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A Discussion on Raw: Taking Your Pet's Health into Your Own Hands

Saturday, November 29, 2008 by: Phoebe Kerr
Tags: pet food, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) For many, the discussion of feeding your pet a raw food diet can be a scary thing. There is so much work and knowledge that is involved, not to mention all the health factors to take into consideration for both you and your pet. Or at least this is what your vet and mainstream media may lead you to believe. If it doesn't come in a bag with feeding instructions on the back then can it really be trusted? There may be feeding instructions but there is also generally a list a mile long of ingredients and without a PhD in Veterinary Nutrition you would be lucky to know the purpose of half of those ingredients.

With the veterinary field booming because of illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid disease, obesity, dental disease and a slew of other issues it is time for people to take their pets health back into their own hands. Veterinarians are just like doctors, they make money by keeping their patients sick. Whether or not they are doing this intentionally is a different story, but they are keeping their patients sick. If you ask a vet what pet food they would recommend after they tell you your pet has three teeth that need to be removed due to dental disease, they would generally recommend a kibble or wet food that they also sell at their clinic. If your pet is obese they tell you to cut calories. Who can sit there and watch their poor animal, their responsibility, pout and beg for food because they are hungry? There are some enlightened veterinarians and technicians out there but for the most part they repeat what the pet food reps told them.

Raw food diets are a way to get your pet back to a simpler way of eating. Dogs are omnivores, cats are obligate carnivores and they require species specific food. Dogs benefit from a diet of predominantly raw meats. They do not need grains in their diet. Vegetable nutrients are best absorbed through pulverized vegetables, which can be achieved by using a high-speed blender to make them vegetable juice, consisting mostly of fresh greens, or giving them tripe. Dogs do not have the required teeth for grinding plant material making it difficult for them to get the nutrients and enzymes out of whole vegetables and greens. Cats need meat; their little systems are designed to eat meat. Their teeth are designed for slicing through meat and breaking small bones. Cats do not have any flat teeth for grinding herbaceous material.

One of the major areas of concern when giving your pet raw meat is parasites, bacteria and salmonella. If you are conscious of the type of meat you are buying, parasites should not be a problem. Make sure that you are purchasing meats from a reputable source and if you can afford organic grass fed that is an even better choice. Not everyone that wants to feed raw can afford the cost of organic however, so when you are milling through the meat aisle trying to find meat for your dog, make sure to look at the nutrition labels. The reason is because it is very important to take notice of the salt content. Salt water is pumped into some meat as a preservative. High sodium levels are indicative of meat that has been packaged with preservation being the main concern. Another thing to remember if you are unable to feed organic is a lot of meat companies use radiation to preserve their meat. If you can find a local farmer or raw food co-op that would be your best bet. Even if they aren't getting organic product you are going to be getting a higher quality of meat, especially if you know the farmer. There are also a lot of internet sites that meat can be ordered from, although this option can become very expensive unless you are doing bulk orders. Salmonella and bacteria are more of a concern for yourself then for your pet. A dog's digestive system is much shorter than that of humans and also becomes very acidic when food is introduced to it. The stomach acid kills off any bacteria that may be present on the meat. Dogs should not be fed pork or fish products to prevent parasite exposure. When preparing your pets food make sure you clean up your area and clean any other service the raw meat touches. This may sound like a lot of work but it really isn't.

Another concern for many people is stomach or intestine perforation. This is a valid concern but the chances aren't any higher than your pet choking on food (whether it be junk kibble, super premium kibble, home prepared food or a raw food). Everyone that has a dog or cat has heard at one point or another "chicken bones are dangerous." Well this is true when you are referring to cooked chicken bones. Cooked chicken bones are brittle and rigid making the chance of breakage higher if consumed by your pet. When cooked chicken bones break they can form sharp ends that have the potential to puncture a pet's intestinal wall. This is not to say that just cooked chicken bones are dangerous, any cooked bone is dangerous for your pet, even the smoked bones they sell at the pet store for chewing purposes. Raw bones are a completely different story. There is that chance of perforation, but it is a much smaller chance. Dogs systems are designed to process these bones. Softer bones are best for consumption but a lot of people also feed recreational bones, such as marrow (soup) bones, to keep their pet busy or to promote dental hygiene.

This is a very broad topic with many different points to cover. Raw food has many benefits for your pet. The same holds true for pets as it does for people, "you are what you eat." Pets just have different requirements. By giving your pet a chicken wing or leg a day you will help promote a healthy lifestyle, more energy, healthy coat, pristine teeth and smaller bowel movements just to name a few. There is also the potential to turn your pet's health issues around by putting them on a more natural diet. They are not little people and do not benefit from grains, legumes, beet pulp (watch out this is probably GM now), sugars, or any of the chemical preservatives that can be found in a generic bag of chow. If you wouldn't eat it yourself, why would you feed it to your pets?

About the author

Phoebe Kerr is a mom, and a writer and researcher in her spare time. Nap time is when she reads and does the homework on whatever class she is taking that month. A majority of her researching pertains to her life experience at that given time. Her extensive knowledge and resources range from animal nutrition to alternative healing modalities such as homeopathy and herbalism to alternative child rearing.
Phoebe has always been drawn to the natural world. Growing up in a rural town in Vermont gave her a deep seated love and respect for nature and the natural world. She attended university for Biology but in 2005 after starting her graduate studies in Agriculture had a large upheaval and her life took a different path. Her father-in-law was diagnosed with ALS resulting in the relocation of her and her partner to be close to his family. That was when her passion for healing the body was ignited. Since that time, her father-in-law has passed, but her desire for knowledge and helping others through education or hands on healing of loved ones had just begun to unfold.

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