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Animal Times – Issue 4: Analysis of raw meat-based diets, University of Illinois

Analysis of Raw Meat-Based Diets

Chamia Chatman

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Veterinarians often ask for true, scientific studies, with legitimate references, to verify the finding of a thesis, study or document. The paper below, read with its references, is true, honest and worthy. For your ease of reference I have highlighted the findings and prevalent points of this paper. The paper can be read in its entirety below:

  • As of now the domestic dog has a different behavior and feeding pattern in comparison to the wolf.
  • Raw meat ingredients are commonly discussed in human medicine as being dangerous due them containing a range of harmful bacterium such as Salmonella, Escheria coli or Listeria. The same is true when these items are consumed by our pets.
  • In addition, many of the raw meat based diets are poorly balanced for its nutritional content.
  • A major concern with feeding dogs and cats raw meat-based diets is their ability to shed Salmonella species without showing clinical signs of illness
  • According to Kerr et al. (2012), “raw meat is a source of potentially pathogenic microorganisms (e.g., Salmonella, Camplyobacter spp, and pathogenic strains of Escherchia coli) to the pet and handler.”

Analysis of Raw Meat-Based Diets

Many believe that because canines share ancestral ties with wolves they must be carnivores.  Although, many dogs preference for large infrequent meals similarly reflects that of their ancestors, approximately 100,000 years of domestication has changed their appearance and diet.  It is known that the longer a species is domesticated the more change that will occur both physiologically and behaviorally (Bradshaw, 2006).  This is why there is a noticeable difference between how our domesticated dogs and cats are fed.

According to Axelsson et al. (2013), “it was reported that there are 36 regions of the genome that differ between dogs and wolves, 10 of which play a critical role in starch digestion and fat metabolism.  As of now the domestic dog has a different behavior and feeding pattern in comparison to the wolf.  On the other hand, cats have been domesticated for a much shorter period and are still closely related to the North African Wildcat F. Silvestris lybica. With that said, this paper will continue to analyze raw meat-based diets and the importance of feeding our companions diets that reflect their current dietary needs.

Over the years numerous pet owners have moved away from dry commercial pet food as such “natural” diets have become increasingly popular.  For instance, holistic, organic or all-natural are common terms discussed when referencing pet food.  Along with those RMBDs have also become popular.  The term RMBD or raw meat based diet refers to uncooked ingredients that are taken from domesticated or wild-caught food species.    All of these raw ingredients are commonly discussed in human medicine as being dangerous due them containing a range of harmful bacterium such as Salmonella, Escheria coli or Listeria.  The same is true when these items are consumed by our pets.

In addition, many of the raw meat based diets are poorly balanced for its nutritional content.  For example, the Journal of the Veterinary Medical Association reported a case whereby an eight month old Shetland Sheepdog who was on a raw beef-based diet developed symptoms such as an inability to stand, collapsing and neck pain.  Radiograph reports later concluded there was diffuse osteopenia of all skeletal regions, polyostotic deformities associated with fracture remodeling in weight-bearing bones, along with an apparent floating dental arcade.  The clinical findings also determined that hypocalcemia and hypophosphatemia were detected via serum biochemical analysis.  All of which were a result of the dog’s diet being imbalanced in macronutrients and macrominerals. (Taylor et al., 2009)

Another study analyzed the effects of feeding domestic cats RMBD for 10 weeks and determined they had a notable difference in lymphocyte and immunoglobulin production and were also fecal shedder of Salmonella spp. (Freeman et al., 2013).  Similar effects occurred in a separate experiment that conducted a trial whereby 16 dogs were exposed to Salmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets and 12 to Salmonella-free commercial raw food diets.  They concluded that seven of the exposed dogs shed Salmonella 1-7 days after consumption.  Five of which shed the same serotypes taken from the food samples (Finley et al., 2007).  Both studies recognize the correlation that shedding Salmonella by dogs or cats can be a possible source of Salmonella infection for pet owners and individuals in the surrounding area.  Therefore, to reduce possible contamination the feeding of raw meat-based diets must be analyzed more critically for quality and safety.

According to Kerr et al. (2012), “raw meat is a source of potentially pathogenic microorganisms (e.g., Salmonella, Camplyobacter spp, and pathogenic strains of Escherchia coli) to the pet and handler.”  .  A major concern with feeding dogs and cats raw meat-based diets is their ability to shed Salmonella species without showing clinical signs of illness.    In all, the use of raw meat-based diets must be further studied to evaluate long term risks to pets and handlers alike.  Ideally a balanced diet must be formulated that does adhere to certain quality and safety standards and does not risk spreading zoonoses.

References

Axelsson E., Ratnakumar A., Arendt M-L., et al. (2013). The Genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet. Nature. 495, 360-364. Retrieved from

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v495/n7441/abs/nature11837.html

Bradshaw, J., (2006). The Evolutionary Basis for the Feeding Behavior of Domestic Dogs (Canis familiaris) and Cats (Felis catus). The Journal of Nutrition. 136(7). 1927S-1931S. Retrieved from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/7/1927S.full

Finley, R., Ribble,C., Aramini, J., Vandermeer, M., Popa, M., Litman, M., Reid-Smith, R. (2007).  The risk of salmonellae shedding by dogs fedSalmonella-contaminated commercial raw food diets. The Canadian Veterinary Journal. 48(1). 69-75. Retrieved from

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1716752/

Freeman, L., Chandler, M., Hamper, B., Weeth, L. (2013). Current Knowledge about risks and benefits of raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs. Timely Topics in Nutrition. 243(11).1549-1558 Retrieved from http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/pdf/10.2460/javma.243.11.1549

Freeman, L. and Heinze, C. (2012). Raw meat diets, are they worth the risk? Deciphering Fact from Fiction. Retrieved from http://sequoiavet.com/library/Deciphering_Fact_From_Fiction_-_RawMeat.pdf

Kerr, K., Boler, B., Morris, K., and Swanson,K. (2012). Apparent total tract energy and macronutrient digestibility and fecal fermentative end-product concentrations of domestic cats fed extruded, raw beef-based, and cooked beef-based diets. Journal of Animal Science. 90: 515-522. doi: 10.2527/jas.2010-3266. Retrieved from http://www.journalofanimalscience.org/content/90/2/515.full.pdf+html

Taylor,M., Geinger, D., Saker, K., and Larson, M. (2009). Diffuse osteopenia and myelopathy in a puppy fed a diet composed of an organic premix and raw ground beef. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 234(8). 1041-1048. doi: 10.2460/javma.234.8.1041. Retrieved from http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.234.8.1041

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