A com­mon ar­gu­ment against us­ing com­mer­cial pet food is its cost. Other pet own­ers in­sist that raw food is bet­ter. What should pet own­ers know about this?

Animal Scene - - THE 411 -

Pet food has been proven to be a more eco­nom­i­cal op­tion, as cre­at­ing one’s own pet food with com­plete and balanced nu­tri­ents is a time-con­sum­ing, com­plex, and costly process. The best ad­van­tage of com­mer­cial pet food is the ex­ten­sive re­search and sci­en­tific for­mu­la­tion that goes be­hind each prod­uct, en­sur­ing pet own­ers that pets re­ceive all the es­sen­tial nu­tri­ents they need to be­come a well­nour­ished com­pan­ion. There are many af­ford­able op­tions for pet food, with a va­ri­ety of fla­vors their pets will en­joy.

Raw feed­ing may be disadvantageous if the sourc­ing of raw in­gre­di­ents, food han­dling and cal­cu­la­tion for cor­rect pro­por­tions is done in­cor­rectly. Se­ri­ous health risks may arise from over-feed­ing of pro­tein or worse, from feed­ing con­tam­i­nated meat! (An­i­mal Scene note: This is a real risk given the many in­stances of the sale of “dou­ble dead” meat in lo­cal mar­kets.)

The US Food & Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA) cau­tions pet own­ers that raw meat may be con­tam­i­nated with dis­ease­caus­ing bac­te­ria. Two of these bac­te­ria— Sal­monella and Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes— are par­tic­u­larly dan­ger­ous to both pets and hu­mans. Sal­monella bac­te­ria are com­monly found in such foods as raw or un­der­cooked meat, poul­try, eggs, and egg prod­ucts. Sal­monella can also con­tam­i­nate raw or un­pas­teur­ized milk and other dairy prod­ucts, as well as raw fruits and veg­eta­bles.

Ac­cord­ing to Wil­liam J. Burkholder, DVM, PHD, Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer in the FDA Di­vi­sion of An­i­mal Feeds, quoted on www.fda.gov, “Raw pet food con­sists pri­mar­ily of meat, bones, and or­gans that haven’t been cooked, and there­fore are more likely than cooked food to con­tain or­gan­isms that can make your dog or cat sick…more­over, raw food can make you sick as well if you don’t han­dle it prop­erly. FDA does not be­lieve feed­ing raw pet foods to an­i­mals is con­sis­tent with the goal of pro­tect­ing the pub­lic from sig­nif­i­cant health risks. The agency there­fore rec­om­mends cooking of raw meat and poul­try to kill harm­ful bac­te­ria like Sal­monella and Lis­te­ria mono­cy­to­genes be­fore you give the food to your pets. And as al­ways, when work­ing with food, you should fol­low FDA’S in­struc­tions on how to han­dle it safely. While it is true that feral dogs and cats catch prey and eat it raw, it can­not be de­ter­mined how many of these an­i­mals get sick or die as a re­sult of do­ing that. Since sick feral an­i­mals are rarely taken to a vet­eri­nar­ian when they’re ill, there’s no way to col­lect that in­for­ma­tion.”

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