By Serena Gordon
Monday, June 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Pet-loving parents want nothing but the best fare for their furry friends, but with a dizzying array of options, it’s hard to know which pet diet is the best. Raw food has become very popular, but is it really better than commercial or homemade cooked food?
The owners are trying to find out. New research finds that only 13% of dog owners and about a third of cat owners feed their pets traditional pet foods as main meals all the time.
Nearly two-thirds of dogs and about half of cats have been given homemade meals at least some of the time. And sometimes more than two-thirds of dogs and more than half of the kitties get a raw meal.
The study author, Dr. Candidate at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
The study included surveys of more than 3,600 pet owners from countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Commercial pet diets have only been around for a few decades, and one of the reasons for the development of these products has been the growing interest in animal welfare. Pets have evolved to become part of the family and people want a more balanced diet with better nutrition,” Dodd explained.
She said the typical grocery store or pet store food is generally fine, but no single diet is better for your pets. “There is nothing wrong with feeding different food sources, provided you get confirmation that the diet meets the nutritional requirements.”
And diets must be safe.
Raw foods carry bacteria risks
Dodd said the biggest concern about a raw food diet is the potential for infection — both to pets and their human families.
Dodd said it’s important to consider the source of the foods. “Predators such as the gray wolf hunt the animals and then immediately devour them. [hunted] The animal roamed freely, and was not confined to a filthy yard. It doesn’t come from a feedlot, covered in feces, where there is potential for contamination that you wouldn’t see with wild animals. She explained that when processing to make a ground product, there is a greater potential for contamination.”
With commercially available foods or homemade cooked foods, heat treatment or cooking can kill bacteria. If you only feed raw food, bacteria may remain in the food.
“If you feed an animal a raw product, it touches the whiskers and the face. And when the animal defecates, it leaves traces. Even if you can’t see it, the contamination is probably present. Sometimes animals get sick from raw food, but even if they are not sick, It doesn’t mean they can’t infect people,” Dodd said.
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s raw food policy discourages pet owners from feeding their animals anything that has not been heat treated or pasteurized due to the risk of bacterial contamination.
Dodd noted that animal bones may also contain infectious bacteria. Bones can also cause major problems, including broken teeth, severe constipation and even a hole in the digestive tract (from a sharp piece of bone).
Grain-free diet concerns
Another potential concern for the diet stems from grain-free diets. Grain-free pet foods are high in peas, lentils, seeds of other legumes (legumes) and/or potatoes. In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration warned owners that pets who eat foods labeled grain-free appear to be at increased risk of a deadly heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
Although there is no conclusive evidence of a direct causal relationship between food and heart disease, veterinarian Dr. Camille Torres, of Colorado State University, said, “There was a very important association, and when the diet switched DCM markers. This issue really highlights the The complexity of food composition.
Can pets become vegetarians?
Pet owners who have given up animal products may want Fido and Fluffy to follow suit, but both Dodd and Torres said it can be difficult to meet a pet’s protein requirements without any animal products.
“A vegan diet is very challenging,” Torres said. “It’s really down to the bioavailability of nutrients. And vegan is more practical, because foods like cheese and eggs can provide the necessary nutrients.” She added that cats can’t really follow a vegan diet and get all the protein and nutrients they need. Torres noted that there is at least one vegan, vegetarian food available commercially for pets.
How about homemade?
Cooking homemade meals for your pet might be a way to express your love, but Dodd said that if you feed exclusively homemade foods, your pet’s diet may be missing out on essential nutrients.
“Home-made foods may be lacking in fiber or micro-minerals,” Dodd said. Homemade foods are usually not enough fat, although they can go the other way as well. Either way, it can cause problems. She explained that dogs, especially when they’re not used to eating a lot of fat, can develop pancreatitis from a sudden fat exacerbation — like giving a turkey skin to a pet at Thanksgiving.
Check with your vet
“The vet is a great place to start a conversation [on diet]. “What is important is the nutrients, and you have to think about getting what your pet needs in the safest and most sustainable way,” Torres said.
Dodd said pet parents often don’t speak with vets for fear of being judged for feeding their pets an unconventional diet. But she said the vet wants the same thing you do — a healthy, happy pet.
“You don’t always have to see eye to eye, but being able to have an open and honest dialogue with your vet goes a long way in keeping your pet healthy,” she said.
The results of the study were recently published in the British Medical Journal veterinarian record.