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Paleo Diet For Dogs

Photo credit: Aramek / Flickr

These days, it seems that everyone is jumping on the Paleo bandwagon. And, if it is good for you, it might be a good idea for your pets as well. Some claim that dogs were meant to live as wolves, on a diet strictly limited to raw meat.

Plus, the idea that you might be able to prepare your pet’s food without processed goods that are susceptible to the fallibility of other humans is appealing. Yet, feeding a Paleo diet to your dog is not without its risks. In fact, the diet may be problematic for both dogs and the humans around them.

Good Dog

Mark Sisson, a major advocate of the Paleo and primal lifestyle and the brains behind the popular blog “Mark’s Daily Apple,” argues that the Paleo diet is as ideal for dogs as it is for their caretakers.

Sisson says that the basic principle behind this approach to the diet is that humans (and their pets) lived on a hunter/gatherer diet for hundreds of thousands of years, before the advent of agriculture and animal husbandry. Modern life, Sisson claims, is making people fat.

And, whatever makes Phil and Francine gain too much weight, will make Fido and Fifi pack on the pounds as well. Sisson suggests a Paleo diet of primarily raw meats to help dogs stay fitter, healthier and to make them live longer. He recommends raw, meaty bones and organ meats for ideal health.

Sisson argues that the dog’s natural ancestor, the wolf, lives on a raw diet and avoids many of the weight concerns that plague the average pet.

Bad Dog

Before you decide to embark on a raw diet for your dog, however, there are a few things you should take into consideration. The first is contamination of the meat. James Coghlan, a veterinarian who runs the website Paleopet, says that there are ways to protect yourself and your pet from parasites and bacteria in raw meat.

But, as NPR reported, not everyone is vigilant enough. The fundamental problem with returning to a Paleo lifestyle is that you cannot live entirely off meat you hunt yourself. Eventually, you have to take your bow and arrow to the grocery store, where many more dangers lurk in the shadows.

Salmonella and E-coli may be waiting to take you and your dog’s digestive system by storm. Plus, the diet may not necessarily be best. Some veterinarians believe that a raw meat diet lacks nutritional balance for pets. Some dogs live well on a diet that contains some carbohydrates, in addition to meat and fat.

As a result, the American Veterinary Medical Association adopted a policy against raw food diets for dogs in 2012.

The Pugly

Even if you are convinced that this is the best diet for your dog, you may need to think about the people around your dog. Raw meat commonly carries salmonella and other pathogens, according to NPR. If you serve it to your dog, there is a good chance the meat will touch your floor or other areas where children play.

If your dog does not get sick, others in your home may. Pet Partners, an organization that trains and provides service animals to those in need, does not allow its trainers to feed a raw diet to the animals because they will live and serve humans with weakened immune systems.

It would be wonderful if there were a diet that would eliminate unwanted fat and solve a lot of health problems in your pets. That diet might be the Paleo diet. But, if you want to go primal with your pet, you need to do it the right way, with full knowledge of the potential consequences.

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