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Articles by Dr. Tesluk

RAW FOODS AREN’T SAFE FOR PETS
 

Dr. Stephen Tesluk, DVM

 

Dirk Digger was not pleased.  His morning routine was usually enough of a challenge – helping his wife get their two kids to school before racing off to work.  But even before he opened his eyes, he could tell this morning was going to be different, and not in a good way.

            The smell hit him about the same time his feet hit the bedroom floor.  It smelled like a diaper service trick had been blown up with an improvised explosive device.  Dirk immediately figured it must be Jimjim, his 4-year-old German Shorthair Pointer, since it had been eight years since his kids wore diapers.

            Jimjim slept in the basement, and when Dirk opened the basement door he was nearly knocked over; first by Jimjim as he ran past headed for the backyard, and then by the full force of the horrific stench coming up the stairway from the basement below.

            Dirk held his nose and staggered down the steps.  For the first time in his life, he understood what the term “explosive diarrhea” referred to; the carpet, walls and stairs were spattered with nasty brown blotches. 

            Dirk raced back up the stairs and shut the door tight behind him.  Jimjim stayed outside while Dirk and his wife, Debbie, listened to their kids complain about the smell and ask a hundred questions about Jimjim and the mess in the basement.  The kids were ready for school and in the car waiting for Debbie in record time.

            After they left, Dirk threw out the carpet, mopped up the rest of the mess, and brought Jimjim into the hospital.  A quick physical exam showed Jimjim to be in good condition if maybe a little subdued.  Dirk claimed that Jimjim didn’t get into anything bad that he know of, that he ate the same dog food that he always gets, and that there had been no changes in his routine.

            “Does he get anything else beside the dog food?” I asked.

            “Well, I do give him beef bone once in a while.  You know, the ones they sell at the grocery store,” He replied.

            “You boil those before you give them to him, right?”

            “No, he gets right out of the package, I figured it was good the natural way” Dirk said.

            “A lot of people think it is OK to feed dogs and cats raw meat and bones, but as you’ve discovered, it is not a good idea,” I explained. “Raw meat, bones and eggs are contaminated with several different bacteria that can cause serious intestinal disease, including Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. coli. Many mild cases of food borne illness in pets go unnoticed or clear up without treatment, but pets can become very ill if they ear enough of the wrong bug.  And to make things worse, even if they don’t develop diarrhea when they eat raw meat, bones or eggs, the can pass the pathogenic bacteria into the environment in their stool, putting their owners at risk for food borne illness.”

            “But what about those so called B.A.R.E. (Bone and Raw Food) diets I hear so much about – are they safe?” Dirk asked.

            “A recent study found that 21 commercially available raw-meant diets tested postitive for E. coli, so those diets are not pathogen free” I replied.

            I told Dirk that as long as Jimjim didn’t get dehydrated or depressed, that he should get over the diarrhea in 48 to 72 hours, and that cleaning up the mess properly was important because his family could get sick too.  As dirk got up to leave the exam room he turned to me and said, “You know, they should switch the name of those raw food diets from B.A.R.E. to C.R.A.P., for Creates Really Awful Poop.”

            It was nice to see that even though Jimjim had lost control of his bowels, Dirk hadn’t lost his sense of humor.

          




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