In part 4 of this series I looked at the BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet. Some people, however, have voiced concerns about feeding raw food to pets. The Pet Food Manufacturers Association says:
“There are concerns that feeding raw meat to pets can present a human/animal risk, such as salmonella contamination. In the case where only raw meat and bones are fed, there is an additional concern among vets and animal nutritionists that this exclusive diet may not meet the pet’s needs.”
However if the food is bought from a reputable company they should be happy to provide information on their sources and these should be of very high quality. If appropriate care is taken with handling, presentation and storage of the food it should not pose significant risk.
Another option is to return to the ‘old fashioned’ method of cooking and preparing food from scratch at home and including enough to feed any animals in the household. This would also benefit the health of the human members of the family as they too would be eating fewer processed foods. Cooked meat and vegetables are easier for animals to digest which can support absorption of nutrients and help to avoid upset stomachs.
Whichever option is chosen, for anyone deciding to change their pet’s diet this should be done sensitively. A dog or cat who has eaten only processed foods up to this point needs time for their digestion and palate to adjust. Sometimes guardians are put off feeding ‘human’ food to the animals in their care because they become so enthusiastic that they radically alter the diet overnight and then complain that it has made the animal ill when it is sick or has diarrhoea. This would actually be a ‘normal’ response to such a sudden change. Instead the new food should be introduced slowly, gradually reducing the amount of tinned food or kibble and replacing it with some meat and vegetables. Over time the processed foods can be removed entirely if desired.
Hopefully as we become more aware of our own health needs we will in turn be more sensitive to the needs of the animals in our care. Just as our wellbeing depends on our lifestyle, diet and exercise, so it is with our companion animals. Many people are becoming more health aware and diet conscious so hopefully this will have knock-on benefits for the animals too.
If you are interested in nutrition for your pet and would like to explore this further, contact me for a no-obligation chat where we can discuss your situation and see what simple changes you might be able to make to enhance their wellbeing. My contact details are:
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