IS A RAW FOOD OR WHOLE FOOD DIET THE ANSWER FOR YOUR DOG?
With all the problems and recalls associated with processed commercial cereal food, many pet companion owners are now considering feeding a raw food diet to their pet. The current trend to feed dogs a raw (meat and bone) diet is credited to Dr. Ian Billinghurst and the book he wrote back in 1993 promoting a "Bones and Raw Food (BARF) diet. Today there are many pet food companies, Bravo, Primal, Stevieâ€™s to name a few, which promote a line of raw meat pet foods and the use of raw meats supplemented (dietary supplement products) that they produce. Raw food diets have been around long enough that we have been able to see the damage when given to the wrong dog, breed or when improperly used as a base for a holistic diet. This has been well documented by many of the top veterinary nutritionist and noted animal nutritionist. Ann Martin, who wrote the book FOOD PETS DIE FOR has a new book out titled PROTECT YOUR PET: MORE SHOCKING FACTS. It has chapters on the "Dangers of Commercial Pet Foods", "Raw Meat Diet Controversy", "Increased Cancer in Pets" - and more. Pet owners who are thinking about feeding their companion pets a raw food diet should read the chapter "Raw Meat Diet Controversy" in Ann Martin's new book. I do not indorse everything said in these two books but they do offer the results of some very important studies and all of the books are well researched. I offer them as food for thought when evaluating what is the best individual diet plan for your pet. Many canine nutritionists, veterinary nutritionist and holistic veterinarians now urge dog owners to be careful about feeding a nutritionally insufficient raw meat and bone diet to their dogs. Unfortunately most of the published information about the deficiencies and damage caused by a raw food diet are published in scientific journals that the average dog owner never hears about i.e. the article Public health concerns associated with feeding raw meat diets to dogs written by Jeffrey T. LeJeune, DMD, PhD, and Dale D. Hancock, DMD, PhD. The article appeared in the November 1, 2001 issue of JAVMA (a small publication sent to Veterinarians). For a copy you can contact Dr. LeJeune. His present address is: Dr. LeJeune, c/o Food Animal Health Research Program, Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center, The Ohio State University, Wooster, OH 44691-4096.
Dr. Belfield states:! "As a veterinary practitioner for thirty-seven years and a veterinary meat inspector for seven years, I, in good conscience, cannot recommend raw meat diets to my clients. My advice to my clients is "cook the meat until the redness is gone". When this is done, there is no vomiting, the cholesterol level is normal, the risk of infection by microorganisms and parasites diminishes." (a direct quote from his 1999 on-line article Raw Meat Diets for Companion Animals?) Pet Nutrition Systems advocates a combination of properly prepared raw meat and broken down vegetables and fruit. But more importantly the individual dog or breed will dictate which is used. Diets that are not filled with preservatives and other chemicals found in most commercial dog food is considered by most animal nutritionists as a step in the right direction. I feel that the raw meat and bone diet movement and product companies that are in the market today fall into the same trap as the cereal/kibble are falling into, which is selling a "one diet fits all dogs doctrine." The National Research Council's book, Nutrient Requirements of Dogs, shows how one breed can have a different reaction to a single food source than another breed. There are breeds that have genetic predisposed allergies to beef or fish. Some breeds have inherent allergies to chicken or high fat meats. We know that the amino acid content of various meat sources are different and must be in the correct balance for the animal being fed so that the protein is bio-nutritive for that animal and not cause an allergenic reaction. Raw, cooked or processed, you should not use a meat source that will cause the breed or mixed breed dog you are feeding nutritional distress. It has been proven that the differences in per kilogram nutritional requirements of the different breeds makes it impossible for any one diet, including a raw meat diet, to be nutritionally correct for all dogs. The meat bought at the modern day butcher or grocery store is not the same as the meat that a wild animal eats from a natural kill. Also, it makes a great difference to know what kill that region of dog would have had before throwing any meat into its bowl. Commercial meat has been processed and exposed to many factors that make feeding it to our companion pets potentially harmful. If we could provide the same fresh raw meat or fish (depending on the individual breed) that the ancestors of today's dog had access to 5,000 years ago, including the hot fresh guts - what wild animals still go for first in a kill - then it might be OK to feed them with that food source. Unfortunately, today's pet owners can't. Meat that is processed and
sold through retailers has been exposed to a number of chemical agents. There are 720 chemicals now in use for processing meat in the USA. Commercial meat, even "Organic meat", can be exposed to most of these 720 chemicals. These chemicals would have to be destroyed by using heat to generate temperatures that will break them down in order to provide a â€œprey molding diet.â€? As you can see this is a slippery slope and a slope the Raw meat and bone people do not talk about. (not to mention all the supplements needed to balance this type of feeding plan out for each individual dog) Most companies selling their raw meat diets are promoting this type of diet with the claim that all domesticated dogs descended from the wolf and contend that you should feed your Water Spaniel, Basenji or Yorkie like it was a wolf. It is still up for debate by scholars what the origins of today's domesticated dog is for sure. In 1758 Dr, Linnaeus concluded the canine to be a separate species based on the fact that it had physical characteristics unique to the Canis familiaris (domesticated dog). Darwin wrote: "the chief point of interest is whether the numerous domesticated varieties of the dog have descended from a single wild species or from several. Some authors believe that all have descended from the wolf, fox or from the jackal, or from an unknown and extinct species. Others again believe, and this of late has been the favorite tenet, that they have descended from several species, extinct and recent, more or less commingled together. We shall probably never be able to ascertain their origin with certainty." In the 1950's Konrad Lorenz again popularized the idea that some breeds of dog descended from the wolf and other breeds descended from the Jackal. In the 1980's and 1990's those selling raw meat diets took this a step further and promoted a single raw meat diet for all dogs based on the claim that all domesticated dogs are direct descendants of the wolf and thus would need the same diet as a wild wolf. Even though it is commonly known that all the wolves from all over the earth do/did not eat the same diet. Wolves lived in many different environments all over the globe and lived off the local food sources of the environment that they lived in and each geographical region was unique. There was no one meat and bone source for all wolves. A direct link showing the wolf to be the sole forefather of today's domesticated dog has never been proven. The fact is that scientific
examination of the DNA sequences of the Wolf and domesticated dog show that there are 26 different DNA sequences which proves that the domesticated dog can not be a direct descendant of the Wolf. The wolf may only be a distant cousin and no more related to our modern companion pet than a jackal, a fox, a dingo, or a coyote. Most dog owners might be less willing to feed their companion pet a food product that was being sold based on a theory of an ancestor that was a hen-house raiding fox or a mangy coyote. Just imagine if commercial dog food companies promoted their product using the claim that "Roscoe" needed the same diet as a jackal, fox or coyote. I doubt that as many people would be so extreme about mimicking that sort of diet planning. Yet according to undisputed experts on genealogy i.e. Hunter, Linnaeus, Darwin, and Lorenz your canine companion could be as closely related to the coyote or jackal as it is to the wolf. The National Research Council, most studies from the major veterinary colleges and noted anthropologist have all agreed that each breed of dog and their combinations have uniquely established over thousands of years and require their own individual diet. They all agree that no one nutrient is equally needed by any one particular breed and each breed has evolved over hundreds of years to match their environmental food source. No one food source or manufactured pet food product could ever meet the total needs of all the different breeds or combination of breeds. Another argument for not feeding all domesticated dog a raw food diet is that we know domesticated dogs have been eating a combination of raw and cooked food for over 300,000 years. In the Middle Pleistocene period companion pets (dogs included) were buried along side their owners. Grave sites have been uncovered by archaeologists which have revealed much about the companion pets as well as the early humanoids who were roaming this earth at that time. i.e. the site of Zhoukoudian in North China. Our present day domesticated dogs have been eating cooked foods long enough to cause a change in their digestive and glandular systems and the way that some will react to raw foods. Another thought I would like examine is that modern human nutritionists are not recommending that all humans should eat the same diet that only consists of bananas and leaves based on the theory that humans descended
from the ape even though the DNA profiles of the ape/human is a closer match than the DNA profiles of the wolf/dog. The point is that one diet does not nor could ever be complete and balanced for all the different breeds and mixture of breeds. It is my hope that the dog owners of today will look at the animal they are feeding and feed it according to its individual nutritional needs. This would exclude feeding it a food based on marketability (a single any-breed/allbreed dry kibble) or on a romantic theory (an any-breed/all-breed raw meat diet). We know that the different breeds have different per/kG nutritional requirements. We also know that different members of a breed can have unique requirements based on where they live, their activity level, medical history, etc. There is no single diet that can be nutritionally correct for all Canis familiaris (domesticated dog). We should choose a meat source that the breed we are feeding can assimilate - and then blend that meat with the correct source of carbohydrates and other nutrients which have been proven to be best for the specific dog being fed - adjust the protein/carbohydrate/fat ratio/etc. to the requirements of that animal - and then handle the food (this includes cooking it) in such a manner to provide the safest and best bionutritive value for the companion pet we love. When considering the history of nutritional development for the members of the dog family, another lesson we can learn from close inspection of each breed is; be careful not to assume that all dogs from a specific country, as we know it today, have the same nutritional heritage. A dog from China could be from the Mandarin, Hunan, or Szechuan province. A dog from a smaller country, such as Germany, could have come from a mountain environment, middle elevation plateaus, or a lowland area next to the Baltic Sea. A dog from Italy could have come from the Sicilian or the Castilian Province. Within each country there may be different environments. These in turn have their own unique foods. Thus, breeds developing in the different environments of a single country would have developed different nutritional requirements. Also, to believe that all desert breeds or all mountain breeds have the same nutritional needs is wrong. We would have to be more specific. Are the nutrients found in a high desert or a low desert environment? Or if you are referring to the Alps of Germany, Switzerland or France as The Mountains, consider this: The tallest mountain in the French
Alps is Mont Blanc reaching 15,771 feet above sea level. The top of this mountain is lower than the average elevations (16,000 feet above sea level) for the Plateau Area of Tibet. The mountains of Tibet go up from this country's "lower" plateau's to an elevation of over 29,000 feet high. The nutrients found on the mountains of Tibet are very different from the nutrients found on Mont Blanc. Therefore, when considering the environment where a specific breed of dog developed, we must look beyond the geographic label of mountain, plateau or desert to identify the nutrients from that specific breed's area of origin. Now let us consider the length of time that it would take to make a genetic change, due to an environmental change for any of today's breeds of dog. Man has written about specific breeds of dog for the last 8000 years, but not one word can be found showing that a single breed of dog has changed its genetic make-up due to a change in its environment in all this time. On the other hand many written accounts of breeds show they remain the same, even after prolonged exposure to a new and different environment. One example of non-change after prolonged exposure to a new environment is in the written records of the Whippet. These records indicate the Whippet, which was transported from a hot and dry homeland to England's cold and damp climate in 49 A.D., was very much the same then as today's Whippet. This breed has retained a short sleek coat developed for a hot and dry climate, even after 2,100 years of being bred true in a cold and damp climate. Thus, the Whippet by retaining its short sleek coat, is evidence to us that the length of time it can take to make an evolutionary change due to environmental effect can be over 2,100 years. The length of time needed to make a nutritional requirement change due to exposure to a new environment's food supply also can take thousands of years. This is why today's Alaskan Malamute (a Nordic breed) still thrives on fish, the German Shepherd Dog (a low plains farmland breed) still thrives on beef and grain, and the Greyhound (a desert breed) still thrives on rabbit. These breeds, like all the different breeds removed from their native environment and exposed to a single food supply (ie. one processed dog food formula), cannot have their nutritional needs satisfactorily fulfilled. Each breed has retained the genetic differences that it developed in its distinctly different native environments and for this reason, each should be treated NUTRITIONALLY as the individual that it is.
With breeds that are new genetic hybrids, it is also possible to identify the environments and the native nutrients that played a role in the creation of their nutritional requirements. However, to accomplish this we must be able to trace their family tree. An example of this would be our tracing the development of the Sealyham Terrier, which was created by Captain John Edwards in the late 1800's. Since Captain Edwards kept very accurate records of his breeding efforts in the development of the Sealyham Terrier, the process of tracing its family tree is easy. With other genetic hybrids this process can be much more difficult, and with some breeds all that can be done is offer an educated guess. When considering the history of nutritional development for the members of the dog family, another lesson we can learn from close inspection of each breed is; be careful not to assume that all dogs from a specific country, as we know it today, have the same nutritional heritage. A dog from China could be from the Mandarin, Hunan, or Szechuan province. A dog from a smaller country, such as Germany, could have come from a mountain environment, middle elevation plateaus, or a lowland area next to the Baltic Sea. A dog from Italy could have come from the Sicilian or the Castilian Province. Within each country there may be different environments. These in turn have their own unique foods. Thus, breeds developing in the different environments of a single country would have developed different nutritional requirements.
There are several blood tests that your veterinarian could do for your pet to determine what your individual pet needs or is lacking nutritionally. Based off of these test a whole food diet can be designed and prepared to provide all of the required nutrients in the most bio-available way. No supplements, no additives and no chemicals are needed to complete this type of diet. All the vitamins, minerals, anti oxidants and other nutrients are derived from their natural sources. They should be prepared in a manner best suited for the individual pet and made from the most clean and organically grown local meat and produces available. I recommend that you read our Breed Specific Diet Plan guide, Better Food For Dogs, Why Feed a Whole Food Diet and our Veterinary Prescriptive Nutrition Guide for more information, a list of studies and quotes from the many experts that promote this way of
nourishing your pet. (www.issuu.com/petnutritionsystems) Remember that you may used element of several systems to meet you pets nutritional goals and getting blood work to use the best science and be armed with the knowledge of what your individual need is would be the best start. Feel free to contact Pet Nutrition Systems for a FREE nutritional consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570.266.1224.