Even today, I’m still hearing arguments from well-meaning pet parents that go, ‘Oh, raw pet food is dangerous, and we can suffer from cross-contamination as bacteria from the raw food can end up infecting us,’ like handling raw food is akin to handling radioactive material. ‘Dogs on raw diet shed salmonella in their poop,’ these concerned fellow animal lovers tell us.
It’s strange. It’s not like we don’t handle raw food when we cook. But for those who truly have not touched anything raw in their lifetime, people who eat their steaks well done, here are a few useful tips:
- After handling raw food, wash your hands with soap.
- If raw food touches the floor when your pet is eating it, after the meal, disinfect feeding area with a spray bought from the supermarket.
- Don’t lick your pet’s butthole, and whatever you do, resist the temptation to eat your beloved pet’s poop.
And here’s something else for you to refer to:
‘Our dogs are domesticated, like us. Since we cook our food, shouldn’t our pets be eating cooked food too?’
Regarding this, I refer to Richard Wrangham and his very coherent theory in his book, ‘Catching Fire’.
“One of the key evolutionary developments for humans was learning to cook with fire. By using high heat to prepare food, hominids millions of years ago were able to extract nutrients and energy more efficiently from their foods. This gave them an environmental advantage as they were able to spend less time eating and more time hunting and gathering. But the high heat had another consequence – the killing of microbes that were normally present in the foods prior to us eating them. Through the millennia, this might have led to early humans becoming less able to tolerate certain microbes in their food and thus to depend more on fermented foods, which contain some microbes, but creates a hostile environment for other microbes, in particular, those that might make us sick.”
So there you go, when we began cooking, we lost our tolerance for bacteria. Cats and dogs however, don’t have the problem. When was the last time you saw a pack of wolves dragging a Weber grill and a bag of charcoal across a field towards a deer?
Carnivores have really short and acidic gastrointestinal tracts, making them inhospitable environments for bacteria to thrive. Pathogenic bacteria not only cannot stay long due to the short digestive time of a carnivore, it also cannot survive within an environment of such low pH (1-2) and high hydrochloride content.
We see how resilient our pets are every day. Dogs can eat poo, which is bacteria ridden. In fact, by personal experience, I know they love horse dung, the fresher the better. Pet food companies probably know this… See how they try to make their food look like poop…
And cats spend half their time licking their own… butthole. Try not to think about that when they lick your face.
They do fine even when there is bacteria. What they are not built to handle after eons of evolution is carbo, whether from grain or from peas, potatoes, or whatever. No really, when was the last time you heard a dog die from eating raw food?
Again, don’t take my word for it. Let us refer to data on food-related illness in pets transitioned to raw food. Dr. Nick Thompson, a UK based veterinarian conducted a survey of raw feeding veterinarians (yes, they exist). 79 vets responded, having converted 51 626 cats and 196 135 dogs to raw food – a total of 247 271 pets. Of that group, a total of 29 animals were treated for food-related diseases. That is 0.00012% over about a decade (presented in 2016 video conference of Dogs Naturally Magazine, Day 3, 9:30am. https://secure.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/rr-2016-recordings/).
If I put that in perspective, there are much much higher odds of me contracting cancer or getting into a car accident than my cat has of getting poisoned by raw food. In fact, there’s a much higher chance of a cat getting poisoned by kibbles than by raw food…
Just google ‘pet food recall’ to see the thousands of dogs that have died from eating kibbles. Really, google ‘pet food recalls’ and ‘pet food recall 2007’ to read the horror stories. I’m not trying to dramatise events or employ ‘fear factor’ here but what happened was some pet parents bought some treats or kibbles, enticed by the nice packagings and one moment they were feeding their pets, and the next day, they (thousands of them) were greeted by the sight of their dead cat or dog.
Footnote: These recalls included Singapore as well so we are not really far removed from such tragedies.
But if we really want to delve into the question of ‘why raw’, then the answer involves more than that it won’t kill your pet.
Moisture, for one. Kibbles have very low moisture content, if any. Dogs usually do not have a problem drinking water but cats do not have a thirst-drive, having evolved from the desert. The number 1 reason for vet visits by cats today is bladder or urinary tract problems, usually caused by crystals (ouch) or life-threatening urinary tract blockages. And because they are not designed to use all the carbs, grains, legumes, or starches, the digestion places great stress on their kidneys.
Kidney disease is the number 1 cause of death in cats over the age of five.
The carbs are also creating fat pets.Fat pets are 3-5X more likely to develop diabetes and the number checks out when we see that diabetic cats have doubled in the past five years. Carbs also result in cats with arthritis (67% of by the way). Meanwhile, vets also tell us crunching on kibbles promote dental health but most kibble-fed pets over the age of 3 suffer from dental disease. Three of the top 10 reasons for vet visits by cats in the past few years are related to digestion, namely, chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease .
Of course, the problems do not start and stop at kibble. Canned food is just as culpable, with the same poor ingredients such as meat from diseased animals. In fact, if listening to experts is your thing, check out the book “Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth about Manufactured Pet Food”, written by Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins, former Director of Technical Affairs at Hill’s Pet Nutrition on the horrors of pet food ingredients or the paper written by Harvard Law student, Justine S. Patrick, “Deconstructing the Regulatory Facade: Why Confused Consumers Feed their Pets Ring Dings and Krispy Kremes.”
The modern diet has resulted in pancreatitis in your pets maybe even without your knowing. In a post-mortem biopsy of 115 cats (both sick and healthy cats) conducted by Texas A&M, researchers discovered that 67% of the cats carried findings consistent with chronic pancreatitis.
That means 77 of those cats studied were suffering a painful life of debilitating health, of the pancreas consuming its own body without the owners or their vets even knowing it.
Dr. Jean Hofve explains in her article that cooking food kills the naturally occurring enzymes that aid digestion, thereby leading to pancreatitis.
But enough about commercial diet. Let’s talk about a balanced raw food diet that has been handled properly and put together to model the ancestral diet of your pet. You should experience these changes.
- They stop vomiting.
- The diarrhea stops.
- They start peeing more, because they are eating a moisture-rich diet.
- The urine pH normalises, averting risks of urinary tract diseases.
- Less stools and less smellier ones too.
- Immune system gets stronger.
- GI system starts healing.
- Better dental health.
- Fur becomes silkier.
- Diabetes symptoms go away.
- Less shedding.
- Behavior changes. Better moods.
And the list can go on as long as the list of how commercial processed foods are bad. Yes, a balanced raw diet won’t cure everything. But it will result in rapid, positive changes and it will allow your pet to truly thrive, looking the best its genes allow it to and leading the healthiest and longest life it can, fulfilling its potential.
So, why raw?