Considering feeding your dog a raw diet? Here are 6 important factors to consider. But first...
What is a raw diet?
“Raw diets usually contain some or all of the following: muscle meat from animals (often still on the bone); bones (whole or ground); organ meats (e.g., liver, kidney); raw eggs; raw vegetables and/or fruit; and possibly some dairy products, such as unpasteurized yogurt or milk. As the name implies, the food is not cooked prior to feeding.” (AVMA.org)
#1 Dogs are not wolves
Although dogs and wolves came from a common ancestor, feeding your dog the “diet of a wolf” disregards their evolution as a domestic species alongside humans, which has taken place over thousands of years. Dogs are able to digest and utilize starchy foods through increased amylase secretion with the help of the AMY2B gene -- a genetic component that has multiplied many times over throughout their evolutionary history. Dogs are physiologically omnivores, not obligate carnivores like their wolf cousins, which means they do not have a requirement for meat in their diets.
#2 Raw diets aren’t well regulated
Raw food diets are often not considered to be nutritionally balanced. Studies have found low calcium, low phosphorus, excessive vitamin A and excessive vitamin D in raw diets, amongst other imbalances (AVMA). If left unmonitored, nutritional imbalances can cause health complications in dogs over time.
Learn more: Should I be feeding my dog a raw diet?
Since nearly half of supermarket chicken is tainted by feces, feeding your dog even "human grade" raw meat raises concern for transmitting potentially harmful bacteria to you and your dog: "Some of the commonly-known pathogens that can be present in meat include Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter. Other pathogens that may contaminate raw meat include Toxoplasma gondii (the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis), Cryptosporidium, Echinococcus, Clostridium, Neospora and Sarcocystis. The same applies to raw meat fed to pets. If raw food isn’t adequately treated to eliminate contaminants, you could be feeding your pet potentially harmful pathogens that could cause illness in your pets and/or your family.” (AVMA.org)
“Listeria bacteria are commonly found in uncooked meats, vegetables and unpasteurized milk and soft cheeses. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria like cold temperatures and can grow and spread in the refrigerator." (fda.gov, 2014)
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration states, “FDA does not believe feeding raw pet foods to animals is consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks.”
#4 Health risks
According to Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, “The food sources that contain, by far, the highest amount of toxic chemicals are meat, bones and other animal products like cheese, milk, etc. Those that get the highest amounts of these chemicals are the ones eating at the top of the food chain — eating the animals that eat the plants. In our country these are human beings, dogs and cats.”
Red meats have been declared carcinogenic by the World Health Organization, and carcinogens are found in other meats like chicken. Aside from increased risk of cancer, dogs can have trouble processing diets that are very high in animal protein, and may develop sensitivities to these ingredients.
Learn more: Top 4 Risks of Meat-Based Dog Food
#5 Ethics as an 'animal lover'
At v-dog, we love all animals. Dogs, cows, pigs, chickens…you name it! Because dogs can obtain all of their nutrition through a complete and balanced plant-based dog food (as we've seen since 2005 here at v-dog), there is no need to kill one animal to feed another. As animal lovers, it’s important for us to consider the ethical inconsistency of labelling some species as “food” and others as loved ones.
"In their capacity to feel pain and fear, a pig is a dog is a bear is a boy." - Phillip Wollen
#6 Environmental Sustainability
Raising animals for food is the number one cause of environmental degradation, and the “high quality” cuts of meat often used in raw diets are about as resource-intensive as you can get. (Think: land use, habitat destruction, water use, and carbon emissions.) Before you convince yourself that your dog’s “grass fed” meat is a sustainable option, check out this infographic, and watch the film Cowspiracy on Netflix to take a deeper (non-graphic) look into the environmental dark side of the animal agriculture industry.
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Since 2005, we've seen dogs of all shapes and sizes thrive on our nutritionally complete kibble, made with clean pea protein and other healthy plant-based ingredients. We are a vegan-owned company and we make our products right here in California with high quality standards and zero product recalls to date. Hooray for healthy, cruelty-free dog food!
We want what is best for your dog, for all animals, and for the planet. To learn more about what we do, visit us at v-dog.com or say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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