What To Know Before Putting Your Pet On An Organic or Raw Food Diet

Avian, By Species, By Topic, Cats, Dogs, Exotic, Nutrition

In the past few years, there has been a growing interest in the quality of the ingredients our pets are consuming and the nutritional value associated with these ingredients. It is encouraging to see pet owners take such a vested interest in what they are feeding their animals. Many concerned owners, however, now find themselves overwhelmed by the quantity of information and misinformation available to them on the internet. Thousands of websites exist with people claiming to be experts, each providing a mix of sound nutritional advice and potentially dangerous radical diets. Before you switch up your pet’s diet, be sure you know what kinds of nutrients it needs, and what kinds of foods it should avoid.

The first thing any pet owner should do is schedule a consultation with a licensed veterinarian. Every pet is an individual, and beyond its biological needs as a dog, cat, bird, or exotic mammal or reptile, it has its own lifestyle, health status, and specific dietary needs. Certain conditions require special diets. For example, pets with urolithiasis (bladder stones) need a diet that is balanced to increase the acidity of the urine which will help dissolve stones. If your pet has kidney failure, it will need a diet low in protein to accommodate compromised kidney function. If your pet suffers from a disease, it is important to ask your veterinarian about what diet will be best suited their specific needs.

The next thing pet owners should figure out is exactly what they want to achieve with this new diet. For example, if you have a dog that suffers from food allergies, the quality of the food is not going to be as important as the ingredients themselves. By this, I mean that a pet that is allergic to beef is going to be just as allergic to “organic” beef as it non-organic beef.

Organic food is not magic. Organic is an assurance from the USDA that this food hasn’t been exposed to genetic engineering, ionizing radiation, or sewage, and is overseen by a USDA National Organic Program agent. Organic foods still have calories, still have fat and carbohydrates, and still can contain allergens. A common misconception about feeding your pet an organic diets is that they will not suffer from diabetes, nor will they develop food allergies.

Some diets out there can be potentially harmful to your pet’s health if administered incorrectly. An example of this is the raw food diet. It is true that wild animals eat exclusively raw foods and manage to survive or even thrive however this diet is not without risks and consequences. Cooking and processing kill bacteria and parasites that can be very harmful to you or your pet. When feeding a raw food diet, an owner is also responsible for making sure that the diet possesses all the necessary nutrients required for that particular pet. This can be very difficult to do on your own and if done incorrectly can cause serious nutritional deficiencies or toxicities which can be harmful or even fatal to your pet. Owners feeding a raw food diet can have a perfectly happy and healthy pet but it is a lifestyle choice that requires a great deal of knowledge about the nutritional requirements of your pet and carries with it the risk of foodborne infection and parasitism. These risks should be taken into account by owners before they decide to make a drastic dietary change for their beloved pets.

CEDARCREST Animal Clinic provides medical and surgical care for every stage of your pet's life including preventive wellness care exams and vaccines, spays/neuters, and a variety of specialized care for your dog, cat, avian, or exotic. We are home to the only veterinarian practitioner in Virginia to be double Boarded in Avian and Canine/Feline care and provide care for birds, small mammals, and reptiles of all sorts! Plus, we are home to Virginia's most exclusive dog boarding resort that includes heated floors, an expansive play area, and even webcams so you can watch your pet while you're away. We're located in Fishersville, Virginia, and serve Augusta County and surrounding areas including Waynesboro, Staunton, Harrisonburg, and Charlottesville. 

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