An edited transcript of the video is provided below:
Today we’re starting the first of our three-part series on a very tough topic to talk about. And the reason why it’s tough to talk about is because people are bananas about it. Pet food is a religion for people. There are people who feel very very strongly about it and we’re here to provide a balanced viewpoint on some of the marketing information and internet information that’s out there. Also, we hope to help you navigate the pet food world and how to pick a pet food. The first topic, which does inspire probably the most passion out of people who are believers, is raw diets. We will talk about how we go about evaluating it and why we make the recommendations that we do.
Raw diets. And to come straight out with it, we are not a fan of raw diets. It really comes down to three metrics that we look at when we make a recommendation. The first question is, is it beneficial? Second is, is it safe? And three, what is the cost? Is it effective, or is it crazy expensive? (Which it is)
The first question we will talk about is, is it beneficial? And this is really where all the marketing claims come in and this is where all the passion really comes in. There are claims that it cures everything, your dog will never get sick if they’re on a raw food diet, and they’ll be able to skip and do back-flips if they’re just eating this food. The problem is that those marketing claims sound too good to be true and as is the usual, it typically is. We would recommend it more and be more on board with it if there was any sort of data showing that there was an actual benefit to it. Right now, it’s all anecdotal evidence. The raw diet fans are always saying how much happier their dogs are, but really when it comes down to it, they could be doing really well on a dry kibble as well. Its likely they just have not found the right one that their dog really enjoys or does well on.
The anecdotal evidence and the marketing claims are really a little bit over the top right now, without really any science to back it up. And part of the things that people are claiming is that when you cook food you’re losing all the nutrients and you’re breaking down enzymes that dogs need. The problem with that is, if that were the case 98% of dogs that are on dry kibble, that’s billions of dogs across the world, that are on dry kibble would be really doing poorly, and the vast majority of dogs would be really sickly. But they’re not. They’re actually doing great. Most of the dogs that are on regular dry dog kibble do really well.
The other part of this marketing is that it’s a more natural diet, more ancestral, more like what wolves eat. And it’s a fallacy to believe things that are natural are always better, because they’re not. There’s a lot of wolves who are struggling out there, who are sickly, because they do get a lot of intestinal parasites, they do get a lot of illnesses, and it’s not always the healthiest diet they could possibly be on. And the other fallacy is that dogs are wolves. Your little Chihuahua, your little pug, your Pomeranian, your German Shepherd is not a wolf. I don’t want to break your heart right now, but they’re not wolves. They’ve evolved into these other domesticated creatures, which might have a common ancestor a long time ago, but they evolved as humans evolved.
And actually, there was a really interesting paper that was done that studied and looked at the genes of wolves and of domesticated dogs, and found that domesticated dogs had new genes that the wolves didn’t. And those genes actually coded for digestion of things like starches, carbohydrates. This evolution correlates along with the byproducts of what humans were doing with their agriculture. Dogs actually consumed a lot of those waste products and actually evolved a natural adaptation to be able to process those foods and it was an advantage for them. So dogs’ digestive systems have evolved from wolves, and that goes along with the agricultural revolution of humans and what got us to where we are today. So your dog isn’t a wolf. They don’t need to eat all raw diet. They can handle carbohydrates fine and do really well on it. So all the claims of raw diets being the most beneficial, and the most natural, have no basis.
The other reason why we don’t jump on board with raw diets is the second question, which is, is it safe? And this is the part that really gives the strongest reasoning for us on why we don’t recommend it, and why we advise people actually against it. It’s raw meat. We know raw meat and the food that we buy from the grocery store for ourselves, requires a lot of caution in handling because there’s always a chance that there’s going to be an infectious component to that. Because of that, we really wash our hands and we cook it. And it’s the same thing for dogs.
These raw diets can give you a false sense of security because a lot of them will say that they’ve been tested pathogen-free, but it doesn’t really work. The way that they test the food is they take a huge vat of food, and they take a little core sample out of the center of it, and if there’s no bacteria on that little tiny core sample, then they claim that that whole vat is clear of any bacteria. And that’s just not the way that it works. We know that raw food is filled with bacteria. And, again, what does the science say on this? There’s lots of data out there showing and proving how infectious this stuff is, and we get recall alerts all the time on raw diets. There was just a report of two dogs dying from eating raw food infected with listeria. And a lot of the time, the dogs don’t even get sick. The bacteria pass through the gut and the dogs are fine, but then these bacteria end up infecting us. Those most at risk are young children, immuno-compromised people, and people trying to get pregnant as listeria causes abortions. So it is not a really fun thing for humans to deal with, or your dog either. There was a study done in 2014 that looked at dry kibble versus raw food. And they bought random samples of food, they tested it, and they found that of the 480 samples of dry dog food, two of them were infected, one with salmonella, one with listeria. That is 0.4%, so less than 1% of dry dog kibble had an infectious component in it.
On the contrary, they also looked at raw foods. They took 576 samples of raw food, and of those there were 81 which were positive for all the various infectious diseases. So that’s nearly 15%. So yes, there’s a chance that you’re gonna get infected with the dry dog kibbles. You should still wash your hands and do good quality control, but it’s 0.4% versus 15%. There’s a 40-fold increase risk of getting one of those infectious diseases from raw diets. So this is a big reason why we don’t recommend it. It isn’t safe. You could take the raw food and cook it, and then I’d have much less of a problem with it. But then it’s kind of counteracting all the benefits that their marketing department has told you it’s good for. So that doesn’t really make sense.
Finally, the third question is, is it cost effective? And that answer is no. I talk to people all the time who are just dying trying to provide food for their pet which is the best and they’re spending any amount of money. They’re buying all this raw diet because they have been told at their pet store that it’s good. The problem is, it really isn’t worth it.
So that’s our take on the raw diets. I know there’s a lot of passionate people out there who probably have a much different opinion, and have really strong feelings about it. And that’s fine. But here at Coastal, we’re here to gently tell you, based on the best available science that’s out there, the reason why we make these recommendations.
Coming up in our Pet Food series, we have two more videos. The next one is going to be about byproducts and grains and other fake news stories. And then the final one is how to choose a good pet food, and how to read the label, what it means, and what to look for.
If you have any questions, give us a call on 760-633-2254. Visit us on the web at sdcoastalanimal.com. I’m Dr. Brian Evans. Till next time, thank you for joining us.