As a practicing veterinarian for 30 years, Dr. Kimber Schnepf believes that a wholesome diet may be the single most important factor in maintaining our dogs' good health. There is a lot of controversy over what is a wholesome diet for our pets and there is a multibillion-dollar pet food industry vying for our dollars with big ad campaigns. Dr. Schnepf believes that the ideal diet for your dog would consist of fresh and unprocessed food, organic when possible – balanced and full of variety, with high-quality ingredients, and no additives or preservatives. Sojos had a chance to sit down with Dr. Schnepf and have her elaborate on her thoughts on raw food for dogs.
Q: Do you believe that people should feed raw food to their pets? And if so, specifically why?
A: For many people raw meat figures into these requirements. The raw diet has not been heat processed which is the biggest detriment to all dry and canned products.The advantage gained is a diet that has its nutrients preserved as nature intended and still contains active enzymes and phytonutrients. Living Enzymes are proteins found in raw foods which help the body function. Enzymes are only beneficial to the body if they are living. Once food is cooked or processed, it no longer contains living enzymes. Living Enzymes in a raw diet restore, repair, and maintain health. Animals replenish their enzymes systems by eating raw unprocessed foods.
Q: Some people think that raw meat dangerous. Is this true?
A: As far as safety for the animal is concerned, mother nature has blessed the dog with a digestive system to handle potential bacteria concerns. Namely stronger stomach acids, and a shorter digestive track. Are there risks involved in feeding a raw meat diet
to dog owners? Of course there is and that is why you need to follow safe handling and feeding practices. You handle the raw meat diets the very same way that you handle raw chicken that is being cooked for your family. Sterilizing dishes, washing hands often, using disinfectants, and observing safe handling procedures is the key to eliminating potential hazards. This is common sense stuff, but needs to be emphasized to eliminate the possibility of harm to humans.
Q: Do you have any specific experiences working with dogs on a raw meat diet that you could pass along?
A: I have observed so many pets over the years turn from sluggish, overweight animals to sleek vibrant active pets again. A good example would be my own dog. I adopted a 1 year old west highland white terrier who came to me with bleeding sores all over his body from terrible skin allergies. The only thing I changed was the switch to a balanced raw diet and he became a vibrant itch free dog with a beautiful hair coat who is still going strong at the tender age of 14 and 1/2!
Q: In your option, why does there seem to be so much resistance in the conventional veterinary community to raw diets?
A: I am constantly perplexed by the resistance in the veterinary community to raw diets. I have come to believe that it is mainly due to a lack of knowledge about the benefits of raw and of how to balance the nutrition. There is also a great amount of fear of the risk of bacterial infections. Which is also perplexing as I have seen far more problems in pets over the years from various contaminated commercial pet foods that end up being recalled after causing great harm to our pets.
Dr. Kimber Schnepf received her DVM degree from Iowa State University and has been with The Dakota Pet Clinic in Lakeville, MN since 2003. She enjoys being a part of the bond between pets and their owners. She has a special interest in Complimentary Care and has recently started additional training in acupuncture.