Facts and Myths About Raw PDF Print E-mail

There are many, many myths about raw dog food, both with and without bones.

Myth #1 - "Feeding my dog raw meat will make him aggressive!"

Fact: There is NO causative relationship between eating raw meat and wanting to kill animals. It has nothing to do with what a dog is fed and has everything to do with natural prey drive, training and socialization. For example, some breeds like the Siberian Husky can have a very high prey drive. If raised around other animals and trained not to chase them, most Huskies will have no problem co-existing happily no matter what they are fed. With many dogs, the prey instinct is a very ingrained primal one and the sight of an animal running can bring this out in them no matter what they are fed. Dogs can easily distinguish between what they are eating and other animals or people.

Myth #2 - "Eating bones is dangerous for my dog!"

Fact: COOKED bones are the dangerous bones. Cooking causes the bones to become brittle and hard, risking splintering and perforation of the digestive tract. RAW bones are soft and easily digestible by dogs, who have stomach acid pH in the 1-2 range. That's equal to the strength of hydrochloric acid! Canines are engineered biologically to eat raw prey. Still think bones are dangerous? Don't take my word for it, there is a study that shows the risk to dogs from raw chicken wings is 1 in 3,000,000.

Of course, nothing in this world is wothout risk. Is there a chance your dog could be injured or die from eating raw bones? Certainly! But we do know that there are dogs who have died from inhaling kibble the wrong way and choking or suffocating to death. And I am convinced that feeding commerically prepared kibble leads to dogs that are not as healthy as they could be. Where's my study? Well, in my own house! Before and after raw in terms of veterinary bills has been stunning.

From the article "Fresh food Diets For Dogs", Dr. Lew Olsen PhD Natural Health, LMSW - ACP, writes:

Dogs' digestive tracts are designed to eat raw meat and bones. The heaviest concentration of hydrochloric acid is on the stomach wall. The stomach churns when food is admitted and the heavy items such as bones are forced to the outside wall. This process easily breaks down these bones. Smaller bones such as chicken wings, necks, and pork neck bones and beef ribs are recommended. Larger bones can cause some stomach upsets and are not recommended. Even when wolves consume their prey, they leave the long bones and skulls.

I often hear time and time again from veterinarians that bones can perforate and cause blockage. I have not seen this in the six years I have been feeding raw bones, nor have I heard it from the thousands of raw diet feeders on the internet, the people I correspond with, or from the throngs of dog show people that feed this diet. I often see stories pointed out by dog care professionals on the dangers of feeding bones but they are confusing the feeding of cooked bones vs. raw bones. Cooked bones are hard to digest, as the fat crystallizes under high heats and renders the bones brittle and difficult to digest. Raw food feeding is about feeding RAW meat and bones.

What about the increase in diseases in dogs on dry food? These include irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, allergies, autoimmune problems, seizures, orthopedic and ligament problems and gastric upsets. They never seem to look at the processed foods currently being fed as being any part of the problem. I have been feeding my dogs raw meaty bones for eight years without any problems and today, this trend is increasing by the thousands. With the fear instilled in most of us when we started, if there had been any problems we would have stopped immediately. While I have heard of many anecdotal cases of bones causing problems, I have only one documented case to date.

Myth #3: "Dogs are omnivores and need a high grain diet."

(Dog foods are at least 65% grain and fiber and grain and fiber are necessary for shelf life and for the pet food companies to make a cheap diet)

Fact: Dogs are carnivores and have a short, simple digestive tract designed to eat animal protein and fat. The method for determining what category an animal falls into is by physical attributes. Some typical features common to carnivores are a large mouth opening, a single hinge joint that lies in the same plane as the teeth, and a large primary muscle on the side of the head for operating the jaw. The teeth are short and pointed, made for grasping and shredding. These teeth come together to give a cutting motion and act like shears. The teeth and mouth of the carnivore are developed to swallow food whole, not for chewing or crushing.

Carnivores do not have digestive enzymes in their saliva. Humans have amylase, which helps to begin to break down complex carbohydrates. The dogs' digestive tract is one-third to one-half the length of an omnivore. This shortness is designed for adaptation for quick, muscular digestion of raw meat and bones. Carnivores have a much higher concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomach for the break down of proteins and to kill any dangerous bacteria. Their stomach acidity is less than or equal to pH 1 with food in the stomach, while humans have a pH 4 to 5.

This raises the question of what is the best food for carnivores, according to the digestive tract and physiology. Dogs, as carnivores, have difficulty digesting grains and other complex carbohydrates. With the lack of digestive enzymes in the mouth, complex carbohydrates are not predigested, and take a long time to break down in the stomach, and small intestine, if they break down at all. Most of the complex carbohydrates pass through undigested, and create large stools in the dog.

It is interesting to note that dry dog foods are mainly cereal, consisting of a large part of corn, wheat, rice and soy. While dog food companies would have you believe that grains are a good source of protein, the fact is that dogs have a very difficult time digesting and utilizing protein from carbohydrates. Studies show dogs do best on animal protein, and the higher the quality, the better the protein is assimilated. The poorer quality proteins create stress on the dogs' kidneys and it makes proper nutritional digestion difficult.

-From the article "Fresh Food Diets For Dogs" by Dr Lew Olsen, PhD Natural Health, LMSW - ACP

Myth #4: "Commercial dog foods are complete."

Fact: Cooking changes the amino acid chains and renders many of them unusable for dogs. Studies in the 1970's found dog foods lacking in many of the necessary amino acids. It also destroys the digestive enzymes and beneficial bacteria (acidophilus, etc) necessary for good digestion and digestive tract health. High heats also kill omega 3 fatty acids and change fats into difficult to digest material. While many dog food companies do add omega fatty acids and beneficial bacteria, these nutrients do not withstand the packaging or shelf life for extended periods. Dog food companies attempt to make their diets complete by adding synthetic supplements to meet industry sanctions and Nutritional Research Council standards.

-From the article "Fresh Food Diets For Dogs" by Dr Lew Olsen, PhD Natural Health, LMSW - ACP

Myth #5: "Dogs do fine on grains and starches and they are necessary for good heath and energy."

Fact: If you subtract the protein and fat content from 100, and add back in the fiber percentage, this will give you the carbohydrate amount in your dog food. Add about 5% to 10% more (dog food companies also count plant proteins which are incomplete for canines) for a more accurate amount. Most dog foods will have between 60% to 75% grains.

With the dog lacking starch digestive enzymes in the mouth and a long digestive tract, these nutrients are taxing on a dogs system and difficult to digest. It is also important to note that grains and starches turn right into glucose, which is sugar. Too much glucose in a dogs system can lead to hypoglycemia, allergies, hyperactivity, diabetes and according to Dr. Olgivie DVM's studies at Colorado State University, can lead to accelerating tumor and cancer growth in canines.

Grains and starches also contain phytates, which block mineral absorption. These include calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron and iodine. Many dog food companies became aware of this fact in the 70's and added high doses of synthetic minerals to offset the deficiency that grains caused.

While carbohydrates can provide an energy source (which is sugars), animal fat is the best source of energy for dogs for stamina and endurance.

In 1985 the National Research Council (who decides the nutrient content of pet food) reported changes were necessary and developed a new requirement list. The NRC stated that the nutrient bioavailability of dog foods needed to be determined after processing, rather than calculated before it was processed. They also called for more thorough testing of dog foods through trials to determine the quality.

It is reported in the Waltham Symposium book, Nutrition of the Dog and Cat, 1989 that the pet food industry reacted with "disappointment and anger". To date, the pet food industry is still following the old 1974 standard.

-From the article "Fresh Food Diets For Dogs" by Dr Lew Olsen, PhD Natural Health, LMSW - ACP

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 March 2010 12:05