There is still a lot of debate over raw pet food versus cooked and processes pet foods. Racing dogs and sled dogs have
a long history of being fed raw meat and bones. Bringing those diets to family pets has been a more recent idea that was proposed in 1993 by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst. He called his ideas BARF which stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
A raw dog food diet typically consists of:
• Muscle meat, often still on the bone
• Bones, either whole or ground
• Organ meats such as livers and kidneys
• Raw eggs
• Vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and celery
• Apples or other fruit
• Some dairy, such as yogurt
Sharon Misik is an actress living in Bradbury, California, with her husband and two Siberian huskies that she adopted in 2008. Ms. Misik is a true believer of the raw meat diet for her dogs after spending thousands of dollars on specialized diets and visits to the veterinarian’s office to treat her dogs. They were having trouble eating, had severe diarrhea and were always sick.
It was only after a holistic veterinarian suggested she feed her dogs raw freeze-dried chicken and beef dog foods that things began to turn around. “The difference was immediate”, Ms. Misik says, “they were like new dogs, they were happy and healthy, and their digestive systems improved dramatically. Since we started them on the raw food, these dogs have not been sick one day.”
Although there is a growing number pet owners turning to commercially prepared raw pet foods it still only accounts for a fraction of the overall pet food market at about $100 million in sales last years as compared to $19 billion in total pet food sales in the United States.
“We have people that call or e-mail us daily with stories about how this diet has changed their pet’s life,” said Marie Moody, the founder and president of Stella and Chewy’s. “Pets that used to have allergies or other issues, pets that wouldn’t eat, pets that were overweight – it really has impacted both the longevity and the quality of life for people’s pets.”
On the other side of the debate, there are some potential risks with serving your pet raw foods such as the threats to both humans and pets from bacterial contamination. If the diet becomes too unbalanced this could also hurt the animal and of course there is always a danger of chocking on whole bones, breaking teeth or an internal puncture. “Animals in nature eat raw food but don’t live very long,” said Louise Murray, vice president of the A.S.P.C.A.’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and the author of “Vet Confidential: An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s Health.” “They tend to have parasites and succumb to infections and things like that. What is natural isn’t necessarily safe or better.”