Following the success of the previous raw feeding vet interview, I recently had the opportunity to interview the Holistic vet himself, Nick Thompson.
Nick is a fully trained vet with over 23 years experience, he has also trained in homeopathy, acupuncture, natural nutrition and veterinary herbal medicine.
We ran through topics such as vets, supplements, vaccinations and raw diets, read through to the end to listen to the full audio version of the interview.
Raw food is the best thing for most dogsNick Thompson
After speaking with a lot of vets, a major concern of theirs is maintaining a balanced raw diet, how would you recommend this is achieved?
The only people I know to be producing a diet which conforms to FEDIAF guidelines is Nature’s Menu. For the DIY feeders I’d recommend plenty of variety. I would use something like Wickedly Raw or one of the good quality mineral and vitamin supplements, but if you’re giving plenty of variety and you’re taking advice from an experienced raw feeder, or from a vet, or from a good book, then you should be fine.
Do you recommend any supplements?
The easiest way to do it is to do a food based supplement with lots of elements in it, I would go with Wickedly Raw Superfoods, I think it’s a fantastic supplement and should be used on a regular basis.
Another concern for vets is campylobacter infections, how would you respond to them?
If the food has been frozen, that will dramatically reduce campylobacter, it needs at least two weeks at -18°C.
The thing is, campylobacter is present in a lot of normal dogs so if you’ve got a dog who’s got diarrhoea and the diagnosis comes out with campylobacter, is it a pathological campylobacter and is it that which caused the diarrhoea or is it to do with food intolerance or something like that.
I think that the campylobacter picture is somewhat confused and there are a lot of puppy diarrhoeas which are blamed on campylobacter, which may not be campylobacter.
Is a raw diet for all dogs?
I would say for most dogs, yes. I think most dogs can benefit from a raw food diet.
When wouldn’t you feed raw?
If they’ve tried raw and they won’t eat it or they can’t tolerate it, that would be a case. Or if they’ve got a condition for which you couldn’t create a raw food diet, that would be another one.
If they were dramatically immunosuppressed, and I’m talking dramatically immunosuppressed, the normal bacteria that you get in a raw food diet may not be appropriate but I’ve never come across that.
It’s raw, raw is good, it’s what they’ve been eating for a million years.
What about a dog who’s had stomach or bowel surgery? I see no problems.
What do you think of steam cooked diets, those branded as a safe alternative to raw, is it comparable to raw?
No, I don’t think it is because it’s not raw. I mean raw food is the best thing for most dogs. Steamed foods are steamed foods and there are pro’s and con’s for those foods. I think in that situation, I would say it depends on the individual really.
If you’re on holiday in some caravan and you can’t feed raw, then steamed food’s great because I’d rather it was steamed and lightly cooked than it was a heavy, processed kibble or something like that.
Is it a step in the right direction?
It’s a step in the right direction because nutrition is a continuum. At the bottom, you’ve got these super cheap, economy brand kibble. At top, you’ve got home prepared organic raw that you raise and kill yourself and it’s a continuum and any step that moves in that direction is a good step.
Hills or Purina kibble is a very good thing if previously you were on a very poor quality kibble. It’s not if you took it relative to a reasonable raw food diet and a good quality raw food diet is better than a reasonable quality raw food diet. It’s all about moving up the spectrum to feed the best thing that you’re capable of and the best thing that you can afford.
Do you vaccinate your own dogs?
I’m pretty skeptical about vaccination – I haven’t vaccinated my kids, for example, but dogs live in a world where fatal infectious diseases are around, even in the UK, so there may be a case in some dogs. I do think we vaccinate too much, though, and titre test too little.
Do you do titre test them?
I should do but before I knew him, he was vaccinated and he is cosseted beyond belief so his chance of getting Lepto is zero and his chance of getting Parvo is also zero. If he wasn’t already vaccinated I would titre test.
What about lung/round worm, fleas, ticks etc?
For lung worm and round worm, you can do a Wormcount. You can’t test for tapeworms but if you’ve got tapeworms you can usually see bits of rice or bits of ticker-tape coming out the back end. I advise using Verm-X and doing worm egg counts, generally speaking.
Are there any special recommendations for hyperthyroidism?
Raw foods, minimise flea treatments and extraneous pharmaceuticals. Use thyroxine if necessary.
Don’t worm them pharmaceuticals because it makes no difference. They will pass on worms whether they’re wormed or not. Feed them really, really well. As they get later in pregnancy, their appetite will increase.
Consequently, when I was in practice, we saw a lot of bitches with eclampsia, they couldn’t mobilise calcium. I haven’t seen a raw fed bitch with eclampsia. So I suspect that because they’re eating a natural source of calcium, that they’re in better shape. I use Verm-X in pregnant bitches all the time.
What about if the dog has had a liver shunt?
If dogs have liver shunts, you’ve got to be careful about protein and so I think it’s possible to create a very good raw food diet for a dog with a shunt. One has to often create a homemade diet anyway, so if you can home make the diet with cooked food, you can home make a diet with raw food for a shunting dog.
If you can’t freeze your food, say if you’re travelling, what would you recommend?
Steamed, go for steamed. I think Nature’s Menu they do that. There’s a company that I’ve come across, Fleischeslust, pretty expensive but pretty good quality, it’s kind of organic and they do deer and horse and all sorts of things.