Is there any Scientific Data Supporting Raw Diets?

Discussion in 'Dogs - General Dog Chat' started by GoingNowhere, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. GoingNowhere

    GoingNowhere Active Member

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    Annnnnnnd I step into the line of fire.

    I'm researching the topic for a presentation as well as for my own information. I see loads of anecdotal "evidence" and plenty of unsupported claims. But I haven't seen a single scientific journal article that touts the benefits of raw food over the potential risks/issues. Why? I'm a skeptic and this isn't helping.

    Obviously, I'm sure it partly has to do with the politics of the field (e.g. no kibble company will want to put forth research that suggests that their kibble is crap and maybe some vets get money for supporting certain brands of foods...) But I would've thought I'd find at least one scientific, peer reviewed article plugging the positives over the negatives. But as of yet, nada. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places.

    And go.
     
  2. straw

    straw New Member

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    I have never found one either. Raw feeding obviously has a massive following, but they are by and large all individuals forming a community. In other words, there is nobody to fund a study of raw vs kibble, and certainly nobody to organize it.
     
  3. Pintage

    Pintage Mountain Dawg

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    Don't have an answer, but this is something I'm really interested in. My "nutrition" professor (we only have ONE semester-long nutrition class and it's totally open-book, even the final exam) gave us an assignment "Would you recommend a raw diet to clients - explain why using peer-reviewed research" and OF COURSE no one could write a stance that was pro-raw -- there isn't any research on it! I wish I had called him out on it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2013
  4. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

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    Nope.

    Tbh, I don't think raw is all it's cracked up to be. I used to think it was "the best" even though I never fed it. But really, I've come to the conclusion that all dogs are going to be different and do better/worse on different things.

    I've seen some very gorgeous athletic on Purina, RC, and Eukanuba. I've also seen some really crappy looking dogs on Orijen and EVO and vice versa. And I am sure and know that some dogs do amazing on raw. But I've browsed enough dog forums through the years and I have seen some very scary advice regarding raw. People who come on and complain of their dogs having loose bloody stool and told it's 'normal at first'. And basically just scary stuff in general.

    And the whole 'wolf' argument. I'm not denying the similarities but really, dogs have been domesticated SO much throughout the years, who is to say their digestive systems hasn't changed either? Certain breeds are prone to or known for specific food sensitives, for example.

    Raw (PMR or BARF) is just not something I'm comfortable with, and have no desire to feed, and I used to feed bad about it, once I joined internet forums -- it just seemed this was "THE BEST" and you were inferior if you did not feed raw. A lot of things are spoken repeatedly like a gospel and then people just start to believe it, including myself. It USED to be as simple to me as suggesting: "look for no by-products, first 3-4 ingredients being meat, no corn, wheat, or soy" without ever even paying attention to where the food was being manufactured, company history, quality control, testing involved, etc. At one point, I emailed a few of the 'better' 'high quality' 'holistic' type foods and was very dissatisfied with their answers and what kind of information they could/would provide.

    So yeah, I'm kind of 'meh' about the whole thing. I don't care if people feed raw or don't, I think it will work well for some dogs and not others, just as certain kibbles work better for dogs than others. In the end, I think more important is genetics, lifestyle, exercise, physical condition, when or if you spay/neuter, and vaccinations (less of them).
     
  5. sassafras

    sassafras mushinois

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    Not that I've ever seen.
     
  6. sillysally

    sillysally Obey the Toad.

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    Not that I know of. Honestly it's one of the things that's always bugged me about RAW. It's logical that it would be better than kibble in general, but I wish there were actual studies. Personally, if I did RAW it would be the whole ground type (Jack is a big time gulper), but we currently do not have the freezer space.

    I think someone on here did post an article about a study done with homemade food vs. kibble for dogs....Does anyone remember that?
     
  7. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Nope, never seen one.
     
  8. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

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    Unfortunately no, but I wish there was. I'm a big fan of raw but mostly come across as a looney-tune since there's "no science" behind it (I think anatomy is considered science).
     
  9. krissy

    krissy New Member

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    It bothers me how raw is a huge cult. It bothers me that a lot of the raw community preach it... but with no scientific backing. If they want to say that their dogs do well on it and it's the best thing they've done for THEIR dog... I'm totally fine with that and I will accept that at face value.

    And here's the thing. I'm a vet and I'm okay with people feeding raw. Heck, I give my dogs the odd raw in their diet (marrow bones, green tripe, the odd turkey neck). I am not totally against it. I am not denying that some dogs seem to do better on it. But I have a multitude of concerns with it for the general population. The main one for me being that the owner then becomes the one balancing the dog's diet. If they do their research or buy a commercial raw diet then that is generally fine. Unfortunately, a lot of people are getting their advice just from the person they buy their raw food from. I went to a new raw supplier just to pick up some tripe and some chicken feet and got preached at for an hour about how going 100% raw was the only way to go, all the bad stuff that is in kibbles, etc. etc. I listened and then politely told her that Kili cannot tolerate anything other than raw tripe and the odd marrow bone or she breaks with explosive diarrhea. I think she told me to stick it out because that might just be her system adjusting to the raw. I'm sorry... but something that causes my dog to wake me up to go out 4 times in one night and then have explosive diarrhea in her crate while I am gone at work... is not something I will be "sticking with" to see if it improves. She doesn't do well on raw. End of story as far as I'm concerned. She gets her tripe and her marrow bones and that is it. Summit can also have chicken backs, turkey necks, chicken feet, pork hocks, ground beef. He would do fine on raw.

    Then you've got the potential salmonella issue. If there are no at risk individuals in the household it doesn't bug me so much. After all, kibble gets recalled from time to time for Salmonella contamination. As long as people know the potential for risk exists and take precautions I'm happy. But I can see why some vets get really worked up about it. It IS a potential for serious problems. So is competing in agility or off leashing your dog to run in the bush. I still do both of those things.

    It's not the raw diet that really irks me. It's the cult that sometimes surrounds it (and I don't mean to suggest that everyone that feeds raw is a part of this cult, so please don't be offended... just making a generalization). I admit that greyhounds are a bit of a cult, but I don't think we tend to suggest that people who are ill fitted for the breed get one... which is kind of how I sometimes feel when being preached at by followers of the raw.
     
  10. Emily

    Emily Rollin' with my bitches

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    Nope, there isn't. And that's not why I feed it, lol.

    I'm personally willing to take the leap that in general, fresh, whole foods are going to be superior to processed dog pellets. I feel no need to eat premade, "perfectly" formulated foods myself to maintain health and don't see why it would any different for a dog, who like humans, are typically quite flexible in their dietary needs. I don't think that's a stretch at all but I guess after years of pouring kibble into a bowl some people might. Dogs have been eating kibble for a far, far shorter time than they have been eating various fresh foods in the grand scheme of things. And I figure I'm putting a lot more effort to my dog's diet than people 100 years ago who just tossed scraps into the bowl, and they're likely to be just fine.

    That being said, I'm hardly anti-kibble and certainly not a part of the "death nuggets" camp. And I realize that most pet owners are going to feed kibble, and for good reason.

    I wish I could agree that dogs do fine on all sorts of kibbles but my sincere experience has been that dogs generally reflect what they eat in coat and condition. I often see smelly, flakey, funky dogs in daycare, and then when they come to board, I am not surprised by what they are eating. The reverse is also true. I am pretty open-minded and not closed off to the idea that dogs can do well even on lower quality food, but this has been my honest experience. I don't see a huge difference between dogs eating, say, grain free or grain inclusive food, necessarily, but I do tend to see dogs on junky foods (foods that are mostly carbohydrates and may contain food coloring) and foods that have a good amount of meat and a reasonable amount of carbohydrates. Out of all the dogs I see at work, there's only one I know of who eats junk (like, "Whatever's on sale at the grocery store" junk) and looks great. The rest... yeah, they mostly reflect what they eat. Is it the only factor? Certainly not. But I have seen it play a big role, especially in skin, coat, and weight in a fairly large sampling of dogs. Correlation and not causation is possible, of course.

    That said, I don't see a huge difference between dogs on good quality food and dogs on a raw diet except in dental health, breath, and stool quality. Ollie eats mostly kibble but gets a little premade raw with breakfast and canned food at night. He's shiny as a new penny and doesn't smell doggy at all. He's lean and muscular but I attribute that more to his exercise routine and being intact. His teeth are fine but they do already have a little bit of build up on them, which even Macky barely has at 8.5 years old. And his breath smells like cat food. LOL

    But, I can do a great raw diet and see all the benefits of dental health and firm, small, easy to pick up poops for cheaper than good kibble. So why would I do anything else?

    Plus, ugh god, when my dogs eat kibble they poop like 8 times a day and it's like horse poop. I honestly don't know how people do that long term. LOL.

    Anyway, I don't see there being any studies regarding raw happening anytime soon. Who would fund them? If they're funded by kibble companies they're immediately suspect anyway, and I don't know who else would have the money and the backing to do it.
     
  11. Greenmagick

    Greenmagick New Member

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    Pretty much this.

    Humans are just now (as a whole, many have preached it the whole time) realizing (or rerealizing) that whole foods are far superior to processed foods. To me just because science has NOT studied it doesnt change my feelings about it. Science (especially studies) does not always show the whole picture. It can't show what we are not looking for, what we can not measure yet, or what we don't even know is there.

    Its not always about how a dog or cat seems to look on a diet....many may look fine on a myriad of foods...but what is IN the food still counts.
     
  12. Saeleofu

    Saeleofu Active Member

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    No more potential salmonella issues than if you eat meat yourself or give your dog any food at all (including kibble). I HATE that this is harped on as a reason to not feed raw - going so far as to exclude dogs from being therapy dogs if they ever eat raw or if any other pet in the house ever eats raw (Delta Society). Dog food and treats gets recalled for salmonella ALL. THE. TIME. If you eat meat, you have raw meat in your house anyway, and from what I've seen, most people DON'T handle it properly. Handle your dog's meat PROPERLY the same way you should handle your own meat, and the risk is minimal.

    The "OH NOES SALMONELLA!" thing gets on my nerves with reptiles, too. No, I'm not going to give you salmonella because I have a lizard. I wash my hands. If you touch my lizard, you should watch your hands, too. At work we regularly test all our reptiles for salmonella and wipe them down with Nolvasan before letting people touch them, and people STILL freak out about salmonella. The vet I used to work for actually made us wear gloves every time a reptile came in. I'd rather touch a reptile than most of the gross outdoor dogs with nasty skin that came in.

    tl:dr - WASH YOUR HANDS, PEOPLE.


    ETA: And don't go calling me part of the "cult" for this post, because my dogs eat kibble with occasional RMBs or bits of whatever I'm cooking/eating. I'm just calling bullshit on the salmonella thing.
     
  13. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Here is my beef (haha pun)

    I'm pretty certain dogs of the past weren't eating raw the way raw is being fed. No they weren't eating kibble but I doubt they were all getting 100% raw meat diets. Meat is expensive and has been a bit of a luxury for human consumption. The dogs were probably getting the crap that was leftover. And a lot of hat was probably non-meat.

    So although I think fresh foods are probably better the idea that raw is what dogs have been eating just doesn't ring true.
     
  14. ~Jessie~

    ~Jessie~ Chihuahua Power!

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    My dogs have been on raw for about 3 years now, I think. I don't care what anyone else feeds, but common sense and knowledge tells me that fresh raw foods are better for dogs. They have shorter intestines which means faster digestion and less chance for any bacteria to cause issues.

    I would LOVE to see some studies, but I'll continue to feed raw because the results I've seen with my own dogs are all the proof I need.

    I've never had any problems, and my dogs have never looked healthier.

    My mom's toy poodle was plagued with continuous ear infections even on grain free kibble. She switched him to raw and he is a completely different dog with zero ear infections.

    Here's my study. Haha. Zara and Emma are littermates. Emma has been on raw food since she was 5 months old. Zara was on a high quality grain inclusive kibble. Granted, Zara is recovering from a litter and has lost a good bit of coat. I can definitely feel a difference in the way my dogs feel to the touch, and with the tear stains. BTW, Emma hasn't had a bath since May, has no odor, and feels amazing to the touch.

    [​IMG]
    _DSC7712.jpg by Chihuahuaesque, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    _DSC7627.jpg by Chihuahuaesque, on Flickr

    I do want to say that I obviously have no issues with kibble. We use it for supplemental feeding if we forget to thaw them out their raw.

    I do see a huge difference, however, in dogs fed low quality kibble and high quality kibble/raw. Greasy coats that leave a smelly film on your hands when you touch them, dandruff, etc, etc. I think we can all agree that corn and animal digest aren't natural foods for dogs.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
  15. krissy

    krissy New Member

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    To be fair, I did say that kibbles have been recalled in the past for salmonella and that I don't tell people not to feed it because of the potential for salmonella. I also said I feed my own dogs raw meats. But there is a POTENTIAL. A potential is just that. Potential. That means anywhere from "OH MY GOD IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN" to "there is the potential for complications, including death, during surgery" (and of course that risk ranges depending on the type of surgery, but let's just call it a routine dental prophy). As a vet I have to tell people any time there is a potential for anything. Do we lose dogs during a routine dental prophy? Almost never. Almost. Does that mean I don't tell the owner that there is a risk or that I tell the owner not to do the procedure? No, it just means I have to tell the owner there is a risk so that they know it exists so that they can make their own decision. There is a potential for salmonella contamination when feeding raw foods. That risk is probably almost non-existent if you handle the foods right. On the other hand, I've had friends who went to feed their dogs their raw food that had been sitting in the fridge for over a week. Oh, and let them eat it on their living room rug. I didn't yell "NOOOO! Don't feed that!" but that potential risk just went up a little bit. And it's probably still a small risk but it's more than what it was when the food came out of the freezer (and if they ate it outside or on a towel).

    Then as far as it being the same risk to people eating meat. Yes and no. If you eat your meat raw then yes, same risk. If you cook your meat and use proper sanitation then I would say no, the risk is higher with raw. Again, as I've already said, probably not to the level of "AHHHH! DON'T FEED THAT!" but is there more live bacteria present than your properly cooked food? Yes. Does it matter? Maybe, and maybe not. Normal, healthy adults in the household? Probably doesn't matter one way or the other. Immune compromised, elderly, young? Honestly, the risk may still be small but I probably would choose not to feed my dogs any raw if someone in the house was undergoing chemotherapy. It's like... cleaning a litterbox when you're pregnant. How many women actually abort because of toxoplasmosis from cat feces? Probably not that many. Are you going to be advised to not clean the cat's litterbox? Absolutely. Should you abide by that recommendation? Absolutely. But if you choose not to that is your choice with full knowledge of the potential risks, and chances are things will probably be fine.

    That is all I mean by "there is the potential for". It is a risk. It is probably small. But it exists and I think people should be making decisions knowing about even the minute possibilities. The one owner I don't mention this to will be the one with the dog who actually gets salmonella and then guess who gets **** for not warning them. I'll give you a hint... it's not the person they bought the raw food from.

    And yes, they could have fed kibble and had contamination, but no one is testing their raw foods at home before giving it to their dog. At least when there's a recall we all know about it and some of that food never reaches the dog bowl. I think we all know there is a small potential for that to happen since we all know there have been recalls. Some people just don't realize that potential exists with raw too. And I don't like it when people yell at me at work. So I do everything possible to avoid being yelled at at work.

    P.S. I used to kiss my turtles when I was a kid. :) I never got sick. Knowing what I know now would I kiss turtles if I had them? No... probably not... or I'd at least think twice about it first.

    P.P.S. And no, you're not a cult person for having an opinion that is actually thought out. That's just a healthy discussion. Cult people are people who tell me raw food is better for my dog than kibble when raw food makes her sick. And that bloody, explosive diarrhea is normal when you first start to feed raw. And no matter what I try to say about how horribly sick my dog was... apparently there is no such thing as a dog who can't tolerate raw food.

    ETA: And just to re-iterate, that I don't have a problem with people feeding raw and I feed some to my dogs. And if my dogs couldn't tolerate kibble and I fed raw I would be equally annoyed if someone preached at me about feeding kibble. But I'd still want to know the potential risks of both.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
  16. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

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    This. I always find it amusing when people claim they are feeding raw because of the dogs close relation to the wolf, however wolves in the wild are clearly not eating raw the way people are feeding their pet dogs raw. Also, many wild wolves in zoos, etc, are now fed kibble. Not all. But quite a few. The average lifespan of a wolf in the wild is between 6 and 8 years, many will die sooner (but some can reach 13). Wolves in captivity can live up to 17 years+. I'm not saying that's all due to food... obviously outdoor conditions and veterinary care can change this. But I don't know, for some reason, the whole wolf comparison (and I used to do it lol) kinda of annoys me now. We have pet dogs.

    With that said, dogs are scavengers, and evolved alongside humans... eating whatever scraps they could find and corn mush and whatever they could catch themselves. Was it the healthiest? Probably not, but they survived, and some even thrived. Would I choose to feed a dog food knowing such stuff is in there? Nope, it wouldn't be my first choice.

    I just think in general there are far too many contributing factors to judge either way. Seeing other dogs in a daycare situation, or boarding, or families pet dogs, is all anecdotal. I mean, my aunts pit bull is 13, overweight, has fatty bumps all over him, bad smell after you pet him, horrible breath/teeth, arthritic, etc, and has always been fed 'junky grocery store' kibble... is the food to blame? Or is the fact that he hardly gets any exercise, hardly sees the vet, has never had teeth cleaned or brushed, hardly gets a bath, to blame? I think had he been fed raw food all of his life but everything else was done the same, he'd probably be in the same condition, except maybe cleaner teeth.

    Again with the teeth... I've had Jackson's teeth cleaned professionally 2x, I brush his teeth at least 3-4x per week, and use other things when necessary... he's fed a 'good food' (Acana, NOW, etc), but his teeth still get super gunky real quickly if I don't brush enough. Yet my dads JRT/Shihtzu mix is older than him (almost 7, I think) and never had teeth brushed or cleaned, doesn't chew bones, doesn't always get the best food, and her teeth are nearly perfect minus some build up on the canines. It's just one of those things... too many factors to really say for sure.

    I won't fault those who feel raw is best, I think it's great. I think some advice that is spouted around on the internet is VERY scary though. That's my biggest fear is people that don't know what they're doing and messing their dog up unnecessarily.
     
  17. ~Jessie~

    ~Jessie~ Chihuahua Power!

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    There's a potential for something bad to happen with everything, though.

    Dogs can choke on kibble. Mine are major gulpers. I've had to reach down Rylie's throat to retrieve a piece of kibble that was obstructing her breathing.

    I just don't... understand the whole "well there's a potential for salmonella." I handle raw meat for myself all the time. I have to make sure it's cooked properly, wipe my counters, wash my hands, etc. It's technically more unsafe for me to be handling/eating meat that was once raw than it is for my dogs to eat it.

    Look at all the nasty things dogs eat outside without issues. Poop (full of bacteria), dead bugs, lizards, etc... I think we worry too much about "bacteria" and dogs even though their bodies are designed to process raw foods quickly and efficiently.
     
  18. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

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    But... they kind of are. lol. Dogs were/are opportunistic carnivores... they'll eat meat if available of course, but they can scavenge for almost anything if they really have to. It's well known that dogs, back before kibble was even invented, were basically eating corn mush and table scraps. Families were often struggling to eat themselves, highly doubtful they were tossing their best meats over to the dogs. Also, so many are against byproducts in their dog foods but aren't by-products essentially what raw feeders often feed? livers, lungs, kidneys... bully sticks, chicken feet, etc?


    Yes, science isn't everything, but I don't like the idea that "natural" is always better either.

    And there has been a lot of things stated as fact on the internet through the years that is simply untrue, and it took a long time for me to believe it too. Where did we come up with the idea that corn is SOO bad for dogs? I think if we see more than 1 corn ingredient in a food (i.e. corn gluten meal, corn, etc) it's possible majority of the protein is coming from corn. But IMO, corn gluten meal is no worse than all the pea protein's, and pea concentrates we see in a bunch of the supposed high quality grain-free foods of today. I guess I just don't see who determined that potatoes, peas and lentils are any better than barely, wheat and corn?
     
  19. SpringerLover

    SpringerLover Active Member

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    The biggest difference I've seen in my personal animals is digestibility and weight control.

    My cat Rascal was never able to maintain a "lean" body condition. He was always fat no matter how little I fed him. He also routinely scaled cupboards and opened them to steal food if he was hungry. Eating raw he might plump up a smidge, but then I adjust his food and he's back to a good weight. He also NEVER tries to open cupboads and steal food anymore! He eats a mixture of ground and PMR. He does also occasionally get canned and/or kibble if I haven't thawed anything. I also don't have "stereotypical" cat poop smell coming from the litterboxes anymore, and living in a studio apartment... that's a HUGE deal!

    I like feeding kibble to the dogs so I can use it as training treats, so even though my end goal is to feed Gabby raw, she'll likely always have a kibble component in the form of treats.

    Currently my two cats eat about 90% raw and Buzz is eating about 50% raw. Gabby and Courage (the foster cat) get some raw daily. Bailey gets raw Primal in her Kongs whenever my mom remembers.
     
  20. JacksonsMom

    JacksonsMom Active Member

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    I agree. My concern with raw has never been salmonella.

    I feel like I should add too that even though I feed kibble, it's not that I even think that's the best choice. But it's just what works for us. Ideally, if I had the time and energy and extra money, I'd probably homecook.
     

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