This is designed for our clients who have already met with Dr. Katz, Dr. Ortiz or one of our staff members and discussed the appropriateness of raw diets for their pets. Because our office visits are usually long, Dr. Katz or Dr. Ortiz have ample time to get to know you, your pets, and your family. If we recommend feeding raw foods to your pets, it is because we have determined that the benefits to your pets are great, and the risks involved in feeding this diet are minimal to non-existent.
The emergence of raw diets has created a bit of controversy. Because raw diets are still considered an alternative and not mainstream, and because like anything else in this world, risks are involved, we are forced to state the following disclaimer:
Stuart Animal Hospital, its owner, assigns, heirs, and employees shall not have liability or responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in this packet. Now relax and read on!
For thousands of millenniums, our feline and canine companions have subsisted on diets of raw meats and human dinner scraps. James Spratt, an electrician from Ohio, developed dry dog food in 1860. Purina Corporation took over his company in 1957 and the rest is history. Since then, pet foods have grown in popularity, supplanting the more natural diets of our dogs and cats. In the past 20 years, however, we have seen a rise in raw food diet feeding strategies, often called BARF or biologically appropriate raw foods. Feeding these diets is relatively simple. Most pet owners typically notice the following improvements in the overall health and the quality of life in their companions:
glossy hair coat, cleaner ears, cleaner teeth and breath, reduction in dental disease, decreased itching, reduction in allergy symptoms, normalized energy levels, better body muscle to fat ratios, improved urinary tract health, increased resistance to infections, greater mobility with a decrease in arthritis pain, and little to no hairballs in cats.
Many clients have concerns when feeding raw meats to their pets. The biggest concern is food-borne illnesses such as Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli, and spread of these zoonotic pathogens to humans. (Zoonotic means a disease that can be transmitted from animals to people.) Some other concerns include choking on bones and perforations of the stomach or intestines from bones. When feeding a raw diet with bones, never cook it or microwave it. This will change the structure of the bone allowing it to harden and splinter when ingested. Cooked bones can cause damage to your pets' teeth, gums, esophagus, stomach and intestinal tract.
Feeding raw foods to sick or debilitated pets is another concern.
In our experience when feeding these diets to our patients, illness in dogs and cats resulting from ingesting raw meats potentially tainted with Salmonella and E. coli is not a concern. Dr. Katz has never seen a case of Salmonella in raw diet patients in 25 years of medical practice. The gastrointestinal tracts of our dogs and cats are designed for handling and digesting raw meats and raw bones. When raw meat is ingested, the stomach ph goes to a highly acidic pH of 1, making it very difficult for these organisms to survive. If they do survive, the amount of bacteria that reaches the colon usually does not cause any illnesses in them.
The second concern is the public health issue and the spread of Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli to humans. These are real concerns which make the feeding of raw foods an undertaking that should be handled prudently and only when the people in contact with the dog and cats are in good health. The main method of transmission of these pathogens is fecal-oral. In dogs and cats, this would occur through the removal of feces followed by inadvertent contact of the hands to the mouth. Since feces can carry many other harmful organisms, including worm eggs, larva, toxoplasma oocysts, and giardia, humans should always wash their hands thoroughly after cleaning litter boxes and picking up outside after their dogs. The Instinct line of frozen raw diets are pressure pasteurized to help decrease the threat of Salmonella and E. coli. For this reason we strongly recommend the feeding of Instinct RAW diets. They are the only RAW food company that is approved by AAFCO food trials. It is balanced and most dogs love it!!
Another concern is for the transmission of pathogens from the animal's saliva to the humans in contact with them. No one has thoroughly studied the survival time of zoonotic pathogens in the animals' mouths. Some speculate that factors like washout by saliva (dilution and swallowing) might serve to remove the pathogens within minutes. In any case, it is prudent to minimize your pets licking of humans, especially within the first hour after feeding raw food. We do not recommend feeding raw food in households with small children and with immunocompromised persons, (for example those with AIDs, receiving chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunosuppressive drugs, or general poor health.) To help minimize the bacteria in the mouth of dogs and cats we recommend applyinga small amount of mouth rinse like C.E.T. Oral Hygene Rinse or C.E.T. chews with an antibacterial.