Nutrition The Raw Truth

There have been some interesting developments in the area of dog and cat nutrition in the "mainstream" of research. Although not a surprise to me, I am delighted to report that the findings are very compatible with my personal recommendations. (The only difference is that the researchers probably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to figure out what I learned watching the Discovery channel.) Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Oncology (cancer research) has found that high carbohydrate diets are conducive to the growth of tumors and should be avoided in dogs and cats with cancer. They recommend diets high in protein and fat. Major pet food manufacturers have raised the protein levels in their "kidney" and "senior" diets. The higher protein level increases energy and vitality.

If one understands that by nature carnivores eat a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, the results of these studies could have been easily anticipated. Based on my understanding of carnivore nutrition, these have been my recommendations for nearly 20 years. The main difference being that I don't wait until a pet produces a tumor or reaches a certain age to implement the proper feeding program. I strongly believe that my dietary recommendations have increased the quality and perhaps the quantity of life of many pets with cancer (and many other conditions) as well as many older pets. Unfortunately the pet food manufacturers will likely never succeed in producing a truly healthful diet. The reasons for which I hope the rest of this article will make clear.

When I graduated from veterinary school, I thought I knew a lot about health and disease. I was half right. I learned a great deal about disease. I was taught pitifully little about health. Removing symptoms and restoring health are not the same. Drugs and surgery eliminate symptoms yet they weaken the body further, resulting in chronic conditions. As a result of such medical practices, the health of our pets is getting worse. More chronic diseases ranging from allergies to cancer afflict our beloved companions than ever before. The use of processed pet foods plays a major role in this trend. By nature, dogs and cats are designed to eat other animals such as birds, rabbits and squirrels. This means that their natural diet consists primarily of animal tissues namely, meat, organs, glands, bones and a small amount of vegetable matter found in the intestinal tract of prey. In addition, all of these ingredients are only eaten in the raw state. Raw foods contain enzymes that assist in digestion and absorption of nutrients.

It is only in the past few decades that dogs and cats have been given cooked foods.
When raw foods are processed into pet foods, the molecular structure is altered and enzymes are destroyed. These changes make them difficult to digest. The result is stress on the digestive system, especially the pancreas. Stress on the immune system occurs as a result of absorbing incompletely digested foods which stimulate the body's defenses. Canned, dry and home cooked foods produce these detrimental effects. The best quality nutrition for dogs and cats is all raw foods, the way nature intended.

The risks associated with feeding raw meat e.g. salmonella are easily outweighed by the benefits. Healthy carnivores are naturally able to deal with germs and parasites. Currently, there are thousands of dogs and cats on raw foods around the world, yet I have not heard of one case of salmonella as a result. The long term risk of chronic disease does not make the use of processed foods worthwhile.
Holistic veterinarians seek to strengthen pets, enabling them to heal themselves. The first step is almost too obvious: FEED PROPERLY! Pets need a natural feeding program rich in raw foods and enzymes. NO pet food is 100% complete. (Most aren't even close!!) Your pet deserves better! Your pet will look and feel better and your vet bills will decrease significantly.

Russell Swift, DVM, HMC