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Raw diet pros and cons reviewed

The review looks at the practice, rationale and motivation for raw feeding before evaluating existing evidence on both benefits and risks of such diets.

The pros and cons of feeding raw diets to dogs have been assessed in a review published in this month’s Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP).

The work, “Raw diets for dogs and cats: a review, with particular reference to microbiological hazards”, looks at the practice, rationale and motivation for raw feeding before evaluating existing evidence on both benefits and risks of such diets.

Evidence

One of the authors, Andrew Wales, said: “Formal evidence does exist for claims by raw‐feeding proponents of an altered intestinal microbiome and (subjectively) improved stool quality. However, there is currently neither robust evidence nor identified plausible mechanisms for many of the wide range of other claimed benefits.”

Dr Wales added: “There are documented risks associated with raw feeding, principally malnutrition (inexpert formulation and testing of diets), and infection affecting pets and/or household members. Salmonella has been consistently found and there is also a risk of introducing antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.”

Paper

Following a recent paper describing 13 cats in the UK that appeared to have been infected by Mycobacterium bovis by feeding Natural Instinct Wild Venison, a commercial raw mince for cats, the leader of the investigation, Danièlle Gunn-Moore, of The University of Edinburgh, said: “Feeding raw food was the only conceivable route of infection in most cases; this outbreak of tuberculosis has now affected more than 90 individuals in [more than] 30 different locations, with more than 50 of the cats developing clinical disease.”