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Healthy Pets – All About Raw Food

By: Dr Larry Siegler DVM |

Our animal companions are natural hunters and carnivores; just look at their ancestry.  The dog at your feet (or on your sofa) has evolved from the wolf, and it’s digestive system is virtually the same despite thousands of years of domestication.  They have very short intestinal tracts geared to the consumption and digestion of raw foods.  Dogs are considered “omnivores” as they eat a variety of grasses, berries and vegetables in addition to prey.  The cat on your lap is a true or “obligate” carnivore (meat only diet) and is specially designed by nature to hunt small rodents and birds.  Her digestive tract, as well, is intended to assimilate raw meat best.

The Benefits of Raw

Raw food diets have been shown to help the body deal with many common ailments such as flea infestations, hot spots, continual shedding, poor dental & gum health, allergies, gastro-intestinal problems such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, immune disorders and degenerative diseases.  Diet is the foundation of health.  The fresher the diet, the more nutrients are available for the animal’s system to utilize in building immunity, healing from illness and warding off disease.

Raw diets have been common practice in European countries for decades, especially Germany, where it is commonly recommended by veterinarians.  The fear of feeding raw meat in this country seems to stem from a fear of salmonella, e. coli and parasites.  In over 10 years of feeding raw food and seeing countless animals on raw food diets, salmonella and e. coli have not been seen to be a problem.  (Remember, their digestive systems are designed to accommodate raw meat.)  Parasites could be contracted through eating wild, whole prey or game meats, but is much less likely from properly handled human grade meats.  Infection is more likely to occur through ingestion of feces or soil, or poorly handled meat.

The actual research cited in the US in support of a raw diet is rather convincing.  A long-term study conducted by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., M.D. between 1932 to 1942 was initiated a bit by accident.  Dr. Pottenger kept cats as laboratory animals for experiments in human health. As his research and cat population grew, he resorted to feeding them raw meat scraps from a local packing plant instead of cooked kitchen leftovers.  Within a few months, he noticed distinct improvements in the cats eating raw meat.  This prompted Dr. Pottenger to undertake a whole new experiment: he segregated cats into different groups – some of which were fed a cooked meat diet and others who received a raw meat diet. All observations were noted in great detail over many generations of cats. At the end of the study Dr. Pottenger concluded that cats fed a heat processed diet were deficient and suffered from innumerable ailments ranging from low immunity, irritability, and allergies; to skeletal deformation, organ malfunction, poor development during kittenhood, low birth rate, birth defects, infertility, and shortened life-span.

WHAT IS RAW FEEDING ABOUT?

Information collected by Jane Anderson, Blue Grace Portuguese Water Dogs

A raw diet provides a range of benefits that commercial dog diets can never hope to even closely match.  These benefits include:

1. No doggy odour

2. Naturally cleans teeth – no need for toothbrushes, de-scaling jobs, or gum disease

3. The time it takes for a dog to chew a raw meaty bones give their stomach adequate time to get the acids moving

4. Much less stools produced – and they are firm, and turn chalky after a couple of days

5. Decreased or non-existant vet bills (your dogs are healthier!)

6.Less cost for dog food – commercial dog foods are ludicriously expensive

7. Mirrors what a dog would be getting in the wild – and certainly even the modern day dog has a digestive tract exactly the same as a wolf

8. Puppies develop at a more appropriate rate – and quick growth spurts are avoided. A GOOD breeder will want to stop fast growth in any pup.

9. The ripping and chewing involved in eating raw meaty bones develops the jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles of the dog. Commercial dog foods will never assist in this important muscle development.

WHAT PEOPLE HAVE REPORTED:

People who have switched their dogs to a raw diet from commercial dog foods have found the following:

1. Dogs who were previously un-energetic, and sluggish become completely new dogs once the raw diet feeding begins

2. Allergies their dogs previously had on commercial foods, disappear once they start with the raw diet

3. Arthritis has significantly reduced or disappeared in some dogs switched to raw

4. Better weight control

5. No more doggy odour!

6. Their dogs are living longer on a raw diet than what their other dogs previously had survived on commercial dog foods

7. That their bitches managed their pregnancies better

8. Better weight and survival figures in puppies

Resources for Raw Food Diets

•Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats; by Richard Pitcairn, D.V.M., and Susan Hubble Pitcairn, M.S.

•Raw Meaty Bones: by Tom Lonsdale

•The Encyclopediea of Natural Pet Care; by CJ Puotinen.

•The Nature of Animal Healing; by Martin Goldstein, DVM

•Give Your Dog A Bone and Feed Your Pup with Bones; by Ian Billnghurst.  Published in Lithgow, N.S.W. Australia by Ian Billinghurst, 1993 and 1998 respectively.

For more information about Raw Feeding, go to Janes Website: http://www.rawlearning.com/rawfaq.html