Dry Food, Canned Food, Raw Food: What To Choose?

Animals on balanced diets tend to live much longer, healthier, happier lives. What’s the best food for my pet? There is no one best food that will suit every pet and all dietary needs. When choosing what to feed your pet you firstly need to consider your pet’s lifestyle and stage of life: is he/she a puppy/kitten, adult or senior animal.

What Is A Raw Food Diet?

Raw food diets are becoming more popular, but their benefits are controversial. The concept behind a raw food diet is that animals would thrive on what they used to eat in the wild. Raw food diets consist of fruits and vegetables and raw animal such as possum, rabbit, wallaby or veal: a mix of raw meat, bone, organs, tripe. However, chunks of bone are also included in certain raw pet food products.

Supporters say the potential benefits include shinier coats, healthier skin, cleaner teeth, better breath, higher energy levels and smaller stools. But wild cats and dogs don’t generally live that long and typically have a lot of problems with dental disease and parasites and they are always on the hunt for food.

Pets Living Longer, Better

Orewa Vet, Dr. Brett Finlayson BVSc MRCVS, says that in his 30-plus years of working with cats and dogs their increased longevity is notable and something he attributes to good nutrition. “When I first began as a vet, cats would live till about 10 years old. Now it is not uncommon for cats to live for 20 years, dogs for 15”, he says.  It makes sense that animals may actually maintain better health and immunity on a more evolved diet. Dr. Finlayson does not in fact endorse any diet as the perfect one for all cats or dogs. “Often a mix of raw and dry food can be best, depending on the animal,” he says.

Raw Food Diets: The Risks

Vets speaking out against raw food say they see numerous cases of serious injury, or death, resulting from the diet. Veterinary Specialist, Dr. Mark Robson, said he has had over 120 cases of the diet-gone-wrong in the last four years; the main issue being the chunks of indigestible bone that can get stuck and pierce an organ or block passages.

Lack of nutrition is the other reason Dr. Robson does not endorse the diet. While raw diets seem more natural, whether commercially made or home made, many raw food diets are not balanced; they contain too much or too little essential nutrients such as protein, calcium and phosphorus and fats. His veterinary practice has seen a huge rise in the number of puppies with inadequate bone development due to insufficient nutrients.

There is also a risk to both humans and pets from bacterial contamination. Raw meat diets are not produced to the same health standards as required for human foods, so can harbour bugs such as salmonella or campylobacter. While preparing the raw food you could ingest the bacteria or spread it to other people, objects, and surfaces. If feeding raw meat you must thoroughly wash your hands and all surfaces or objects that have come in contact with the raw food. Raw meat should be frozen until needed and thawed in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the bench or in the sink.

Choosing A Diet For Your Pet

In summary, even veterinarians who support raw food diets agree they are not suitable for all animals or all life stages. In particular they are not appropriate for puppies / kittens, older animals or animals with kidney, liver or immunosuppressive diseases. Raw meat also has its hygiene risks.

Commercial pet foods are balanced and can be varied by life stage e.g. puppy, adult, senior pet categories to provide higher or lower protein or calcium levels as needed.

What’s the best food for my pet? There’s no such thing as one best brand or type of food that all pets do well on. We believe the best food you can feed your pet is the freshest, most natural food you can afford to support your pet’s overall health, well-being, and vitality and we see there is some wisdom in feeding a hybrid diet: real food mixed with some kibble or biscuits.

We feed balanced, nutritious pet food to our dogs and cats. To ask about our animals’ diets call 09 299 7415 or email us with your pet nutrition questions.

Dog Care, Health and Nutrition

Dogs under our care at our kennels and Auckland dog day care are fed Eukanuba and Royal Canin. We are happy to give your pet their own special dog food when provided. Every morning we check the consumption of food and water for close dietary maintenance. We also monitor urinary and bowel motions. We have a 24-hour vet on call, for any eventuality.