More pet owners are choosing to feed their dogs raw meat or BARF (Bones and Raw Food) diets. Since it is now known that our gastrointestinal systems are vast worlds with a billion little bacteria, fungi and yeast it is important to find out what effect these diets have on your pets microbiome.
There are of course many concerns that come along with feeding a Raw or BARF diet, to learn more you can read our article on here. One of the major concerns is of course the potential risk of bad bacterial contamination. While many choose to brush off this concern in favor of the benefits seen in feeding raw, there have been rising studies on how it affects pets microbiomes.
Most of us are aware that diet plays a major role in determining and maintaining a healthy microbial balance within the gastrointestinal tract. Our microbiome affects so many areas of the body, including the immune system. While there have only been a handful of studies delving into the microbiome-raw diet connection in dogs and cats, the majority are deeming these foods as beneficial for gut flora.
One study showed an abundance of three major genera of bacteria necessary for a healthy gut when fed a raw diet as opposed to over the counter kibble. These bacterium included Clostridum, Bacteroides, Fusobacterium, Clostridum, Cetobacterium, Escherichia and Lactococcus. Conversely, there was also a decrease in Lactobacillus and Paralactobacillus observed, further studies will be done to determine causation.
These results suggest that the diet composition modifies fecal microbial composition and end products of fermentation. The researchers concluded that the administration of a balanced raw diet with vegetables, readily fermentable substrates and other supplements promoted a more healthy growth of bacterial communities compared to commercially available foods.
In addition, the dogs fed the raw meat-based diet exhibited an improved fecal score, which in turn suggested overall colonic health. Want to read the study for yourself click here.
All in all, raw diets seem to be extremely beneficial for your pet from the microbiome stand point. But as a veterinarian, I always have to consider the risk outweighing the benefits so will I run out and purchase a ton of raw food to feed to my fur babies? I doubt it, especially since one of them suffers from pancreatitis. But I will keep an eye out on further research to make an informed decision in the future and hopefully you will too!
Do you have your pets on a Raw or BARF diet? How is it sitting with your pets stomach?
HOW DOES THE COMMON KIBBLE DIET FARE NEXT TO THE RAW FOOD DIET?