First off, the fact that the Bloomberg article begins by referencing Blue Buffalo and Purina in an article that addresses canine nutrition shows how little the author knows about raw feeding which she goes on to discuss in vague terms. I'm not an expert in canine nutrition, however, I am someone who has devoted the past five years to learning everything I can about how to feed my dogs a biologically appropriate diet.
Know what I learned?
Kibble isn't biologically appropriate, even kibble with quinoa.
In the Bloomberg article, the author quotes a misinformed (yes, my opinion, but this is a blog so it's allowed) assistant professor who states “dogs aren’t wolves, after all. They’re omnivores” and “they do quite well on a vegetable-based or a lower-protein diet.”
What a crock!
Dogs are carnivores.
Feeding Our Dogs Like Wild Beasts?
The article goes on to disregard the film Pet Fooled, calling it a trend while referencing a page on the AVMA's (American Veterinary Medical Association) website, an organization that is anti-raw, and concluding that raw feeding is feeding our dogs “like wild beasts.”
Does this look like a meal for a wild beast?
Comparing The Honest Kitchen to Pedigree
I was excited to see that the article referenced The Honest Kitchen. I expected to see that a holistic vet had been interviewed, possibly an actual raw feeder, and definitely a canine nutritionist. I expected this to be a balanced article about canine nutrition.
Instead, the author compared The Honest Kitchen, a brand that uses 100% human grade ingredients, to Pedigree.
Are you kidding me?
This is only a fair comparison if Pedigree also used 100% human grade ingredients. I can't believe that the difference between these two brands isn't obvious to the author of the Bloomberg piece.
Ingredients in The Honest Kitchen Chicken & Quinoa Blend
All ingredients dehydrated: Chicken, organic quinoa, sweet potatoes, spinach, parsley, organic kelp, tricalcium phosphate, choline chloride, zinc amino acid chelate, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin E supplement, potassium iodide, potassium chloride, iron amino acid chelate, EPA/DHA, copper amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, thiamine mononitrate.
All ingredients are processed in the USA in a human grade food processing facility. They are non genetically modified and free of any chemicals & preservatives. All meat is hormone and antibiotic free.
Ingredients in a 17-pound bag of Pedigree
Ingredients: Ground Whole Grain Corn, Meat and Bone Meal (Source of Calcium), Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat (Source of Omega 6 [Preserved with BHA & Citric Acid]), Soybean Meal, Natural Flavor, Chicken By-Product Meal, Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Ground Whole Grain Wheat, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Brewers Rice, Choline Chloride, Dried Peas, Zinc Sulfate, Dl-Methionine, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin [Vitamin B3], Biotin, Dried Carrots, L-tryptophan, BHA & Citric Acid (A Preservative), Blue 2, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, d-Calcium Pantothenate [Source of Vitamin B5], Riboflavin Supplement [Vitamin B2], Red 40, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Copper Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid.
Let's Dissect the Ingredients in Pedigree Dog Food
The following is why it isn't fair to compare Pedigree to The Honest Kitchen.
- Pedigree shows “corn” as the first ingredient. This brand will tell you that corn is a great source of protein and energy; meat is a better source.
- Pedigree shows “meat” as the second ingredient. Ummmm, what's the animal? Most ingredients panels will say “chicken,” “lamb,” “beef.” When a brand fails to tell you what the protein is beyond “meat,” run away!
- Pedigree shows “bone meal” as the third ingredient. Bone meal is difficult to digest and many cheap sources of bone meal are sourced from China.
- Pedigree shows “animal fat” as the fifth ingredient. Again, what animal?
Chicken shows up as the eighth ingredient and although it's chicken meal (no water, so more chicken) showing up so far down on the list makes me question how much chicken is in this food. There are a lot of grains (allergens), beet pulp to help with digestion (and also a problem for Great Pyrenees dogs – I have two mixed breed GPs), and a laundry list of synthetic vitamins.
Of course this food is cheaper than the human-grade product produced by The Honest Kitchen.
Let's Talk Raw Feeding
Once again, I find myself compelled to explain raw feeding to people who are so obviously in the back pocket of Big Pet Food. To Deena, the editors of Bloomberg, and the owners of Blue Buffalo, Pedigree, and Purina – we get it, you're not a fan of raw feeding and the growing “trend” of people asking more questions about the ingredients used in pet food is becoming an annoyance.
But don't worry; we're only 4% of the market. Surely we can't possibly be impacting your bottom line. However, these vaguely veiled advertorials are starting to make me wonder if the growing number of pet parents combined with Google and social media are putting a cramp in your style.
What is Raw Feeding?
Despite the Bloomberg article's insinuation, we are not feeding our dogs, which are carnivores, as wild beasts. A raw food diet is what is biologically appropriate for dogs – not kibble. A balanced raw diet is 80% muscle meat, 10% bone, 5% liver, and 5% offal (secreting organs like pancreas, spleen, and kidneys). The ratio is an attempt to replicate a whole prey animal.
Raw feeders don't put our dogs in a yard with live prey to be hunted and killed. We feed out of dog dishes, sometimes in the yard on nice days, and sometimes on tarps to protect our flooring.
The idea behind feeding raw to our dogs is to give our dogs something that they are intended to consume. Kibble is over processed, dehydrating, and often times made with questionably sourced, inferior ingredients. Did you read about Evangers? With raw dog food, we know what our dogs are eating and can begin to reverse the damage done by feeding kibble and exposing our dogs to toxins in their environment, from chemical flea and tick repellents, and over vaccination.
We aren't under the misconception that our dogs are wolves. But we do know that our dogs are descendent from wolves and, therefore, thrive on a diet similar to the Grey Wolf which we are trying to replicate through raw feeding.
Dogs Are Carnivores
The Big Pet Food Companies are spending a lot of money to spin the tale that dogs are omnivores, however, we know this isn't true.
Dr. Karen Becker for Mercola Healthy Pets
Dogs are scavenging, or facultative carnivores, which in general terms means they are primarily meat-eaters, but can survive on plant material alone if necessary. The key word here is “survive.” To survive is not to thrive. To thrive is to grow vigorously. To survive means simply to stay alive.
One of the arguments for feeding dogs grain or plant-based or even vegetarian diets seems to be the distinction between obligate and scavenging carnivores. It's assumed, since dogs aren't strict carnivores like cats are, they can easily transition to a meatless diet. This is a dangerous misconception.
In fact, I often see dogs referred to as omnivores rather than carnivores. I strongly disagree with this assumption. Just because dogs fed plant-based diets are able to stay alive doesn't make them omnivores.
Taxonomically, dogs are in the Order Carnivora and the family Canidae along with other carnivorous mammals.
Dr. Chris Bessent of Herbsmith, Inc. for Dogs Naturally Magazine
Although they differ somewhat from cats, dogs should be considered carnivores based on their dentition, as well as the length of their canine teeth. A dog’s teeth reflect the mechanics of the ripping and tearing of food. They also possess a shortened gastrointestinal tract, versus the longer GI tract of an omnivore or herbivore. In addition, dogs don’t have amylase, an enzyme that breaks down sugars, in their saliva, like an omnivore and herbivore would have. The relative inability to convert plant based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids into EPA and DHA is also a strong indication of carnivore status.
Why Is This Still a Discussion?
The following chart that I received from Dr. Laurie Coger DVM explains why people mistake dogs for omnivores when they're actually carnivores.
Vegetarian and Vegan Diets for Dogs
While I believe that a dog can survive on a plant-based diet, I don't think that the dog will thrive. And the number of dogs that can't tolerate protein and must eat a vegetarian or vegan diet is minimal. I believe that most dogs subjected to this lifestyle are victims of their human's morality.
I am currently transitioning to a vegetarian diet because I believe that the animals in our factory farming system are subjected to the worst level of torture and out of respect for those souls, I think it's wrong for me to consume their flesh. My dogs, however, eat ethically and humanely sourced raw meat. If I get a craving for animal protein, I'll source it from my dogs' freezers before buying it from the grocery store.
Can't We All Just Get Along?
Probably not because billions of dollars are on the line. While I have no illusions that raw dog food brands are taking away millions from Purina, Blue Buffalo, or Pedigree. I do think that with the popularity of the documentary Pet Fooled, these brands are going to have to improve the quality of their food to meet the level of amaze-balls put out by brands like Carna4 and ZiwiPeak. And they're going to have to be more transparent.
It also means that these advertorials cloaked as articles will need to stop.