Busting the myths about feeding your dog raw (Part 1)
Welcome to the first in our series of myth-buster posts around raw feeding. There is so much to talk about on this I thought I’d split it up into some more "digestible chunks" - see what I did there…
There has been a lot of myths around raw feeding recently - not helped by the BBC and their TV show "Trust Me, I'm a Vet". Don't get me started...
I thought I would take the opportunity to bust a few myths around raw feeding for those of you who have any doubts.
Before I do that I want to ask you one question... What were dogs eating 100 years ago? Take a moment and think about it.
Well hopefully the answer you came up with is something like "well, they were scavengers so probably ate anything they found like other animals, human scraps, dead creatures, fish, etc."
If that was your answer then a gold star for you, you are definitely on the right track.
With that let's get on and put some of these weird myths to bed.
Myth: Dogs are Omnivores
This isn't exactly true, what dogs are is very adaptable to whatever food source that they can lay their paws on. It is important to realise though, that just because they can survive on an omnivorous diet does not mean it is the best diet for them.
Source: Dogs and cats have the internal anatomy and physiology of a carnivore (Feldhamer, G.A. 1999. Mammology: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. McGraw-Hill. pg 260.).
Myth: Dogs are so far removed from Wolves, and have changed so much, they can't handle a raw diet
Tosh. What happened is that humans, through breeding, have changed the "appearance" of dogs; their anatomy is still the same. Saying that a dog cannot handle a raw diet because they are now domesticated has only an ounce of truth and it comes from the fact that we have been feeding them commercially produced rubbish for so long their system is not overly up to the challenge (hence why you should gradually move them to raw). The main result of feeding dogs a processed, grain based diet is a suppressed immune system and the lack of the enzymes required to digest raw meaty bones. With that said it doesn't mean that the dog doesn't actually have the necessary enzymes, they are present, and once your dog is taken off the rubbish filled food, those enzymes quickly return to the correct level which allows for digestion of raw food.
Source: (Mech, L.D. 2003. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation). (Wayne, R.K. Molecular Evolution of the Dog Family). (www.fiu.edu/~milesk/Genetics.html). (Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones).
Myth: Raw fed dogs pose a risk to humans
At this point my head usually hits the desk and for good reason. Again I'm going to ask you to put your thinking cap on. What did we do before "Anti-Bacterial" hand gel, soaps, sprays, wipes, etc. were invented? Humans have been on the planet for a very long time and oddly enough so has bacteria - in fact bacteria has been here far longer than us and will continue on long after we're long gone.
Less than 1% of the bacteria on the planet is harmful to humans - LESS THAN 1% - just try and wrap your head around that for a moment.
The critics of a raw fed diet use this myth as a main reason for suggesting that you don't feed your dog raw. Ok, so yes, there is bacteria in raw meat - we all know that and of course this bacteria can harm us bipeds. So if a raw fed dog licks you, are you going to suddenly start bleeding from every orifice? I suppose everything is possible but in reality, no, it's very unlikely. This type of bacteria does not live very long in the mouth of a raw fed dog and there is reason why. That 'drool' (saliva) that we all know and love contains an enzyme called lysozyme which destroys bacteria. However there is a more important fact; raw fed dogs don't tend to have plaque on their teeth which is a breeding ground for bacteria. Kibble fed dogs are more likely to harbour these harmful bacteria because of the presence of a sugary and starchy environment which gives them all the energy they need to propagate.
So in actual fact unless you don't follow BASIC kitchen hygiene rules, such as washing your hands and implements that have been in contact with raw meat, feeding raw is perfectly safe for your dog.
Source: (Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones.).
That's all for this one folks, keep your eyes open for Part 2 coming soon!