Why Feed Raw?
Fur kids have been fed kibbled foods for the past eighty or so years with what seems to be great results. Dogs are not dying outright from starvation or malnutrition, and seem to be happy and fairly healthy. You certainly can get dogs with glossy coats and healthy bodies (healthy being used loosely) that live well into their teens while being fed kibbled foods. Yet the veterinary community has been seeing increases in things like cancer, obesity, diabetes, unilateral hip dysplasia, dermatitises, food allergies, kidney problems, pancreas problems, and liver problems (and their medical techniques and methods have evolved tremendously to deal with these; many veterinarians are very capable people who mean well and can be quite good at treating illness and disease).
The following information is meant as a general guideline, and has been researched from other sources.
Just about every system in the dog has been affected in some way, shape, or form by some disease or problem that did not "exist" prior to the advent of kibbled foods or was not recognized as a big issue in a similar manner as us pet parents are starting to awaking to nutrition ourselves. Part of this increase is due to the fact that more people own pets today and that illnesses are more quickly diagnosed nowadays, but many of these diseases have been shown to have strong links to diet - particularly in human research (like adult onset diabetes and obesity and cancer, for example). Many of our pets' body processes parallel our own, so who is to say that processed food will not affect them similarly?
But on the whole, most people are happy to feed their dogs kibbled food and coexist with smelly dog turds and stinky dog breath. Dogs are dogs; they are supposed to smell, right? Within the past 10-15 years or so it has finally been recognized that stinky breath is a problem for dogs because it underlies a bigger problem: periodontal disease. The pet industry has played off of this tremendously, bringing about an era of pet chews, dental bones, toothbrushes, toothpastes, plaque-scraping foods and chewies and toys, etc. More things to spend your money on because your fur kids needs them to be healthy, right? The problem of big smelly dog turds has everyone up in arms, as these turds pollute our parks, side-walks, streets, and communities. It is the responsible owners or pet parents who have to suffer, as the turd problem has resulted in stricter leash laws, dog ownership laws, and in some communities an outright "dogs are not welcome" attitude, plus a plethora of "quick fixes" to help manage the problem: pooper scoopers, waste digesters, special scooping baggies to carry with you on walks, extra enzymes to add to the dog's food so it will digest more of it. Has anyone ever questioned why they do not treat these problems at their source instead of just dealing with the symptoms as they surface?
Yes, people have questioned this as well as the whole idea of pet food; hence, raw feeding, or natural diets, has been "resurfacing", so to speak. People call it a "fad" without realizing that raw feeding has been around a heck of a lot longer than kibbled foods: one million years of raw to only 100 years - at the most - of kibble. Pelleted, processed food is the fad that has somehow managed to integrate itself into every single aspect of our pets' lives: medical care, training, leisure, nutrition, showing, breeding, you name it. This is, by and large, the way people feed their pets. It is easy, convenient, relatively cheap, and provides a much-needed outlet for all the waste products we as a society create (yep, waste products). Some entrepreneurial person - James Spratt - got the idea of feeding "biscuits" to our dogs as a meal, and the very first dog kibble was born. These biscuits then evolved into foods that contained all the meats and by-products that were no longer fit for human consumption (particularly after the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act and the 1906 Meat Inspection Act was passed in the United States, which created the "meat dichotomy" of "fit for human consumption" and "unfit for human consumption". Something had to be done with all that "unfit" meat...), and thus modern commercial foods were created. Kibbled pet food is simply a by-product of our industrial era that ushered in modernity and the desire to do things cheap, easy, and fast. It is no wonder that many of the big-name brands of dog food are made by companies that create a lot of other food products - Nestle, Mars, Colgate-Palmolive, etc. They have easy access to cheap ingredients made by their own factories.
But kibbled foods have come a long way since their early prototypes. They have improved much, and there are a number of smaller companies that produce holistic, organic, or premium kibbles from human grade ingredients that are of great quality as far as commercial foods go. The majority of pet owners are happy to just feed brand-name, pre-made foods to their pets because it is convenient, easy, and their animals eat the food and appear to do well on it. They are part of the consumer society that swallows slick advertisements hook, line, and sinker. And if there is one thing pet food companies have down, it is advertising. They advertise all over the place: on TV, on the web, in hundreds of magazines, in schools, at dog shows (think of the Eukanuba Tournament of Champions; free bags of the sponsor's kibble are given to the winners at many dog shows.), at zoos, on billboards, and (most importantly) in your veterinarian's office (think of all those shelves filled with Purina foods, Hill's Science Diet, etc.). Raw feeding, however, has no such advertising capabilities, because people are supporting their local butchers, ranchers, farmers, etc., and are encouraging sustainable living practices rather than paying big bucks to make people buy some commercially-produced product. Raw feeding's advertising is through word-of-mouth and through the healthy dogs and cats that are fed such a diet.
One can rightfully ask: why raw and not kibble? People are asking that every day, and some are coming to the realization that while their dogs may be doing well, they could be doing better. This is one of the reasons people switch their pets if their pets do not have some major health problem. They switch because they believe their dogs or cats can have better quality lives if they are fed a raw diet. Sure, the dog's coat may be shiny and it may have a fit body while eating kibble, but they believe raw feeding can make it better and healthier.
A kibble-fed dog, while exhibiting a soft, shiny coat and a seemingly healthy body will often still exhibit the following:
- Dog breath (rancidity and stinkiness may vary)
- Stained teeth, tartar covered teeth, or teeth encrusted with calculus
- Periodontal disease (85% of kibble-fed dogs over the age of 3 have this)
- Itchy skin Doggy odour to coat (varies in intensity)
- Body is too flaccid and may feel soft or 'doughy' to the touch, despite dog maintaining the proper weight
- Large poops relative to body size that do not decompose quickly (softness and stinkiness may vary)
- Small fatty benign tumours that thrive from the constant supply of sugars provided by all the carbohydrates in the diet [Damjanov, I. 2000. Pathology for the Health-Related Professions. W.B. Saunders Company. pg 80 (Amazon)]
- Greasy feel to the coat (greasiness may vary), resulting in frequent (once a month or more) bathing
- Premature ageing caused by periodontal disease and immune system "overload" (immune system is constantly working against the toxins pouring into the body from the mouth and is in a constant state of arousal [Dr Tom's book])
Most people consider all the above-mentioned problems normal (how did we get to the point where we consider all this normal?). Since most people have never encountered raw fed dogs, they do not know what they are looking for and do not have anything to which they can compare their dogs. They may think their dog's breath and health is fine until they smell a raw-fed dog's breath and "see" its health, just like many people think their dog is "well-trained" (it "sits" and "comes" when they ask...sometimes) until they come across a truly impeccably trained animal.
Raw feeding owners have woken up to the fact that their pets could have a better quality of life if they were fed a species appropriate raw diet that nature designed for them. They realized that there is a big difference between eating enough to survive and eating well. Kibble provided their pets with sufficient caloric intake and seemed to meet all their pets' nutritional requirements, but were their animals really living well and healthfully? They said 'no', and turned to a more natural way of feeding their animals.
Our advice: feed a fresh raw food diet to your fur kids. It's the most important component to promote a long and healthy life for your animals. You might see such radical changes that you'll be inspired to overhaul your own diet! We ended up doing just that!
However, we also realise that many of our pet parents and guardians need convenience in your busy lives. We want fast food and our food fast - for our animals and for ourselves. The easy answer is dry food, the answer most of us accepted with little thought about the effect of dry food on general health of our fur kids. Food has not been considered very important for human health for a long time, let alone for our pets. However, we are beginning to understand that there is no substitute for eating real food ourselves. The same is true for our fur kids. Many of the chronic and acute diseases suffered by humans and animals are directly related to diet.
If your fur kids are already bursting with health, you may not see a big difference when you switch to fresh food. If your fur kid has chronic health problems, you are likely to see those improvements. You may notice that some of the small problems you thought were "just age" have diminished, even disappeared.
We think you'll see and feel a big change.