Finn is a big supporter of feeding tripe to pets as the main source of protein. He has dedicated his years as a veterinarian to educating owners to raw feeding, the health benefits, and minimal to no vaccinations. Finn sees many dogs/cats that other vets have ‘given up on’. He will only see a new client if they are willing to switch to raw. In many instances, the problems that were seen disappeared. After listening to Finn’s lecture, I decided to put both my dogs on a complete raw diet.
Balkan loved his new diet and once on raw, never refused a meal. He also stopped suffering from digestion problems and lived to be 12. The other dog I owned at that time was a rough collie, named Sierra. Sierra was 6 when I switched her over to raw. There was no health reason to do this but I wanted to do ‘one thing for all’. What surprised me with Sierra was how much she changed being on raw. Sierra had dislocated her hip as a young dog when she ran into a tree. The hip was very ‘tight’ when it was put back in thus I never had any issues with it again. She was suffering somewhat from arthritis as she had slowed down a bit and I could tell it bothered her at times. Once she was switched to a raw diet, however, her energy and activity level increased dramatically. It was like she was a young pup again! Sierra lived a good life to the age of 13 ½. She was never on pain medication.
It is now many years later, and every dog I have owned since has been brought up on a raw diet. Puppies, litters, old dogs, young dogs, have all done extremely well. I have never had to deal with any salmonella or other bacteria issues. (this is often the first thing that those against raw will bring up as a ‘big’ danger). It is ‘believed’ that dogs systems deal with bacteria as they were intended to, without any problems. Others argue that they cannot deal with it. I don’t know the ‘scientific’ answer to this but I do know from my experience it is a NON issue.
Feeding raw during a time when ‘few’ people did this and NO vet I knew except Finn would recommend it, was not always easy. Initially, I learned to not say too much to my vets about what my dogs eat. However, I would often get the comment, your dogs are so healthy, what do you feed? Their response was always the same….’shock’ and then a lecture on how feeding raw meat was not a ‘good’ thing. When I would remind them of how healthy my dogs were, they would say, I am ‘lucky’ nothing has happened.
Thankfully, as the years went by, more and more people and more importantly, veterinarians were starting to speak out on the benefits of feeding a raw diet and the ‘shortfalls’ of feeding kibble. I attended every lecture/clinic I could find to gather more information and more importantly to find others who were also feeding raw. At this time, books were also starting to come out on the subject and thus began my extensive library into the raw diet, balanced whole foods, balancing a good diet etc. Today, one can find many others feeding raw, a veterinarian to support their decision to feed raw, support /advice on line, and many sources to purchase food for the raw diet. I have even found in the past few years stud dogs that are on a raw diet when looking for breeding partners for my dogs. Having said that I also understand how for some all the above are a struggle. I do feel that those just venturing out into feeding raw need support, information and often a ‘mentor’ to come along side them as they start down this nutritional choice for their pets.
Although feeding raw to our animals is not something that takes years of studying for, it is something that one should research and be committed to. One of the ‘best’ moments I have experienced is when my long time vet said to me, I am not sure how I feel about you feeding your dogs raw meat, but I sure cannot argue with their health. She then started to refer some of her clients to me for advice when she felt their dogs/puppies were not quite getting everything they needed in their raw diet. Sadly, this vet has since retired!
Raw is not a ‘miracle’ for every ailment out there affecting our pets but it is a healthy choice and often does change or diminish problems one might be seeing with their companions. I am not going to go into great detail in this article as there are many books, veterinarians, articles on the web/in stores etc that can give you much more detailed, solid information regarding raw feeding. However, as someone who has been doing this for many years, brought up puppies/litters on raw and continues to enjoy long happy lives with their dogs, I do want to highlight some of my experiences!
The following are some concerns I have heard/read over the years regarding feeding raw meat and some of my experiences.
Concern: Feeding raw meat to dogs increases the risk of infection by micro organisms and risk of a higher incidence of parasites. I have read and heard the reasoning behind this many times, but my experience with it does not match up. As I said earlier in all my years feeding raw meat to adult dogs, young puppies, weaning litters, sick dogs, etc, I have NEVER had to deal with either of these issues. In fact, quite the opposite when it comes to parasites. Prior to feeding raw, I dewormed my dogs regularly. After raw feeding, none of my adults/puppies have had worms. In my litters, the puppies have significantly less round worms (if any) when they are dewormed the first time. Is this luck? I highly doubt it. Has their environment changed. Yes, as a matter of fact it has but not in the sense that some might think. 10 years ago I started sheep herding with my dogs. Thus, now they had assess to MULTIPLE amounts of fresh ‘stools’ that they often gulped up! 8 years ago I started to raise my own sheep/flock. So now, my dogs had daily assess to fields that were littered with stools from sheep. Even in all this, I have not had parasite problems with my dogs.
Another parasite that is increasingly becoming a problem in our dog population is giardia. Giardia causes dirarreah. Giardiasis is most frequently associated with the consumption of contaminated water, although it can be traced to vegetables (often through the watering /soil). I am amazed at how many pet owners are asking to have their dogs vaccinated against it. (there is a vaccine now for this). What is not understood about giardia is that in most cases, a healthy dog (or human for that matter) is not affected by this organism. Their body deals with it!!! However, many veterinarians will prescribe Flagyl as a treatment for it. This ‘can’ work, but not always and Flagyl can be VERY hard on the system. My dogs are CONSTANTLY in streams, lakes, drinking dirty water, etc. They have never come down with Giardia. Perhaps this is luck or coincidence OR perhaps it is because they have a healthy immune system (due to raw feeding and minimal vaccinations) that enables their bodies to deal with such parasites.
Concern: Some breeds have genetic predisposition allergies to beef or inherent allergies to fish or chicken. I am really not sure what this has to do with raw feeding. If a dog has an allergy to specific meat, stop feeding that meat. Just like you would do with kibble feeding. There are a variety of meat choices one can make in raw feeding and the ‘best’ choice is to actually use ALL the different meats on a regular basis by rotating them. A thought to consider here is also vaccines. It is no surprise to me that many dogs/pets are coming up with allergies to different proteins. Bovine protein is used in MANY vaccines. (some use serum from poultry) and through over vaccinations we have actually caused allergies to the meat protein. At one lecture I was at where this was brought up the veterinarian felt that many dogs who show an allergy to a protein in kibble can still eat the ‘real’ meat protein (without processing) as the body assimilates the food differently.
Concern: The meat that we can buy at the store is NOT the same as the meat that a wild dog/coyote may eat from a natural kill. Commercial meat has been processed and exposed to many factors that make feeding it to our companion pets potentially harmful. Meat that is processed and sold through retailers has been exposed to a number of chemical agents. There are 72,00 chemicals now in use in the USA. Commercial meat, even "Organic meat", can be (and most likely is) exposed to most of these 72,00 chemicals.
Wow, the above makes you want to continue to eat meat huh! The thought process behind this is that cooking the meat gets rid of this. Do you really believe that? It might perhaps get rid of some, but certainly not all. I also think, if HUMAN grade meat is exposed to all the above, can you IMAGINE what the meat [not suitable for human consumption] that goes to dog food is like? One should look and the source we are buying our meat from. One thing raw feeding has done for myself overall is look carefully at my meat sources, ‘where’ I buy it from, and what I can do to make things ‘better’. I don’t need to worry about the lamb/mutton I feed. I raise it myself and it is exactly what the coyotes ‘eat’ in my back field when they raid and take a young lamb. Only difference is I had my lamb killed by a skilled person. Goes directly from there to butcher, to my house. No chemicals ‘inside’ the meat and none outside. I have also now started to buy all my meat and my dog’s meat from a local butcher where the use of chemicals is reduced. I am also looking to produce my own beef. Chicken is harder. Thus, again, I try to get the ‘best’ I can from my local butcher (all human grade). Tripe is easy. There is NO processing done on it by the time I get it. It is still green, slimy and stinky! No chemicals/bleach etc.
I cannot ‘dispute’ some of the above, but I can say from my experience, that feeding raw meat does not seem to have affected my dogs negatively, and it does not seem to have shortened their lifespan. In fact, quite the opposite in both cases. If you do extensive research into what meats/products go into pet food/kibble, the above statement seems so irrelevant. However, if one was really worried about all the chemicals in raw meat and felt that high levels of heat/cooking ‘rid’ the meat of the chemicals, then perhaps cooking the meat is a better choice than raw for them. This would still be WAY better than feeding factory manufactured dog food. As a side note, adding some apples cider vinegar to the dogs food/water might be a GREAT choice to help get rid chemicals in meat that can be cancer causing. That is why it is a HUGE benefit to marinade meat in apple cider vinegar and/or lemon juice prior to cooking. (Cooking does not rid the meat of these).
I read an article that stated: The Glycemic Index of Foods (Internet web site at www.glycemic.com) shows that raw carrot can cause the pancreas to produce much more insulin than the same amount of cooked carrot. The overload of insulin will then cause the dogs liver to have problems the same as a diabetic human would experience. I do think this is important to read and remember. When feeding vegetables to our dogs, we NEED to choose a variety of them and NOT overuse the ‘cheap’ ones. However, I do not know of any raw feeders that feed enough vegetables to cause ANY problems. I likely feed more veggies than most and have never had the problem. It would seem ‘humans’ are more at risk for something like this with the ‘fads’ of certain diets!
Concern: Bones: Chicken, pork, and beef rib bones can splinter in your dog's mouth, throat, or stomach, causing cuts or piercing the intestinal wall. In severe cases, internal bleeding can cause death. Statements on feeding raw bones to our animals is a HUGE debate and one that is talked about all the time to ‘discourage’ raw feeding of bones. My experience tells/shows me that dogs' digestive tracts are designed to eat raw meat and bones. The heaviest concentration of hydrochloric acid is on the stomach wall. The stomach churns when food is admitted and the heavy items such as bones are forced to the outside wall. This process easily breaks down these bones and allows the body to absorb the calcium/phosphorus from the bones. I have chosen to feed most of the bones in my dogs diet ground. Thus, most of the bone they get is from chicken. Having said that I do feed young puppies/dogs lamb bones, as they are VERY soft, chewable and digestible. My older dogs do get beef knucklebones to ‘eat’. This helps clean teeth, and builds strong muscles. The softer of these bones are eaten, chewed, swallowed and digested. The leg bones of larger animals are only given to my dogs for SHORT periods of time as ‘recreational’. They can be hard on dog’s teeth and cause breakage so I am careful. I have never had issues with bones splintering, causing cuts etc. I have on occasion had some bone get stuck in the mouth (between teeth) and have to remove them. I do not feed pork/rib bones, but I know many who do and have no problems.
Have dogs swallowed bones? Yes. I also know of a two that have died over the hundreds of thousands of dogs that I know of on a raw diet. This is why I choose to be careful with bones. When you consider the number of dogs/cats that eat raw, these statements are not a huge concern. HOWEVER, if one is really concerned about bones, then feed them GROUND! Solves the problem!!! From my perspective a FAR greater problem and one that has caused ALARMING numbers of deaths in our pets is the recalls on processed dog food. Recalls seem to becoming a common practice these days in the pet food industry. In the latest recall through Diamond Pet food, over a HUNDRED dogs/cats have died in a 2-month span (and the numbers keep rising) due to poisoning that happened in the corn that was in the food. I cannot believe that consumers who buy processed pet food are not outraged and do not demand better quality control!!!!
Also please note: when feeding bones to your pet in a raw food diet, the bones MUST be raw!!! Cooked bones DO have the associated problems/risks with them that are mentioned. They are brittle and useless to our pets as nutrition when they are cooked.
Concern: "I am very much against the raw food diets, many dogs can do well on a raw food diet. However, they have the potential to be life threatening. Any food that can potentially kill even one animal is not worth the risk." If this were truly believed, then kibble would be OFF the market today. Kibble has killed, caused serious short term and long term illness, chronic diseases in pets for decades and yet continues to be fed, marketed and make BIG $$$$.
These are a few of the arguments one hears often regarding raw diets. I encourage everyone who is going to change to feed raw to do some research. Look into the ingredients that go into dry/canned dog food. Educate yourself! Attend seminars, talk to people, listen to other people's experiences! There are a ton of books out there now written by some very knowledgeable, respected people who can help one understand the basics of feeding raw and give you support changing your dogs diet. More & more people are seeing the benefits of feeding natural and there are professionals out there that will work with you!
We all take responsibility for feeding ourselves & our family a healthy, balanced diet......... we do the same for our dogs!