Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?
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    Member musapan's Avatar
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    Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    For starters, I have already used all of the above links in the stickies, and while they were very helpful, some of them had conflicting information, and they didn't answer some of the specific questions I had.

    I want to switch my dog's food. He's currently on Blue Buffalo, which I've been a long-time fan of, but more recently I've learned that the quality of the food has gone down. I'm interested in starting him on a raw diet, but like I've mentioned, I'm getting a lot of conflicting information. And now that I just got off the phone with my vet, who horrified me telling me that she 'does not recommend a raw diet, because they can have harmful bacteria in them, (which, I told her I planned on buying him the best, human-grade food available, which didn't seem to change her opinion,) and can be extremely high in salt, (and in the same breath recommending I switch to Science Diet, *shudder*) I'm more confused than ever.

    It was my understanding that dogs NEED the raw food to stay healthy, for higher brain functions and immune system function and such, and to cook the food would actually be more harmful to them than the raw food. My vet just told me the opposite, that I should cook the food first, to kill all the bacteria. So now, I pretty much have no idea where to start, or what to believe.

    My specific questions are:

    Even if I buy the best raw food available, is my dog still at risk?
    Can I feed my dog BOTH kibble and raw food? If so, how?
    What brand of raw food can I trust? (I'm looking at Primal, currently)
    Are there benefits to feeding RAW raw food, like organs, fur and bones, versus BARF?

    If you guys could help me out with this confusing subject, I would be very grateful. :3

    Edit: I forgot to mention, Rex just came home from the vet after being diagnosed with Pancreatitis. He's home now, still with a swollen pancreas, but healing with medication. Is raw food a good decision for this new development?
    Last edited by musapan; 04-02-2012 at 02:26 PM.

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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    I don't know anything about pancreatitis, but he will need special care with his diet. There's probably a Yahoo group for that and you could get a lot of good info there. Anything I say will be about raw feeding in general, not for dogs with special needs.

    Yes, raw meat can have harmful bacteria. Salmonella, e. coli, etc. Most of the time dogs and cats can handle the bacteria without getting sick. Kibble is also frequently infected with these bacteria as well. Is there a risk? Yes. But there is a risk no matter what you feed your pet (how many pet food recalls have there been?). You just have to decide which risk you prefer. Proper handling can prevent a lot of issues.

    Prey model vs BARF can be debated forever. You have to find a feeding method that works for you can your dog, it doesn't mean one is "better" than the other, if balanced properly.

    If you cook the food you'll lose a lot of nutrients and will have to supplement. It's more complicated than a raw diet. You can sear the outside of the meat, leaving the bones and inner meat raw (since these bacteria are generally found on the outside of the meat) if it makes you feel better.

    Some of the commercial raw foods have been treated with high pressure to kill bacteria, and are guaranteed free of pathogens. I know there are 3 brands treated this way but I can't remember which ones, LOL. Nature's Variety is one but the other 2 escape me at the moment. Primal might be one of them--it sounds familiar.

    Salt. . .yes, a lot of human-grade meats are "enhanced" with salt broth. You can find unenhanced meats if you look, though. There is some debate as to whether that amount of sodium is harmful or not.

    You can feed kibble with raw. Some people say that they digest at different rates and you should space out the meals so that raw and kibble aren't both in the stomach at the same time. Other people feed both together in the same meal with no problem. Up to you and your dogs' tummies.

    Some vets are against raw feeding. But then you have to wonder how seriously to take them if they push Science Diet. Someone on my cat forum got a consult with a veterinary nutritionist and is thrilled with the info she learned. Could be an option if you want to be sure you're doing it right.

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    Senior Member Sibe's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Dogs can handle the bacteria. Their Gi tract naturally has salmonella in it. Kibble is recalled for salmonella and other nasty stuff all the time. I have never heard of a dog getting sick from bacteria in raw. People are much more susceptible so always practice safe meat handling. Wash your hands, all surfaces that the meat is near, and if your dogs get gooey then wipe their legs/faces too. I know a couple people who are immune-compromised but have never gotten sick from handling raw. The risk is very low as long as you are smart about it.

    You can feed both kibble and raw. Many raw feeders will say not to because why feed raw at all if you're continuing to give things they don't need and they may even be harmful like cooked meat, carbs, veggies, and fruits? There are also claims they because they digest differently that it can cause tummy upsets. Most dogs can handle it just fine, however some can't. If you do choose to feed both, I wouldn't feed them in the same meal.

    Personally I think it's an incredible waste of money to feed a commercial raw diet. It often includes unnecessary things like veggies and fruit, is ground and formed into patties or nuggets, and some have proportions I strongly disagree with such as BARF patties being 50% bone. As I don't feed that type of raw I'm not much help there! I feed RAW raw as you called it, called prey model raw (PMR), which is 80% whole meat, 10% edible bone, and 10% organs. Check out these links for more info www.kaossiberians.com/rawfeeding.html and http://preymodelraw.com/how-to-get-started

    Personally I think there are benefits of PMR over premade/commercial raw. Eating edible bone (soft bones like in poultry and fish, not hard bones like cow bones) is great for their teeth. Also sinking their teeth into big chunks of meat helps keep them clean. I also do think that veggies, fruit, and carbs are not necessary. PMR provides all the nutrition they need and they are designed to eat animal, not plants. Another benefit of PMR is the impact on your bank account. My dogs both eat almost 1 lb of food per day, and my cats eat about 1/4 lb each per day so a total of almost 2.5 lbs per day. I could never afford to feed that much if I used premade (unless I'd won that megamillions maybe). I buy whole chickens or chicken parts for around $0.50-0.99/lb. Beef heart for $1.25/lb. Pork roast for $1.25/lb or cheaper when it goes on sale. Liver and kidney for $1.00/lb. You get the idea. I stay as close to $1/lb as possible but am still able to provide a lot of variety. Most premade raw diets are over $4/lb from what I've seen.

    As for salt content, you want to stay at or under 100mg per serving (4oz). A little over should be ok, but too much salt can cause issues. Some dogs are very sensitive to it.

    Raw is fine for dogs with Pancreatitis. You will want to feed less fat, so maybe skin the chickens and be careful how much pork you feed. Fat is still needed though.
    Pancreatitis, kidney disease, and other diseases claimed to be linked to raw feeding are in the same boat as bacterial septicemia. What generally happens is that a) there are underlying factors, b) there is an underlying disease, and c) the raw diet brings these to light. With pancreatitis, it is typically kibble-fed dogs that suffer from it when they receive a fatty meat they do not usually get. It is also incredibly important to note that fat does not cause pancreatitis; excess fat is simply a trigger for pancreatitis and may start the cascade of effects in the pancreas. If ingesting a fatty meal triggers a bout of pancreatitis, then that is indicative of some other underlying problem with the pancreas (again, ask "Why this dog? Why now?" Not every dog that eats raw meat or high quantities of fat "gets" pancreatitis, so something about that particular dog indicates "susceptibility"); the pancreatitis itself is a symptom that the pancreas (and possibly other organs) are not well, because a healthy dog with a healthy pancreas will not suffer from pancreatitis. Surprisingly, many dogs that previously suffered from these diseases while eating kibble have dramatically improved since switching to a raw diet. Just wander around the Yahoo! Rawfeeding group and you will hear some amazing testimonials. Just the fact that kibble-fed dogs can also suffer horrific and deadly bouts of pancreatitis should be sufficient to show that this is not a 'raw feeding' problem, particularly when dogs with pancreas problems can be greatly helped from a raw diet (since it is easier to digest and actually places less demand on the pancreas). Can pancreatitis or kidney disease happen in a raw-fed dog? Yes, they could. All things are possible, particularly when one has no control over the kind of start the dog received in life (breeding, what the parents were fed, what the pup was fed, what vaccinations and wormers it received, etc.).
    http://rawfed.com/myths/honest.html
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    Senior Member luv mi pets's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    I would not start feeding raw until your dog has recovered a little from his pancreatitic attack. Introducing raw right now could send your dog back to the vets. Wait a month or two and then introduce raw if you like. Raw diets do have higher bacteria counts in them. Practicing safe food handlings and feeding are the key. Your dog GI system can handle it but remember his salivia and feces will have a higher bacteria count than a dog fed a kibble. So you need to take this into account within your household. I would spend the month researching diets and if possible consulting a nutritionist due to the fact your dog already had a P attack. A nutritionist can make recommendations for a diet that would fit your dog. I believe a dog does benefit from being fed cooked veggies. Veggies are a good low fat filler for your dog. These can be fed now to your dog. A dog can be fed a vegetarian diet and live a healthy life, but a cat would starve to death on a vegetarian diet.
    I would try therapy but the couch was full!

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    Senior Member Sibe's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by luv mi pets View Post
    I would not start feeding raw until your dog has recovered a little from his pancreatitic attack. Introducing raw right now could send your dog back to the vets. Wait a month or two and then introduce raw if you like. Raw diets do have higher bacteria counts in them. Practicing safe food handlings and feeding are the key. Your dog GI system can handle it but remember his salivia and feces will have a higher bacteria count than a dog fed a kibble. So you need to take this into account within your household. I would spend the month researching diets and if possible consulting a nutritionist due to the fact your dog already had a P attack. A nutritionist can make recommendations for a diet that would fit your dog. I believe a dog does benefit from being fed cooked veggies. Veggies are a good low fat filler for your dog. These can be fed now to your dog. A dog can be fed a vegetarian diet and live a healthy life, but a cat would starve to death on a vegetarian diet.
    I strongly disagree with that. Plants are not species appropriate. One of my friends has two rotties. Their diet is at least 90% raw veggies. They get scrambled egg sometimes. One died at age 12. The other is covered in tumors and is also about 12 I think. Rarely a dog will do ok, I read an article a while back about a dog who was in its early 20s that had always been fed vegetarian. It at least got beans for some protein. There was also a dog into its 20s who was fed kibbles n bits its entire life. It's part genetic, part food. Again, plants are not species appropriate. Dogs do not have what it takes to break them down and get anything out of them, unless you take the time to cook and puree them. Even then, it's not as easy for the dogs to digest as meat is.
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    Senior Member lil_fuzzy's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by musapan View Post
    My specific questions are:

    Even if I buy the best raw food available, is my dog still at risk? There is an almost insignificant risk, there is always a risk of catching nasty diseases, whether you feed raw or not. There is a slightly higher risk of perforating the bowel on raw food vs processed food, but there are always risks in life.
    Can I feed my dog BOTH kibble and raw food? If so, how? You CAN, but I don't see why you would. They shouldn't be mixed together, as they are processed at different speeds. You'd have to feed raw one day and dry the next. But again, why would you?
    What brand of raw food can I trust? (I'm looking at Primal, currently) Dunno, I buy from the deli and butcher, not specific brand.
    Are there benefits to feeding RAW raw food, like organs, fur and bones, versus BARF? This depends who you ask. I've decided to go with the prey model, which is 80% muscle, 10% bones, 10% organs. No veggies (but mine get fruit and veggies as occasional snacks. BARF is quite high in veggies, and there are people who say dogs don't need veggies at all.
    Answers in bold.

    I recently switched over to raw, so I'm not expert or anything, but I've had issues with Obi being reactive, and since being on raw food he has behaved like a normal dog and barely even looks at people. Pixie's ear infection seems to be clearing up too. I haven't been medicating like I did last time, just cleaning it out and letting the raw food do its thing with her immune system.
    Last edited by lil_fuzzy; 04-03-2012 at 12:27 AM.

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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Hmm, a 12-year-old Rottie is ahead of the game--their average life expectancy is somewhere around 9. They aren't a long-lived breed in general. Although I definitely agree that dogs have a hard time digesting raw veggies, and should have meat protein as a majority of their diet. But some cooked veggies won't hurt.

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    Senior Member lil_fuzzy's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sibe View Post
    I strongly disagree with that. Plants are not species appropriate. One of my friends has two rotties. Their diet is at least 90% raw veggies. They get scrambled egg sometimes. One died at age 12. The other is covered in tumors and is also about 12 I think. Rarely a dog will do ok, I read an article a while back about a dog who was in its early 20s that had always been fed vegetarian. It at least got beans for some protein. There was also a dog into its 20s who was fed kibbles n bits its entire life. It's part genetic, part food. Again, plants are not species appropriate. Dogs do not have what it takes to break them down and get anything out of them, unless you take the time to cook and puree them. Even then, it's not as easy for the dogs to digest as meat is.
    12 is actually good for rotties, and the breed is prone to tumours anyway. I know several unrelated dogs that have died from the same type of cancer, and the others I know died from a different type of cancer at a much earlier age.

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    Senior Member Sibe's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by lil_fuzzy View Post
    12 is actually good for rotties, and the breed is prone to tumours anyway. I know several unrelated dogs that have died from the same type of cancer, and the others I know died from a different type of cancer at a much earlier age.
    Oh, my bad. I had thought 13-14. Thanks
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Thank you everyone for your great answers! I spoke with my personal vet today about raw food, and even got mixed answers from her. She agreed that raw food could be very good for a dog, but on the other hand, she let me know that the amount of salmonella found in the stool of dogs who eat a raw diet can be alarming, and while it doesn't always affect the dog, it can actually make us sick. She also agreed that there is a risk no matter WHAT I feed Rex, but she helped me figure out a balanced, low-fat diet without the need for raw.

    I guess I'm still on the fence about what to do, I'll continue to research and figure out what's best for this family... I could still use your guys opinions, though!

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    Senior Member marsha=whitie's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by musapan View Post
    Thank you everyone for your great answers! I spoke with my personal vet today about raw food, and even got mixed answers from her. She agreed that raw food could be very good for a dog, but on the other hand, she let me know that the amount of salmonella found in the stool of dogs who eat a raw diet can be alarming, and while it doesn't always affect the dog, it can actually make us sick. She also agreed that there is a risk no matter WHAT I feed Rex, but she helped me figure out a balanced, low-fat diet without the need for raw.

    I guess I'm still on the fence about what to do, I'll continue to research and figure out what's best for this family... I could still use your guys opinions, though!
    Does your dog poo in the house? that would be the only way that the bolded would matter, really.

    If you want to learn about raw, and talk to people who have gone through the same thing you're going through, I suggest that you join some raw specific groups (via yahoo, facebook, etc.) and ask questions. A species appropriate diet is best for any animal, but its your dog, your choice. Good luck with your pup.

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    Senior Member luv mi pets's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    The reason why I told the OP to wait for introduction to raw is the dog had been in the hospital and is recovering from an illness. Now is not the time to introduce a 10 year old dog to a complete diet change. I did not say raw veggies but cooked ones. The dog needs a low fat diet because her dog is still not out of the woods. So cooked veggies would be a great alternative for her to feed her dog. A raw diet is not always the 'Holy Grail' of what to feed a dog. Think about how many vets do not recommend one and if they do they suggest going raw it is with a nutritionist. Not meeting the dietary needs of a dog does not show up tomorrow but years down the road. Contary what has been stated on different threads on this forum, some vets do attend conferences that are not supported by food companies but by scientist and other vets who have conducted studies on nutrition. It is their passion and do studies on the impact of diets on a dog's life. Just last week a chihuahua was presented to the clinic because the owner was concerned about her dog's lower jaw. The dog was and had been on a raw food diet. X-rays were taken. Because the owner did not meet the dog's dietary needs the bones of the dog's lower jaw was comprised due to the lack of calcium/phos ratio in the dog's diet. The lower jaw bone was basically gone. On another thread a beagle had a chicken leg bone perferate it's esophagus. This can be a life threatening event and he is lucky his dog survived. The dog had been on a raw diet for years and had eaten many a chicken leg. But all it takes is the one time. In Reader's Digest an article titled '50 items your vet will not tell you' quotes two vets statements about raw diets. One said she knew of 2 people who died and 2 people who became seriously ill because of a dog's raw diet. Another one stated about bowel perforation being a big concern and not meeting the dog's nutritonal needs. I am not against raw diets totally. I just think that is not the "Holy Grail" and answers all the concerns of a dog's diet. Raw diets can have its downside too. You have to find a diet that not only is good for your pet but also works for your household.
    I would try therapy but the couch was full!

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    Senior Member luv mi pets's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by marsha=whitie View Post
    Does your dog poo in the house? that would be the only way that the bolded would matter, really.
    It is also in your dog's saliva Dogs on a raw diet have higher bacteria counts in their saliva and feces.
    I would try therapy but the couch was full!

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    Senior Member sassafras's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    No diet is always good or bad.

    My dog Squash has had a lot of problems with chronic intermittent soft stools since he was a puppy, have tried various strategies to deal with it and recently have been experimenting with feeding a mixture of about 50:50 of his calories from kibble and raw (I use the pre-formulated raw such as Primal and Nature's Variety) and it has been like night and day for him, he does great and his stools are consistently normal. I'm doing the same with my other dogs because they like the raw, but I feel like they both did just as well on all kibble as they do on the mixture. I know people who have dogs who do absolutely terrible on raw. And I do have some concerns about food safety (not for the dogs but people in the household, food handling type stuff). So anyway, yea. No diet is the devil and no diet is a cure-all.

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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    It is also in your dog's saliva Dogs on a raw diet have higher bacteria counts in their saliva and feces.
    I thought dog saliva contained lysozyme enzymes that can kill bacteria, also if a dog is fed raw bones and has less tartar build up on their teeth and gingivitis on their gums, wouldn't that create less bacteria in the mouth? I know my dogs had gingivitis when they were kibble fed, but since feeding raw bones, it seems their gum lines are no longer red or inflamed.

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    Senior Member luv mi pets's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by blues327 View Post
    I thought dog saliva contained lysozyme enzymes that can kill bacteria, also if a dog is fed raw bones and has less tartar build up on their teeth and gingivitis on their gums, wouldn't that create less bacteria in the mouth? I know my dogs had gingivitis when they were kibble fed, but since feeding raw bones, it seems their gum lines are no longer red or inflamed.
    No salmonellosis can be found in dog's saliva. http://www.vetmed.wisc.edu/pbs/zoono...almonella.html The delta society has forbidden any dog on a raw diet not to participate in therapy work due to the increased risks of zoonosis. http://www.deltasociety.org/Page.aspx?pid=638
    I would try therapy but the couch was full!

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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    I used to feed part time raw. The problem with this is digestion rates. Dogs have short digestive tracts (much shorter than humans). This is ideal for raw meats. The meat doesn't sit around and decay and become disgusting, it just gets pushed through, letting the body absorb the good stuff (vitamins, proteins, etc.) and excrete the bad stuff (salmonella if its present, waste products, etc.). When you feed both, the problem is that kibble takes MUCH longer to digest. It is highly processed and takes longer to break down. If you feed this, and then feed raw, the raw has to wait around for the kibble to digest. That's when you can run into problems like salmonella poisoning, stomach upset, etc. So while I did used to do this, I went to full time raw. Some people only feed kibble but offer their dogs raw meaty bones to help with dental cleaning and mental stimulation.

    There is more than one way to feed a dog.

    A lot of what I was going to say was already said by Sibe and Willowy.

    Here are your questions:

    Q: Even if I buy the best raw food available, is my dog still at risk?

    A: Yes. No matter WHAT you feed your dog, there is always risk. Diamond just did a recall for salmonella. To think that kibble is 100% safe is untrue. There is risk with anything. If you DO start raw, there is a right way to do it and many many wrong ways.

    Q: Can I feed my dog BOTH kibble and raw food? If so, how?

    A: I kind of already went over this. I do no recommend it even though I did it. But if you insist, its all about not feeding them within 12-24 hours of each other. Keep in mind, you could cause digestive upset by making the dog switch gears all the time. My dogs did ok with it but I did not feed raw all the time.

    Q:What brand of raw food can I trust? (I'm looking at Primal, currently)

    A: Premade raw diets are expensive and they are not always balanced. Some have bones, some do not. Even if they have bones (we are talking about those premade patties right?) They are ground giving your dog no dental benefit. Also, how boring (from the dog's point of view). Save money and offer your dog whole pieces of bone and meat. Chicken backs, beef heart, etc.

    Q:Are there benefits to feeding RAW raw food, like organs, fur and bones, versus BARF?

    A: The age old question. I guess it depends on who you ask. There is no formal research that points to one over the other. There SHOULD be darn it. But I myself like prey model diet. It follows the theory that a dog should eat the whole animal. Since that is not convenient, we offer parts to make up a whole animal as closely as we can. Barf feeders also offer veggies. This is a personal choice you have to make. Do your research. I like prey model because my dogs will NOT eat veggies and I find prey model easier.

    I started giving my dogs raw in 2007 when I met someone who used to be on this forum enlighten me. Now my dogs have been on full time raw for 2 1/2 months. I can tell you they have small poops and my haired dog has better coat quality. He is also more defined (less fat, I can see his tuck up now). All that in less than three months. He is 8 1/2 years old and since he has been getting RMB's, he has never needed a dental and I DO NOT brush his teeth. He is a small dog. Ever see a senior small dog with sparkling white teeth? Yeah. AmAzing.

    Good luck with whatever you do. If you need more help starting out, we raw feeders can help you out.

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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    You're right salmonella can be found in any dog (regardless of diet), but I do think lysozyme enzymes have been shown to kill some bacteria, obviously not all though, and possibly not salmonella.

    The delta society has forbidden any dog on a raw diet not to participate in therapy work due to the increased risks of zoonosis.
    The delta society based their decision in part because of a Canadian stool study done on therapy dogs co authored by Delta Society Medical Advisory Board member J. Scott Weese. While the study showed raw fed dogs came out with higher amounts of salmonella and e-coli in their stool, kibble fed dogs came out with higher amounts of Vanomycin-resistant enterococci, MRSA, and Clostridium difficile in their stool.

    I think any diet fed has risks, and bacteria like salmonella, e-coli, etc. is on lots of indoor and outdoor surfaces that we and our dogs (kibble or raw fed) can come in contact with on a daily basis.

    My older regular (non holistic vet) fully supports a properly balanced and fed raw diet, he is one of the extended care off base vets for the military dogs at our local base and mentioned that a lot of the military dogs were being switched to raw diets because they have seen improvement in overall health and performance from the dogs on raw.
    Last edited by blues327; 04-08-2012 at 11:07 AM.

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    Senior Member PackMomma's Avatar
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    Re: Raw Food Diet: Good or Bad?

    You have already been given a lot of great answers and information regarding raw so I feel no need to repeat anything but coming from an owner of two very different breeds of dogs, 6 years apart in age, who are approximately %60 premade/commercial raw fed (their commercial raw food contains WHOLE animal carcasses including blood, organs, bones, etc and a huge variety of proteins), 20% PMR fed (raw meaty bones, whole fish, raw eggs, bone in animal parts, boneless animal parts and organs that I buy from the grocery stores or butchers, etc), %10 BARF fed - they do get supplements added to their meat occasionally like tripe (which is considered RAW appropriate I believe?), raw frozen-thawed fruit n veggie mixes, goat yogurt, cheese for snacks, etc, and %10 kibble fed. Yeah - my dogs get a huge variety of food, and I like it that way..and so do they. Keeps things interesting for them and prevents them from getting too bored of eating the same stuff. I am slowly decreasing the amount of kibble they eat though and I only feed it when raw is not convenient. But I did want to comment that my dogs both do just fine with this, however I do strongly recommend giving a very minimum of 8 hrs between feeding raw and kibble if thats something you choose to do. Mine get 12 hrs minimum and they don't have any issues. My dogs both never see a vet, teeth are in great shape, and my older dogs teeth are even better now that he eats more meaty flesh and bones a few times a week. Poops are always great when eating raw, and noticably different when they are fed kibble, but healthwise they dont suffer too badly when they do get a small kibble meal once in a while.

    Anyways just wanted to give some of my experience being ..well, basically an everything-feeder lol. Good luck!

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