Australian raw feeders are still coming to terms with the horse meat scandal that killed and maimed so many Victorian dogs. Given the potential risk of buying pet meats, it begs the question: is it worth it?
In my vet practice we support raw feeding, but that doesn’t mean we don’t also have a watchful eye. I’ll cover the risks first. By knowing them and their solutions, you can do it more safely.
Afterwards, I’ll feature some of the first evidence to show a benefit for raw puppy foods.
For such a common problem, there’s a lot we don’t know about hairballs in cats. It’s yet another example of our tendency to overlook the everyday and focus on the rare. This is to the cost of cats everywhere.
When there’s a lack of hard evidence, we only have experience to go by. So I’ll use mine to help you answer the key questions put to me by cat owners.
It must seem strange for a vet to compare humans and dogs and find humans better. Well let me tell you, this is an exception to a general rule. Just read Why Dogs Are Better Than Humans and you will agree.
However, our inferiority tends to mask the fact that there are a few special areas in which we do better. And because we don’t recognise them, we tend to make bad assumptions and harm our dogs. So here they are…
If your cat only eats dry food, she is likely to be getting less nutrition than a cat eating wet food. Many low-quality dry foods contain a lot of fillers.
Throwaway lines like these are typical of the overly simplistic advice you find online about feline nutrition. The truth takes a deeper look. To know whether wet, dry or both are best for your cat, we need to talk about:
There is a good reason why I had written 500 pet health articlesbefore broaching the subject of diarrhoea in cats. It can be extremely frustrating. There is also a lack of good quality information for cat owners.
First a description, then a logical treatment plan.
So your dog has had diarrhoea for more than two weeks, and you have ruled out all the more common causes of diarrhoea found here. A basal cortisol level has even been done to rule out the 4% of these dogs that have Addisons disease.
What do you do now?
The answer is to consider the possibility that your dog has chronic enteropathy, or CE. This is a poorly understood group of related disorders that often respond to dietary, antibiotic or immunosuppressive treatment. Sometimes the solution is more than one of these approaches.
I’m known for supporting clients who use raw diets. Done well, they should add to the health of your pet.
However, there are some persistent myths that get in the way. One of the most common is the idea that offal and organ meats are essential ingredients. As useful as they can be, (even with vegan diets!), they aren’t a cure all.
Update 2021: still no news on whether the findings of the Inquiry will ever make it into law.
Australia lacks any form of oversight regarding pet food safety or basic standards of hygiene or quality.
Australia also lacks any way to report faults in pet foods. Mistakes happen even with good brands, but attempts in the past by individual vets to highlight them have invariably led to threats of ruinous legal action against the vet involved.
I provided evidence at the public hearings into the safety of pet food on Tuesday the 28th of August, 2018 in Sydney. Here you can read my oral and written submissions.
I went there to put forward the demands of ordinary pet owners. You can be sure that industry was well-represented but what about you? We needed the opinions of ordinary consumers and average Australian pet owners.
Three years ago when I first investigated vegan diets for dogs and cats, my response was a bit simplistic. I said that as long as you use a complete and balanced diet, your pet can be vegan.
Since then, we’ve learned more and I have too. I still think you can have a vegan dog, but there are important warnings. And vegan cats? Probably not, but I can show you how to feed them without any guilt.
More and more dog owners are choosing to make grain-free or raw diets. Most vets, on the other hand, recommend premium commercial foods. Neither group is likely to change. I think it’s time vets put aside their beliefs to help dog owners get these homemade diets safely balanced.
Update 1 year later: read to the end for the good news!
Out of the box came a beautiful and regal young male Ragdoll cat. He was quite a sight; in the prime of life and nearly perfect in health and temperament. But not to his owners, who said, “he’s a monster, we’re going to have to get rid of him.”
Imagine the outrage if a character called Fat Dog (or fat anything for that matter) was created today. Yet, there we were in Adelaide in the 1980s watching Fat Cat tell us to go to bed at 7:30 every night.
The fact is that an overweight cat is taken less seriously than an overweight dog. We see fat cats as fun and loveable, and somehow beyond our control. Like Garfield and his lasagne.