NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Raw food diets are a booming trend among pet owners, even as government agencies advise to take these raw diets with "a grain of salt."
In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert about Darwin's Natural Pet Products after samples from three lots tested positive for salmonella.
"You need to make sure you have human-level sanitation," said Greg Raupers, who owns a store that specializes in commercialized raw pet food. "So wash the bowls after the dog has eaten."
Raupers, who owns RAW by Canines First in Dallas, said he loves the benefits linked to raw food, such as clearer eyes, whiter teeth and softer fur.
But Rauper emphasized that cleanliness matters, especially for owners who prepare raw meals at home and do not rely on commercialized products.
"Do you ever let your kid play with the cutting board where you cut pork chops? Well don't let them play with the bowl," Raupers said.
Holistic veterinarian Dr. Pam Montgomery-Fittz said aw food offers a wealth of vitamins and nutrients, but it's not for everyone.
"Not every dog is a raw food dog, but every dog is a real food," said Dr. Montgomery-Fittz, who runs Vitality Pet Care in Lewisville.
Dr. Montgomery-Fittz said it's easier to start younger dogs on raw food. A new diet could backfire on older pets with health issues, especially if they're accustomed to processed food.
"If the dog doesn't have a good solid biochemistry gut enzymes and things like that, they won't be able to digest raw food," Dr. Montgomery-Fittz said.
If you're thinking about switching your pet to a raw food diet, ease them in by mixing cooked food with their regular meal.
Some owners supplement processed meals with raw food, but Dr. Montgomery-Fittz said owners should avoid serving raw food mixed with kibble in the same bowl. She said doing so could create stomach issues.
Victoria Severns exclusively feeds her dogs raw pet food pre-prepared by a distribution. Her dog, Keenan, recently lost the use of his back legs. Severns said his diet keeps him sharp.
"No one I know who feeds raw and none of my dogs have ever had an issue," said Victoria Severns. "I think as with most things, if it's done correctly, it can be safe," Severns said.
TIPS FOR PREPARING AND SERVING RAW PET FOOD
-Don't leave out meat for extended periods of time
-Freeze raw food until you're ready to use
-Use utensils dedicated to pet food prep and disinfect after each use.
-Wash and disinfect bowls immediately
-Throw away leftover food your animal does not eat
TIPS FOR AVOIDING BACTERIA
-Always wash your hands with soap after handling food
-Separate raw pet food from human food at all times
-Do not let pets lick your face or mouth after eating
-Do not let pets lick open wounds after eating
To report a pet food complaint, click here.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates pet food.
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