So, you may have heard it once or twice – Feeding Raw – but what does it mean? Does it mean your little fluff ball, Bandit, will become bloodthirsty and wild? What about parasites or bacteria? What’s wrong with the “special” food your vet sells you?
Ultimately, feeding a raw diet to your dog (or cat, for that matter) is about common sense. Your playful Pomeranian, sassy Schnauzer or loveable Lab all have the same digestive system as wolves, coyotes, and other wild dogs. Wild dogs are carnivores, and so is your pooch. Their diet primarily consists of raw meat, organs and bones.
So what makes your dog, a carnivore (meat eater), different from you, an omnivore (can eat plants and meat)? There are a variety of factors including:
– Dentition (the development of teeth and their arrangement in the mouth)
– Musculature and external anatomy (dog/cat bodies are designed for a carnivorous, hunting lifestyle)
– Internal anatomy and physiology (lack of enzymes to break down starches and carbohydrates – including grains, fruits and vegetables, lack of bacteria that break down cellulose and starch, and a shorter gastrointestinal tract than omnivores).
So, if your best four-legged friend is a carnivore, why does most commercial kibble contain grains, wheat, soy, barley and/or corn? Even if “meat” is the first ingredient, all of these other fillers combined can, and likely do, equal more than the quantity of “meat products”.
I say “meat” because the meat in kibble is often, what pet nutritionists refer to as “4-D meat”, dead, dying, diseased or down (disabled). The animals this meat comes from are often sick or near death at the time of slaughter, and thus are pumped full of medications, antibiotics and other synthetic substances in a desperate attempt to save them. Often, the “meat” is transported in trucks that are not refrigerated, left outside, or in unprotected areas. From this lovely selection, in an effort to further reduce costs, many pet food companies use animal by-products. This can consist of feet, backs, lungs, heads, brains, spleen, frames, intestines and undeveloped eggs. And if you see “generic by-product meals” in the ingredient list, your pet’s food can contain road kill, dead zoo animals, dead-on-arrival poultry, or euthanized pets from animal shelters. Through the course of rendering, processing and drying, the “food” is heated four times (this is according to The Pet Food Institute), effectively destroying any remaining enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
If you think your canned food is any better, think again. Essentially, the same heated, rendered “meat products” are used, moisture and other ingredients are added, and the food is cooked in the can or container it is sold in.
Kibble and canned pet food are high in sodium, and can also contain dyes, carcinogens and preservatives, leading to many degenerative diseases and more visits to the vet.
A complete raw diet, on the other hand, should contain raw, fresh, human-grade meat, organs and finely ground bones as its primary ingredients. Believe it or not, this will supply your pet with the nutritional requirements to thrive. Complete raw blends often contain additional ingredients such as cooked eggs (promotes healthy coat, boosts vitamin/protein content), parsley flakes, and MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane for joint support) but these additional ingredients should be supplemental, not fundamental. A raw diet should contain no dyes, preservatives or fillers. Fillers can include excessive fruit/vegetable products, blood or water.
Benefits of a raw diet can include:
- Elimination of many skin issues
- Great oral / dental health
- Higher energy
- Helps maintain healthy weight
- Healthier coats
- Decreased allergic reactions
- Improved joint health
- Natural flea repellence
- Boosted immunity
- Firm stool with less offensive odour
There are several studies that demonstrate that feeding raw is more beneficial than cooked.
“In December 1995, the British Journal of Small Animal Practice published a paper contending that processed pet food suppresses the immune system and leads to liver, kidney, heart and other diseases. Dr. Kollath, of the Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm, headed the study done on animals. When young animals were fed cooked and processed foods they initially appeared to be healthy. However, as the animals reached adulthood, they began to age more quickly than normal and also developed chronic degenerative disease symptoms. A control group of animals raised on raw foods aged less quickly and were free of degenerative disease.”
There is also a book called, “Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition” in which Dr. Francis M. Pottenger conducted a ten-year study with over 900 cats. He determined the optimal diet for his cats was 2/3 raw meat, 1/3 raw milk, plus a little cod liver oil. Here’s what is interesting: If either the meat or milk was cooked, the cats’ health degenerated.
Dr. William Pollak D.V.M. says, “Recent studies have shown processed foods to be a factor in increasing the numbers of pets suffering from cancer, arthritis, obesity, dental disease, and heart disease. Dull or unhealthy coats are a common problem with cats and dogs and, according to many veterinarians and breeders, poor diet is usually the cause. “Dogs, cats, and other animals live for years on foods that come out of bags, cans and boxes. But do these foods promote health? If they did, our companion animals would enjoy long, happy lives free of arthritis, hip dysplasia, eye problems, ear problems, fleas and other parasites, gum disease, lick granulomas, thyroid imbalances, skin and coat problems, personality disorders, birth defects, breeding problems, diabetes, cancer and other major and minor illnesses. Before World War II, most North Americans fed their pets raw bones and table scraps. Today, everyone uses convenience foods, and pet food companies are industry giants. Diet isn’t the only thing that has changed, so has life expectancy. The life span of many breeds is now less than half what it was two or three decades ago. Skin and coat problems are so common that we accept them as unavoidable, and today’s vets routinely treat conditions that used to be unusual or even rare.”
Some of you might have heard of a raw diet before and not like what they’ve heard. There are a lot of misconceptions/myths floating around about feeding your cat or dog a raw diet. Some of these include:
Myth: Feeding raw will make my pet become wild or bloodthirsty.
Fact: This idea is a myth. There is NO relationship between eating raw meat and wanting to kill animals. Whole, natural raw food is what dogs ate before the invention of kibble in the 1930’s. Feeding an animal the way nature intended will only add to its overall health and well-being. Research does indicate, though, that behavioural problems may result from being fed an inadequate diet.
Myth: The risk of bacteria in raw meat outweighs the benefits.
Fact: You should always follow safe handling practices when feeding a raw diet to your pet, the same way you would with meat products you would consume (wash hands/surfaces, eliminate cross-contamination, etc.). As far as your dog getting sick from bacteria; this is a myth. Dog saliva contains a bacteria-killing enzyme. In addition, raw-fed dogs do not have plaque on their teeth (which kibble causes), making it a less habitable place for bacteria to thrive. The bacteria does not remain in the mouth of a raw-fed dog, therefore you won’t get sick from your dog interacting with you after eating their raw meal.
Myth: Bones are bad for dogs
Fact: Cooked and inappropriately sized bones are dangerous for dogs to eat. They can cause obstruction, tearing of internal organs, and choking. Raw bones (either in finely ground form or appropriately-sized for your dog) are not bad for dogs to consume, and contain many nutrients beneficial to your dog.
Myth: My pet will get parasites from eating raw food.
Fact: If the meat contained in your pet’s raw food diet is fit for human consumption, this issue is practically non-existent. This is often a scare tactic used by opponents of raw diets. On the rare chance your pet picks up a parasite, it can be safely dealt with in a healthy dog. On the other hand, a dog eating kibble is MORE LIKELY to develop complications from picking up a parasite, because they will have a compromised immune system.
Myth: My veterinarian is an expert on pet nutrition, and he/she says feeding raw is bad.
Fact: There are a variety of reasons why many non-holistic veterinarians don’t recommend feeding raw.
First of all, most vets do not have a background in nutrition. Yes, they receive a little nutrition training as part of their overall education, but they are not nutrition specialists.
Also, most pets can “get by” on kibble, so a vet might tell you that it isn’t necessary for you to examine your pet’s diet. Your pet likely won’t thrive, and could end up with health issues, but people have been feeding kibble for years and their pets have been “fine”…..right?
Feeding raw can be the best thing you can do for your pet. Unfortunately, if done incorrectly, it can also be the worst. That is why it is important to feed your pet a well-balanced, premium raw diet, like Petobee, to eliminate these risks. If a pet-owner doesn’t have much time to do the proper research, and decides to make their own raw diet to feed their dog, they could be putting their pet at risk for nutritional deficiencies, injury from cooked or improperly-sized bones, or illness from low-quality, non human-grade meat products. Because vets likely end up seeing many of these types of raw-fed pets in their offices, and the fact that your pet can “get by” on kibble, they may be wary of recommending feeding raw, and default to the supposedly safe choice of kibble. That being said, thousands of pets die each year from choking on their kibble, and there are many non-raw pet food recalls that occur each year.
Some vets may also cite bacteria and the risk of you, the pet-owner, getting sick from feeding your pet a raw diet. As we established earlier, however, you have no more risk of getting sick from feeding Petobee than you do from your own chicken or hamburger meat that you purchase from the grocery store.
Finally, many vets sell, and profit from selling, products such as Royal Canin, Veterinary Exclusive Nutrition formulas for your dog or cat. How many pets owners do you know of that “have” to feed their pet the “special” food from the vet?
If you would like a veterinary’s opinion on switching your dog or cat to eating raw food, consult a holistic veterinarian who has nutrition training for the best advice.
The bottom line: feeding raw to your dog or cat is common sense. When was the last time you heard of farmers complaining about wolves or coyotes attacking their wheat or corn fields? Do your own research. Helpful websites include: www.rawfed.com/myths and www.thewholedog.org
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The information contained on www.petobee.com is intended as education/information only. All of the articles on www.petobee.com have been researched and reviewed for accuracy; however they are not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a holistic veterinarian or other qualified holistic pet health professional. Petobee does not assume any legal responsibility.