Raw Food Dog Diet

46 | Posted:

By Sophia Yin, DVM, MS

R.I.P. 1966-2014

Q) I have a dog and 2 cats on a homemade raw diet made under recommendation of a holistic vet. I grind whole chickens with bone and skin, raw veggies and add vitamins and essential fatty acids. I have been doing this for about 3 years and my pets have well formed stools and shiny coats. My dog started all of this because of skin allergies, which since have disappeared. What is your advice on raw diets?

A) While the majority of pet owners use commercial pet foods, others opt for diets that seem more natural. The idea behind diets of uncooked cuisine is that since dogs and cats evolved on raw foods, especially meat, these raw food diets must be the best and, since cooking is known to destroy some vitamins such as thiamine and possibly some unknown compounds, that commercial diets aren’t as nutritionally sound.

Most traditional veterinarians discourage such homemade diets though. They warn against the dangers of parasites and bacteria growing rampant in raw foods and the evils of bones getting stuck in stomach or intestines. But if your pet’s on a back-to-the-basics diet and doing great, who would argue with results?

It turns out that any board certified veterinary nutritionist would. According to Dr. Sean Delaney, current Chair of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and previous  small animal clinical nutritionist at UC Davis, the risk of obstruction, parasitic infection, or bacterial infection is real.

“I recall seeing an adult Chihuahua on a raw food diet that included whole bone,” says Delaney, “He came in on emergency because he couldn’t eat and he was making choking sounds.” Radiographs of his neck showed a bone stuck in his esophagus.

Delaney also points out that there are many veterinary reports of animals on these diets coming in with bacterial blood infections. Additionally an outbreak of Salmonella in humans in Canada was traced back to dogs that had eaten treats infected with the bacteria even though these dogs had no clinical signs themselves. Similarly, using raw food diets puts children and immuno-compromised individuals at risk.

But, perhaps to a nutritionist, the major concern with these raw diets is that they are not nutritionally balanced. According to a report in the The Journal of Veterinary Medical Association, when veterinary nutritionists at Tufts tested three homemade raw food diets —the BARF diet, the Ultimate diet and the Volhard diet – all showed serious imbalances.

Says Delaney, “Raw food diets are most commonly deficient in calcium and phosphorus even if bone is included because calcium can be poorly absorbed from whole bone.”  In fact the Chihuahua with the obstruction had been on this diet for a year and had osteopenia, or thinning of the bones.

While this little guy had no fractures, fractures due to calcium or phosphorus imbalance are not rare. Recently Delaney examined a kitten (one of three kittens similarly affected) on a raw food diet that had come in for lameness.

“X-rays showed that it had a fractured femur (a bone in the thigh) and pelvis due to thinning of the bones,” says Delaney.  “We put them on a commercial kitten diet and, within a couple of days, the generalized lameness went away.” Within several weeks, the lameness due to the fractures went away and, by six weeks, the fractures were healed and the bone was back to normal density.

Delaney admits that grinding the bone can solve the obstruction problem and greatly improve the calcium and phosphorus imbalances, but it doesn’t solve the other nutritional problems.

“Even with the most careful preparation these diets have deficiencies in nutrients,” he states. Wild cats and dogs eat their whole prey including the liver, intestines, skin and fur so they get all the nutrients they need.

Interestingly, because the meat-based raw diets are high in fat, pets have a lustrous coat. The diets still aren’t as high in fat as prey items such as mice which may be comprised of 50% fat. Thus, pets may still not get enough of the essential fatty acids, but supplementation can take care of this and can also improve certain skin conditions. Additionally these diets may lack in taurine, an amino acid cats need that’s high in whole mice but not adequate in many meats.

Diets are often also lacking sources for all of the vitamins and frequently contain no source of trace metals such as zinc, iron and copper. Without these, the pet will develop an anemia which you might notice as a vague decline in athletic performance but would only discover on blood work.

Even if nutritionists find all the required elements in these homemade diets, they may not be balanced. This is complicated by the fact that excess levels of one compound such as zinc may cause depletion of another such as copper.

So what do nutritionists recommend? Commercial diets are their first choice. Choose one that’s AAFCO certified as balanced using feeding trials.

Delaney adds, “Owners perceive commercial foods as having things they aren’t comfortable with such as by-products. Interestingly, since dogs and cats in the wild eat their prey whole, by products are probably closer to what animals would eat in the wild rather than a diet composed primarily of flesh meat.”

People who want to prepare their pet’s meals or whose pets have medical conditions such as food allergies, that require special diets, should have their diets formulated by a board certified veterinary nutritionist and should always cook their meat.

For recommendations on nutritionists, contact the American College of Veterinary Nutrition or the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition.

To have a custom homemade diet designed for your pet, visit the following websites:

Pet Nutrition Consulting

Pet Diets

Balance It

Modified from an article originally appearing in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004.

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46 responses to “Raw Food Dog Diet

  1. Thank you so much for this article. You’ll probably get tons of flak (and possibly hate mail!) from raw food diehards, but I appreciate knowing the possible drawbacks of giving our dogs raw. Right now we are on a half raw/half kibble diet, and it has been tough to find balanced information that isn’t fanatical. Again, thanks for being a voice of reason in a discussion that often gets heated and overly emotional.

  2. I am a veterinarian and I whole-heartedly agree with the veterinary nutritionists’ point of view. I overheard a conversation the other night between a couple of dog owners and a trainer (CPDT). The trainer was in favor of raw diets and felt that they were far superior to any commercial diets. One point she made was that not only were they higher in water content but that dry kibble diets keep dogs in a constant state of dehydration and that there is no way any dog can drink enough water to compensate for the lack of water in the kibble. Of course dry kibble diets are lower in water, but I have yet to see a case of dehydration that was secondary to eating a dry commercial diet (provided water is available, of course). Do you have any thoughts on this whole “raw diets and water/hydration” topic?

  3. “Wild cats and dogs eat their whole prey including the liver, intestines, skin and fur so they get all the nutrients they need.”

    Raw feeders that know what they’re doing always feed a proper ratio of bone/offal/muscle content. Feeding raw is not so simple as to thrown down a pound of ground beef and a chicken neck. It’s unfortunate that veterinarians continue to force foods that are AAFCO certified (like Iams and Science Diet) down our throats while scaring people with the minimal risk of feeding raw if you do it properly.

    Is it time consuming, yes. Is it wrong to feed kibble? Most definitely not! There are some excellent kibbles out there. But what did nature intend for your dog? I can assure you it’s not heavily processed corn and wheat gluten.

  4. I have only recently switched to feeding my dogs raw in the past year. The change was made because my Miniature Schnauzer has serious protein allergies as well as bladder infection issues and required something homemade anyway. My vet felt that her high protein kibble was what caused the bladder stones. I have to admit she has never been healthier. This is the first I’ve been able to feed her more than 1/4 cup of food a day without her gaining excess weight and her energy level is great!

    Until commercial diets become better in quality I couldn’t imagine feeding them. Currently I don’t believe pet owners have good choices available to them. In the meantime I will continue to feed raw. My protein comes from organic, grass fed livestock and is local. Anyone who feeds raw needs to be vigilant about their protein sources just as they should be for their own meat.

    I also believe every dog is different. I have seen dogs thrive on certain diets while others can’t eat them. Pet owners should try a variety of foods and choose what’s best for their pets. If you are feeding raw regular trips to the vet to check blood work and general health are imperative because it’s easier for owners to make mistakes.

  5. It’s great to have some factual data about the dangers of raw food diets. Since I don’t believe most pet owners know much about canine nutrition let alone human nutrition, I do not support feeding raw food to dogs and will NOT guarantee the health of any puppy I sell to anyone who feeds a raw diet.

  6. I’ve been feeding my dogs raw for 3+ years. The three diets that were studied for nutritional soundness – the BARF diet, the Ultimate diet and the Volhard diet – are indeed incomplete. I feed what is considered a whole prey, as well as a “frankenprey” diet. When I can afford whole prey, my dogs get whole, furred, completely intact animals. They get 100% of what they should get, no supplements needed! I can’t always afford whole prey, and a frankenprey diet consists of 80% meat, 10% edible bone, 5% liver, and 5% other organs. None of the other diets have this breakdown, and they include needless ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, dairy, and a slew of supplements. My dogs get blood tests and check ups regularly and are very healthy dogs. I’m quite sad that you would go to such lengths to dismiss what’s essentially the “perfect” diet.

    1. Totally agree with you. Vets seem brain washed to push commercial food at you. I suggested to my vet that the reason for my dogs ill health may be down to her diet, we changed to another expensive commercial brand that he sold in house . A year later & Nearly £1000 worth of tests and a tonne of antibiotics I took the decision to feed Raw and within three weeks her health was back! She was no longer incontinent, smelly and her sores and redness on paws and stomach had disappeared. The vet thought the medication had cleared it up, id stopped the medication months before because it wasn’t doing the job!

    2. I disagree. While many raw diets are incomplete (I have fed very incomplete raw diets in the past); I am now feeding Wendy Volhard’s NDF2 and it is in fact the most complete raw diet that I have found. In the past three years I have not seen one dog do poorly on her diet. Ettel E, did you work with a consultant? How did you hear about the Volhard diet? Did someone help you transition your dog to it? Did you do the blood work the book suggests?

  7. I appreciate the discussion about the risks of raw feeding yet I don’t think this article fully and scientifically evaluates all the facts. Every form of feeding comes with risks. Dogs eating commercially prepared foods die from bloat and have severe dental problems which can lead to infection and death.
    This article is evocative and tries to sway the reader with strong rhetoric veiled as facts. For example, the outbreak of salmonella in contaminated Canadian treats vaguely sited has no mention of whether or not it came from a raw food source.
    I’m actually surprised, well saddened really, that someone with such a sophisticated way of thinking about animal behavior would post this article.
    There are some major logical fallacies presented in this article as reasons for not feeding raw. Besides the elephant in the room of how prior to the creation of commercialized pet food in the 1950s dogs thrived for thousands of years, the actual scientific studies of raw feeding animals cautions even just cooking fresh foods. Pottenger’s ten year cat colony studies come readily to mind.
    More importantly, pets die from contaminated commercially “cooked” prepared pet food because of deplorable standards and practices approved and governed by AAFCO. There feeding trials are not scientifically sound. AAFCO approves companies such as Gravy Train, Little Cesars, Alpo, and Ol’ Roy. The average person can deduce that fresh prepared foods would be a healthier option for any living being. What human doctor would recommend that for the rest of your life you can only eat things out of packaging able to sit at room temperature on the shelf in the grocery store.
    I sincerely hope you re-evaluate the content of this article.

  8. Dear Nixie,

    I’m sorry that I have not come to the same conclusion/the popular conclusion that you have come to. The fact is that I attend several veterinary conferences per year and generally at each conference a veterinary nutritionist talks about raw food diets. To date, no board certified veterinary nutritionists recommend raw food diets and each time I interview nutritionists they present me with case studies illustrating the reasons why.

    Additionally, while an unusually high amount of commercial foods have undergone voluntary recalls due to high counts of salmonella ( in which outbreaks did not necessarily occur), most raw food has salmonella and other bacteria that can be transmitted to immunocompromised humans. If in individual wants to take that risk, then that is fine for the individual. As a veterinarian, it would be irresponsible for me to pretend that the risk is the same for raw and commercial foods.

    To read a Public Health veterinarian’s answers to common questions about raw food, go to Dr. Scott Meese’s Wormsandgermsblog.

  9. The popular conclusion is yours actually for very few people know and believe in home-prepared and raw, though more and more people are becoming frustrated with commercial pet foods and seeing first hand the difference home prepared and raw diets offer. They typically have to exhaust every other option first and go against the grain (pun intended) to try it. I find it interesting that the logical conclusions I mentioned of fresh ingredients versus processed room temperature stable kibbles was not addressed in your reply. Nor where many other rational unbiased conclusions addressed. And seriously, how can an animal eating bone have a calcium and phosphorus deficiency? And those “voluntary recalls” of pet foods contaminated with pathogens neglects to consider the ones involving most likely thousands of animals with kidney failure and fatal exposure to melamine and cyanuric acid. We can’t know for sure the exact number though because of the lack of regulation and independent testing for the pet food industry.
    I know first hand how imbedded large corporations are within veterinary “science” and that independent funding is virtually nonexistent. Board certified veterinary nutritionists are certified by whom with funding from whom? What long term unbiased scientific studies have been done that they have as evidence? What case studies do you speak of? And what studies examine the transmission of pathogens from raw fed dogs or cats to humans?
    Do you have any knowledge or comprehension of the Pottenger’s cat study? The study was conducted before commercialized pet foods and over the course of ten years with more than 900 subjects and three generations. He started studying the effects of raw versus cooked meat because of the noticeable healthy benefits to his research animals he was using for an entirely different purpose. The study concluded that the animals actually physically deteriorated because of cooked food.
    And I’m really curious; do the wolves you’ve interacted with eat Science Diet at the sanctuary?

  10. Thank you so much for posting this article, I have been to your veterinary behavior seminars and loved them, but couldn’t agree more with your view on raw food diets. It is so sad to see so many dogs and cats put on this dangerous diet by owners who refuse to listen to the health professionals, and would rather endanger their pets on this diet. I have seen too many dogs die from eating raw bones, and even more dogs/cats sickened from raw diets. Your article was well written, and will definitely be passed along to the rest of the staff at my vet clinic.

  11. I was surprised to note that there were no comments posted by people like me who ‘saute’ the meat protein. Technically, it’s not raw diet, but a homemade diet. To the cooled, sauted meat I add powdered bone meal, lightly steamed vegetables and some raw fruit, and cooked oatmeal(to make up ~30% of the bulk.) We cook up enough for five or six weeks at a time and freeze the extra. The dogs need a lot less of this food than kibble so there’s a lot less stool and it hardly smells at all. They have great breath and no flatulence. I feed twice a day; I add a squirt of salmon oil and (once a day) a multi (dog) vitamin that has all the necessary trace elements. My dogs look healthy (skin, coat, nails, teeth etc.) act healthy (in Rally, Agility, and walk at least 1 hr daily.)From time to time I’ve had blood-work done to evaluate their nutritional health and it’s always comes back as perfect. True, this way of feeding is a bit more work and a bit more expensive, but I almost never have to take them to the vet and when I see my 8 yr old Aussie leap into the air like a two year old to catch a frisbee with his leg muscles bulging, his coat gleaming and his eyes shining… it’s worth it!!

  12. when a man want to control their diet then they should avoid some fat food. it is very good to your dieting. thanks

  13. Great article. Now that we are in the 21st century, some people want to go back to the cavemen days and forget about food safety etc. Ridiculous.

  14. Interesting how most of us manage to feed ourselves and our children without resorting to prepackaged foods prepared by nutritionists. In fact, unless you’re living on the space station, we’re all encouraged to eat a variety of home prepared foods. Why should our pets be different?

    This is all coming from the vested commercial interests who like to push the twin agendas of fear and convenience.

    As a International Board Certified Lactation Consultant I see the same sorts of issues formula marketing undermining breastfeeding. Where there’s a corporate interest, there will always be messages of ‘but that MIGHT not be safe!’ and ‘THIS is scientific!’, all touted by stern looking people in white coats.

    FTR, I have 2 pets on raw, 1 on kibble, and 1 on canned. I’m not an ‘evangelical’ raw feeder; it’s not for everyone, and commercially prepared foods can be suitable for many animals.

    I am glad I have vets who are supportive of raw feeding & just roll their eyes at the official position statement of their professional organizations.

  15. I certainly don’t recommend it to everyone, but the health of my animals have all improved after going to a raw diet, which I carefully researched first. However, I’m concerned by this quote: “by products are probably closer to what animals would eat in the wild rather than a diet composed primarily of flesh meat.” – a properly researched raw diet does NOT consist “primarily of flesh meat” – in fact, most raw feeders I know would most definitely say that if you were going to just feed flesh meat without proper research and balance, you should go back to store bought foods.

    Arguing the health of kibble or canned over improperly fed raw is hardly a fair argument, is it?

  16. My holistic vet drew up both dog’s raw food diets. The company that sources the food, grinds it (bones and all) mixes it to our spec – currently 70% meat/bone, 30% vegetables. Of the 30% vegetable, 50% is below ground and 50% is above ground vegetables. Of the 50% above ground, 15% are green leafy vegetables. We add a measured amount of cod liver oil, a dash of salmon oil, a scoop here and there of goat milk yogurt, calcium powder if venison/beef/bison as the bones don’t get ground, we switch out the proteins b/w packages of the food, add a multi and some glucosamine/MSM. Not sure it’s lacking. Since my vet(s) are nutritionists AND they drew the diet up, I don’t think the statement ‘any veterinary nutritionist’ holds up. Perhaps, that’s where the ‘almost’ comes in. There are a some raw food fanatics who really do think there is little involved – we take our dogs health and feeding quite seriously as do my friends who feed raw (or kibble for that matter) and we pay dearly for this food. I think it makes my dogs look extraordinary, and am very careful, reviewing constantly. It’s not like none of us pay attention or seek the attention of our vets to take care of a feeding program.

  17. I feed my dogs yogurt everyday as a treat and I was told recently that ALL dogs are lactose intolerant? I feed a high quality kibble and make my own wet food as an additive. One of my dogs has digestive issues and has been much better with the yogurt.

  18. thank you for that, great article! i hear people all time claiming that their pet is on a raw diet because its “natural” and is what wild dogs/cats eat. what people fail to realize is that domestic dogs and cats are NOT wild, and have evolved for thousands of years away from their wild ancestors! what is best for a wolf to eat is probably NOT what is best for my pet yorkie to eat, plain and simple. plus, most “raw diets” are NOTHING like what an animal in the wild would eat.

    1. I’d argue that you can’t really compare dogs and cats. Cats were domesticated much more recently (around 10,000 years ago) and have been, for most of that time, mainly been kept around for their rodent-killing ability, i.e. they predominantly fed themselves and kept their obligate carnivore digestive tract. I am always leery of people discussing cats and dogs in the same breath. They are literally different animals.

    2. Yet we only recently (about 60 years ago) started interfering with their diet by introducing commercial food. So your statement should be, although we have domesticated them, they thrived on table scraps and raw meat until we created kibble and made them all sick.

      1. With all due respect, that is not even close to true. While they were sometimes fed scraps and garbage, many dogs, especially working livestock guardian dogs were fed various types of “dog food” including one called “Yal” which is basically grains cooked with old meat or broth. Sometimes it was even baked into sheets for easy transport then broken up to be fed to the dogs… like Kibble… Dogs today live longer than dogs did in the past and there is no evidence that commercial food (other than the rare case) is “making them sick”.

  19. I have fed my miniature poodle raw since a month after I rescued him 4 years ago. My vet has no problem with that since he has no problems. I don’t have to brush his teeth, the raw diet takes care of that. I don’t have to clean up huge mounds of poop. Raw feed dogs don’t eliminate the large amounts of filler put into regular kibble. And his poop actually disintegrates within a couple of days because it is what’s left after he digests his chicken or beef or lamb or deer. He runs with my husband’s mountain bike riders, sometimes 10-15 miles three or four times a week. He doesn’t smell like a ‘dog’ even when wet. I handle raw meat constantly and have never had a problem with ‘bacteria’ and as for him, dogs stomach acid is very strong. You may think about this when your dog eats some other dogs poop or four day old McDonald’s that he found in the garbage. My dog doesn’t do that. He doesn’t need to.

    1. My dog is fed commercial diet and doesnt need his teeth cleaned.

      Poodles as a breed do not produce much doggy odor, no matter what diet they are fed.

      My dogs poop completely disintigrates if he eats a bone. Doesn’t matter what diet he is on, his poops disintegrate into dust because he ate a bone. Its pretty simple, nothing to do with meat at all actually.

      My dog doesn’t eat other dogs poop either. He also doesn’t rummage through garbage bins either. Again, your point?
      I am sure though that certain dogs would love a 4 day old McDonalds, no matter what they are fed.

      These are some lovely personal anecdotes. Shame they are simply that.

  20. I am yet to see the effects of any diet studied over the lifetime of a dog. I switched to raw when my 9-year-old corgi was having recurring episodes of severe stomach upset. My vet suggested I try cooking for her. The change in her was so fast and pronounced that even my housemates noticed. She had a lot more energy, she played more, her arthritis symptoms faded away, and the stomach upsets were a thing of the past. The changes were so pronounced that I have not been able to convince myself to go back to kibble. I raised my two current dogs (2 and 3 years old) on raw and they are so far doing fine. I am often tweaking the diet and I try to give them a large variety. I kind of base it on the assumption that dogs evolved eating mostly garbage supplemented with small whole animals. Certainly my Lapphund is far more interested in eating garbage than anything else! We joke we should just let him loose in the local tip once a day. He particularly likes carcasses that are several weeks old. My dogs have eaten some hideous things, yet still, the only thing that has ever made them sick is commercial dog food. Where does that leave me? I agree that there aren’t many options. But I find it difficult to believe it is so hard to balance a dog’s diet. It’s not so hard to balance our own diet. I feed the dogs a variety like I feed us, and I add Brewers yeast, kelp powder and cold pressed oils for B vitamins, trace elements and fatty acids.

  21. I did my masters research on enteric bacteria, particularly Salmonella. With what I know about enterics, the raw diet scares me. I sleep with my dogs, I kiss my dogs, I don’t want them to be carriers of Salmonella. And asymptomatic carriers are quite common. Remember Typhoid Mary?

  22. I also sleep with my dog, kiss my dog etc. As does my husband. I am much more comfortable feeding my dog a raw diet than I am of eating out or buying bagged lettuce or sprouts. I don’t buy bulk meat from large processing plants (those tubes of ground beef are notorious) nor do I buy ‘enhanced’ meat. I check local markets for ‘specials’ (this week it was no-additive, cage free chicken thighs for 99¢ a pound) and purchase organ meats from a farm meat market. My dog plays with my 93 year old mother and my 4 year old nephew and every one in between. No one has had a problem. Does anyone remember what dogs were fed prior to fancy kibble and ‘gourmet’ treats? Meat. Scraps. Bones from the butcher. Brown rice and broccoli were the farthest things from a pet owners mind.

  23. Bin feedin’ raw prey diets to my cat and dogs for over 16 years. Now own a raw food store in Vancouver BC Canada. My JRT and Toller’s health is great (bloodwork etc) and the benefits include: fresh breath, clean teeth, no fleas, no itchies, no dandruff….the list goes on…but the best part is LESS POOP! Yes! Check out Dr. Tom Lonsdale and the like, for lots of good information. The multinational pet food companies do not have our pet’s best interest in mind, from the research I’ve done. http://www.truecarnivores.com

  24. Wow, Dr. Yin, you need some Yan!!

    Raw is certainly NOT all bad, and what dog owner who is well-informed these days about nutrition, vaccines, etc. would think that a “board-certified veterinary specialist” should be trusted? There are nutritionists that are NOT veterinarians and NOT propagandized/board certified, and they are not as one-sided and blinkered as you are. Let’s face it, most veterinarians have been virtually bought out by the big companies selling crummy food and poisons (year-round hearworm, anti-flea toxins, etc.) with which to kill – er, “protect” – our pets. They have become legalized drug pushers. This keeps the “cha-ching” going at veterinarian clinics, and only the holistic vets do not push this stuff at the expense of our precious companions.

    I urge anyone to google “The Truth about” vaccines, heartworm, etc., and look up the book and websites for “Scared Poopless” to keep informed about what the veterinary profession and big pet companies do NOT want you to know about the best care for your pets.

  25. There are an ever increasing number of vets that do support raw feeders! And can give scientifically backed reasons and suggestions! I can recommend some in southern new england! Otherwise check out places like the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Dr Pitcarns has a book too. They’re out there, I promise! Look at the DrDoMore video too on M.A.S.H.’s website.
    As far as research as Nixie previously posted here the only one not associated with big moneyed influences is Pottenger’s Cat Study from the 1930s. It’s a long spanning multigenerational look at the effects of cooked versus raw fed cats.

    Oh, and my two dogs are both raw fed after much money spent and specialists seen. I work at a veterinary specialty hospital so they’ve seen a Dermatologist, an Ophthalmologist, and an Internist. It was the holistic vet that suggested home cooked or raw. I was wary but am so glad I gave it a chance and looked into the science.
    And my three young children, my husband, and I have never had a problem with getting sick. I’m more worried about tomatoes and sprouts like Shz said! And it’s called soap people! Wash your hands! Get some vinegar and/or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect if you’re needing a clean up.
    Also, what dog hasn’t eaten some form of poop, trash, “mystery” substance off the ground that they walk on??? Kibble or otherwise their systems can handle and not pass on to us LOTS of things they are exposed to every day.

  26. wow debbie smith, talk about “scare tactics”, you apparently know all about it! so most vets are out to poison your pets? vaccines, heartworms meds, and flea preventatives kill pets?? have you ever seen a puppy die from parvo cuz it wasnt vaccinated, or an old dog die from distemper, or a dog die from heartworm disease, or a cat suffer horribly from severe flea allergies?? i have seen it over and over again, and its not pretty. we recommend vaccinations, heartworm preventatives, and flea preventatives because we CARE about animals (yes, that is WHY we became vets!!) and do not want to see them suffer needlessly. vets do not go into the business to become rich, get a clue. how dare you make us all out to be villains, shame on you. you dont want to trust vet specialists? fine, but beware because the day will come when one of your pets actually needs a specialist, and then what will you do? yah, think about. going around trashing an entire profession is not my idea of being “well-informed”, your judgmental attitude will only end up hurting you and your pets in then end. kinda sad really.

  27. The more articles I read (written by veterinary professionals) about the scary harmful possible outcomes of a raw diet, the more I think that it’s a liability issue for them than a professional opinion.

    To say “yes, I do see merit in a properly prepared, balanced raw diet” is to open oneself to law suits from everything that could (but doesn’t always) go wrong. I’m guessing there must be some vets out there that feed raw. Where are they?

    Are there any studies out there that support the anecdotal claims raw feeders have? That their dog made a complete 360 when it started raw? I’m guessing not, since a large dog food company would have to fund it.

    1. I have to agree with idea of liability. It seems similar to the fact that physicians cannot legally give nutritional advice when practicing medicine in a lot of places becase that is not their speciality/area of expertise.

  28. So, that seems a little testy too…don’t you think? Deddie might be frustrated but you’re not exactly helping.
    And as someone on the front lines of defense in veterinary emergency care I can tell you the types of health issues that are out there. Besides the hit-by-cars or impaled-by-sticks the greatest number of cases we see are chronic disease. And this number is ever increasing! These animals aren’t neglected malnourished and without routine veterinary care. They are being cared for in the manner recommended by their veterinarians. Annual visits and up-to-date with yearly shots, flea and tick “preventatives”, and dewormers and fed “quality” expensive foods like Hills and Eukanuba.
    The AVMA actually doesn’t even recommend yearly vaccination for things like Lepto or Parvo by the way. And Frontline and Advantix are indeed pesticides with inherent risks.
    So when people distrust OUR medical advise because they find themselves with sick unhealthy animals and giant vet bills after a lifetime of supposedly good advise (and previously paid vet bills)… take a step back and try to listen. Even if you don’t agree with everything your anger back won’t put out the fire that’s blazing.

  29. I am a student at UC Berkeley, and the comments here regarding science and the legitimacy of veterinary medicine are really quite disturbing. Though the issue of “diets” has plagued both human and animal health for thousands of years, we all acknowledge that the quality and quantity of foods distinctly affect our longevity and health. This, we know, through science. GOOD, QUALITY science has shown us, definitively, that comprehensive nutrition begets a “healthy” body (as defined generally by longevity, lack of chronic illness, the suppression of disease, etc.)

    However, GOOD/QUALITY science has also shown us that disease and chronic illnesses are deeply affected by both heritable and non-heritable factors. This is why Pottenger’s “long-term cat study” was NOT published in scientific journals, has NOT been peer-reviewed, and is not accepted by the scientific community. Pottenger ran an extremely biased study based on a hypothesis that he set out to legitimize, rather than nullify (this is not how science works!). He had far too many confounding factors in his study and the results were publicized in his own, self-published book. Moreover, his “research papers” are only available for sale through his website, and a thorough review of the literature shows Pottenger has no authorship for any peer-reviewed article relating to animal nutrition. Now, is that not a severe conflict of interest and a blatant attack on the integrity of science??

    This flawed type of science (if you can even call it that) does not allow us to draw conclusions and should not be the guiding light for designing an animal’s diet. In fact, it completely undermines the integrity of veterinary/nutritional sciences, and I’m abhorred that people who want to approach the topic seriously continue to throw his name around as if his “study” meant something. Pottenger did not prove or show anything at all. So, if we as scientific and medical community are supposed to accept the legitimacy of raw diets as something reproducible and valid for the maintenance of animal health, you have to give us proof. Not Pottenger. Not pseudo-science. Not anecdotes. Not emotions. If we are to accept raw, give us a significant body of evidence that show the benefits outweighing the risks (and we DO know that the risks are significant). So, please, by all means – get your PhD, get a lab, get your funding, and do the research. Until then, we as a scientific community cannot recommend raw.

  30. The JAVMA study you cite was funded by pet food manufacturers. Conflict of interest, much?

    I realize that the plural of anecdote is not evidence, but the trouble is I am not seeing solid evidence on either side of this argument. “We had an obstructed Chihuahua come in after having been fed a bone” isn’t good data any more than “My dogs do great on a raw diet” is good data. Indeed, it’s hearsay: you weren’t there, and you present as fact a statement about the event made by someone else. (Even he can’t testify that the dog was deliberately fed the bone in question, if he heard it from the dog’s guardian rather than witnessing the event himself.)

    Law courts don’t admit hearsay, for the good reason that it’s unreliable. (Your good faith isn’t at issue here — this is just in the nature of how information is distorted as it passes from person to person.)

    But let’s take the Chihuahua’s story as true: I still have to say, So what? These are tiny, sickly little “pure”breds with terrible teeth. Nobody with any common sense would expect most Chi’s to be able to handle whole bones.

    I scoff at the immense claims of perfect health made by some raw-food advocates, but I’m not much less skeptical of the idea that an animal evolved as a scavenger will suffer from eating a variety of fresh foods, including (fresh, clean) raw meat and non-load-bearing bones.

  31. Why is it that none of your so called “scientists” have ever done a study on raw feeding Sohie? Perhaps because pedelling processed food with hydrolyzed proteins and hidden sugars (not to mention the grains) is huge business and there is a major conflict of interest. Same goes for vaccinations. There is big business in pharmaceuticals and the only people with the money and labs to do any clinical research are the ones behind big pharma. Again a conflict of interest. I don’t think you can argue with results and I see it every day. People come in frustrated with their vets who cannot help them and haven’t been successful finding a food for their dog to eat that their dog can thrive on instead of just survive. When they make the decision to go raw fed they are shocked at the “magical food” that they were designed to eat in the first place. I am shocked at the ingredients in “vet foods”. Anyone with a bit of reseach can decide for themselves that their vets either do not have a clue or do not have their pets best interest at heart. When big dog food companies get their noses out of the vet schools maybe there will be a revolution in the way vets deal with nutrition and the way we think about vets who are not as schooled as they should be about it.

  32. My second puppy came to me with tummy troubles and I don’t think she was properly weaned (kept trying to nurse from my other, older puppy). We’re talking explosive diarrhea, the works, and it went on for a month! During this time I tried pumpkin, yogurt (plain organic), changing foods, adding raw eggs – nothing worked! As it happened, I had some young roosters who had matured and were beginning to get obnoxious. I thought to myself, “what if…?” So, I grabbed one of them and divided him up between the two puppies (he was actually 4 meals total so they had fresh, raw, free-range chicken for breakfast the next day, too). I do remove and discard heads, feet, feathers and intestines – but feed everything else. Anyway, her very next poop was perfectly solid and she had no more tummy troubles! Until I ran out of extra roosters and went back to kibble, that is. Anyway, what that experience taught me is that, if a tiny puppy tolerates the real deal better than those “scientifically perfectly formulated” commercial products then the raw food really IS what they should be eating! She can tolerate kibble now that she’s older, but it took several months of straight raw before her system developed enough to handle the processed foods. I now feed both, usually kibble with raw eggs for breakfast and a quarter chicken or hog trimmings (meaty bones, organs, fat) – always raw, never cooked – for supper.

    1. Since most dogs do very well on kibble, your’s is a special case as it has or had digestive issues (btw, the suckling on others isn’t a sign of being weaned too early, that’s even seen in those that are currently being nursed). The major issue with most homemade diets is the lack of proper nutrition and sanitation. http://news.vin.com/vinnews.aspx?articleId=17033 and http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/javma.240.5.532

  33. I was on raw dog food that I made at home and my dog had gotten sick. I went and talked to the vet and he mentioned that raw food is good for dogs but it has to be thoroughly checked for bacteria and other pathogens.

  34. My dog has a skin problem. I’ve spent thousands in vet bills, tests, allergy shots, medicine, foods…. and nothing would help. I finally tried a raw diet as I was at my wits end. And what do you know, his skin healed up. We hare very clean. We clean up and sanitize his mouth and the eating area after every meal. It’s no more risky to us than bringing out raw chicken to cook for ourselves. The food is heated but still raw and made specifically for canine consumption. So after exhausting all veterinarian provided treatments and tests and being this is the only thing to have solved his skin issues, what are your suggestions?

  35. My dig has a skin problem. I’ve spent thousands in vet bills, tests, allergy shots, medicine, foods…. and nothing would help. I finally tried a raw diet as I was at my wits end. And what do you know, his skin healed up. We hare very clean. We clean up and sanitize his mouth and the eating area after every meal. It’s no more risky to us than bringing out raw chicken to cook for ourselves. The food is heated but still raw and made specifically for canine consumption. Additionally, he is a mix of husky, malamute, and wolf. He’s not a chihuahua. So after exhausting all veterinarian provided treatments and tests and being this is the only thing to have solved his skin issues, what are your suggestions?

    1. While this raw diet approach has visually worked for your dog, there may be serious lack of essential nutrients such as taurine, b vitamin. Be sure to have an exam, tell your veterinarian the exact recipe and sourcing of your food and there are blood tests that can determine your pet’s nutrient level to be sure this not any deficiencies. We are seeing serious heart failure in dogs eating grain free diets and some home made diets including raw diets.

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