The raw truth about raw dog food

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - We want our dogs to not eat junk for dinner.

They're our "kids" and we love them.  Recently, Dr. Wendy King of Spears Creek Veterinary Clinic explained to WIS TV viewers what they need to look for in a bag of dog food.  She reminds all pet owners to look beyond the pretty packaging and read the ingredients and what the product's AAFCO statement says.

AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials. It's a voluntary membership association of local, state and federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of dog and cat foods. They also look after animal drug remedies.

There are two AAFCO statements to look for.

"Problem is, they're very similar. One says feeding tests prove that this is complete and balanced nutrition by AAFCO. The other one says this is formulated to meet AAFCO standards. So the first one means they've tested the food, made sure the pets can eat it and they can get the nutrition out of it. The second one means someone made a recipe, followed the recipe and, hopefully, it's good enough for the pets," Dr. King said.

Check out that interview by clicking here.  Dr. King returned to WIS to educate viewers on the newest craze in food -- raw food diet.  It's known as BARF
(Bones and Raw Food).

"Raw dog food diets are controversial but the popularity of the diet consisting of raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables is rising.  A raw food diet is supposed to mimic what nature has designed," says Dr. King. "There are pros and cons for feeding a raw food diet.  The pros to feeding a raw food diet are knowing exactly what is in your dog's food.  Another pro is that it helps maintain a healthy weight.  Some say that feeding a raw food diet is healthier than a commercial diet.  People also say raw foods give dogs more energy and glossier coats.  There is no concrete scientific evidence to say whether that is true."

"Dr. King believes there are more cons than pros with a raw food diet.  Nutritional deficiencies can occur and may not show up for days, weeks, or even months.  A raw food diet can be time-consuming and hard to balance enough nutrients to stay healthy.  Some pets have been known to experience diarrhea and other digestive issues on a raw food diet," says Dr. King.

Also keep in mind that bones can be a big concern-intestinal blockage, choking, perforations, and breaking/chipping teeth can occur. Potential cross contamination is the biggest concern during the preparation of the raw food.  Humans can be exposed to harmful pathogens when cleaning up after their animal's bathroom habits or even something as simple as being licked.  Raw diets have been found to contain salmonella, E. coli, and staph. Raw beef, raw pork, and wild game such as deer, elk, and moose can all contain deadly pathogens.

"If you find yourself interested in a raw food diet, please do ample research and contact your veterinarian prior to starting a new food routine," Dr. King says.

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