Raw feeders are the vegans of the dog world. They vary in levels of behaviour from so low-key you don’t even know they follow a specific dietary plan until you see them feed their dog, too so obnoxious you just want to punch them in the face. The latter of the two is almost always the one you notice first.
To be honest the thought of delving into any discussion on dog food terrifies me. The fact is, for the most part people are pretty passionate about what they feed their pets. I think that’s awesome! It also means that any discussion on food quickly escalates into shouting matches, so I’d like to start this off by saying I wish to remain a metaphorical Switzerland in this. I’m neutral on the topic, and everything posted below is simply neutral musings. Please don’t attack me…
I’d also like to apologize in advance if this post is riddled with quotes.
The AVMA has decided, officially, that feeding raw animal products to pets is dangerous. According to them the “animal-source proteins of concern include beef, pork, poultry, fish, and other meat from domesticated or wild animals as well as milk* and eggs.” Milk has a star on it, and when I scrolled down to check that out it was simply stating that nursing puppies don’t need their dam’s milk to be pasteurized. I was curious about milk as I’ve never really looked into raw vs. pasteurized. I ended up on raw-milk-facts.com, and while I know nothing of the site and can’t speak for its credibility they make a statement that I think is wonderful and can be applied to anything:
“Ultimately, you’ll have to draw your own conclusions, but don’t accept the word of any so-called expert (including this site) when it comes to feeding yourself and your family. Question everything you put in your mouth.”
I then found myself on the FDA’s website reading what they had to say. As you’ve probably already guessed, they don’t like raw milk. The reasons for this are that milk can potentially carry Salmonella, E-.coli, and Listeria. The effects of the Lactobacillus brevis in milk as a means of combating these pathogens is questionable and would need further research. I was unable to find concrete scientific evidence in the form of a controlled study, so for you personally revert to Raw-Milk-Fact’s quote.
The Canadian Veterinary Journal published a study on the presence of salmonella in the stool of dogs fed a raw chicken diet. The study contained 10 dogs fed a raw diet and 10 dogs fed kibble. While the study was small and thus somewhat inconclusive, 80% of the raw fed dogs passed some form of salmonella. The researchers believe that if the study had been able to encompass a higher number of dogs the percentage would be even greater. Given that at least 80% of raw fed dogs are consuming salmonella on a regular basis I think it’s safe to assume salmonella does not pose a great health risk to your dog, however that salmonella is still being shed everywhere those dogs go so that’s something to take into consideration.
Any time the AVMA’s stance is brought up someone is bound to say they were paid off by the pet food industry. The one thing I find most questionable, and that makes me doubt that, is that there are plenty of vets that recommend cooking for your pet. It was actually a veterinarian that gave me the final push to switching off kibble. The moment I brought up nutrition she jumped on the opportunity to switch Suki over to a whole food, but cooked, diet. In the AVMA article they state you should provide “fresh, clean, nutritionally balanced and complete commercially prepared or home-cooked food to cats and dogs” as a means of reducing pathogen risk to people and pets.
The other questionable thing is that raw diets are part of the pet food industry! Rawfoodadviser.com lists off just 20 of the possible commercial raw diets out there. Nature’s Variety, a commercial kibble and a part of the pet food industry, manufactures a line of grain-free food called Instinct that also has a raw variety. Instinct Raw can be purchased in the form of frozen, freeze-dried, or a mixture of kibble and freeze-dried. Arguably, just for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, the pet food industry actually stands to gain from society’s new obsession with raw meat. If they didn’t there wouldn’t be so many companies manufacturing raw foods.
The evidence, to me at least, does not point to a pay-off. The AVMA and veterinarians came to this conclusion on their own. Whether you choose to agree with them or not is up to you. I don’t agree with everything veterinarians say, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to blindly follow everything you’re told. Just because the AVMA has taken an official stance against raw doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feed it. Suki’s vet clinic recommends vaccinating for rabies every three years and everything else yearly, but that doesn’t mean I’m forced to bring her in each year. If whatever you’re doing is working for your dog and you’re both healthy, then that’s awesome. That same diet plan may not work for the next person and their dog though, so let’s all stop arguing and just do what works best for us and our individual pets.