Raw Meat Diets For Companions - by Dr. Wendall O. Belfield
Dr. Wendall O. Belfield, has long been one of my heroes in animal nutrition. His scientific research, years of practical experience as a veterinarian and common sense approach to problem solving has made him one of the most respected professionals of our time. Here is one of his articles on feeding raw meats. If you are embarking on the BARF / Raw experience you need to read all the information on both sides before you determine you are going this route. As is most issues in life, nothing is black and white.
Raw Meat Diets For Companions
by Dr. Wendall O.Belfield.
Before our present dogs and cats were domesticated, they had to forage for their food as predators or as scavengers. This means that whatever they devoured was in a raw state. As man, canines, and felines began to co-habitate, these animals became useful as , in the case of Egyptian culture, cats were used to keep the mouse population down in the grain stores. Canines, with their keen sense of hearing and smell were sentries to clans of antient humans.
For the duties and tasks performed by these animals, they were rewarded for their efforts by humans sharing their foods. As time progressed, these animals became more domesticated and more dependent on humans for food and shelter. As humans progressed so did his companion animals, i.e., when fire was discovered and early humans learned to cook, they shared their cooked foods .
In more recent times, prior to World War Two, there were no pet foods ; even if there were most Americans lacked the money to by such a luxury item, this was the real " Depression". Those families with companion animals shared their table foods. After WWII, there was prosperity, service men returned from the wars, millions of homes were constructed, and purchased by these returning veterans and their families, and many included companion animals in their "American Dream". To pay for this "American Dream" meant it was essential for fathers, mothers, husbands and wives, to work. This meant quick meals with little left overs for the live-in cat and dog. This brought on a new industry, the pet food industry. This bag or can with prepared food for pets, was and is a convenient time saving means to feed the companion pet. During these times little was known about pet nutrition. As a means to intice the pet owners, elaborate labels with lavish words and terminology most of us did not really understand.
Most of the meat incorporated, during these times, into pet foods was horse meat. Many pets were allergic to the protein and developed serious medical problems. In 1981 in my first book co-authored with Martin Zucker "How To Have A Healthier Dog", I informed you, the pet owner, of practices in the pet food industry that had negative effects on the animals consuming their foods. Since then many have gotten on the "band wagon" and began making changes in pet food diets, some pet owners began cooking for their pets and others switched to raw meat diets. It was very obvious that these changes made dramatic positive effect in these companion animals. One of the most prominent changes was in skin and hair coat. Previously, many of the animals, allergic to some commercial pet foods, had persistent skin problems. Because of these positive changes, it was hypothesized, by some, since the pets responded positively to raw meat diets and since the early ancestors had consumed their meat raw, then this is natural for the domestic dog and cat.
My concerns about raw meat diets has come from my years of meat inspection for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. My first concern is contamination by salmonella and listeria species of bacteria, these are killer organisms. True the early animals in the wild did consume their meat raw; how many became ill? how many died? These questions cannot be answered. We can assume that the present day dog and cat are the descendent of those who survived. Due to domestication, we have permitted the weak of the two species not only to survive, but to propagate thereby producing weak off springs. These animals have difficulty utilizing raw meat diets, a manifestation of this is vomiting. These same animals on a blood workup, will show below normal cholesterol levels which indicates poor absorption of the consumed meat protein. An analogy in humans, is not all humans can be vegetarians. The larval form (Hydatid cyst)of a tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus is often found in most parts of the body especially liver and lungs on post mortem inspection of beef carcasses. This larvae has as its intermediate hosts, man, sheep, cattle, and swine. Since the adult tapeworm is found in the dog, cat, fox and wild carnivores, it is reasonable to postulate that consuming the larvae of this tapeworm can and will infect the dog and cat, developing into the adult stage.
As a veterinary practitioner for thirty-seven years and a veterinary meat inspector for seven years, I, in good conscience, cannot recommend raw meat diets to my clients. My advice to my clients is "cook the meat until the redness is gone". When this is done, there is no vomiting, the cholesterol level is normal, the risk of infection by microorganisms and parasites diminishes.
It has been observed for the past decade or more that there has been a play on words by some pet food companies in their ads "no byproducts". Byproducts are classified into three basic groups: Inedible, human inedible, and edible.
INEDIBLE includes the following:
The message here is the public not knowing the differences and variables
in meat products. When you observe an ad promoting a pet food having
"no byproducts", does the company really understand "byproducts"?