Dr. Elliott: The Raw Food Dilemma

Raw food diets comprise enough nutrition to benefit pets, but be careful which ones you choose.

Advocates of raw food dog diets prescribe that raw food diets are the natural and healthiest way to feed pets. In the wild, wolves eat raw food, so why not your pet. We all know that domestic pets are the descendents of wolves.

Real raw food diets comprise enough natural nutrition to benefit pets. So, why all the attacks and why is FDA looking at raw food diets as a problem. It boils down to various factors:

  • Salmonella - this bacteria has caused many health problems and can be found in raw food diets. Children that touch a bowl that contained raw food may contract the Salmonella bacteria. The likelihood is remote but it is not 100% guaranteed that they won’t. In fact, I do not know of any instance of this happening. Dogs have a very fast and small digestion system, so the likelihood of a Salmonella problem in a dog is again
    remote.

  • Food Process - a true raw food diet consists of fresh meat with fresh fruits and vegetables which are frozen and shipped via freezer trucks.

    There may be some companies mixing restaurant rejects (damaged or rotten) not fit for human consumption, then adding synthetic vitamins. Raw food that was kept at room temperature or hotter, frozen - thawed and re-frozen can cause higher levels of micro-organisms.

What is the government looking to do with raw food diets?

Pasteurization is a process of heating a food to a specific temperature (over 180 degrees) for a definite length of time and then cooling it immediately. Pasteurization is not intended to destroy all pathogenic micro-organisms in the food. Instead, pasteurization aims to reduce the number of viable pathogens so they are unlikely to cause disease. However, terms such as lightly pasteurized now found on some dog food labels is just marketing (Lightly pasteurized means heating food to under 180 degrees which will usually not destroy the micro-organisms). Water soluble vitamins, enzymes, probiotics, and some amino acids will also be destroyed.

Irradiated Food - gamma radiation is a process whereby the food is exposed to high levels of radiation in order to kill insects, bacteria and mold. However, studies have shown that irradiating microorganisms like E. coli and Salmonella may give rise to even more dangerous, radiation-resistant strains of bacteria.

From a nutritional aspect, irradiation of food destroys essential vitamins and minerals, including: vitamin A, thiamine, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, C, E, and K. Amino acid and essential polyunsaturated fatty acid content may also be affected. A 20 - 80% loss of any of these is not uncommon. This process also kills friendly bacteria and enzymes, effectively rendering the food "dead". In the words of Donald R. Louria, Ph.D., Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, "The supporters of food irradiation treat the potential damage to the nutrient value of food as if it were unimportant or nonexistent."

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What is a dog owner to do?

This is a confusing problem. Why spend extra money on a pasteurized product or irradiated product claiming to be a raw food diet or close to a raw food diet?

In conclusion:

Raw food diets are excellent diets, however; in these fast paced times, economics of cost and time to prepare a raw food diet may not be what you desire. A radiated food or one pasteurized often uses synthetic vitamins and other secondary nutrients to replace the lost originals which your dogs system may not utilize correctly. You may like to read about Great Life dog and cat foods. Their unique process of saturating kibble with a freeze dried nutrition diet is quite extraordinary. Your pet will receive full active nutrition in an easy to serve kibble without the cost.

If you have any additional questions, please email me at pethealer@gmail.com .

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