The so-called “paleo diet for dogs” — basically feeding your canine a raw diet like that his ancestors might have eaten — has become increasingly popular among pet owners. But doctors warn that such a diet could actually come with harmful health implications for humans.
“There are two issues with raw pet food diets,” Joni Scheftel, state public health veterinarian at the Minnesota Department of Health, told NPR. “Many are not nutritionally balanced for pets … and there’s also the public health issue.”
Why? Because some germs or parasites that are usually killed when meat is cooked to an appropriate temperature could infect members in a household, even if the dog remains healthy.
In fact, a raw pet food manufacturer recently recalled its product due to a possible listeria outbreak.
Scheftel said such pathogens could be a “threat to children and babies crawling around on floors.”
Some, like Kari Neumeyer, who feeds her dogs a raw diet, believes “dogs are carnivores; they’re not meant to eat grains.” This is a similar theory to the paleo diet that some people have adopted.
But Scheftel argues that dogs have grown accustomed to eating more carbohydrates over the years. Research supports this as well, according to NPR:
Evolutionary geneticist Erik Axelsson of Uppsala University in Sweden and his colleagues recently compared dog and wolf DNA to learn which genes were important to domestication. They found that domestic dogs have at least twice as many copies of a specific gene that allows them to break down starch; the research was published in the journal Science last year. According to Science, “Early dogs that evolved more efficient starch digestion had an advantage.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association discourages a raw diet for cats and dogs.
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