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The Truth About Raw Food

Recent years have seen an increase in pets being fed raw food as their primary source of energy and nutrients. It has blossomed into an industry of selling raw food diets under various brands and even stores that sell raw food for pets exclusively. I believe that this trend has come about with the belief that homemade and/or raw diets can provide health benefits above and beyond those provided by good quality life stage pet foods.

Some of my lifelong clients have been feeding their dogs, raw based diets, and some have had success with its use. In the case of certain medical conditions whereby conventional treatments and diets have not resulted in satisfactory results, occasionally raw or homemade diets have worked a little bit better for that particular case. These cases are rare, but I occasionally see them. Do you have a pet that could be best served by a raw food diet? The answer is… not likely.

My concerns with raw food diets are multifactorial. Nutritional imbalance, microorganism contamination, zoonotic disease and physical trauma are among these concerns. In general, these diets are incomplete and not balanced. Excess or deficiencies in specific nutrients are of concern, especially for growing puppies and kittens as well as seniors. This could be calcium affecting growth or taurine affecting cardiac function. Also, many raw diet recipes suggest feeding bones which can cause fractured teeth or obstruction of the intestinal tract. I have seen many cases of fractured teeth and have performed many surgeries to remove bones from the intestinal tract.

Contamination of raw foods with bacteria such as Salmonella, E.coli as well as many others can lead to illness in pets that needs to be treated aggressively. Parasites in raw fish or pork are not uncommon either. These microorganisms can be a source of infection for people in contact with a raw fed pet. Bacteria, in particular, can and does become transmitted from raw fed pets to others.

In summary, homemade and or raw pet food is a trend seen based on the perception that this type of feeding is healthier for your pet. This is rarely the case. The reality is this: it is more of a source of poor health for pets and the people they contact.

Written by Rob Doucette, DVM

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The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet

Pets can get lost which can be a traumatic and possibly tragic event.  It’s important to have a collar and ID tag, but these are not foolproof.  Collars can break or fall off leaving your pet unidentifiable. This can be prevented with the use of a microchip. As noted in the Dartmouth Tribune in April 2017: A pet is lost every seven seconds One in three pets will go missing in their lifetime Only 2 percent of lost cats and 17 percent of lost dogs with ID return home When a pet gets lost, they are 20 times more likely to make their way back home when they have a microchip A microchip is a small chip that is encoded with a unique identification number.  It is no bigger than a grain of rice and implanted just under the surface of your pet’s skin.  The process is similar to receiving a vaccination through a needle and is virtually painless to pets.  Once implanted, the microchip remains between the shoulder blades just beneath the skin for the rest of the animal’s lifetime, becoming a permanent form of identification. Since it’s under your pets’ skin it can’t break or fall off like a collar or tag. The chip is powered by a scanner which sends a signal to the chip and receives the identification number stored on it.  A vet or shelter can use the scanner to read your pet’s chip.  With the identification number, your pet’s information is a phone call away. When your pet is microchipped, it is linked to a database with your contact info.  It is essential that you register the microchip and ensure your contact information is kept up to date.  If you move or change phone numbers be sure to update your information.  Microchips are reliable and use nationwide registries, but they depend on the information you provide. If you want to improve your chances of getting your pet back home quickly and safely microchipping is highly recommended.   Written by Tracy LeFler, Site Coordinator Edited by Janis Wall, RVT

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Last updated: September 15, 2021

Dear Clients,

The health and safety of both you and our staff is our top priority. We appreciate your help in keeping our community safe by following our COVID-19 policies:

  • Masks are required for all clients entering our hospital, as well as for all our staff
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    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Westwood Hills Veterinary Hospital