Raw Feeding Myths... Busted!
Updated: May 14
Many myths are floating around surrounding raw feeding without the proper context to understand where they come from and why they are not valid. These speculations spread like wildfire and often cause many pet parents to stray away from raw feeding. Here are raw feeding myths... busted!
Myth #1 "Modern pets should never eat fresh foods."
There is a belief that pets should never eat "human" food as they cannot eat raw natural foods. It is said their physiology has changed due to domestication and has evolved to eat a processed diet. Pets' basic physiology has changed very little, despite physical appearance. Dogs are 99.9% related to their wolf ancestors. Although they look different, both are designed and equipped with the biological tools needed to thrive on a fresh diet. From nose to tail, literally. From canine's dental structure to the short & acidic digestive tract, dogs are designed and equipped to thrive on raw meat, bones, and organs.
Myth #2 "Every meal must be complete & balanced."
Many are overwhelmed when they push themselves to balance every meal. This often leads to many switching off the raw diet due to frustration. While in a perfect world, every meal would be "complete & balanced," the extent of knowledge over nutrition is minimal. Even the NRC guidelines are estimates of what dogs need. Meals can be balanced over time and do not need to follow NRC guidelines every meal. As long as you feed towards these models and a variety of quality foods, that is more than enough! If you would like more guidance, you can always purchase a meal plan from places like Perfectly Rawsome [Use code "STORMY10" to save!]
> Learn more about balancing here.
Myth #3 "My animal(s) or I will contract Salmonella if fed raw food."
The #1 concern in the raw feeding world is, "will I or my pet get Salmonella?!"
Salmonella is a serious concern, but there are minimal risks as long as you take the proper precautions. If you eat meat yourself, practice the same sanitation measure you take when handling raw meat. As for your dog, they are designed and equipped to deal with these pathogens properly. A healthy dog is appropriately equipped to handle more intense microbes than humans with short and highly acidic GI tracts. According to Dr. Karen Becker, "Dogs and cats also produce a tremendous amount of bile, which is both anti-parasitic and anti-pathogenic. If the stomach acid doesn't kill a pathogen, chances are the bile will."
> Click here for a raw feeding safety guide.
Myth #4 "Feeding dogs & cats are very complex and difficult."
Owners will often hear that "feeding dogs and cats are a difficult and complex task." They often hear that it is best to leave it to the pet food companies. With the proof that the pet food industry is failing animals, the time to take your pet's nutrition into your own hands is now. Once basic concepts are understood, feeding is simple! If you would like more guidance, you can always purchase a meal plan from places like Perfectly Rawsome [Use code "STORMY10" to save!]
Myth #5 "Raw bones are hazardous to feed."
The only acceptable bones to feed are raw edible bones. Raw edible bones are pliable enough to be safely consumed. Raw edible bones also have the raw ligaments and skin to encapsulate the raw bone as the dog swallows. If your dog is a gulper, hand feeding and/or grinding bones is always an option. When bones are processed with heat, they become dry and brittle and more prone to splintering. Therefore, processed bones should never be fed.
> To learn more about bones, click here.
Myth #6 "Dogs need carbohydrates."
Starch was introduced into pet foods as a cheap filler around 70 years ago. This was the beginning of pets using carbohydrates as their main energy source. Since then, there has been a massive spike in metabolic diseases ranging from obesity, diabetes, and cancer. This is due to pets being forced to eat an unnatural diet. One of the main reasons a high carbohydrate diet fails is due to the high-glycemic foods used, which create a chronic elevation of blood glucose. This can cause inflammation, diabetes, obesity, and more. Canines do not require any high-glycemic carbohydrate in their bowl. But low-glycemic carbohydrates such as fruits & veggies can have immense health benefits.
Myth #7 "Raw food will make my dog a bloodthirsty killer."
A complete and balanced raw food diet will not make an animal aggressive. If you notice behavioral changes, it can be due to medical conditions, behavioral problems, or a nutrition deficiency. The most common behavior that makes dogs "aggressive" due to raw food is resource guarding, as raw food is of very high value. This does not happen to every animal, but this is one reason why a raw diet has been demonized. If your dog is resource guarding, pair up with an experienced and professional trainer.
The only nutrition-based reason a dog would have a behavior change would be due to a tryptophan deficiency. If an incomplete raw diet is fed and is low in tryptophan, anxiety, depression, and aggression can display. This amino acid is plentiful in foods such as lean meat and eggs.
> To learn more, click here.
Myth #8 "Raw foods will cause worms & parasites."
Quality meat & meat raised for human consumption are safe to feed immediately. For example, wild hogs should not be fed due to the parasite trichinosis. But in farmed pork, this is not a concern as the variables that increase infection can be controlled. Parasites are most present in wild game and fish. If you are feeding a freshly game or fish, it must be frozen at -0.4°F (-18°C) or colder for a minimum of 3-4 weeks or more to ensure that any parasite or worms in the animal are properly killed to make fit for feeding. Another precautionary step is removing the animal's intestinal tracts, as this is where the parasites and worms will reside. This step will often be done if purchased through most treat companies or raw suppliers.
Shellfish can be susceptible to Toxoplasma gondii infection. Therefore, Any mussel or oyster should be steamed/boiled before being fed to eliminate the risk of Toxoplasma gondii infection. If the mussel is sold in the half shell or without a shell, it will not need to be prepped.
Feces can also be a major way parasites can be transmitted. This means making sure your dog does not eat any droppings from wild animals. Feeding quality meat and taking the proper precautions all help your animal stay safe & healthy!
Myth #9 "Kibble & raw cannot be fed together."
A common concern with mixing kibble and fresh foods are safe due to digestion rate and pH levels. Unfortunately, there is no answer as there have been limited studies on the gastric pH of kibble vs. raw-fed dogs. The few studies out there don't focus on digestion but rather the metabolism of certain drugs. But what is known is that the gastric pH is still going to be acidic whether they are raw fed or not. If the pH were alkaline, it would result in malnutrition due to being unable to break down the nutrients.
If there is a drastic pH change needed to digest kibble vs. raw (which is not confirmed), a healthy system should be able to absorb the nutrients just fine. The digestive process is not like a traffic jam, so if they do digest at different, their system is more than capable of handling it as we know meat and edible bones break down at different rates. Fresh food is not an "all or nothing" mindset, and kibble boosters are a great way to find a middle ground.
Myth #10 "Dogs are omnivores."
Dogs are facultative carnivores. Although they are designed to consume meat primarily, they are opportunistic scavengers. If dogs had the choice between meat and corn, they’d choose meat. But if they were only offered corn, the animal has no choice but to eat it. Mother nature designed canines to be biologically and psychologically designed to eat various nutrients composed of fresh meat, bone, and organ. The digestive system of a plant-eater is very different from a meat-eater. Canines' dentition is not long, large, and wide molars of a horse, cow, or sheep. They are designed to rip, tear, and crush raw meat and bones. As the food moves further down the digestive tract, it goes into the stomach, where stomach acids meet it to begin digestion. Furthermore, canines do not produce amylase in their saliva. Amylase is an enzyme that herbivores & omnivores produce to help break down starchy carbohydrates before reaching the stomach. Dogs have an inarguable carnivore status.
These myths can scare many away from raw feeding. But as long as one takes the proper precautions, raw feeding can be done safely.