Care & Feeding of Our Pet Carnivores
Christina Chambreau, DVM
“Dogs and cats need raw meat to be really healthy and even the best processed foods cook their good ingredients, & most commercially available foods, even the expensive ones, use the cheapest ingredients (that means dead, diseased and decaying meat & by-products).”
In nature, predators stalk, catch & eat their prey raw – meat, organs, bones & all! Today, we’re removed from much that is ‘natural’. We feast on ‘fast foods’, & then rush home to feed our pet a bowl of dried pellets. Is it healthy? Is it really “Complete & Balanced” as the stamp on the bag suggests?
For years I believed the multinational pet food companies ‘call-of-the-wild-in-a-bag’ marketing. It was not until I became a student of a European dog trainer who fed his own (very healthy) dog a diet of raw bones, chicken carcasses, & other assorted raw foods, that I was confronted with the question ‘What are dogs (& cats) really designed to eat?’
What Are Dogs & Cats Designed To Eat?
The more I read, the more I see, the more convinced I become that dogs & cats – our domesticated carnivores – are designed to eat their food raw. We changed our own dogs & cat to the raw diet over 16 years ago – & never looked back. Now we have thousands of satisfied customers (2 & 4 legged!). (If you have questions, give us a call, or better still, come and visit us.)
Consider the following evidence & then make your own decisions:
Their eyes are at the front like a predator’s, not on the side like a prey’s.
Their teeth are made for piercing, ripping, crushing – & not for grinding (The jaw cannot move easily side to side.)
Their mouths contain no digestive enzymes to pre-digest grains or carbohydrates like humans & herbivores can.
The wolf & the dog’s gastrointestinal systems are identical. The wolf digests its prey raw.
Their intestinal systems are shorter than ours – built to quickly (4-6 hours) digest & absorb raw foods, thus avoiding putrefaction.
Their stomach juices are highly acidic (pH 1) – perfect for digesting raw meat/bone, & ‘killing’ any potentially harmful bacteria. (Human pH is about 4 – more alkaline.)
Genetics & Classification
The dog & wolf can & do interbreed. (The dog is closer, genetically, to the wolf than the fox is.)
In 1993 the dog & the wolf were officially designated as the same species: Canis Lupus.
A 10 Year Study on Cats Fed Raw & Cooked Diets
This study is truly a ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ worth examining. In 1932, Dr. Francis Pottenger took 900 healthy cats – half of which he fed a cooked diet, while the other half received raw. The results were amazing: the raw fed cats remained healthy. The cats fed the cooked diet deteriorated in health & suffered from behaviour problems, allergies, skin problems, parasites, skeletal deformities & organ malfunctions.
Evolutionary History & Personal Experience
Wolves, dingoes, and wild dogs for thousands of years have thrived by catching & eating raw prey.
Wild carnivores today continue to kill & eat raw prey.
No ovens or dehydrators have yet been discovered in the wolf’s den or the lion’s lair.
For the past 16 years, we have been successfully feeding our own 2 dogs a raw prey diet. Their health is superb. (As are the over five thousand dogs & cats who frequent our store with their owners.)
We are Vet Recommended – Veterinarians, homeopaths & animal nutritionists refer animals & their owners to our store so we can assist them in switching their pet over to a healthy, raw food diet. Many problems disappear within weeks of starting the raw food diet.
Pet Food Manufacturers
Commercial pet foods have only been around for about 60 years – a mere wink of an eye in the evolutionary history of carnivores & their diets.
Wysong – one of the ‘top’ kibble companies – rates “hunted, raw prey” as superior to their own ‘kibble’ brand of dry dog food.
But Isn’t It Risky To Feed Raw?
Not if your pet is healthy, say veterinarians & animal nutritionists.
Here’s a sample of qualified people who clearly state that feeding a biologically appropriate raw prey diet – even raw chicken – is not an issue for healthy dogs & cats.
Dr. Ian Billinghurst, DVM: “Raw chicken does of course carry bacteria, E.g. – Salmonella… These are of absolutely no consequence to a healthy dog.”, Give Your Dog A Bone, pg. 135.
Kymythy Schultze CCN, AHI: “Salmonella has even been found in samples of commercial pet foods & treats. Bacteria is not a problem for a pet with a strong immune system, & a strong immune system is encouraged by eating species-appropriate raw food.”, Natural Nutrition for Dogs & Cats The Ultimate Diet, pg. 15.
“Healthy cats & dogs can eat just about any meat & survive, if not thrive. Their stomachs contain high concentrations of hydrochloric acid & digestive juices & their digestive tracts host an abundance of beneficial bacteria, making it difficult for harmful bacteria to survive.”, The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care, CJ Puotinen, pg 71.
Dr. Donald Strombeck, Phd, DVM, tells us if salmonella really is a problem, then we should be just as concerned with processed pet food. He states that “Salmonellae has been found in commercial pet foods, something the public never learns.”
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Making The Switch To Raw
Our dogs made the switch to raw with ease. We started them out on green (raw, unbleached, stinky) tripe, & slowly introduced a variety of whole prey diets.
With our grumpy 18-year-old cat it took much longer. We had to ‘sneak-in’ small portions of anything ‘new’ & mix it in well with her current food. Patience paid off – 3 years of improved health went by – her arthritis receded, and she had much more energy. She could even walk up & down stairs again without falling over. She died at the ripe age of 21.
Feeding Raw Bones
Question: Haven’t pets died from choking on bones?
Answer: “True. Usually cooked ones. Even then it is very rare. Many more die from cancer, cardiac disease, diabetes & autoimmune disease etc as caused by grain based commercial foods.” (Dr. Ian Billinghurst DVM)
Bones are an important part of a carnivore diet. Combined with the meat, they provide a perfect ‘calcium-phosphorus’ balance. But bones don’t just satisfy nutrition requirements, they also act as ‘nature’s toothbrush’, provide hours of relaxation (a stress releaser, too), & help pups to strengthen jaw & neck muscles as they grow.
“As dogs chew on bones, rip the flesh off bones, crush bones, that very action cleans the teeth, & massages the gums, stopping tartar, gum infections, tooth root decay, dental abscesses, & a whole body poisoned by a grossly infected mouth. An extremely common condition in today’s dog fed on soft mushy convenience food. “Dr. Ian Billinghurst, Give Your Dog A Bone, pg. 121.
Know Your Dog’s Eating Style
Does she eat her food slowly & daintily? Or does she inhale it? Sometimes this can be an indication of how she’ll approach her bones. Every pet comes with different food experiences. As the pack leader, you, in a way, become the ‘teacher’ concerning bone eating.
I’ve seen 5-week-old puppies feast on raw chicken wingtips with no problems. They take to raw food quite naturally.
Remember that raw bones don’t splinter. But cooked ones do. Cooked bone sits like ‘concrete’ in your animal’s stomach. Avoid any ‘treated’, preserved, cooked chews or ‘smoked’ bones (including rawhide, pig ears, hooves etc.) Rawhide is skin and does not digest easily. Once swallowed, it can swell up & cause digestive & bowel problems.
Some General ‘Bone Rules’:
Always supervise bone chewing.
Start with meaty knucklebones. The marrow in marrowbones can cause diarrhoea initially.
The bone should be large enough to not be swallowed by accident – or gluttony. You want your dog to scrape his teeth clean by chewing on the bone.
Not sure how your dog’s system will respond to something ‘new’? – then give the bone for 10-15 minutes to start.
Never try to take a bone from a dog unless something of equal or higher value is given in exchange.
What Are The Benefits of Feeding a Raw Food Diet?
Well, for starters, your dog or cat’s breath will start to smell ‘fresh’. And the poop will be a lot less, & not as ‘smelly’ either. Plus, the teeth get whiter & cleaner, & your pet’s overall health will improve.
Below is a list of the benefits reported by pet owners who have made the shift from dry/tinned foods to the whole, raw prey diet:
- Elimination of doggy odour – dogs smell ‘fresh’
- Boosted immune system (demonstrated by stronger resistance to disease, parasites & bacteria)
- Healthy skin & coat – soft & shiny
- Clean teeth
- Healthy gums
- Fresh breath
- Improved digestion (live enzymes)
- Less stool (food more bio-available)
- No additives or preservatives
- Fewer or no fleas
- Increased energy & vitality
- “Old” dogs act younger (less arthritic)
- Fewer – if any – infertility &/or birthing problems
- Pups grow more ‘slowly’, allowing bones to mature
Random Thoughts Out Loud
On Vomiting: Dogs will swallow their food, throw it up, & then ‘re-enjoy’ it. Bitches regularly regurgitate partially digested food for their pups. If our own dogs swallow a piece of bone or object that doesn’t ‘fit right’ in their stomach, they will vomit everything up – bone, meat & all – then re-eat their meal, leaving the bone or object behind.
On Diarrhoea: it makes sense that a change in food can bring a change in stool. Occasional diarrhoea is not unusual. Keep plenty of fresh water available. (If vomiting and/or diarrhoea continue, or, it there is a lot of blood in the stool, check with a veterinarian who understands what raw feeding is all about.)
On Grains & Carbs: grains and carbohydrates are foreign to a carnivore’s stomach. When the ‘deer and the antelope’ are grazing, it does NOT include rice paddies, wheat fields or cornstalks! Many vets now suspect grains to be a causal factor in pancreatitis, diabetes, and bloat.
On Fasting: “Occasional fasting by cats and dogs is a normal, natural phenomenon, especially when natural raw, fresh foods are fed. As long as your pet appears strong with good energy and clear responsiveness, self imposed fasting oftentimes ends by itself with a renewed gusto for life.” Dr. William Pollak DVM. (Note: animals often fast when they are ill. I do not recommend ‘fasting’ your cat; it can lead to life threatening problems like fatty liver disease.)
On Stool Eating (coprophagy): eating ‘poop’ often indicates an inability to access critical nutrients in current diet. A change to a raw diet, and/or the addition of enzymes and/or green tripe can help.
Hope on the Horizon?:
“As the natural pet food industry increases, so the artificial industry, together with its harmful effects, should go into decline… No more slurping of canned stew, no more rattle of dry pellets; instead, the sounds of nature, the crunching of raw meaty bones.” Dr. Tom Lonsdale, DVM, Raw Meaty Bones, p. 291.