Tuesday, April 8, 2008

RAW Diets

Then other day I was learning about food allergies on the web, at a site set up by some drug company. It's a good relationship, I get free continuing education, they try and sell me something. It works well when the company really tries to teach as well as sell. But, I made the mistake of typing "food allergy dog" into a search engine. It seems everybody thinks dog food is like feeding your dog poison. They all want to sell you something "organic" or "homemade" or my favorite "hypo-allergenic". Look up "hypo-allergenic" in the dictionary. You get a more specific definition for the word "thing". I don't know what any of those words mean on a bag of dog food.

One of the most violent reactions I get in the exam room is when someone wants to discuss raw diets with me. For those of you not familiar, raw diets are just what they sound like: uncooked meat. I wouldn't feed it to my dog, but I know people who feed this type of diet without any problems. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I like to just scoop the food out of a bucket and into a bowl. And, I've removed enough bones from dogs to think twice about willingly handing one over to a dog. Also, I've read some studies on the subject: how raw diets are incomplete or how they contain harmful bacteria. I'm not going to tell people not to feed a raw diet, but I think the arguments for a raw diet are a little flimsy.

Consider these two common arguments:

1) "It's what the dog would eat in the wild". Well, that may be true, but considering the average dog only lives in the wild for about 3 years, it doesn't seem that what it eats is as important as IF it eats. Also, I don't think your dog would last long outside your home. When the last pack of wild chihuahua you've seen on the nature channel?
Many of these people will feed horse or beef meat. Your dog in the wild would be eating much less appetizing fare.

2) "The processing causes food allergy, thyroid disease, cancer, etc...)
My only answer for this is that we eat nothing but processed foods and we do fine. As a matter of fact out food is getting MORE processed and our life span is getting longer. Pet food is whole lot less processed than some of that stuff you ate from the gas station in college and your doing just fine....

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