Dogs consuming a fresh raw diet isn't new, it is their ancestral diet. Over the last 100 years, dogs have been domesticated. Processed dog food was created and marketed to pet owners worldwide. In this time, a species-appropriate diet has been overlooked and pet owners put their trust in their veterinarians to know what is best for their dog's health. In recent years we have seen the rise in popularity of raw whole foods for dogs and the health benefits of feeding a diet that mimics what your dog would eat in nature, therefore achieving optimal health. Just like humans, if avoiding processed foods we are more likely to maintain overall health and thrive. So why do many traditional vets disagree? Let’s talk about it.
Pet owners are becoming aware of the link between many health conditions and disease and processed pet food. Unfortunately, many traditional veterinarians are against promoting a raw diet. Some may fear that a raw diet is not complete and balanced and therefore will create nutritional deficiencies. This could be the case if you are doing it yourself at home, or choose a commercial raw dog food that is meant for supplemental feeding and is not optimized to meet AAFCOs guidelines. The next reason is the fear of the risk of bacteria and pathogens. But what about the harmful ingredients in processed kibble? It’s hard to understand…
Kibble is processed in extreme temperatures destroying the nutritional value it may have contained. It is packed with artificial flavors, colors, carbohydrates, fillers, and preservatives, none of which are benefiting your dog's health. Dogs are resilient and can survive on a processed diet, but they will not thrive. Traditional veterinarians work alongside pet food manufacturers to create ‘prescription’ pet food, to treat conditions in dogs. This approach many times ignores that nutrition can be a key factor in achieving optimal health and longevity. Rather than waiting for disease or symptoms to occur, a holistic approach prevents the conditions from occurring in the first place.
Why Does My Traditional Veterinarian Say No To A Raw Diet For My Dog?
When you go to the doctor for an annual checkup, do they ask you about your nutrition & diet? Does your veterinarian address this crucial factor in your dog's health? Many times not. Traditional veterinarians may often be disapproving of a raw diet based on our society's adoption of the cheap & convenient kibble diet during WWII. Also, many that do know and understand the nutritional benefits of a raw diet because they were not taught nutrition in school. Since this was not their focus, the idea of preventing disease and health conditions with simple nutrition is not in their healthcare plan. Let’s look at a few other reasons your traditional veterinarian may be disapproving of a raw diet for your dog.
Traditional vets may be against a raw diet because the concept isn't backed by science. On the other hand, are there studies showing preservatives, additives, carbohydrates, and other unnecessary processed ingredients are beneficial to dogs? Unfortunately, there is a lack of funding for studies on how a fresh whole diet is beneficial to the dog's health and ultimately a lack of interest. If the commercial pet food industry is booming, and veterinarians are in the business of sick pets, why is there a need for change? The quality of our pets' lives, that's why!
Yes, there is a lack of studies proving that raw is effective, but what we do know is when avoiding preservatives, processing, and unnecessary ingredients, your dog's health benefits, just like humans consuming a whole food diet.
Many traditional vets fear that if feeding your dog a raw diet, you may be missing out on vital nutrients. This fear is more so related to preparing a homemade raw diet. If you are feeding your dog a diet with nutritional deficiencies, your dog's health can of course be seriously affected. There are strict nutritional guidelines to ensure a complete and balanced meal, making sure all ingredients and amounts meet the nutritional needs of your dog. Remember, veterinarians are in the industry of sick pets, so they, unfortunately, see raw diets gone wrong rather than right. A whole food diet will provide optimal health for your dog, lessening your vet visits, therefore the vet may not even be aware of the positive health benefits your dog has experienced!
If your veterinarian disapproved of you feeding your dog a natural whole food diet, reassure them you have done your research and have chosen a commercial raw dog food that is complete and balanced to meet AAFCO’s guidelines set for pet nutrition.
It is known that raw meat cannot be consumed by humans due to the risk of salmonella and e.coli but what about dogs? Dogs can tolerate a higher level of bacteria than we can. They have a short digestive tract and high levels of acidity in their digestive system making it possible for them to consume raw meat and not be negatively affected. When a dog is fed a natural raw diet their immune system is strong and their digestive system is functioning properly. The acidity level in their stomachs is also very high on a raw diet, which makes it an undesirable environment for bacteria.
Traditional veterinarians may be unsupportive of a raw diet because they fear the risk of salmonella and E.Coli, but keep in mind dogs can contract salmonella from processed kibble as well! Also...did you know dogs can get salmonella from kibble!? When looking at any kind of dog food, raw or processed, it is important to use high-quality ingredients. If feeding a homemade raw diet, high-quality meats must be used. Cali Raw Nutrition uses USDA certified meat passed for human consumption. It is made in a USDA inspected facility using all human-grade ingredients.
To ensure your own safety when feeding raw, use the same safe handling practices you would use when preparing your own raw meats: practice basic hygiene, wash your hands and sanitize surfaces and dishes after use. Quality raw meats are not just perfectly safe for dogs, they are ideal.
Similar to Eastern and Western medicine or traditional and holistic health, there is a more natural approach you can take in maintaining and optimizing your dog's health. For as many traditional veterinarians that tell you a raw diet is not safe, there are just as many integrative veterinarians who support a whole food diet and see the link between disease and compromised health and processed pet food.
Integrative veterinarians provide preventative care, natural health approaches, and how nutrition takes a role in overall health. Well, respected integrative veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker states that “proactive veterinarian medicine means you are partnering with a wellness doctor to create abundant health thought wise lifestyle choices, appropriate fresh food diets, minimizing or eliminating vaccine schedules and minimizing chemicals in the home”. This approach is proactive rather than reactive and prevents conditions rather than treating symptoms. Dr. Karen Becker,
As more and more pet parents are looking for healthier dog food options and are seeing the importance of a whole food diet, holistic healthcare will be there to support! Unfortunately, there are not as many integrative veterinarians, but we're going in the right direction. The American Holistic Veterinary Association only has about 2000 members, which is less than 5% of veterinarians. Access to traditional veterinarians is much more abundant and pet owners trust that these animal practitioners are being transparent and wanting the absolute best for their dog. Remember, if your traditional veterinarian doesn't support a raw diet and holistic health approaches, you have the option to find an integrative veterinarian who considers nutrition as a major health factor.
If your vet isn't supportive about raw feeding don't give up! You can find an integrative vet who’s focused on preventing disease and health conditions rather than treat symptoms and focus on your dog's nutritional plan. You can also reassure your vet that you have done your research, the diet you have chosen is complete and balanced. It is important to develop a trusting relationship with your vet to stay up to date on your dog's health and well being. As more pet owners are becoming more aware of the benefits of a raw diet for their dog and asking their veterinarians for approval, we are going in the right direction of education and maybe the best thing for our dogs...nutrition!