SAFETY OF THE FRESH FOOD DIET
Why does my Vet not support this style of feeding?
Unfortunately, by large, the Veterinary industry does not support pet parents feeding a fresh food diet to their dogs. There are many Vets who do though, these are typically called Holistic or Integrative Vets who have have conducted post graduate study/research into canine nutrition.
When your Veterinarian attends University, kibble manufactures such as Hills Science Diet & Royal Canin who produce prescription diets pay the University a sponsorship in order to access their students. Students end up graduating University believing there is nothing better to feed a dog than kibble and any education they receive about fresh food feeding is negative, they do not learn how to formulate fresh food diets for their future clients.
Your Vet then passes their education onto you that kibble is the best thing you can feed your dog, they may even scare you into believing that if you feed a fresh food diet to your dog that you could make your dog really sick and may be even die. If you have a puppy, you're likely to be scared into feeding kibble as your Vet has told you that your dog will end up with growth issues especially if your dog is a large-giant dog.
As a pet parent who only wants the best for their dog, you take it to heart and you feed your dog kibble. Then one day you start wondering if there is something better to feed your dog, you end up making the transition to fresh food but still in the back of your mind there is that little voice that makes you worried that feeding a fresh food diet could be harmful to your dog - the kibble manufactures deserve an award for shaping your thoughts and feelings on the topic.
Fresh food feeding is not a trend.
We know that if we feed other species a diet Mother Nature did not intend for them that there will be issues, they may be that the animal does not thrive and suffers illness over a period of time like the Gorillas or it may mean the animal dies - for example if you were to feed an elephant a diet of a meat eater because its digestive system is not set up to process this type of diet.
Your Doctor will tell you that you should reduce or eliminate processed foods and eat more whole foods because this is healthy right? A fresh whole foods diet is the diet Mother Nature intended us to eat. Our digestive systems were made to consume and utilise the nutrients of a wholefoods diet. Processed foods are making us sick, they are not health giving and we all accept this whether or not we eat healthy - so, why then do we accept it when our Vets who were educated by kibble manufacturers tells us to feed our dog highly processed foods? Food for thought.
A common practice is free morning teas or lunches put on at Veterinary clinics by Kibble Manufacturers, during this event, staff are trained on perhaps a new product or receive refresher training - the positive effect of a free lunch or morning tea is that the staff will go on post the event to recommend the kibble manufacturers product to their clients.
Another way kibble manufacturers get to consumers is by offering free nutrition courses to Vet Nurses. These nutrition courses are solely in reference to the kibble manufactures products and bias information. If you were to complete the nutrition course for Hills Science Diet and Royal Canin you would come across conflicting information. If one kibble manufacture used a lot of corn and another didn't then you would bet your bottom dollar that one would educate on the benefits of corn and the other won't.
Vet Nurses formal education is also geared towards supporting kibble manufactures, just like Vets, part of their education is sponsored - they graduate believing that kibble is the best and only thing a dog should be fed.
The RFVS is a fairly new organisation, based in the UK, they are a group of motivated vets and vet nurses with a common interest in raw feeding and species appropriate nutrition in dogs and cats. Their mission is to promote the principles and practical aspects of species-appropriate nutrition, through education of veterinary professionals and the pet-owning public.
This is a good place for curious Vets and Vet Nurses to go when they want to learn about fresh food feeding in a scientific, evidence based manner.
Whilst it is a strange concept to think one needs to prove that fresh wholefoods that dogs used to eat before kibble is healthy, the Raw Pet Food Research Database is a great website for the scientific minded to land. You will be able to discover scientific papers and studies that support feeding a fresh food diet.
One of the biggest push backs fresh food feeding communities get is in relation to "balance". In humans, governments outline what a balanced diet looks like, this changes from time to time when new science comes to light and is often highly debated by different groups who subscribe to a different way of eating i.e. Paleo, Keto, Vegetarian, Vegan etc. We understand in humans that is there is not one way to consume a healthy balanced diet, however when it comes to dogs, our Vets have us believe that it is black and white and that balance can only come from kibble and that it has everything our dogs need in it - this is called "Complete & Balanced".
Let me just stop and clarify for a moment that we support Vets, they are amazing people and they have our respect, however, we acknowledge that their training and knowledge in nutrition has been hijacked by kibble manufacturers who use them to bolster their profits. As mentioned earlier, there are a small community of Vets often referred to as Holistic or Integrative that have conducted post-graduate study/research into non-bias nutrition education and will not promote a kibble diet. These Vets do not need to use prescription kibbles, they will use their next-level knowledge to support and heal dogs with real food nutrition and complimentary therapies.
In order for a pet food to state their formula is "complete and balanced", the food must either:
Meet one of the Dog or Cat Food Nutrient Profiles established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)External Link Disclaimer; or
Pass a feeding trial using AAFCO procedures.
The FDA state that for a product to meet one of the AAFCO nutrient profiles, it must contain every nutrient listed in the profile at the recommended level. That nutrient does not have to be in a wholefoods form, it can be synthetic. AAFCO also are not a governing body, they do not enforce anything.
All the nutrients listed in each profile have a minimum level, and some also have a maximum level. That's right, the AAFCO nutrient profiles represent the MINIMUM requirements to keep a dog alive. As a pet parent you probably want your dog to do more than survive right? You most likely want them to thrive.
Because kibble is highly processed, may nutrients are degraded during the process and the end product will not meet the AAFCO minimum nutrient profiles, therefore synthetic nutrient mixes are used to help kibble manufacturers meet the minimum requirements. Your dogs' body however, does not recognise and utalise synthetics in the same way they do with whole food nutrients.
Synthetic nutrients are isolated nutrients created in a laboratory. For example Ascorbic acid being vitamin C, however in nature, vitamin C is a combination of a number of compounds that work together in synergy with one another not in isolation. A laboratory simply cannot mimic nature in a synthetic manner.
If a dog lives their whole life consuming synthetic nutrients that their bodies simply do not recognise in full, then what deficiencies or excesses are going to occur over time at the detriment of the dogs health 5-10 years down the track if not sooner? No kibble manufacturer has conducted studies into this very serious topic.
We encourage you as a knowledge seeking pet parent to further learn about synthetic nutrients in pet foods so you can make informed decisions in relation to your dogs nutrition and future health and wellbeing.
Sacha Packer, Nutritionist from The Balanced Canine, has put together an article on this subject that is a quick 6 minute read that will help you get a really good grasp on the subject.
The way we balance fresh food feeding in our community is by using ratios shown above and then feeding a variety of ingredients on rotation to avoid underdoing or overdoing any one nutrient. This method of feeding is called balancing over time. As mentioned earlier, no wild animal consumes a meal that is complete and balanced to AAFCO guidelines at every meal or at any meal. Eating a variety of foods and balancing over time is how healthy humans eat too.
Keeping in mind, that there is not one way to feed a fresh food diet. There are some communities in the fresh food world that micro-manage their dogs diets and they feed complete and balanced at every meal or every batch, they do this by using spreadsheets, calculators or recipes - this form of feeding brings them comfort and this is fine, it's not for us to say that is wrong, it's simply different to what we promote. You probably know or have seen a human who micro-manages their diet, they may count calories, weigh everything to the mg, record what they eat etc. and if this brings them comfort then so be it, some would say this level of management is not healthy or necessary but in the end, they and you need to do what brings comfort.
Where do the fresh food feeding % guidelines come from?
It's not known, it is believed by some that they might be based on the ratios of a whole animal but in the end what they do is provide a guideline for newbe's to work to. For instance, the bone content provides the calcium needed in the diet, the plant matter provides the gut loving fibre, vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, anti-oxidants etc. and the offal brings nutrients that would be likely lacking without them such as B-group, D & A.
Why doesn't Salmonella and E.coli from raw food make dogs sick?
A dog has a very short digestive tract, this means food doesn't sit around for a long time digesting like in humans who can suffer food positioning quite easily. Dogs are a scavenger species, their bodies were made to tolerate a wider variety of foods and environments.
The gut pH as well as the good bacteria in the digestive tract all work together to keep your dog healthy and safe from food poisoning in most cases. Immune compromised dogs are often the exclusion and will require a cooked fresh food diet.
When handling raw food, you should prepare, handle and store it in the same manner you work with food for your human family. Intentionally giving your dog "off" food because they're a "dog" is not appropriate, you have landed at fresh food feeding your dog because you want to do better for their future health and wellbeing. Intentionally giving your dog "off" food could actually make your dog sick if their digestive system is not in tip top condition to fight off all that bacteria. Optimal gut health is something modern dogs just like humans can struggle with especially ones raised on kibble, so whilst a healthy raw diet will generally be safe and appropriate, "off" food will push the friendship.
On this website, we provide to you the tools you need to get started and take the stress out of learning something new but be prepared to feel a little anxious, that's normal when you're learning something. If you get stuck, just post a message in the fresh food feeding group.