Today we continue our series of reader questions for Dr. Tiffany Bierer:
What does Dr. Bierer think about raw diet plus feeding a grain-free dog food?
Dr. Bierer: The first thing to remember is to choose a diet that best suits your pet’s nutritional needs while also meeting your lifestyle and preferences. Dogs are individuals and there isn’t one diet that is perfect for all dogs so make sure to find the right diet for you and your dog. Grains are a highly digestible, great source of essential nutrients such as protein, essential fatty acids and fiber for dogs which is why they are utilized in so many dog foods. And providing all the essential nutrition your dog needs is the most important thing a diet does!
If your preference is to feed a raw diet, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is to make sure that it is 100% complete and balanced for your dog. Without special care, these types of diets can result in nutritional deficiencies, especially with regards to vitamins and minerals so care need to be taken when putting together a raw diet.
Raw bones can also be a problem. Mars Petcare and the WALTHAM Center for Pet Nutrition have done extensive work on the biting capacity of different types and shapes of dogs. In addition to splintering, bones are extremely hard and many times exceed the biting force of a dog’s jaw causing teeth to fracture so I do not recommend raw bones.
Lastly, microbial contamination of raw meat products can be a big issue in homes. For example, while dogs are less susceptible to Salmonella poisoning, they are not immune to it and, more importantly, even if your dog does not become sick, they can pass Salmonella on to other members in the household like children and the elderly. If you do choose to feed a raw diet, visit http://www.fda.gov for more information on handling of raw foods in your household.
Dr. Tiffany Bierer is the health and nutrition sciences manager for Mars Petcare US, makers of PEDIGREE® Food for Dogs, CESAR® Brand, WHISKAS® Food for Cats, THE GOODLIFE RECIPE® Brand, TEMPTATIONS® Treats for Cats and CRAVE® Treats for Cats.