Dr Nick Cave, from Massey University, New Zealand, joins us after his presentation at the WALTHAM International Nutritional Science Symposium (WINSS). Nick shared his results that “Raw red meat diets decrease faecal microbial diversity in the dog”. Feeding a raw diet is increasingly popular and a current hot topic. It remains an important issue and one that where we need to understand the effect that these diets may have on cat or dog health. Dr Cave and colleagues examined the changes in the bacterial diversity in the faeces of dogs fed a raw red meat diet compared to commercial kibble. Their research found a reduction in microbial diversity and speculate as to the potential effect of this.
Raw food fed to domestic pets often contains harmful bacteria and can lead to animals suffering “multiple fractures”, says a veterinarian lecturer. Dr Nick Cave of Massey University said raw food diets could be the paleo fads of the animal world. Diets based predominantly on raw meat have gained popularity in recent years, with proponents claiming they help with allergies, improve animals’ immune systems and keep their teeth whiter. But a new study out of Utrecht University in the Netherlands shows many types of commercial raw meat-based pet food contain harmful bacteria, like E Coli and salmonella. Dr Cave said that was just the tip of the iceberg. “We see the most common problems in cats and dogs that are fed just muscle, plus or minus some organ meat as well. “The most common deficiency we see is a deficiency of calcium, and that can lead to bone deformities ... or loss of bone density and then fractures in older animals. “The range of problems can lead to multiple fractures.” Those in favour of such diets say raw meat is what domestic cats and dogs ancestors ate - so these diets were closer to what these animals would be eating in the wild. Dr Cave said that was spurious reasoning. “Many things happen in nature that we wouldn’t argue as being good or beneficial or want for our loved ones. “Infection with parasites, trauma, predation from other animals ... these are all natural phenomena, but we don’t seek them out. “And it’s not true that animals in the wild live this disease-free, bucolic existence that we can safely emulate, and expect them to live out the same kind of expectancy that we can see in cats and dogs owned and fed a commercial diet.” Dr Cave said while raw meat diets can be safe with the aid of nutritional supplements, there was no research that proved they can boost animals’ health. [source; https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/348292/raw-food-can-lead-to-bone-deformities-in-pets]
Like humans our furry best friends are omnivores, and not to be confused with their very distant wolf cousins or our domesticated cats which are both carnivores. It is very important for our furry best friend’s welfare that they are receiving a balanced diet of goodness with all the nutrients that they require, just as we need a balanced diet so do they. Unbeknown to many our furry best friends have been domesticated for some 33,000 years according to archaeological evidence, and their ability to thrive on carbohydrate rich diets most likely started with the establishment of agriculture about 10,000 years ago where they likely scavenged and or were given the same food as we ate. A scientific DNA study carried out by evolutionary geneticist Erik Axelsson of Uppsala University in Sweden confirms that there a very distinct differences, at a DNA level, between our furry best friend and wolves. Particularly with relation to the digestive tract and metabolism which allows domesticated dogs to thrive on carbohydrate-rich diets.