Dr. Doug in the Raw

Dr Doug Raw

Yes, I’m going to bare it all for you right now. I am one of a rare breed of veterinarian who actually recommends raw pet food. This is in spite of my veterinary educational indoctrination that processed pet food is scientifically validated. Initially I bought the propaganda – hook, line and sinker. The reason I changed my mind is that:

  1. I was open-minded enough to try raw food on a pet and saw positive results
  2. My experience with raw food led me to do my own research into why it worked

Here is some of what I learned.

Evolution

Although dogs and cats have been domesticated for thousands of years they have been fed processed kibble for less than 100 years. It takes millions of years for significant evolutionary changes to happen. Although pets often do not closely resemble their wild counterparts, their digestive systems do.

Lift the lip of your dog or cat and take a close look at their teeth. Notice the long fangs for ripping flesh off a carcass. See all those sharp premolars and molars behind the fangs. Those teeth are made to cut meat. They are not the flat teeth of an omnivore (like us) that are meant to crunch vegetation.

The mouth is the most visible part of the digestive tract. If dogs and cats had evolved away from their carnivorous ancestors enough to benefit from currently popular pet foods then their teeth would have changed in the process. Dogs and cats are carnivores.

Processed Convenience Foods

The processing of pet foods helps to extend their shelf-life and make feeding easy. This fits with our modern, active lifestyles. Unfortunately, processed foods are not healthy for our pets.

High-heat processing of food destroys vital nutrients (you’ve never seen a wolf cook its food). Pet food manufacturers understand that and add back in synthetic vitamins and other nutrients. The problem with that is twofold:

  1. Synthetic vitamins are not identical to the nutrients in whole foods and the body does not recognize them as food
  2. Companies can only balance diets based on our current understanding of nutrition – which is incomplete

Also, high-heat processing of meat and carbohydrates creates carcinogens. Since currently half of all adult animals die of cancer, the link between what we feed and cancer in pets needs to be addressed.

Carbs

Research shows that dogs and cats do not require dietary carbohydrates. Also, excessive consumption of starch is linked to obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, and cancer. There are only two reasons pet foods contain carbs:

  1. Cost (They are a cheap source of calories)
  2. Convenience (Convenient, dry pet food requires starch to hold the kibble together)

No matter what you hear from the pet food industry about the benefits of corn or other sources of carbs, nutrition has nothing to do with their inclusion in the diet.

Yes, I have shed my vet school training and gone raw. I hope you will join me.

34 thoughts on “Dr. Doug in the Raw

  1. Rachel

    Thanks to you I have switched my puppy to a raw diet. It takes a little thawing in the refrigerator but then I dish it up and he gobbles it up! I feel so good about feeding him a healthier diet and a great side effect is due to his bodies ability to absorb more of what he eats, he poops less :)

    (lol on the pic doc!)

    Reply
  2. Valerie Polychronopoulos

    I applaud you Dr. Doug!! I was a tech in a feline hospital for 12 years, and with 33 clinic cats we fed raw for many years before it became popular. I own a PWD that is 11 years old. She is a cancer survivor, she had mammary cancer at age 7 and at that time I decided to switch her to a completely raw diet. I have been told that I am killing my dog, that it’s unhealthy, that she can get diseases from raw meat.
    I just had a full blood panel, full X-rays and an ultrasound and she is healthier now than she was 5 years ago! When I moved I went to consult with a local vet and when I informed him that I fed raw, he stated that he couldn’t help me because I must want my dog to die!!!
    So thank you for what you do, I only wish more vets would be open to the learning process and many health benefits that your pet can get from a raw diet.

    Reply
  3. Jan Aloi

    Hi Doug! I feed my Daisey ground raw meats… my boxers would mush in mouth and swallow whole”” throw itup swallow again… I gave up and grind it up with spinach, celery, carrots, eggs whatever I have… is this ok????

    thanks Jan Aloi

    Reply
    1. Amanda

      If you have a gulper it’s perfectly ok to grind their food to prevent choking. It’s for the safety of your furbabies after-all. However, make sure to give them a Giant Turkey neck or other bone source once in a while to clean their teeth. Ground doesn’t clean the teeth very well.

      Reply
  4. Barbara

    Thank you Doc.Doug. I have a 4 yr old GSD/Lab mix has hip dysplasia both hips and progressive arthritis. 8 months ago he was on so much pain meds (3 tramadol daily, Novax 5x a month, Adaquan shots 2x a month) he barely moved. After 8 months of raw he takes zero pain meds. Walks 30+ minutes a day plays with other dogs , swims 2 hours a week and his aggression toward humans and dogs has disappeared. I tell my story to any that will listen KIBBLE IS KILLING and MAIMING OUR FUR BABIES!
    RAW Feed is the only way I have seen the proof.

    Reply
  5. Linda Weber

    Hi Dr. Doug,
    I am with the radio stations WISR, WBUT and The Rock Station. We are hosting a Pet Expo on May 31st and would love for you to join us and inform our area pet owners . Please contact me if you are interested.

    Reply
  6. Diane

    Do you recommend a preference between freeze dried raw vs. frozen raw. Or fresh? I have a rescue Chihuahua who will eat anything put in front of her. Her weight is beginning to be an issue and I want to feed her a healthy diet. Currently I am feeding Stella and Chewies freeze dried. She is not losing weight.
    BTW, I am soon moving from the Philly area to Pittsburgh and will become a client! I’ve been searching for a holistic (sane!!) vet for years.
    Thank you for your time in responding.
    Diane

    Reply
      1. Karen Brodie

        Dr. Doug,

        Do you by any chance have a raw dog food recipe you could pass on? I find the prepared raw dog foods very pricey. I think I would do better buying meat and organs in bulk and making it myself.

        Thanks,

        Karen

        Reply
        1. Dr. Doug Post author

          Karen,
          Sorry, I’ve never found a recipe I trusted. I would suggest reading Dr. Karen Becker’s book. She has the information in there to make the diet balanced to our current level of understanding. http://tinyurl.com/nwz3sl4

          Reply
  7. Nancy

    Dr Doug
    I have 3 dogs, 14yr, 13yr and 3yr.(newly adopted). I was cooking for them (ground turkey/quiona) but then decided to try raw (Answers with Goats Milk) because the 14yr dog was not eating regularly. She got better with the raw and all the dogs seemed to like it initially (maybe because it was new) – but then the 13yr started to spit up some after eating and throughout the day. The 3yr old, just walked away and didn’t eat – he’s very picky, and the 14 yrs began to not finish her meals. I moved to a grain free kibble, mixed with cooked ground turkey, and they are all eating – but would like to get away from the kibble. Any other suggest? A Different brand of raw?
    Thank you for your suggestions and for all you do!
    Nancy

    Reply
    1. Dr. Doug Post author

      Nancy
      I would suggest trying another brand of raw – maybe Nature’s Variety. If that does not work out then maybe your dogs just aren’t meant for raw. You could go with something like Honest Kitchen which has a powder that you mix with the meat you provide. You could lightly cook the meat and see if that goes over better. Hope this helps. – Dr. Doug

      Reply
  8. Rachel Crown

    My dog was just diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma after having a splenectomy. All tests prior showed it supposedly has not spread at this time, but I know it will very soon. I am changing diet immediately, already started to incorporate raw food, but now unsure because I have read it is not recommended for dogs with Cancer due to a compromised immune system. Do you recommend raw diet for dogs with cancer?
    Thank you for your help!!

    Reply
  9. Sandra

    Hello Dr. Doug,
    My two 12 year old Cocker Spaniels have leaky gut syndrome. It has been several months since the antibiotics were given and have taken a huge toll. One of my girls is well underweight and is getting more bald spots each day. I believe she is actually starving. The diarrhea is off and on still, but, she has not been herself for over one year. Would you still recommend a raw diet, and if so, any additional foods that might be helpful?

    Reply
    1. Dr. Doug Post author

      I would really need to see the dogs to make a dietary recommendation. There is no one diet that is right for every situation and is they have weakened GI systems, raw may not be best at first.

      Reply
  10. Jenn

    Dr. Doug, Our 11 year old Rottweiler was just diagnosed with kidney disease. I’ve been researching what to feed her as the vet recommended Hills Science Diet K/D however that seemed to cause major stomach issues for her. I’ve been feeding her chicken/rice for the past week to settle her stomach but my we’re considering going raw. I’ve read about many health benefits with this in dogs with kidney disease. Her BUN is 56 and creatinine is 2.5. I’ve also been giving her celery and cucumbers for treats and she gobbles them up.
    We also have a 3 month old beagle who we intend to start on raw as well. (we lost our 6 year old beagle a week ago to kidney failure so we’re scared of kibble at this point as we feel this is the cause of the kidney issues) Can you offer any guidance? Is this the way to go with our furbabies?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Dr. Doug Post author

      I think many pets benefit from a balanced raw diet – but not all. Raw would be the opposite of K/D with respect to protein (K/D is restricted). With kidney disease a low protein diet is appropriate when the phosphorus level is above normal but not before. There are lots of holistic things that can help with kidney disease. Without examining your dog I really can’t make specific recommendations. You can find a local holistic vet at http://www.ahvma.org.

      Reply
  11. Paula Winne

    Just wondered, I have a 15 year old lab mix who has been diagnosed with Mega esophagus. I have been feeding Honest Kitchen but wondered if Answers raw would be appropriate for her. She has not regurgitated for 2.5 years
    now, but I didn’t know if raw would present a problem if the food moved more slowly through her system.

    Reply
    1. Dr. Doug Post author

      I’m not sure what to tell you. Answers food has the consistency of ground meat. You could add water to make it more of a slurry if necessary. At the same time, Honest Kitchen is a good food and if it is working I hate to have you change anything.

      Reply
  12. brit

    Hi Dr Doug, I have been making my own dog food for about 10 years. I wanted to ask you what you think of alternating cooking/raw. My dog is 10yo 55lb and in great health. I cook once a week turkey or chicken thighs/gizzards/veggies/shitake mushrooms and he likes a little rolled oats and served with powdered egg shells, usually gets that for 3-4 days. Then I rotate it with raw beef heart/raw crushed veggies/raw crushed pumpkin and sunflower seeds and add the powdered egg shells and Green Mush (Healthforce) for 3 days usually with a little bit of organic beef liver. He gets cooked sweet potato and goat yogurt in the mornings and a ROTATION of sardines (water/no salt) canned pink salmon (rinsed)or couple raw egg yolks. I also give a raw turkey neck weekly. During the winter I add Carlsons cod liver oil 1/2tsp several times a week and in the summer just once a week as my dog loves to sunbathe. I also make bone broths (usually beef or lamb neck bones) which he enjoys over his beef heart cubes. Everything other than the meat (which is grass fed) is organic.

    Reply
    1. Dr. Doug Post author

      Sounds like your dog eats well. I don’t mind some cooked food – you are processing much less than processed pet foods. One thing I would note is that pets do not make vitamin D in their skin like we do. They rely on getting it all from their food year round. I have more on vitamin D here http://drdougknueven.com/?p=917

      Reply
  13. Jennifer Sellers

    Dr. Doug, I have an 11 year old Dachshund with cushing’s disease. He’s doing pretty well; only real symptom is feet licking and pot belly. He is on thyroid meds, norvasc and benzapril for blood pressure. Should he eat raw? I started it and he LOVED it and I know felt more frisky but his bowels never adjusted Now he’s eating Royal Canin GI. His cushing’s levels are going up on blood tests.
    Jennifer

    Reply
    1. Dr. Doug Post author

      I have seen cushing’s dogs benefit from a balanced raw diet. Perhaps probiotics could help the transition and do it gradually.

      Reply
  14. Amylyn Kyler

    Hi Dr. Doug
    we have 2 10 year old Clumbers. You have seen them and suggested raw in the past. We were always afraid but recently with their allergies (Paw fungus), eyes, and general skin as well as their arthritis the Healthy Pet Store suggested we try raw and goats milk. Our pups have never had IMHA but it has been in the line so I have always been concerned about anything we give but now being on benedryl and other things for the fungus we thought it was worth a try.
    They LOVE the Answers goats milk. We are trying primal brand raw because they had a sample pack. At first one ate it and the other didn’t and now our female is eating the raw but not the male. we have tried different flavors and brands and even mixed in kibble and peanut butter. He seems very tired, but then again he is 10, but just more tired than usual.

    We have seen improvement in their skin as well stool lessening in just a short time. His stool went from loose to solid
    Just wondering if you have any concerns about feeding a pre-disposed IMHA dog this diet, or if you think diet might be making the male sleep more.

    We truly appreciate your help

    Reply
    1. Dr. Doug Post author

      I’m curious what the folks at Healthy Pets said to convince you to feed raw that I didn’t. I need to work on my persuasion skills.

      I have no concerns about feeding raw to a pet predisposed to autoimmune disease. Vaccines are the thing to fear. I don’t know why raw food would make the male sleepier – there may be something else going on. I recommend having him checked and maybe some blood work just to be sure he’s OK.

      Reply
  15. Rhonda Temple

    Dr. Doug,
    I have a Sheltie population of three: Truman age 11 3/4 a neutered male, Ginger age 7 3/4 a spayed female and Spencer age 5 3/4 an intact male. They are currently fed Fromm kibble with Answer’s Goat’s Milk in the a.m. and Answer’s Detailed Raw (rotation of the protein sources) in the p.m. Here are my questions/concerns:
    They all seem to have very gurgly tummies. I work 8 hours a day, so I do not know if this occurs all day, but in the evenings it is loud. I do not notice them passing smelly gas. Truman recently had a moderate bout with pancreatitis following an incident in which he scarfed something unknown (but suspiciously smelling like salami) from the ground. I say moderate because although he didn’t require hospitalization, he did require two rounds of injections and a 10 day regimen of Metronidazole (his amylase level was at the high end of normal, no fever, mild reaction to palpation of the abdomen). He is recovered now, but I am wondering if I need to do something different diet wise for him. Also, the gurgling tummies in all the dogs bothers me. I keep toying with going full raw….but I’m not sure the fat content of commercial raw diets is okay for dogs at this life stage. Truman and Ginger are somewhere between couch potato and normal activity….Spencer is more normal activity. Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Dr. Doug Post author

      I’m not concerned about the fat levels except for Truman with the pancreatitis. I don’t think you need to change his diet since it was something else that he got into that seemed to cause his problem. I would suggest trying them all off the goat’s milk for a couple of weeks and see if that helps with the gurgling. Maybe it just doesn’t agree with them right now.

      Reply
      1. Rhonda Temple

        Thank you for your response, Dr. Doug. Wouldn’t it be better for Truman to have a completely raw diet? Or is the higher fat percentage in commercial raw diets prohibitive?

        Reply

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