To Raw or Not to Raw Feed your fur kids ...
One of the many reasons pet parents cite for feeding a raw diet is that it is a more “natural” diet for dogs. The theory is that wild canines would eat a diet mainly consisting of raw meat and bones, so pet parents should try and mimic this diet when feeding their pets. However, our fur kids that live in our homes today do not resemble their wild cousins as purely as claimed by many internet sources.
Humans have bred dogs to have a range in size from the tiny Papillon to the massive Neapolitan Mastiff, and a variety of builds from the light-framed Whippet to the bulky Bulldog. In addition, there are breeds like the Bedlington Terrier that are prone to specific nutrient deficiencies. With all of these physiological differences between our pets and wild canines, can we be certain that what a wild canine eats are indeed an ideal diet for Fluffy, Max, Spot and Charlie?
Did You Know? The World Canine Organization, best known by its French title Fédération Cynologique Internationale, is the largest registry of dog breeds that is internationally accepted. At the time of this writing the FCI recognizes 339 unique breeds of dogs which are divided into 10 groups based upon the dog’s purpose or function or upon its appearance or size.
One of the biggest challenges in deciding whether to feed a raw diet is the overwhelming amount of conflicting information - this has been partially driven by a movement paralleled in the human food marketplace for natural and organic products - and the fact that much of the information on the topic of pet nutrition and dietary requirements are anecdotal in nature, still today. There are numerous websites and message boards praising the virtues of a raw diet and there are others condemning raw diets as unsafe and unhealthy. When choosing how and what to feed your fur kids, you need balanced information - information that outlines both the good and bad so that an educated choice can be made.
As we are passionate about our fur kids and their health, our site outlines the major benefits and concerns regarding a raw diet. If we have applied our efforts correctly, then the information we provide here will help guide you in your decision making process. Keep in mind there are benefits and risks associated with all choices of food for your fur kids, so you must decide if the benefits of a raw diet based on the concept biologically specie appropriate raw diet outweigh the potential risks. When making the best choice for your fur kids, it’s important to remember that what is right for you and your fur kids may not be right for someone else and their dog. A raw diet may not be appropriate for all fur kids and before you decide what is right for your fur kids, you should discuss your options with your veterinarian. Consulting a canine or small animal nutritionist can also be highly beneficial when designing a diet specific to your dog’s requirements.
When reading through our site and articles, you will gain an understanding of the nutrients involved in feeding your fur kids, and you have to decide what you are going to feed him or her. Will you feed a prepared processed food? If so, which ones are the most healthful and natural?
Or would you prefer, like many other pet parents who approach pet care with a holistic mind set, to feed a diet as good as a home made diet? If you choose a home made diet, should the food be fed raw or should it be cooked? Many pet parents and veterinarians have firm opinions when asked these questions.
Just what constitutes the best or most appropriate diet is quite a controversial topic, and there are as many opinions as there are vets. Often the opinions are based more on emotion than on objective medical facts. And when it comes to finding facts to back one view or the other, sometimes they are hard to find.
“Today, more than 95% of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.”
No matter which type of diet – home made, raw or processed – is chosen, it must meet at least five requirements, as defined by Dr. Shawn Messonnier in his book titled "Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats":
- The diet must contain the proper amount and balance of essential nutrients required by your fur kids;
- The ingredients must be of high nutritional quality so that your fur kids can effectively digest, absorb, and utilise the dietary nutrients;
- The diet should be palatable so that your fur kids will eat it;
- The diet should contain minimal to no fillers such as animal or plant by-products, or if by-products are present, as in the case of some prescription-type diets for sick pets, the diet should contain the least amount of by-products;
- The diet should contain no artificial colours, flavours, chemical preservatives, or additives, when possible.
In the end, we therefore recommend that no matter which type of diet you choose to feed your fur kids, it should meet the above requirements.
What are my options?
In order to appreciate the difference between our offerings and the other options (McCan or McKibble) available to you, it’s important to learn to read the label and understand the differences behind the ingredients listed in these offerings.
There will always be some individual dogs who cannot tolerate some raw foods. In our humble opinion, it’s sheer stupidity to persist in feeding raw foods to raw-intolerant dogs, even in the face of physical evidence that the dog is not thriving, and may even be declining in health, simply because one feels that “raw is best for all dogs.” Don’t let the Emperor’s tailor convince you otherwise!
In taking on this gargantuan challenge - learning, assimilating, documenting and educating our potential pet parents and guardians on raw feeding, we spent much time reviewing scientific papers, reading books, internet and social sites related to the issues of canine and feline nutrition and how a raw, home cooked or commercial diets might affect your pets health. We also draw from many leading specialists and thought leaders, such as Dr Jean Dodds, Dr Judy Morgan, Dr Karen Becker, Dr Ron Hines, Dr Richard Pitcairn, Dr Shawn Messonnier, Dr Nick Thompson, Dr Bruce Syme, Dr Vicky Payne, and of course, Dr Billinghurst, Dr Lonsdale, and many others, sources such as the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, in order to provide you with as much evidence-based conclusions - not conclusions based on our intuition or self-interest. We have included as many possible and relevant up-to-date references for your perusal.
In our view, the decision really ought to be based on what your fur kid “says” about his or her diet. If, after a fair trial, typically up to perhaps three months, on a complete and balanced raw diet, he’s got more health and / or behaviour problems than he did before the trial, a smart pet parent should start a new trial including cooked foods, or revert to one of the commercial prescription diets available via your vet.
Similarly, there is no use denying that some pet parents cannot bring themselves to prepare and feed raw foods. It doesn’t really matter why they can’t or won’t, because if they don’t believe in what they are doing, and feel really good about it, their fur kids are bound to experience trouble with the diet. And nothing good will result from trying to make them feel bad about their decision, or attempting to force or guilt them into a different course of action. For this reason, you will find Champion foods under our brands - a premium alternative to raw diets.
In our opinion, true holistic care for dogs is, by definition, tailored for the individual – and that’s the individual fur kid and pet parent. We strongly encourage pet parents to think for themselves and do what they think is best: feed raw, cook, or do both; to observe their own dogs with open minds, staying alert to any improvement or decline in their dogs’ condition; and to remain flexible and willing to change their approach in response to the evidence in front of them.
Additional Articles and Videos
For an excellent, unbiased overview (in our minds) of the arguments for and against feeding raw diets to dogs, see Love Me Tender ? .... Or Should My Pet Be Eating A Raw Meat Diet? [ref] by Ron Hines, DVM, PhD, as well as Dr Karen Becker's series on why raw is important (Part 1 [ref], Part 2 [ref] and Part 3 [ref]). There are many more resources available. Don't forget about Dr Lonsdale, Dr Becker and Dr Billinghursts' books on raw feeding, as well as Thomas Sandberg's book [ref] to help fund the Odin project [ref].