Paws for Thought | In the raw – exposing the pet diet myths

THE GREAT DEBATE: There is no scientific evidence to suggest that a raw-only diet is better for a dog or cat than a high quality commercially produced food.
THE GREAT DEBATE: There is no scientific evidence to suggest that a raw-only diet is better for a dog or cat than a high quality commercially produced food.

A lot has changed since dogs were domesticated from wolves 10,000 to 13,500 years ago and cats from the African wild cat approximately 8000 years ago.

Improvements in basic husbandry and diet have resulted in longer lifespans for cats and dogs. 

There is currently no scientific evidence available that raw food diets are superior or more nutritionally-balanced than processed diets.

If fact, from the available evidence, raw food diets are most likely to be nutritionally unbalanced, with either excessive amounts or deficits of vitamins and minerals, than the commercially-prepared products.

Also, raw food diets pose a much higher risk for contaminations with salmonella compared to commercially-prepared pet foods.

Not only can salmonella cause severe gastric upset in your companion animal, but poses a significant zoonotic risk (can be spread from animals to people).

Some dogs will carry and shed salmonella without displaying any clinical signs for around six weeks.

As with most things, you need to pay for quality.

The cheapest available commercially-prepared diets tend to have a higher salt and carbohydrate content.

This too can result in gastric upset in your companion pet. 

The better the quality of the commercially-prepared food, the less likely you are to see gastric upset and secondary problems such as obesity, bad teeth, bad breath and bad gas.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to pet food, feeding your pets a nutritionally-balanced and safe diet will help give them a chance to live a long and healthy life.

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DURING this hot time of year, you may notice your pet at the water dish much more frequently, but excessive water consumption can also be a sign your pet is unwell.

Water consumption of more than 80 to 100ml/kg/day in dogs and 60 to 80ml/kg/day in cats is considered excessive. 

This is referred to as polyuria (increased urination) and polydipsia (increased thirst), or PU/PD. 

A common underlying cause of increased thirst and urination in dogs is an imbalance in the levels of the hormone cortisol, known as hyperadrenocorticism (colloquially referred to as Cushing’s). 

Cushing’s disease increases cortisol levels in the body which results in the impaired ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine, increasing urination and thirst.  

As always, if you have questions regarding your pet’s diet, contact your local vet for advice.