MESA, AZ - It's a dog fight among some veterinarians and pet owners: Should dogs and cats eat raw meat?
"It can be potentially fatal," explained licensed veterinarian Dr. Brian Serbin. "It's controversial."
Dr. Serbin has spent 17 years caring for sick animals in Phoenix and warns against feeding your pet a raw diet. "I think there's some potential concerns with infections in the GI tract with salmonella and E. coli," said Dr. Serbin.
"The more raw you can get into a dog the better," claims Pet Planet Vice-President Jennifer Tidsbury. She runs holistically focused community health pet stores in the Valley. P et Planet, a family business founded by a mother and daughter team in Canada, encourages guardians to feed their dogs and cats the way nature intended.
"That fear has nothing to do with the health of a dog," Tidsbury pointed out. "It's actually for the humans. So what we need to do is educate them that salmonella is only a concern if you don't practice safe handling practices with meat."
Tidsbury explained it's no different then handling meat for your own family and thoroughly wash your hands before touching anything.
Dr. Serbin shares another concern, "I don't recommend rib bones, steak bones, chicken bones. Dogs will crunch through these bones and they'll have shards and sharp edges," said Dr. Serbin.
Serbin says swallowing these sharp pieces of bone could irritate a dog or cat's esophagus, stomach and even into the small intestine.
With minimal focus on quality control in the raw food market, Tidsbury says it's important to only buy your pets food from a safe, well standardized manufacturer.
"The raw food industry is very unsophisticated," warned Tidsbury. "There are manufacturers that are making it in their homes and then selling it to consumers."
The biggest differences between a raw diet and kibble fed diet is carbohydrates and convenience. For example, a 25-pound bag of kibble costs roughly $35.00-$40.00.
"So for a 50 pounds dog, who needs one pound of food per day, you'd look around the $3.00 mark per day to feed your pet on a raw food diet," Tidsbury explained.
Regardless of what you feed your pet, both sides agree, it should be a balanced diet full of proteins, carbohydrates, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals.