Wild cats eat raw meat, so why not our pets?
What we feed our pets impacts their wellbeing so it's little wonder we receive many reader questions seeking clarity around pet food.
Dr Magdoline Awad, chief veterinarian officer at Greencross The Pet Company, explains the importance of selecting the right food for your dog or cat.
DANGERS OF RAW CHICKEN
I feed my cat dry food in the morning and raw chicken in the evening as this is more economical than tinned cat food. I've heard raw meat assists with teeth hygiene. Is she missing out on anything that is present in commercial cat food? Wouldn't they be eating raw flesh if in the wild?
Feeding raw food, especially chicken, increases the shedding of bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli that can cause serious illness in pets and humans. People at higher risk are immunocompromised, including pregnant women, those with chronic disease, such as diabetes, or undergoing chemotherapy.
Raw diets are also usually not complete and balanced and therefore you can potentially cause a nutritional deficiency.
There hasn't been any overwhelming evidence that feeding raw diets to pets is beneficial to their health so if you want to include fresh meat, cooking it allows your pet to enjoy any benefits without the risk.
Remember to never feed cooked bones to pets.
As for the eating habits of wild animals, our pets are domesticated and have been for thousands of years, evolving while living alongside us and never having the need to hunt for their food.
A VARIED DIET FOR DOGS
Recently a reader asked if it was OK to feed their dog "human" food after running out of dry dog food. You advised not to if possible. We have had two dogs who both lived to old age and they were fed canned dog food as well as fresh meat and bones, with occasional dry food. Both also had "human" food leftovers for breakfast - rice, pasta, vegetables, meat offcuts, gravy, salad and curry - yes curry, the hotter the better. One had a habit of putting his front paws in the bowl to hold it in place while he licked it clean. The reader apparently only fed their dog on dry food, is this too boring for the dog?
There are times when we do run out of dog food and hence reach for some human leftovers to fill the void. The abrupt change of diet may cause upset tummies, such as diarrhoea or vomiting.
Some human foods can be dangerous to dogs, such as garlic and onion which is often found in curries. Coconut cream can be high in fat and may contribute to pancreatitis, a painful inflammatory condition.
Chilli, while not toxic to dogs, can cause a large amount of irritation to the lips, mouth and stomach. Household favourites such a grapes, raisins, chocolate, caffeine, bread dough, sweets and lollies, fatty offcuts and other leftovers may cause serious illness to the unwary canine companion.
Good quality dry and canned dog foods offer variety in flavours and textures, and are generally complete and balanced providing all the nutrients dogs require. Adding wet food to dry food ensures dogs have variety.
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Originally published as Wild cats eat raw meat, so why not our pets?