Raw Feeding Myths (part 2)
Here it is part two of our raw feeding myths series. If you missed part one be sure to go back a read it to find out more about kibble vs. raw.
Raw Feeding Will Make Your Pet Aggressive!
“If you feed your dog raw meat he will become aggressive, more likely to bite, and he will want to hunt and kill small animals!” At least, that’s one myth that people will throw at you. The thinking is that if your dog tastes blood he will want more. He will want to chase and kill your cat, the bunnies in your yard, even your kids! But that is nonsense.
A species-appropriate, raw diet will help to balance your dog’s hormones and supply plenty of the nutrients he needs. If a dog is fed a raw diet that is not species-appropriate and balanced it could lead to some deficiencies. This, in turn, could have a negative effect on behavior. But, it is highly unlikely if you are feeding a variety of protein sources and organs.
Interestingly, the high amount of carbohydrates in kibble can actually cause a dog to be more aggressive, depressed, or anxious. The carbohydrates can cause massive inflammation in all areas of the body including the brain. This inflammation can lead, not only to health issues but also to a host of behavioral issues including aggression. Some dogs who display aggressive behavior become much more docile on a raw diet.
As far as hunting and killing small animals is concerned all dogs and cats have an innate drive to do this. They want to chase things that move and they want to eat it, if possible. This is typically referred to as “prey-drive.” Some dogs have a high prey-drive that some owners love and exploit for training purposes. Other dogs have a very low prey-drive and have little interest in chasing anything.
In the end, it comes down to the individual dog, his prey-drive, opportunity, and how you have trained him. It has nothing to do with what the dog is fed. There are plenty of kibble fed cats that love to supplement their diet with fresh birds that they have killed. And plenty of kibble fed dogs that have no issues with eating up the nest of bunnies in your vegetable garden. Diet is not a contributing factor.
Raw Food Has Salmonella!
Dogs have been ingeniously made to be able to eat a raw diet. Yes, even a raw diet that may contain harmful bacteria! The stomach acids of a dog are very acidic, usually about a 1 on the pH scale. Salmonella can only survive in a more alkaline environment (pH or 4-8+). Basically, a raw fed dog’s stomach acid kills the bacteria. It is interesting to note that kibble fed dogs have more alkaline stomach acids and are actually more likely to suffer from salmonella.
Salmonella also needs at least 12 hours in the digestive tract to incubate and become active. Raw meat passes through a dog in 4-6 hours. This is simply not enough time for the salmonella to become active and cause issues.
Now that isn’t to say that as a human you shouldn’t practice safe handling of raw food. Actually, even if you look at commercial pet foods and treats they all say to wash your hands after handling them. Why do you think commercial foods get recalled? Oftentimes it is because they are contaminated with salmonella or other bacteria. So, feeding raw poses no more threat to humans than commercial pet foods. Plenty of people get salmonella from their dog’s kibble.
Your Family Will Get Sick If You Feed Raw!
The fear here is that even if your dog doesn’t get sick he will somehow be able to make you and, especially, your kids sick. It’s true that if your child tries to eat your dog’s raw food he might get sick. However, it is just as likely that your child would get sick if he decided to eat dog kibble or even dog treats.
It is imperative that you educate your child about your carnivore’s food whether raw or kibble. Just like you would educate your child about the raw chicken that you are grilling for dinner or the raw turkey you are going to smoke for Thanksgiving.
It is important to always follow safe food handling, no matter if you are handling you or your pet’s food. Be sure to wash your hands and clean surfaces appropriately. Always keep your children safe, and encourage them to wash their hands after feeding the household pets.
Feeding Bones Is Dangerous!
“If you feed your dog raw bones, they will splinter and tear up your dog’s digestive tract!” We have all heard this one. But, since you’ve done your homework you know that only smoked, dehydrated, and otherwise cooked bones splinter. This is because cooking removes moisture making these bones harder to digest and more likely to splinter, break teeth, and cause blockages.
Raw bones, on the other hand, are easy for your dog to digest and are much softer. In addition, they provide chewing pleasure for your dog and are good for his teeth!
Toy Breed Dogs Can’t Eat Raw!
Some people believe that you can’t feed a raw diet to toy breeds because they are more likely to choke on bones. This is silliness. Small dogs can enjoy chewing on raw bones either recreational or edible just as much as large breeds. Small dogs get just as many health benefits as large breeds from a raw diet.
All you need to do for any dog is to make sure that the diet is tailored to them and their individual needs. Large and small dogs can enjoy chicken necks. Large breeds might be able to consume pork and beef ribs, while smaller breeds cannot. This doesn’t mean a small dog can’t eat raw it just means that you need to choose appropriate bones.
You Can’t Feed A Puppy Raw!
If people think that feeding an adult dog a raw diet is complicated, they think that feeding a growing puppy a raw diet is completely out of the question! You want to give your pup the best start to life, that’s why you chose raw. But people think that it will be too complicated and you will mess your pup for life!
This is so not true! Do wolves seek out high-carb, highly-processed foods for their pups? Absolutely, not! Wolf pups eat much the same as their parents, raw, whole prey. Feeding your pup a raw diet may take a bit more research but it will be well worth it and you will be starting your pup off on the right paw!
Large Breed Puppies Can’t Have Raw, It Effects Growth!
The fear here is that feeding a large breed puppy a raw diet will make him grow too fast. This, in turn, will cause bone and joint issues. Now, this can happen on a raw diet, but it can also happen on any other diet if it is not appropriately balanced.
The main concern for a growing puppy is the calcium to phosphorus ratio. A large or giant breed puppy should have a 1.2:1 ratio. This is easily achievable with a properly constructed raw diet.
You Cannot Switch A Senior Dog To Raw!
And you can’t teach that old dog new a trick either, ha! So, not true. Dogs can learn at any age and you can choose to feed them a species-appropriate, raw diet at any age too. Okay, so they are older, does that mean they won’t reap any of the benefits of a raw diet? Of course, they will reap benefits!
It might take them a little longer to make the transition but your dog will love you for it. Would you rather keep feeding your dog the same kibble every day until he dies or let him sink his teeth into real meat, possibly for the first time in his life?
I switched a 14-year-old puggle to raw this year. I can honestly say that he loves it and he has reaped many benefits. He no longer needs the NSAID he was taking for joint pain, he sheds less, his fur always feels like he just got a bath, he has more energy, his teeth are much cleaner, and the list goes on! He reaped these benefits in just a few short months after switching to raw. I did add in a few supplements too, but the raw diet was the main switch.
Is Your Vet Onboard With This? Then Don’t Go Against Your Vet!
It can be difficult to find a veterinarian that is onboard with you feeding your dog a raw diet. Most people blindly trust what vets say and never want to cross them because they are “experts.” People believe that vets are well trained in nutrition and everything else to make their pet healthy…
Their pet, yup, their dog, cat, horse, guinea pig, ferret, goat, bunny, potbelly pig, cow, elephant, snake, frog, rat, monkey, parrot, etc! We don’t only expect vets to know about nutrition, they need to know about exercise, skin issues, digestive issues, respiratory issues, behavioral/emotional issues, heart issues, kidney issues, joint problems, and so much more! And we expect them to know about all of these things for every kind of animal that you can have as a pet or livestock.
Is this unreasonable? I’d say so. For humans, there are specialists for each of the above areas. Which is interesting because human doctors only treat one species… Yet when it comes to vets we expect them to know everything for dozens of different species.
So, does your vet know what the best diet for your pet is? Odds are good that they don’t. Vets may be well-intentioned but there is no way they can keep up with everything we expect them too. You have more time to research and create a diet that is right for your pet, as an individual, then your vet does.
At Least Cook Your Dog’s Food, It’s Better For Them!
Many people will try to get you to, at least, cook your dog’s food. The thinking is that you will get all the benefits of raw without the bacteria and raw bones. However, there are a few problems with feeding cooked food if raw is an option.
First of all, cooking food changes the nutrients in the food. It changes the proteins, vitamins, minerals, and especially fats. Many nutrients are delicate and are extremely affected, if not destroyed, by cooking. That is why a lot of people who cook for their dogs then have to add-in lots of supplements and hope they get the amounts right. Additionally, improper cooking can create carcinogens in food.
Another thing to consider is that raw food is alive with bacteria, enzymes, and other tiny organisms. These microorganisms can help to dog digest his food, thus getting more out of it. In general, they are beneficial and healthful for your dog to consume. It is, in part, due to these microorganisms that raw food is 10% more digestible than cooked foods.
Well, that wraps up this two-part series on raw feeding myths. I hope since you are now armed with this knowledge you will be able to stand firm in your choice to feed raw. Remember your carnivore’s life and health are at stake. So, be firm and do what you know is right!