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Is Raw Food The Best Choice For My Dog?

    Have you ever been so confused about a certain topic or decision that you just don’t know who or what to believe?

    When this happens and it has with all of us-what do you do to be able to make a decision?

    Is it taking advice from an accomplished mentor or advisor, or does it relate to experience and results backed by testimonials?

    What decisions have you made that you find out later were good decisions?

I suspect that we have all struggled with trying to make certain decisions. They could relate to financial decisions or maybe certain health decisions. In trying to decipher the right direction to go you normally go through a series of stages to make this proper decision. You get advice, you research the various options or choices, you decipher the validity of the advice , and you act accordingly.

Every day I see people trying to make different choices on how to properly feed their dogs. You can ask many different people for their advice, and you can read hundreds of testimonials but in the end you have to have a leap of faith and believe the person you felt had the best background to give you the advice. I have given advice on the proper choices for feeding a dog for over 32 years. I have hundreds of testimonials supporting my philosophies. I have seen the results of feeding a raw food diet as compared to feeding a kibble diet.

BUT- I’m just one more guy out there advocating a better way to go, a better life style, a better choice.

Who do you believe?

I must support the theory that the proof is in the results. When you can physically see a difference and you can reverse severe medical conditions, then the proof is in the results.

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13 Comments  comments 

13 Responses

  1. Lauren

    I would love to feed my dogs raw. Unfortunately one of them is a rescue who came to us with serious resource guarding and insecure aggression issues. He’s improved drastically, but he gets so worked up over meat that it’s just not an option. We can hand feed him kibble and treats, but when there’s meat he still gets quite aggressive.

  2. We rarely receive complaints of this nature. The normal reaction to conversion to a raw diet is an aggressive response meaning that the dog is actively interested in eating his portions. The normal eating time is significantly reduced when compared to eating a kibble menu. Maybe you are observing a normal pattern of excitement for eating a nutritious and better tasting meal. Hopefully you can find a way to control his excitement and improve his health as a result of the change.

  3. Leiha

    Hi Rob,

    Thank you for this, I really do appreciate it. I am in the researching stage and it scares me to consider giving bones to my beloved dog and cat, but the cat specifically is showing significant tooth decay and some health issues that are WAYYYY abnormal for a 3 y/o and I’ve long thought of providing some tasty pinky mice or something as my cat at my mom’s house is going on 15, nearly toothless and STILL hunting daily with a spring in her step! I know the value of mimicking natural fare but still REALLY skeptical and after reading about some perforated bowels that SWEAR they facilitated the BARF diet correctly I’m cautious but still open. I get that real food is real food and as I’m extremely nutrition conscious and know about bio-availability and such it makes sense. I believe I’ll start by doing eggshell or bone-meal and go from there. I’m hoping the book will shed some light on the amounts.

  4. Hi Leiha,
    I sincerely advise you that using bone meal is not a good solution. Egg shells are a better option and do provide an adequate source of calcium. My personal preference is using the green uncooked bone as a proper and natural source of Calcium that is balanced correctly with Phosphorus. It is very important to maintain the Calcium/Phosphorus ratio. You will not have an perforation problems with our diet because the bone is finely ground.
    Tooth decay is a visible sign of poor health. I suspect it is because of the dry food the cat has eaten for years. It over time does take it’s toll on the body and dentition of the animal.

  5. hi i have really like the read.i have been on a full raw food diet now for just over a year and love it.i have moved my dog over to the lifestyle slowly over the last few month but hes happy and has really taken to it.

  6. Your dog will enjoy better health as a result of your choice to feed raw.

  7. Steph

    I used to feed my dog a BARF diet. Now, I would recommend asking a couple of vet nutritionists what they have to say about the BARF diet. There is a plethora of misinformation and rewriting of biology that goes on on BARF websites and books by well-meaning people who know nothing about science and are just parroting what they’ve read. Based on sound, scientific, evidence-based knowledge, BARF is not only not nutritionally superior – it is potentially dangerous. Ask your vet why.


  8. Steph

    Hi, Rob. Thanks for your reply and I hope that you welcome some open debate on your site. Firstly, I have investigated “the other side”; I fed my two dogs BARF for years thinking it was the best. Secondly, I lost one of these dogs to a mycobacterial infection caused by the raw diet. This could have been prevented just by cooking his food. Why accuse me of ‘bias’ when it is your claims that are anecdotal rather than scientific? Your observation that the BARF diet reverses “ills” caused by proceed food implies 1) that you have evidence of this causal relationship (when no such evidence exists) and 2) you know the true incidence of some diseases in the canine population 50-60 years ago and can therefore make such a comparison. But you do not know either of these things because these data are not available and therefore you cannot make this comparison. Simply because we hear more about a disease than we did 50-60 years ago does not mean the incidence or even the prevalence is greater than it was then. Veterinary medicine has improved enormously in this timeframe re: the diagnosis and treatment/management of diseases and people take their dogs to the vet when they get sick rather than take them out to the barn and shoot them! In response to your request, I will do a separate post of links to independent peer reviewed articles which validate the safety of a number of commercial foods.

    On Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 2:43 AM, robert mueller wrote:

    If you are so convinced that a raw diet is harmful then why don’t you ask your vet to give you the scientific proof about the safety of the dry diets they recommend. Our whole business is focused around reversing the ills caused by the processed dog food diets. We have thousands of dogs that are doing much better on our raw food diets than on the dry junk food formulas. You need to investigate the other side to be non biased.
    Rob Mueller
    BARF World, Inc.

  9. Steph

    I would, however, have to agree with you, Rob that there is a wide variance in quality control programs across the pet food industry (and the human food industry for that matter). It’s also difficult for many pet owners to distinguish between “research” which is scientifically sound (i.e., a control group, an experimental group, randomised, double blinded, the correct statistical test applied, a large enough sample group for statistical comparison) and poorly designed or methodologically flawed”research” which doesn’t meet any/all these criteria…or new age drivel dressed up in the language of science with some health scares thrown in. All a pet owner needs to do (if feeding a commercial pet food in USA) is ensure that it is an AAFCO feeding-trial proven pet food. These pet foods are safe, complete and balanced, meaning they contain all of the known nutrients required by cats or dogs in the proper concentration. Go to the AAFCO website, click on publications for additional independent peer reviewed articles. I’m not in any way against a homemade diet – I feed my dog a homemade diet 75% of the time and doing it right is as easy as one consultation with a board certified vet nutrionist so your homemade diet is balanced and your dog is getting all the right nutrients in the right quantities. But there is no superior nutritional value in feeding bones and raw meats and the risk of illness and death is very real:

    Houlton, JEF, et al in J of Small Animal Practice 1985 vol 26 pg 521].

    White DG, Zhao S, Sudler R, et al. The isolation of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella from retail ground meats. N. Engl. J. Med. 345:1147-1154, 2001.

    Zhao C, Ge B, de Villena J, et al. Prevalence of Campylobacter spp., Escherichia coli, and Salmonella serovars in retail chicken, turkey, pork, and beef from the greater Washington, D.C., area. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 2001;67: 5431-5436.

  10. I have participated in the dog food industry now for over 35 years. I have had three manufacturing facilities and have sold millions of pounds of raw meat diets. There is no doubt that the feeding of a raw meat diet carries some risk. We have to weigh the risk against the reward. The true believers of this philosophy has usually seen the difference for themselves regarding certain ailments. The number one condition that we treat with our diets are the allergies and skin conditions in animals being fed processed dry food. If you think that feeding a processed dry food is a safer choice for your pet then you have been convinced by the dry company propaganda. The consumers that were exposed to the recent dry food recalls that killed thousands of dogs and cats would argue against you. I can say with confidence that the way our diets are formulated and processed under strict human processing controls are the safest in the industry. Our philosophy is centered around the theory that a dog be given a diet that is biologically appropriate and feeding a dog or cat a grain based diet is NOT a biologically appropriate choice. When 40% of this nations dogs are classified as obese you don’t have to wonder why. If you feel that cooking your raw meat diet is a safer approach then by all means do so. You lose the advantage of the phytonutrients and the live enzymes but it is still a better choice than processed junk food because of the quality of the ingredients.
    I am open to a dialog with you regarding our philosophy. The excitement of the new wave of raw feeders is happening for one main reason. The diet works better for the animals than the heat processed alternatives. Most of our business involves working with customers that are having issues with their dog’s dry diets. I guess the proof is in the pudding.

  11. One good thing about being a resident of this country– we all get to express our views without fear of retaliation. I happen to truly believe that feeding a dog a biologically appropriate food is better than all the research and science that has been put into feeding a biologically un-appropriate dog food. The dry food industry has done a miraculous job of finding ways to mask and deceive the public on the ingredients and inappropriate ingredients in a dry food formula. If you are so convinced that their research and advances in science has improved their formulas then you are privy to that opinion. I am not and will not be convinced that a highly heat processed food is the best way to feed a carnivourous animal. I see every day the reversals of serious medical conditions by merely switching to a raw meat diet. This keeps my interest in promoting what I believe to be a much more appropriate food for our pets. Sorry that we differ in our opinions on this matter.

  12. Steph

    I realise you will never accept that the ‘philosophy’ of BARF is based on erroneous assumptions and nutritiony-sounding junk science (e.g., “biological appropriateness”, “phytonutrients”, “reversals of serious medical conditions” and “live enzymes”) and that you refuse to engage with any academic research because it undermines your philosophy. However, at least you don’t block comments from veterinarians critical of this outdated regime like a lot of other BARF websites do – so good for you. However, saying that the most up-to-date – and replicated – research is ‘masking’ and ‘deceiving’ the public is just morbid emotionalism with a hefty dose of projection. If you really believe this is happening, then let’s hear which surveys are methodologically flawed and why. If you can’t say why a trial is flawed (or rigged or bogus or fudged…I really don’t know what it is you think scientists are doing), then it is you who is guilty of spreading propaganda. I sincerely doubt you’ve ever read any research at all. Furthermore, you have an ethical obligation to objectively point out the risks associated with feeding raw food and bones (all there is on this website is its purported benefits). It is a fact that dogs fed raw meat or eggs can and often do develop mild to severe gastrointestinal disease from consuming products contaminated with Salmonella, Campylobacter, Escherichia, Neorickettsia, Vibrio or Yersinia. The wilful BARF misconception that dogs are immune to the clinical effects of these organisms has been sadly demonstrated to be FALSE throughout veterinary clinics everywhere. And finally, dogs are in the order Carnivora, but their feeding behaviors are best described as omnivorous as their anatomy and physiology also support an omnivore diet. The nutrient composition of organ or skeletal meat, even including bone, does NOT meet the known nutrient requirements; in fact, it is quite deficient in some nutrients and excessive in others. This means that BARF is not “balanced”. Sure, dogs like to eat meat and chew on bones. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the nutrient composition of the BARF diet is complete and balanced for the dog. Most people like some foods more than others but a diet comprised of only the foods we like is not a complete and balanced diet for us either. Our ancestors ate raw meat and probably bones too…does that make BARF “biologically appropriate” for us? Do you feed your kids raw meat, Rob? Just because an species survived on a certain diet does not imply that that diet was optimal for the animal as evinced by the fact that wild dogs live less than half the time of well fed domestic dogs. And for the last time, I’m not endorsing any kind of dried dog food – I don’t work in any realm of the pet food industry (which makes me a hell of a lot more objective than you) and I feed my dog a homemade diet anyway. But I will say it once again – if you are going to feed your dog a homemade diet rather than a commercially prepared one, it only costs $25 to get a consultation from a board certified veterinary nutritionist who will tell you what to feed your individual dog for its optimal health and longevity.

  13. I suspect that your goal here is to engage in academic rhetoric to come to a conclusion that supports your belief. I have never professed to believe that man truly knows what is the best diet to feed an animal. We all speculate on what is best suited for this carnivore?, omnivore? or whatever you believe is the appropriate title. You are smart enough to know that the dry manufacturers have a relatively recent history to base their philosophy on. We, on the contrary have a much longer history of feeding our pets based on table scraps, which by the way have led to less medical problems than the supposed scientific advances you refer to. I believe that the research you so depend on as relevant and accurate has merely found ways to support the ingredient content that can allow the animal to function and survive( enen though I believe that they are biologically inappropriate). This does not mean that the animal is receiving the optimal nutritional content. In addition, the recent Menu Foods scare has opened many eyes to the problems faced by the dry food manufacturers. It has pointed out the flaws in the ingredient content and possible lack of quality control. It is possible for any manufacturer to have a recall, but the magnitude of this particular episode was a monumental error. If you want to discuss the safety issues regarding feeding a raw meat diet compared to the recalls and safety issues of the past 5 years we can certainly go this direction. I think you will agree that there exists risks no matter which diet you choose to feed.
    Your comments regarding whether our diets are nutritionally complete and balanced—–I would have to say that if we would eat a diet as good as the ones we have prepared for our furry friends that we would all be in better nutritional shape. The raw diets are not junk food. They are human grade ingredients that are designed to offer AAFCO guarantees and are proportioned to offer the maximum nutritional advantages. They are prepared with the same care and attention given to USDA human standards. If my kids had the same God given protections to digest raw meat, similar to what the dog possesses, I would have no hesitation in feeding them our diet. They would eat better and be in better health than the rest of the population.
    JUST TO ADD A BIT OF HUMOR- you can save the $25.00 cost of a board certified nutritionist merely by feeding our diets. They are already certified by a board certified nutritionist and we are already giving them optimal health and longevity.

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