Grain-free, raw meat diets are hugely popular with pet owners who like the idea of feeding their cats and dogs a diet that’s closer to what their ancestor ate in the wilds.
The problem is, there’s no hard, scientific evidence that raw meat–based diets (RMBDs) are any healthier than traditional dry or canned pet foods. According to clinical veterinary nutritionists at Tufts University, https://vet.tufts.edu/ grain-free foods are one of the fastest-growing segments of the pet food market. They’re often marketed as being more natural (read: healthier) for pets than grain-based diets. But, while sometimes disparaged as “fillers,” the opposite is true:
· whole grains can be a source of valuable nutrients to pets’ diets, including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and fiber.
· “by products” do not include any part of an animal that we would not want to eat. They are a pure protein source
Now, new research published this month in Vet Record shows that RMBDs could actually pose a health threat to both pets and humans.
What they found is enough to make you sick. Literally:
· They found potentially deadly E. coli bacteria in 28 products, or 80% of all the pet foods tested. More worrisome, they found E. coli 0157:H7 in 8 products, or 23% of the total. 0157:H7 is a particularly virulent strain of E. coli responsible for an infectious outbreak that’s killed two people and hospitalized more than 50 in the United States and Canada over the past seven weeks. In those cases, contaminated romaine lettuce rather than meat is believed to be the culprit.
· Listeria monocytogenes was present in 19 products, or 54%, and other listeria species were found in 15, or 43%. Researchers wrote that the results of the study clearly demonstrate the presence of potential zoonotic pathogens in frozen RMBDs that may be a source of bacterial infections in pet animals and, if transmitted, pose a risk for human beings.
Of course, it’s not just handling raw pet food that can make people sick—people should thoroughly wash their hands after handling any kind of raw meat, including the meat they buy to feed their families.
Why fear free medicine? A study that came out in 2014 reported 37% of dog owners and 58% of cat owners stated that their pet “hates going to the vet”. Veterinary-care-usage-study
Those numbers are astonishing! Can you imagine how many pets are missing out on their preventive care visits and may develop serious diseases down the road because of it? At Gentle Touch Animal Hospital, we decided that practicing fear free medicine was a must. gentletouchanimalhospital/fearfreecertification
What exactly is fear free medicine?
¨ Fear free medicine is a style of practice that promotes stress free visits for the pet. Our entire staff was trained over a 5 month period to learn how to handle the pets in a stress free manner. This means no, or very little restraint and taking as much time as needed to calm the pet. Most animal hospitals schedule appointments every 15-20 minutes. We schedule them every 30 minutes to allow for us to take our time and relax your pet before performing anything that makes him nervous. That could mean that we need to spend 20 minutes calming your pet before a 5 minute nail trim, which is fine with us!
¨ We are highly trained in counter conditioning, which means distracting your pet with treats so that she does not associate any treatment as traumatic. She will remember that she will receive lots of treats when she comes in and be excited to visit us, not worried that we are the place that “pokes” her.
¨ What is the difference? Each room has species specific pheromones (they send off a scent that is scientifically proven to relax your pet), species specific music boxes that play music that is calming to your pet as well as loads of treats. We have skid free mats on the exam tables and if your pet is still nervous on the table, the doctor will get on the floor with her.
¨ We will always remember what works best for your pet for future visits as we put notes in every chart, front and center. For example, some cats do not respond to treats, however, if we put baby food on a spoon and offer that to them, they lap it up and do not pay attention to what we are doing. This will be noted in their chart and we will have baby food ready to go at the next visit.
Your pets are family. Get them the care they deserve.Request Appointment