Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Great Pet Food Debate- Raw vs. Cooked

Following last summer’s pet food recalls, many pet owners have opted to make their own pet foods a home. If you are one of these people, or thinking of being one of these people, you’ll undoubtedly need to find a few pet food recipes and stock up on vitamin supplements for your home made food. Most importantly, however, you will need to decide whether to feed you pet a raw or cooked food diet. Those who advocate for raw food diets often claim that raw foods are richer in fats and proteins and better for your ferret’s teeth than cooked food. Raw food advocates will also claim that feeding your fuzzy raw food helps decrease his or her likelihood of developing concerns &other such illnesses and can improve not only the quality of life of your ferret, but its lifespan as well. Unfortunately, there is little evidence to support these claims. Though there may be potential benefits to feeding your pet raw food diets, there are risks too, to both your health and theirs. In fact, the Canadian Veterinarian Medical Association has gone so far to say that “the documented evidence of `health risks (of raw diets) outweigh the perceived benefits” (Canadian Veterinarian Medical Association – official position, 2006). The American Veterinarian Medical Association is also against raw food diets; their concerns, however, seem to be less centered on bacterial health risks to humans and animals and more focused on dietary inadequacies and imbalances in raw food diets (Freeman et al. Journal of American Veterinarian Association, 2001). Additionally, the Public Health Agency of Canada has raised red flags about raw food diets. They are concerned with potential health risks for pets from increased exposure to bacteria, parasites and protozoa found in raw foods and the risks that this poses to the humans, especially to children, pregnant women and elderly people as well as others with compromised immune functions who find themselves in contact with the pet. If you wish to feed your et raw food, by all means do so, but now you are at least aware of what established human and animal health organizations are saying about the subject, and you will be able to assess the risks and benefits for yourself.

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