Should I feed my pet a raw food diet?

One of the most common questions a holistic veterinarian may receive from prospective clients is whether to put their pet on a raw food diet.  My answer in most cases is that if a pet’s health is good overall, with no special dietary needs or pre-existing health conditions, then it would probably be fine to change over to a biologically appropriate raw food diet.

Most pets from puppies/kittens through adult and senior pets truly thrive on a minimally processed raw meat based diet. This is probably the single most important step a health conscious guardian can make toward improving the health of their companion animals.   Many times a change in diet to a raw food diet may even solve chronic medical conditions that medical or surgical therapy only partially addressed or palliated. Energy and vitality, as well as coat and digestive tract function usually dramatically improve as well.

However, while a proper raw food diet is often ideal for many pets, when home diets are improperly balanced or fed, severe nutritional imbalances and health issues may worsen. That is why it is important to follow balanced raw food diet recipes, such as those found in books by Donald Strombeck PhD, Ian Billinghurst, DVM, or Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD. In addition, there are also excellent online sources for homemade recipes such as www.balanceit.com and www.k9petchef.com. Plus, Nature’s Variety provides packaged, frozen raw diets that come in beef, chicken, lamb and venison.

In those pets with chronic immune mediated or digestive tract diseases, it is probably best to consult with a holistic veterinarian on whether a raw or cooked diet would be best for your pet.  Regardless, I do find that a proper homemade diet is usually superior in preventing health problems than most of the processed commercial pet foods consumed by most pets today.

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