There is a new diet trend going in the animal world lately – the raw food diet. What started as a fad among vegans and vegetarians, is now quickly starting to change the diet of pets. Of course, if a case could be made for people eating raw food, it makes even more sense for animals.
“The raw food diet has changed my pet’s life” is becoming a common phrase among pet owners, with many reporting that their pets got healthier and happier since the switch. This isn’t surprising, considering that, as food manufacturers have explained, cooking food kills a lot of the vitamins and enzymes needed for the pets to have a healthy life. As a result of this, the demand, and therefore the production, of raw food is constantly growing.
On the other hand, a number of veterinarians and scientists oppose this diet, saying that raw food diets are not safe for pets. Primarily, they argue that “natural” and “healthy” are not necessarily synonymous. They explain that uncooked food lacks the nutrients that dogs and cats need, and exposes them to pathogens, such as salmonella and E.coli.
What is more, some veterinarians argue, being a carnivore does not imply eating cleaned, boneless chicken. An animal eats the whole thing – guts and bones, in order to get all the nutrients required. Cooked food has these nutrients, and is prepared based on exactly what vitamins and nutrients each animal is supposed to receive daily.
Of course, it is important to stress that contaminated food is not exclusive to raw food. There have been outbreaks of food poisoning with processed food, which is why some pet owners are switching to raw products. One does not expect processed and cooked food to be dangerous; but it has happened. What raw food advocates explain is that if the food is prepared and tested carefully, there should be no risks.
Raw food producers, such as Nature’s Variety and Stella and Chewy’s, take all the precautions to prevent having tainted food and eliminate the pathogens using high pressure processing. Additionally, they make sure that the food contains more than just animal parts, adding ground bones, organs and organic fruit and vegetables in some food varieties aimed at omnivore pets.
Surely, the picture is not just black and white.
Pets are not wild animals, and eating processed food ensures their longer life, as otherwise they would eat anything. Since the raw products are much more expensive, owners tend to produce their own food and, without proper testing, parasites and bacteria are more likely to make their pets sick.
All things considered, even though processed food is said to have all that they need, without their owners, pets are just animals. Animals cannot cook, so it is in their nature to eat raw food. What the owners have to do is make sure that raw food is properly tested before giving it to their precious pets.