We hope you can join us again for Red Bank Dog Days on Tuesday, August 27 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. in downtown Red Bank. Bring your dog and stop by to say hi!
A good time was had by all. The beautiful fuzzy faces at the event were more than we could count. Here are a few that captured our attention!
Feeding Your Pet: Commercial, Home-Cooked and Raw Diet Options
Everyone in the Red Bank Veterinary Hospital family wants to ensure that every four-legged member of your family is receiving the best care possible, and that includes feeding the best diet possible. But each time a pet food recall occurs, many pet parents worry about the safety of commercial dry and canned pet foods. As a result, we get many questions from people who want to switch food brands or even change to a home-cooked or raw meat diet to maintain better control over what they are feeding. We understand this need to keep our pets as safe as possible, which is why our Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist, Dr. Lisa Weeth, put together these tips for you.
Despite recent recalls, commercially-prepared pet foods made by reputable manufacturers are still a safe and nutritious way to feed dogs and cats. Recent pet food and treat recalls for Salmonella have been made not because dogs and cats have gotten sick, but because Salmonella poses a health risk for people in the household. Salmonella infections in pets and people can cause serious illness and even death in those with compromised immune systems such as children, elderly individual and those with chronic medical conditions. If you are feeding a diet made by a reputable pet food manufacturer, you can be assured that rigorous testing and are safety procedures are being followed, but how can you as a pet parent tell if a diet is being made by a reputable pet food manufacture? There are two simple questions that you can ask.
Question 1: Does the pet food company own their own manufacturing plants, or do they outsource manufacturing? Companies that own their manufacturing plants are more likely to know and directly enforce safety and quality controls. They are also more likely to know when a manufacturing issue has occurred so that they can correct the problem right away.
Question 2: Does the company conduct any nutritional assessment testing, or do they simply market a food that looks good in the package? Things like having conducted Association of American Feed Control Official (AAFCO) feeding trials tell you as a pet parent that the food you are looking at has been fed to healthy animals over a period of time and supports health and wellness. While AAFCO feeding trials are only for a limited time (six months for an adult maintenance diet), diets that are formulated to meet the needs outlined by AAFCO only have to meet all of the essential nutrient requirements on a computer screen. Unforeseen problems can arise during manufacturing that can affect nutrient absorption that can negatively impact health. Companies that put their foods through AAFCO feeding trials or that support projects that help improve animal health and wellness for all pets (or both) are companies that want your pet to stay happy and healthy for as long as possible, just like us.
Providing a freshly prepared home-cooked diet for your pet can be a great option, if it is done correctly. There are a number of websites and individuals who promote themselves as sources of obtaining home-cooked diet recipes, but it is important to know that many of these “resources” do not provide you adequate guidelines to provide a complete and balanced diet for long-term health and wellness. Unlike growing animals where a nutritional imbalance is seen after only a few days or weeks, adult dogs and cats can do ‘ok’ on an unbalanced diet for months to years before problems arise. It is easy to make a home-prepared diet the wrong way, but it takes just a little more of a time commitment to do it right. Dogs and cats are not small people, despite how we feel about them, but with a little bit of training and understanding about their individual nutritional needs, pet parents can make complete and balanced diets that support optimal health and wellness at any age. If you are interested in preparing a home-cooked diet for your pet, be sure to consult your veterinarian or a Veterinary Nutritionist to get recipes that meet your goals and your pet’s daily nutritional needs.
Raw Food Diets
There are no scientifically proven benefits of feeding raw meat diets over cooked diets to dogs and cats. There are a few published studies that have demonstrated increased digestibility of raw meat diet compared to dry kibble, but no difference when raw-meat or cooked-meat diets have been compared. Despite this lack of evidence, one doesn’t have to look hard to find website full of testimonials, pet enthusiast blogs, or even other pet owners at the park touting the benefits of raw meats. These sources often talk about improvement in appetite or stool quality (both of which also occur when the foods are cooked by the way), but largely ignore the potentially fatal risk to people and immune-compromised animals if they are exposed to things like Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Toxoplasma. While healthy adult dogs and cats may resist disease induced by these pathogens, young or immune-compromised adult animals (dogs, cats and people) are at an increased risk of illness and death with exposure. Healthy adult animals fed raw meat diets can also shed Salmonella in their environment for up to a week after a single feeding and serve as sources of contamination to people and any other animals in the household. In addition to pathogen risks, raw and cooked bones specifically can cause tooth fractures and tear the lining of the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Ultimately, a dog or cats acceptance of a complete and balanced home-prepared diet does not change when the meat is cooked or when more absorbable sources of essential nutrients are used.
For questions, feel free to contact our Clinical Nutrition Department at: