Some scientific studies show a benefit to feeding raw vs. dry. In the Netherlands, a study conducted proved that a raw meat diet reduced urinary oxalate and calcium excretion in dogs (Djicker, hagen-Plantinga, Evert’s, Bosch, Kema, and Hendricks, (2012). Another study conducted on total tract energy and macronutrient digestibility and fecal fermentation end product concentrations of domestic cats fed extruded (EX), raw beef based (RB), and a cooked beef diet (CB) resulted in SCFA increases in fecal propionate and decreased fecal butyrate in RB and CB diets compared to cats fed EX. Fecal concentrations of ammonia, isobutyrate, valerate, isovalerate, and total BCFA were greater in EX diets than RB and CB. The researchers concluded that further research is justified (Kerr, Vester, Morris, Liu, Swanson, 2011). A study on feeding African wildcats raw or extruded to determine nutrient digestibility and nitrogen metabolism resulted in protein digestibility was greater in the raw fed cats, while nitrogen intake was greater on cats fed the extruded diet and more was present in the faeces. Nitrogen that was retained and balanced didn’t differ between the two diets. The difference in blood tests was a higher alanine amino transferase activity and higher bicarbonate deficiencies on the raw (VesterBurke, Liu, Dikeman, Simmons, and Swanson, 2010).
According to Vetinfo (2012), nutritional deficiencies in minerals, vitamins and amino acids can cause seizures. They recommend a raw food diet. The problem lies in commercial food using plant proteins as the bulk of a diet, while cooking kills many of the vitamins which have to be added back in (Vetinfo, 2012). Probably the oldest and best known study is Pottengers conducted between 1932 and 1942. Cats were divided into two groups. All the cats were fed the same diet of 2/3 meat, 1/3 milk and cod liver oil. The meat included beef, lamb, and poultry muscle meat, bones and organs, tripe, sweetbreads, brains and heart. One group was fed raw and the other group fed cooked. The raw fed group were healthy, calm, coordinated and resistant to fleas, infections, and parasites. They had healthy kittens and reproduced with ease. The group that was fed a cooked diet had dental and vision problems, were uncoordinated, had arthritis, thyroid problems, allergies, fleas, intestinal problems, and often had miscarriages and the kittens died. Each successive generation of raw fed cats was healthy, but no cats lived past the third generation that were fed the cooked diet (as cited in Puotinen, 2000).
Eight million species on earth thrive on raw food. Only humans and domesticated pets largely consume a cooked processed diet filled with unhealthy ingredients, chemicals, and preservatives. Consequently, we and our pets suffer from many chronic ailments like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases. The harmful effects of consuming toxins produced by processing accumulate over the years (Living Foods, 1998). Eating whole foods results in a lower risk of these chronic diseases. There is a synergy in whole foods that have a myriad of beneficial compounds (George Mateljan Foundation, n.d.). With the tremendous increase of illnesses in dogs, pet food recalls for tainted ingredients, and the horrors of ingredients used in pet foods, it is extremely important to consider the benefits of a raw food diet.
The pet food industry is all about profit and their increasing neglect of the health of our pets is shameful. Veterinarians are guilty, as well. Dr. Fox expounds, at the 2008 American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association convention, “The role of the veterinarian profession in preventing sickness and suffering in our beloved dogs and cats should be central, but because of conflicts of interest, as between selling products for profit and putting the best interests of the animal patient before those of running a business, is similar to the human medical profession.” (Fox, 2011). The benefits of feeding a species specific diet to dogs and cats far outweighs the small risk of salmonella contamination, possible broken teeth, and the very small risk of bone damaging the digestive tract if fed a balanced, nutritious diet of raw food. For thousands of years dogs and cats have eaten raw, fresh, whole food and have thrived. Compare that to the 60 years commercially processed food has been around. A small drop in the bucket in the history of the dog.