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:
- I was open-minded enough to try raw food on a pet and saw positive results
- My experience with raw food led me to do my own research into why it worked
Here is some of what I learned.
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:
- Synthetic vitamins are not identical to the nutrients in whole foods and the body does not recognize them as food
- 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.
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:
- Cost (They are a cheap source of calories)
- 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.