This is a topic (talking to your regular vet about raw) that, for most people new to raw, is second only in trepidation to introducing chicken wings.
But neither should really be a concern. In this blog, I’m going to concentrate on the former; discussing your raw food decision constructively with your vet.
It has to be emphasised that your vets have your pet’s very best interest at heart. The problem is they get their information from other vets, from the vet press, from reps of the kibble-based food companies and from private reading. Other vets will often share their biases, the vet press was negative and is now, variously, pretty neutral, therefore not too pro-raw. You can guess where kibble company reps stand on the issue and private reading usually reinforces which ever position on the argument they’ve previously decided.
There are two key areas that need to be discussed, I feel. They are the safety of responsible raw food feeding and the adequacy, or ‘completeness’ of the diet. Lets take these one by one.
There is precious little evidence for any raw food from a responsible raw food manufacturer having caused harm to pets or owners. Vets might quote cases of sled-dogs getting Salmonella or Greyhounds in training acquiring infections. If they’re really done their homework they will quote a 2016 report of two cats getting Salmonella supposedly from a raw meat diet (but not from a reputable raw food manufacturer), but I doubt many will have dug that far. Two cats! And no definitive link, even then.
You can rest assured that the anti-raw brigade has been looking for cases in cats and dogs to demonstrate the contamination of raw food that actually causes harm. And, as you can see, they struggle to find a handful of cases over the last 50 years and none of them in a domestic setting. I think they call this scraping the barrel, don’t you?
So we move on to evidence for well made raw foods giving nutritional deficiency diseases. And surprise, surprise, you have to look a long way to find even a smattering of cases. The cases they will quote will usually be where people have fed nothing but prime steak meat to their Newfoundland puppy for months, or where an owner has foolishly given their dog nothing but mince from the supermarket for years. Both cases, unsurprisingly, will result in bone disease. Obviously.
But let’s face it, you’d have to be pretty misguided to do these things (they usually originate with our cousins over the pond, I have to say). To me, it would be like feeding your dog on digestive biscuits instead of a half decent kibble, simple because they’re both described as ‘biscuit’.
I’m not sure one can mitigate against this level of ‘misunderstanding’, do you? It worries me what these people feed themselves.
So there we go. Your initial conversation with the vet really is in your favour. Fifty years of raw feeding and a paucity of evidence for infection or nutritional disease so dramatic as to be totally reassuring for the new raw feeder.
Nick Thompson, BSc (Vet Sci) Hons, BVM&S, VetMFHom, MRCVS.
Nick is a practising vet and founder of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society. We have worked closely with Nick, our veterinary and nutritional consultant, in the development of our Cotswold RAW recipes,