I was told - kibble was the best.
In the mid 90’s, I started to see a few of my clients switching their pets to raw or cooked natural diets. At first, I was concerned, but when I started to see some dramatic recoveries and general improvement in most, I started to question commercial diet companies and their intentions.
After 15 years, I have no doubt that pets eating wholesome food live longer, look younger, move better and need to see a vet less frequently. In fact, my own cat Mina has been on raw food since she was eight years old and is now 21. My dog Skai, who turned 10 in August 2011, has never been on processed food and is doing very well. I have enclosed a brief video of him and his sister, who is also fed raw. It was shot a few months after his 10th birthday.
It is not my intention to get into a lengthy debate about who is right or wrong because diversity of opinions is a good thing.
However, I cannot agree that commercial diets are the safest because we all know about the hundreds of cats and dogs that were irreversibly damaged or died from the effects of tainted commercial pet food.
It is true that the quality of any pet food is important and that it may vary depending on the knowledge, skills and integrity of the manufacturer. However, unlike processed kibble manufacturers who, as my colleague mentioned, use second-grade ingredients, raw food companies frequently use first-grade, human-quality, non-medicated meat and organic vegetables in their products.
I completely agree that it is important to feed a balanced diet to our dogs and cats and ideally it should be us veterinarians who help pet guardians to do so. Strangely, we appear to have abandoned our common sense of what healthy food is and blindly follow the pet food companies, while some of our clients know better.
According to the statistics of recent years, veterinary visits and processed pet food sales are in decline, despite the rising number of dogs and cats. It is possible that the pets of people who have embraced the feeding of wholesome fresh diets are healthier. And that some people may be afraid to see their vets and tell them they feed raw.
When it comes to bacteria, I have not seen one single client who reported salmonelosis when feeding raw meat. I have also come to accept that dogs and cats are naturally resistant to intestinal pathogens and that they are not humans. Cats often eat mice that are frequent carriers of salmonella and other bacteriae without any ill effect and let's be real, dogs sniff and eat worse things than a piece of raw meat.
With respect and gratitude,
Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM, North Vancouver, BC
Re: “This raw deal is a good one,” Dec. 10 by Dr. Chris Collis, DVM
I have been a veterinarian for 22 years. The article on the pet food venture has me profoundly concerned. I’m a big advocate of small business, but the raw pet food business is fraught with substantial risk.
The article neglected the dangers associated with feeding raw meat to our pets. A nutritionally balanced, consistent quality and biologically safe food requires an understanding of biology, nutrition, biochemistry, disease and quality control. There is no routine standard testing of pet food by government agencies.
All pet foods are made from the discarded waste of the human food industry, including those contaminated with salmonella, e.coli and campylobacter. Commercial diet “cooking” destroys the infectious diseases and additional testing ensures the freedom of foreign material, mould and chemical toxins.
An ill pet fed a raw diet entering our hospitals would be handled as a potentially infectious communicable disease risk and a quarantine protocol would likely be instituted for the protection of our staff.
The use of commercial diets are the safest, most complete and balanced way to feed 99 per cent of our pets. I wait in anticipation to see the end of this fad and can only hope that the catalyst for its inevitable demise is not the death of a toddler from a raw food feeding pet owner who thought they were doing the right thing.
Who would want this type of risk on their conscience?
Chris Collis B.Sc.(Agr.), DVM
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM