The Truth About Raw Diets
Dispelling the Myths
Dogs and cats are omnivores
This one is false despite what major pet food manufacturers would like consumers to believe. If you take a look at both species’ dentition and GI system these guys are meant to be carnivores.
Animal’s mouths are designed to compliment their diet. Omnivores have a combination of sharp (canines) and flat (molars)teeth designed to be able to tear or eat meat and grind plant matter into digestible pieces. Carnivores on the other hand, have defined canine teeth used to tear meat and a limited number of molars for grinding.
Humans and other omnivores produce an enzyme called Amylase that converts plant-based starches into simple sugars. Dogs and cats do not produce this enzyme to help them digest plant-based starches.
Dogs and cats are regularly fed omnivorous diets because that is what we tend to buy for them. Can they survive on this? Yes. Just in the way that stray dogs or cats can survive eating garbage and leftovers in dumpsters. Our pets will not necessarily thrive throughout their lives on an omnivorous diet.
2. Bacteria in raw meat is dangerous to your pet
Dogs and cats are well equipped to deal with various types of bacteria. If we’re being honest, they also have a propensity to consume their own or other animal’s poo on occasion. Their shorter digestive tract (common in all carnivores) is designed to digest and push food through quickly which gives any harmful bacteria less time to colonize and create a problem.
Remember the outbreak of contaminated pet foods in 2007 that killed hundreds of pets? That was caused by melamine – an industrial chemical labeled as wheat gluten or rice protein that pet food companies voluntarily chose to add into their recipes.
3. Bacteria in raw meat is dangerous to you
This is another myth that is not necessarily true. It is true that there is bacteria in raw meat and it’s possible that it could wind up in their poop because of their shorter digestive tract (see #2 above). First off, wash your hands after handling any raw meat and especially after picking up your dog’s lawn ornaments or cleaning your cat’s litter box. I have been feeding a raw diet to my kitties for years and have never had any outbreaks of salmonella or E. Coli in my house.
4. Veterinarians are qualified nutritional experts
Veterinarians provide much needed advice and expertise for our pets by providing necessary medical services. This item is not meant to be offensive or harsh but veterinarians receive limited nutritional training while in school. Commercial pet food companies often sponsor any nutritional training they do receive. It’s not uncommon for them to market and recommend specific brands like Hills Science Diet or Royal Canin and receive kickbacks and extra revenue for their efforts.