Are pet food companies selling owners a raw deal?

July 17th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

By Karen Fazio, CDBC

Much like any diet fad, raw meat based diets (RMBD) abound with reasons why they are healthier than cooked varieties.

Advocates of RMBDs. as well as the companies selling them, dazzle prospective buyers with anecdotal language that may include ‘biologically appropriate,’ ‘ancestral food source,’ or insinuate that they’re somehow healthier because of its
compatibility with the wolf’s diet.

I admit, the compelling language can be fascinating. Unfortunately, there’s no science to back it up. There are, however, numerous scientific studies verifying the critical flaws in RMBD. For example, in a European study (Dillitzer et al, 2011) that evaluated 95 homemade raw diets by calculating twelve important nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus and vitamin A, scientists revealed serious excesses or deficits in those nutrients.

As far as bacteria is concerned, raw meats are a veritable breeding ground for Salmonella, E. coli 0157:H7, Clostridium, Campylobacter, Listeria among others. This even includes food that is human-grade, previously frozen and freeze-dried.

One Canadian study found that 21-percent of all RMBDs tested were contaminated with Salmonella and that the bacteria was resistant to 75-percent of the antibiotics tested (Finley et al, 2008).

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) agrees with the science and “discourages the feeding to cats and dogs of any animal-source protein that has not first been subjected to a process to eliminate pathogens.”

Dr. Wefer and Dr. Delaney, co-founders of Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital have banned RMBDs from their practice entirely. “Despite what the proponents of raw diets say about how natural it is for you dog, such diets pose health risks to your pet and your family. You see the warnings every day in supermarkets regarding safe handling of meats. This is because our processed meats are often contaminated with potentially dangerous aforementioned bacteria in addition to Campylobacter (responsible for food poisoning) and Shigella (responsible for diarrhea, fever). One simple break down in personal hygiene (hand washing) can lead to dire consequences when people are exposed to such bugs.  The risks far outweigh any advantage in feeding your pet raw food.”  Dr. Wefer said.

Dr. Delaney is in agreement with Dr. Wefer. “Considering the risk of infection from Salmonella and other bacteria, as
well as the added costs and extra time for preparation and cleanup, prohibiting raw meats in our practice is a good choice for the dog as well as the family,” Dr. Delaney added.

Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is not alone. Other practices such as the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University has permanently banned RMBDs due to the dangers they pose to pets as well as those who handle the food.

Such bans are not exclusive to the veterinary industry. The Delta Society – one of the largest and best-known organizations registering and insuring pet therapy volunteers and their companion animals – has banned them as well.  “Any dog or cat from a household where raw protein food is fed is not eligible to be a Delta Society Pet Partner,” the organization states.

As far as my two-cents is concerned – especially in regards to comparing a wolf diet with that of the dog as a selling point – it’s estimated that dogs have been ingesting cooked food remnants for about 400,000+ years. Likely, this is one of the key reasons why dogs have flourished and wolves haven’t.

Additionally, since dogs are scavengers by nature the likelihood that their ancestors enjoyed fresh large-animal kills such as beef or lamb are pretty slim. Ancestral diets likely consisted of days-old carcasses, tiny mammals and insects before man began farming and domesticating livestock. But, marketing a diet by featuring images of rats and insects is not aesthetically pleasing.


The author is The Director of Training & Behavior at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital.

Crates are Great! Why Crate Training Your Pet is Important

July 5th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

Whether you’ve just adopted a sweet little puppy or your adult dog is ready for additional training, crate training is one of the best methods of instilling confidence and good behavior in your pet. When your pet is properly trained, crates provide a sense of safety and security and are an invaluable tool when house-training your pet.

While the team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital highly recommends crate training for both cats and dogs, there are a few things you should know beforehand. Keep reading to learn more about crates and their purpose and how to get your pet to cozy up to his or her own little “den.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Helping Your Pet Cope with Thunder and Firework Phobias

June 26th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff


By Karen Fazio, CDBC, Director of Training and Behavior

Almost all pets are uncomfortable with sudden or loud sounds. Most cope with their discomfort by hiding or seeking out comfort from owners or other animals living in the home. For those classified as phobic, nothing quite compares to the intense level of fear and anxiety such pets experience when exposed to thunderstorms or fireworks.

Sound-phobic dogs and cats present certain symptoms that earn them this classification. Some include pacing, excessive panting, drooling, vomiting, trembling, house soiling, aggression, over-the-top vocalizing or attempts to escape the home. In some cases, symptoms persist long after the event has concluded.

Luckily, there are a number of ways an owner may help their pets prepare for and cope with thunderstorms and firework displays. Read the rest of this entry »

Dog Parks: 5 Reasons to Reconsider the Trip

June 14th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

By Karen Fazio CDBC, Director of Training & Behavior

Some dog parks are a place where highly socialized and well-behaved dogs gather; or they are the equivalent of entering a prison yard. The biggest challenge in that? Not knowing whether you are entering a good dog park, or one of the prison yard variety.

Beyond the overall quality of the dog park, however, are other reasons responsible dog owners should skip the dog park. Here are five dog park facts you may not have considered:

1. Age Is the Most Overlooked Factor

The biggest flaw of dog parks is that most of the focus is on separating dogs by size. However, we feel that age is the most overlooked and important factor in separating pets from one another.

Puppies, adolescent dogs, and adult dogs have much different play styles and energy levels. For example, a 5-month old Lab playing with a 4-year old dog of similar size is the equivalent of a toddler child engaging in tackle football with a 16-year old.

While dogs may be similar in size, it’s not a reliable indication that they’re in any way mentally or physically well-matched. Read the rest of this entry »

Fleas, Ticks, and Heartworms, Oh My! All About Pet Parasite Prevention

May 20th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

pet parasite preventionSpring is in full bloom here in New Jersey. Along with the beautiful blooms, breezy days, and growing grass comes a slew of insects and other creepy-crawlies, including fleas, ticks, and mosquitos carrying heartworm.

Your pet’s greatest exposure risk for these parasites reaches its peak April through November, but to be truly effective pet parasite prevention must be a year-round endeavor. Do you know the risks associated with fleas, ticks, and heartworm, and how to protect your pet?


Fleas are certainly annoying, and they can cause plenty of suffering for pets and people alike (eradicating a flea infestation is notoriously labor intensive). But beyond their status as irritating pests, fleas can pose health risks to your pet.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Do’s and Don’ts of Pet Boarding

May 16th, 2017 by Oakhurst Staff

pet boardingSpring is here and summer is close on its heels, and for many of us that means the time to make travel plans has arrived. But what happens to the family pet when the summer travel season is upon us? You could bring him or her with you, which can often be fun, but the time and expense of pet-friendly travel plans may be more than many pet owners want to deal with.

Asking family or friends to watch your pet isn’t always the best option either, which leaves many pet owners to look at boarding kennels as the solution to their pet care problem.

Professional pet boarding can provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing your pet is well taken care of while you are away. Indeed, more than 30 million pet owners utilize professional boarding kennels for their pets each year.

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The Forgotten Cat

August 31st, 2015 by Oakhurst Staff


123RTF Old cat Cats are being poorly served when it comes to medical care.  The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are over 90 million cats in homes in the US.  This is 10 to 20 million more cats than dogs. But sadly cats only see the vet a fraction of the time that dogs do.  Cats are endearing, delightful, and loving pets.  Google reports that “Cats” are searched over 30 million times a month on the internet!  The You Tube video Keyboard Cat has been viewed over 41 million times.  There are more multi-cat households than there are multi-dogs households.  Cats bring love and happiness into families and homes.  Anyone who says they don’t like cats, just has never had or known a cat. Read the rest of this entry »

Parasites are Dangerous

May 20th, 2015 by Oakhurst Staff

by Scott Delaney DVM

sikkes and kitties1Parasites are living creatures that eat, live, and survive at the expense of a host animal.  Parasites are the leading cause of disease in dogs and cats.  Common parasites of dogs and cats in Monmouth County, NJ include heartworms, intestinal worms (roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworm, to name a few), mites, ticks, and fleas.  All of these parasites can cause serious problems for pets.  The risk of parasites is very high.  Click here to see the prevalence of parasites in your area.  Many pet parasites can also pose a risk to your family.  The good news is that all of these bad bugs can be prevented with a chewable treat that you give to your pet ONCE A MONTH.  (click on blue words)

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Is Your Pet Boarding Safe?

March 12th, 2015 by Oakhurst Staff

Not all pet boarding facilities, hotels, resorts and camps are the same.  Our pets are our best friend, and we consider them to be family.  Who would you trust to take care of your family?  What safety measures would you want in place to protect your loved ones?  Would you trust them to be taken care of anywhere, with anyone? Read the rest of this entry »

Pet Dental Care Facts & Fallacies

February 12th, 2015 by Oakhurst Staff

shutterstock_MAN WITH CAT AND DOG ON  BENCHDental Care is one of the most important parts of maintaining your pet’s health.  Many pets never receive the dental care they need because of misinformation or a lack of understanding about the facts.

Dental disease is the most common, most preventable, and most treatable problem of dogs and cats.  There are many concerns regarding pet dental treatments and whether or not a pet truly needs a professional dental cleaning.  Here are some of the most common fallacies and facts about Pet Dental Care. Read the rest of this entry »