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Autumn teaches us a valuable lesson. During summer, all the green trees are beautiful. But there is no time of the year when the trees are more beautiful than when they are different colors. Diversity adds beauty to our world.
– Donald H. Hicks, "Look into the stillnes"  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 9 September 2020  

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Dr. Jim Humphries

  One diet fad you might skip
  By Dr. Jim Humphries

   We humans are an interesting animal. We seem to easily fall for the latest, hottest or coolest thing! And then, in a good economy, we buy some of it: one for us, one for the kids and one for the dog. We do this without ever finding out what proof there is that the product is good.
   It concerns me that we find such things, then try them on our family and our pets –- with little regard (or evidence) as to whether they are good for our pets. I’m so happy to finally see official movements in human and veterinary medicine called evidence based medicine or evidence based practice.
   Please understand, I’m all for trying new things if there is evidence to back up the idea. But when our obsession with the latest gadgets or food or medicine or infomercial products gain enough momentum to become a national trend and to attract the attention of the FDA because it is killing pets and people, then it is time to speak out.
   One such fad is in the pet food / diet area. I try to stay far away from the pet food subject. There are far too many radical ideas and misguided opinions. However, this current fad of feeding your dogs an exclusive raw meat diet really needs the light of truth shined on it.
   If you search “raw meat diet,” you will find thousands of pages written by people, without a biomedical science background, who are touting this method of feeding your dog. Let’s look at why this is a bad idea.
   First, there is little scientific evidence to support the claims of any benefit. The reality is that raw meat diets for dogs cause more harm than good. Most believe this whole idea comes from a trend of feeding dogs as if they were wolves in the wild. There is even one pet food brand that uses this unrealistic concept as the basis for their entire brand and packaged diets for dogs. Well, dogs are not wolves, they are genetically different. Our domestic dogs have evolved to eat diets similar to what humans eat. If your dogs eat only raw meat, they quickly become deficient in vitamins and other nutrients they simply can’t absorb.
   The raw food diet is a danger to you. The FDA has looked into this and found raw food diets are far more likely to be contaminated with dangerous food-borne bacteria, including Salmonella, listeria and E. coli. This study prompted the FDA to issue a warning about the public health risks of raw food pet diets. Not only that, but these dogs can become carriers of these bacteria (that are often antibiotic-resistant), putting your whole family at a serious risk of disease.
   If that is not enough, some of the dogs fed a raw meat diet have died due to choke and intestinal obstruction from the bones in these diets. They are also deficient in vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous. This means you are simply creating disease in your dogs by thinking you are feeding them like a wolf. If you are not convinced, look up what the FDA states are the precautions you should take for your family if you feed an all raw meat diet to your pets. They read as though you are handling a level-four bio-hazard in your home. That alone should convince you (or scare you) to go back to the pet food aisle.
   Today’s commercial pet food diets are the best we’ve ever had in history. They are carefully formulated by highly trained scientists and veterinarians. Then they are manufactured using human grade standards for sanitation and careful analysis.
   If you are interested in feeding your dogs like they were wolves, then please use Google and search not just the benefits of feeding raw to your dogs, but also search for the dangers and human health risks of feeding raw pet food diets. There you will find the rather long and eye-opening list of precautions you should take to keep your family safe. Oh, one more thing: It is much more expensive and time consuming to buy all the raw meat ingredients to try to do this correctly.
   It all comes back to fads and our susceptibility of “jumping on the band wagon” to do something for our dogs that we believe will help them – I get that. I will do anything to help my four-legged family live longer and prevent (God willing) cancer! But please add this phrase to your vocabulary in 2020 — evidence based practice.

   Dr. Jim Humphries is a veterinarian and provides hospice and end-of-life care for pets in the Colorado Springs area. He also serves as a visiting professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. He lives in Falcon with his wife, horses and Great Danes.
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