HealthNutritionVet's Corner

Battle of the Bowls

Raw versus kibble – which one is best for your West Highland Terrier?

The debate on which food is best for dogs, raw or kibble, continues to be clouded in controversy. There are those at one end of the spectrum who appear to be strict advocates of feeding a raw meat diet to beloved pets. Many of these same advocates once fed kibble to their dogs and claim the difference in the dog’s health and happiness since making the switch to raw food is proof that feeding natural food is paramount.

Kibble, due to the way it is processed, can contain dead animals – birds, rats, potentially causing cancer, according to many raw food advocates. If this isn’t enough to put dog lovers off feeding it to their best friend then how about looking at the way kibble is apparently stored for months on end in warehouses, shops, and even in kitchen cupboards…before eventually making its way to dog’s bowls.

Others will testify that the above is simply ‘fake news’ with a sprinkling of myth served on the side and that kibble is a safer, more hygienic option. Raw food could possess harmful bacteria. Families worry that raw food could potentially cause harm to young children touching the kitchen surfaces on which the raw food is prepared. It can’t be good having defrosted raw food sitting in the fridge alongside human food, can it?  Measuring raw food is too complicated, not to mention expensive, and newbies are frightened of overfeeding or underfeeding canine companions. Ever heard of a vet prescribing a raw food diet? Perhaps, but as a rule of thumb, many vets, still tend to prescribe kibble-based diets on a more frequent basis.

As for the potentially thousands of poor souls stuck on the fence, meanwhile, these pup parents are chasing their tails to weigh up the pros and cons of each – desperate to decipher which information and advice is true and that is no easy task.

Some might argue a large part of the problem in this vital nutritional debate is the divide among veterinarians themselves. Holistic vets, in many instances, travel a different path for people’s pups than the road followed by more traditional vets. While some conventional vets do advocate or at least do not dismiss raw food, others frown upon it. If there is no consistency in the veterinary community perhaps it is of no great surprise that the British public are confused about what to feed their Westies.

Dr Brendan Clarke, President of The Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (RFVS) said: “The day-to-day principles relate to how as a profession we uphold our oath to take responsibility for the health of the patients under our care with paramount importance being based around our patients’ welfare. The five welfare needs as quoted from the British Veterinary Associations’ Animal Welfare Foundation are:

  • the need for a suitable environment
  • the need for a suitable diet
  • the need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • the need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury, and disease

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