Today @ Colorado State has been replaced by SOURCE. This site exists as an archive of Today @ Colorado State stories between January 1, 2009 and September 8, 2014.
June 10, 2014
by Dr. Camille Torres-Henderson
We often hear about new trends in diet and exercise for people, so it may not be surprising to encounter dietary trends for pets. One gaining interest is the raw food diet.
You might have seen this dietary approach called “Paleo for Pets” or the “ancestral diet.”
These descriptions arise because the main ingredients are raw meat, bones and organs, typically from sources such as beef, lamb, chicken and turkey. Raw pet food may also include raw eggs and unpasteurized dairy products. The diet is uncooked or undercooked, is devoid of grains, and is meant to mirror what canines and felines ate before domestication.
A pet nutrition book, titled “Give your Dog a Bone” and published in 1993 by Australian veterinarian Dr. Ian Billinghurst, helped spark the raw food movement for dogs. The feeding approach has grabbed more attention as manufacturers have introduced brands that are widely available at pet-supply stores.
Adherents claim that pets eating raw diets have shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, improved immunity and easier weight management. Impassioned testimonials about raw food diets often include anecdotes that might seem persuasive.
Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence to support such claims, and the veterinarians at Colorado State University do not recommend feeding raw diets to pets.
We advise that pet owners analyze nutritional claims and look for the research to support those claims, especially if they seem too good to be true.
An inquiring consumer could ask, “How was this conclusion reached?” Look for references to research that has been both published and peer-reviewed; this approach is built on scientific rigor and helps ensure valid data.
Although little is truly known about the benefits of raw food for pets, there are several well-known risks that pet owners might consider.
Veterinarians at the CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital recommend the following when considering nutritional options for pets:
Many of the websites promoting raw food for dogs equate the nutritional needs of our household pets to those of “ancestral” wolves. Interestingly, research recently published in the respected scientific journal PLoS Genetics revealed that dogs and wolves evolved from a common ancestor between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago. In fact, the study shows, dogs are more closely related to each other than they are to wolves.
This provides us with a good indication that the best diet for today’s wild wolves is different than the best diet for today’s domesticated dogs. In other words, what’s best for the gray wolf is not necessarily what’s best for your golden retriever.
Dr. Camille Torres-Henderson is a veterinarian with the Community Practice service at Colorado State University’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Community Practice provides general care, wellness services, and treatment of minor injuries and illnesses for pets.