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Raw Feeding - **Objective** Views Please

arealhuman

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You may have read in my other thread that Rusty has been having problems with runny poos over the last few days (although things improved a bit this morning, we'll see how that pans out). I wondered if it was his diet, so have been looking into a raw food thinking that might improve his pooing an other things like allergies. If I go down this route, I'm favouring Honey's as it's prepared. I've read most if not all of the information on their website and, of course, it's very supportive of a raw diet. When I phoned them, they were really helpful and didn't try to sell me stuff, which was refreshing.

After this I did some online research and it seems the PDSA, using them as just one example, aren't entirely supportive of a raw diet. Petplan have listed some "experts" (they may or may not be, I don't know) who are for and against a raw diet. The upshot is I am totally confused! Like all of us here, I want the best I can for my dog, but am not sure about any of this.

Points about a raw diet - both supportive or not - have stated that bacteria is something to be wary of when, for example, preparing and serving the food, storing it and so on. One thing that does concern me is that Rusty is a very affectionate dog and like his cuddles (and so do I ;)). This often means I get a wet doggy nose against my hands/arms/legs (shorts as the weather's too hot :D), as well the occasional mouth smear, too. With a raw diet, could this pass on harmful bacteria to me or other people he comes into contact with, over and above what he might pass on now?

I am speaking to my vet at some point today and will ask him about a raw diet (I know I'll get replies saying vets are not diet experts!).

Thanks again :)
 
I have a friend who fed her schnauzer raw - so, a dog with a good, hairy beard. She would wash his face to help reduce the spread of bacteria. I think a good question to ask is how long specific bacteria remain harmful on a dog's coat.
 
With my objective hat on, and looking at the PDSA's views:

Raw feeding can pose a lot of problems, especially when prepared at home. Our vets don’t recommend preparing your own pet food – whether cooked or raw – as without help from a specialist in pet nutrition a homemade diet could be nutritionally unbalanced which can cause your pet to become ill.

Yes, you hear of people who feed their dogs nothing but, say, chicken carcasses, and it would be a lot better to do a lot of research. However, I'm not sure that what even experts on dog nutrition claim is evidence-based - have they actually tried feeding some dogs on 'chicken only' and others on a mix of proteins and other stuff, and compared health and longevity? I'm pretty sure they haven't. This isn't surprising - there is still very little 100% reliable evidence on whether it's healthier to be vegetarian or omnivorous, how many helpings of fruit & veg we should eat a day (the 5 a day figure was pretty much plucked out of thin air), and so on.

So we do have to rely on anecdotal evidence. I have met a lot of people who converted their dogs to raw and would never go back, and only a few who tried it and found it didn't work for them. A lot of vets aren't fans of raw feeding, but it would be really interesting to see if they have a higher percentage of raw-fed or kibble-fed pets coming in with health problems.

Raw food, especially meat, contains bacteria, parasites and other pathogens that would normally be killed during the cooking process. So feeding raw food brings extra risks, not just to your pet’s health but also to other people in your household. Even with the greatest care, the risk of cross-contamination is much higher so you could accidentally spread around bacteria such as E.coli, Salmonella and even Tuberculosis (TB) via the food or via your pet.

Yes, we have to be careful, just as when handling raw meat for humans. Dogs evolved eating raw food, and of course all wild canids do. And sometimes this food may have been lying around in the hot sun for a while... So I would say the risk to the dog, as long as the dog is healthy, is minimal as long as you follow basic hygiene rules. As for the risks from the dog licking you, or picking up a tennis ball straight after eating and dropping it on your lap... I don't know. You'd think it was risky - after all, you wouldn't lick a chopping board after preparing raw meat on it - but I'm not sure there is any evidence to show that people who raw feed get sick more often. Personally, I would think twice if there was a young child or vulnerable person in the household.

Bones are also another hazard with raw feeding, especially with “Raw Meaty Bones”-type foods. We do not recommend feeding your pet bones ever, regardless if they are cooked or uncooked. Bones can get stuck in your pet’s stomach and block it, or splinters of bone can damage your pet’s delicate insides. Chewing on bones can also cause fractures in your pet’s teeth. Even if your pet is lucky to avoid these issues, bones can often cause stomach pain and constipation due to their high levels of calcium.

I'm on the fence here. Jasper couldn't digest any bones other than chicken carcasses well, once had an uncomfortable stomach because I'd tried a lamb rib and it didn't digest (though it did pass without problems), and we often saw fragments of bone in his poo. On very rare occasions, he did seem to have some pain if he passed a sharpish bit. I stopped all bones when he was getting old and his digestion seemed to get worse. But, this is just one individual who was the exception to many, many rules! We raw fed him because it fixed his digestive issues overnight, and I decided that the benefits outweighed any possible risks from bones. I wouldn't hesitate to raw feed again.

The benefits of raw feeding over traditional pet food have not been proven. The arguments for raw feeding are based on the experience of individual owners rather than official studies on lots of pets showing a real difference.

Because the research has not been carried out. There is also no evidence that traditional pet food has benefits over raw, and the arguments against feeding raw are either also based on individual experiences or on theoretical risks (such as assuming that a raw-fed dog licking your face is risky rather than looking for actual evidence).

In your position, I'd be asking myself 'If raw feeding solved Rusty's problems, would I be happy to run the theoretical risk of germs being spread?' But then again, is this any worse than letting him lick you after licking his bum, investigating a squirrel carcasse, or doing the 101 other revolting things that dogs do?
 
Thanks both for the replies. It's a minefield! Mrs ARH has just returned with Rusty from his walk, back to a soft poo again :( Yes, @JoanneF, the point you mention about the coat is something I'm concerned about - will feeding raw lead to humans coming into contact with bacteria from his coat and generally touching him (or touching surfaces he's been on, like his bed).

Rusty isn't really a licker, he does mouth from time-to-time, though. If the diet was good and transformative for him, I'd be happy to keep him on it. Our preparation work would be very careful and hygienic, it's bacteria excreted from him I'd be worried about (although perhaps I needn't).

Honey's did suggest giving him one raw meal a day, with his other food given as it is now. Perhaps that's a good point to start from and see what effect it has on him, and if he'll even eat raw. The other thing I suppose, maybe to just add a raw chicken wing in each day to see how he gets on....

MY head hurts!
 
I think... looking at all the unresolved arguments from both sides of the fence, what you can conclude is that if there is a risk, it really can't be that significant - you are probably statistically more likely to get ill or die on a foreign holiday. So I don't see any harm at all in trying a raw diet - if it doesn't agree with Rusty, then the decision is made for you, and if it really does work for him, then that will change your risk/benefit analysis a lot.
 
I have been feeding raw for many years now and have never had a problem for myself or my dogs ...we are vegetarians but handle the dogs food very carefully....I used to prepare my own mix of raw food when I had 5/6 dogs but just having the 2 dogs now I buy natures menu freeflow its minced meat which you Hardly have to touch then I add fruit and veg nuggets or I steam veg for them ...with just having one smaller dog you could try natures menu nuggets ...you can count how many you need for his weight /size and are a very clean way to feed raw ...I don't trust any vets with advice about diets .....
Mine only have chicken wings ....I would never go back to feeding any other diet but it has to be something that works for you ;)
 
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I write from personal experience since the 1980s of feeding raw meat and meaty bones to a variety of dogs, including litters of puppies. I weaned my puppies straight onto raw. Despite our being told not to rely on anecdotal evidence, all the evidence available is anecdotal! No broken teeth (the instruction is to feed non-weight-bearing bones with a covering of meat) no stomach/bowel blockages, none of us went down with diseases or worms, and the dogs were wormed twice a year except brood bitches and puppies, which were wormed according to normal schedules agreed with an outstandingly competent holistic vet practice where several of the vets and nurses at the time had bred litters of puppies (oh the difference between the classroom and the actual experience in real life!).

Having said that, yes there is a slight risk of this and that, and those exact risks apply with commercial food also. If an immunocompromised human were part of the household, someone feeding raw would have to be extra careful from the bacteria point of view. As indeed would any household with cats that are let out to kill and eat - ooer - raw things, walk over worktops and tables, and lick their coats which we then caress. I am not anti-cat, just applying a sense of proportion.

So it's about risk-assessment. Only the individual can set their own level of acceptable risk. To me it's negligible but that is "anecdotal" based on decades of personal experience of dogs from conception to death. No "scientific" study has yet to conduct a parallel. No study where the research was financed by a pet food company can be taken as impartial.
 
I can only go on personal experience (anecdotal as you’re not me). Mabel has been on bought raw for just over three years. We’ve only had a single incident of concern - she refused a meal of ‘Finer by Nature’ minced turkey. Our local shop said that there was a bad batch and credited us. Mabel has had runny poos but these were a result of either having snaffled something discovered on a walk or my having fed her one of those dehydrated animal bits found in pet shops - not bulls’ willies but in the same area. Such items were very greasy and/or had been ‘hanging around’ in an open shelf. Much to her disappointment I’ll only give her sealed treats. From the above submissions I’d concur that, unless there is a scientific rationale why your specific dog shouldn’t be fed raw, counter ‘theories’ are based upon commerce. If you follow a common sense regime re hygiene practices, adverse effects from raw would be minimal - prepare his food in areas away from where you prepare the family’s, seal his thawed food in separate areas of the fridge, only have two days supply of his food in the fridge at any one time, clean preparation surfaces and make good use of soap for hand washing. I’m sure that there are more points for observation but I probably follow those on automatic pilot. For what it’s worth I’d suggest trying Rusty on bought raw from a reputable supplier - if that results in the thrupenny bits then you’ll know that perhaps raw isn’t for him. I’m sure you’ll let the forum know of the outcome. I’d hasten to add that I’m no scientist or expert but the above is based upon personal experience. Hope it goes well for him.
 
Thanks everyone for the helpful replies. I'm really leaning towards trying Honey's trial pack (£20) where they'll suggest a recipe. If I go down this route I'll probably swap out one of his meals a day to see how it goes, and let that inform me as to what to do next.

Just so I get it into my very thick skull - if he goes on to raw (either in part or wholly) - is there any increased risk or concerns about handling him? For example, in the evening he will sit partially on my lap, and will want his tummy/chest rubbed and will tell me off if I stop without the proper permissions :D), can bacteria be transferred this way from him to me from say, just his coat?

Thanks again.
 
I'm sure bacteria can theoretically be transferred from the fur... but as Hemlock pointed out, people will pet cats who catch birds and rodents, and we simply don't hear about raw feeders falling ill in their droves. And we think nothing of sharing a sofa, and often a bed, with naked pets who don't wipe their bums. And when you think of the raw sewage that ends up in places people regularly swim....
 
Thanks everyone for the helpful replies. I'm really leaning towards trying Honey's trial pack (£20) where they'll suggest a recipe. If I go down this route I'll probably swap out one of his meals a day to see how it goes, and let that inform me as to what to do next.

Just so I get it into my very thick skull - if he goes on to raw (either in part or wholly) - is there any increased risk or concerns about handling him? For example, in the evening he will sit partially on my lap, and will want his tummy/chest rubbed and will tell me off if I stop without the proper permissions :D), can bacteria be transferred this way from him to me from say, just his coat?

Thanks again.
Maybe just wash your hands thoroughly before you handle food.
 
Bit late to this but can I just say that my ferrets live indoors and eat raw meat as well as a raw egg yolk once a week. They like to 'carpet shark' after eating (wiping their faces along the floor!) and in all these years we've never had a problem with cross infections. I would not kiss them after eating but that's not just the raw food thing it's because they are stinkers!!:D:D I do however still shower them with cuddles and kisses at other times, much to their annoyance usually!:p:D
All of the advice from the others sounds pretty great to me:)
 
With my objective hat on, and looking at the PDSA's views:

Raw feeding can pose a lot of problems, especially when prepared at home. Our vets don’t recommend preparing your own pet food – whether cooked or raw – as without help from a specialist in pet nutrition a homemade diet could be nutritionally unbalanced which can cause your pet to become ill.

Yes, you hear of people who feed their dogs nothing but, say, chicken carcasses, and it would be a lot better to do a lot of research. However, I'm not sure that what even experts on dog nutrition claim is evidence-based - have they actually tried feeding some dogs on 'chicken only' and others on a mix of proteins and other stuff, and compared health and longevity? I'm pretty sure they haven't. This isn't surprising - there is still very little 100% reliable evidence on whether it's healthier to be vegetarian or omnivorous, how many helpings of fruit & veg we should eat a day (the 5 a day figure was pretty much plucked out of thin air), and so on.

So we do have to rely on anecdotal evidence. I have met a lot of people who converted their dogs to raw and would never go back, and only a few who tried it and found it didn't work for them. A lot of vets aren't fans of raw feeding, but it would be really interesting to see if they have a higher percentage of raw-fed or kibble-fed pets coming in with health problems.

Raw food, especially meat, contains bacteria, parasites and other pathogens that would normally be killed during the cooking process. So feeding raw food brings extra risks, not just to your pet’s health but also to other people in your household. Even with the greatest care, the risk of cross-contamination is much higher so you could accidentally spread around bacteria such as E.coli, Salmonella and even Tuberculosis (TB) via the food or via your pet.

Yes, we have to be careful, just as when handling raw meat for humans. Dogs evolved eating raw food, and of course all wild canids do. And sometimes this food may have been lying around in the hot sun for a while... So I would say the risk to the dog, as long as the dog is healthy, is minimal as long as you follow basic hygiene rules. As for the risks from the dog licking you, or picking up a tennis ball straight after eating and dropping it on your lap... I don't know. You'd think it was risky - after all, you wouldn't lick a chopping board after preparing raw meat on it - but I'm not sure there is any evidence to show that people who raw feed get sick more often. Personally, I would think twice if there was a young child or vulnerable person in the household.

Bones are also another hazard with raw feeding, especially with “Raw Meaty Bones”-type foods. We do not recommend feeding your pet bones ever, regardless if they are cooked or uncooked. Bones can get stuck in your pet’s stomach and block it, or splinters of bone can damage your pet’s delicate insides. Chewing on bones can also cause fractures in your pet’s teeth. Even if your pet is lucky to avoid these issues, bones can often cause stomach pain and constipation due to their high levels of calcium.

I'm on the fence here. Jasper couldn't digest any bones other than chicken carcasses well, once had an uncomfortable stomach because I'd tried a lamb rib and it didn't digest (though it did pass without problems), and we often saw fragments of bone in his poo. On very rare occasions, he did seem to have some pain if he passed a sharpish bit. I stopped all bones when he was getting old and his digestion seemed to get worse. But, this is just one individual who was the exception to many, many rules! We raw fed him because it fixed his digestive issues overnight, and I decided that the benefits outweighed any possible risks from bones. I wouldn't hesitate to raw feed again.

The benefits of raw feeding over traditional pet food have not been proven. The arguments for raw feeding are based on the experience of individual owners rather than official studies on lots of pets showing a real difference.

Because the research has not been carried out. There is also no evidence that traditional pet food has benefits over raw, and the arguments against feeding raw are either also based on individual experiences or on theoretical risks (such as assuming that a raw-fed dog licking your face is risky rather than looking for actual evidence).

In your position, I'd be asking myself 'If raw feeding solved Rusty's problems, would I be happy to run the theoretical risk of germs being spread?' But then again, is this any worse than letting him lick you after licking his bum, investigating a squirrel carcasse, or doing the 101 other revolting things that dogs do?
Great post: not much to add to that very balanced view.
Nottingham University has quite a few people researching pet feeding, and Val Strong (who worked there, I think), wrote a very good, balanced guide on dog nutrition generally, so it may be worth seeking that out - it's available online.
If you take the long view, commercial dog food has improved canine health dramatically over the past 70 years, when previously dogs were fed scraps. I can remember puppies with rickets and malnutrition from my days as a vet nurse, and that's very rare now, except in cases of neglect. Obesity is more of a problem these days, maybe in line with people eating more processed and junk food and giving bits to their dogs (not saying anyone on here does that, but I'm sure some do!). Or dogs just get hold of that stuff if there are small children around, dropping bit of cake on the floor etc.
I think we can sometimes over-think our dogs' diet and unless his poo is causing a real problem, it might be normal for Rusty. That said, a bit of experimentation never hurts.
I'm not in favour of feeding the same food every day, any more than I am of eating the same meal everyday. Dogs are much more adaptable than they are given credit for. For example, mine eat a variety of raw food (including bones), high-quality commercial pet food and full-on cooked Sunday dinners with all the trimmings made exclusively for them (I don't personally eat meat!). That said, I never feed kibble or commercial treats, especially the latter as they tend to be pretty unhealthy.
One last thing is you could send a sample of his poo to www.wormcount.co.uk as they will check for worms, other parasites and some forms of bacteria, including E. Coli. Worth a try - I send 3-monthly samples and have never had to worm any of my dogs since I started, which suggests that an awful iot of worming treatment is unnecessary but probably a nice little earner for vets! Obviously worming treatment has an effect on the gut biome and is better avoided unless worms are present.
I reckon you'll get there with Rusty and I'd have no qualms about trying a good quality raw diet with him.
 
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One last thing is you could send a sample of his poo to www.wormcount.co.uk as they will check for worms, other parasites and some forms of bacteria, including E. Coli. Worth a try - I send 3-monthly samples and have never had to worm any of my dogs since I started, which suggests that an awful iot of worming treatment is unnecessary but probably a nice little earner for vets!

I found the same - it did once show up that Jasper had a slight coccidia infection (he was mildly squitty at the time of the sample), and my vet was happy to start treatment based on that result. I'd guess that this worked out a LOT cheaper than if I'd asked the vet to investigate.
 
I've only had dogs since the mid 1950s, since then my dogs have never been fed a commercial diet wet or dry.
My dogs(& cats)have always been fed organic meat & eggs, wild caught fish & raw organic veggies & fruit. None of my pets have ever had digestive problems that lasted more than 24 hours nor have they ever had to have any dental work done.
Dogs/cats have evolved to be carnivores(cats being obligate), their teeth & digestive systems are geared to raw food
Commercial diets evolved to help humans save time & were never developed for the pets benefit.
Commercial processed diets are digested at a much faster speed than raw & contain so many additives to bulk up the product. Dogs(& cats)digestive tracts are geared to slow digestion, not the rapid type commercial food encourages.
 
I've only had dogs since the mid 1950s, since then my dogs have never been fed a commercial diet wet or dry.
My dogs(& cats)have always been fed organic meat & eggs, wild caught fish & raw organic veggies & fruit. None of my pets have ever had digestive problems that lasted more than 24 hours nor have they ever had to have any dental work done.
Dogs/cats have evolved to be carnivores(cats being obligate), their teeth & digestive systems are geared to raw food
Commercial diets evolved to help humans save time & were never developed for the pets benefit.
Commercial processed diets are digested at a much faster speed than raw & contain so many additives to bulk up the product. Dogs(& cats)digestive tracts are geared to slow digestion, not the rapid type commercial food encourages.
While the dietary regime you're using sounds suitable for you, and probably good quality for your dogs, I think it may be helpful to say that a counsel of perfection is not always necessary or desirable.
There are, especially these days, some very good brands of commercial dog food that have made it possible for the average owner to feed their dog a relatively healthy diet, and in my book, that's a good thing.
You need to know a fair amount about animal nutrition before creating a diet entirely at home, so balanced commercial pet foods are very useful for people who don't have the time or inclination to research nutrition. Really good-quality organic meat, which is generally made for human consumption, is also very expensive for most people, and that's another reason why many use commercial food instead.
It can be a good idea to get a rough idea of what the ingredients list means on commercial food packets, and go from there. More expensive commercial food doesn't always equate to better: for example, Wainwright's (which is Pets @ Home's own brand) is very reasonably priced and the ingredients and their proportions are pretty good - more than suitable for most companion dogs.
Just don't want anyone thinking they have to create their own diet plans for their dogs when there are lots of very adequate and better commercial foods out there.
 
Interestingly there have been many more recalls for commercial processed dog foods for salmonella etc than for raw foods & of course in the UK all meat used in pet food is supposed to be of human quality & tested for salmonella etc regardless of if it's raw, dry or canned.

It was a found that a commercial processed animal food manufacturer was including non food animal meat including euthanised dogs, cats etc At the same time they were including mutton from sheep with scrapie(transmissible spongiform encephalopathies)in cattle feed thus causing Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in UK cattle.
Makes me convinced never to feed my dogs commercial dog food
 

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