Tuesday, February 10, 2009

RAW Foods? What's your opinion?

Yesterday's topic was fun! I'll try to find more juicy controversial topics like that soon. I was pleased to see such varied responses. I hope no-one took offense to anyone else's opinion ... remember - everyone is intitled to their opinion regardless of whether or not it coincides with your own.

It also sparked some thoughts in my head about RAW foods after I read the comments in that thread. It's something I admittedly don't know a lot about - mainly because I haven't bothered researching it.

I know I'm not the only one who struggles with what to feed their dogs. How can you find the best food for them? Opinion varies about what is best to feed dogs - some push a healthy, rounded diet that includes grains, veggies and meat, while others push that dogs are carnivores and by nature's design should only eat meat.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling and get to the point. Being a pro-organic, no persevatives kind of person for the foods I eat, I would be interested in feeding RAW to my dogs.

I was told by one vet that the easiest raw foods diet is hamburger and cooked rice with some powdered supplements (which any vet clinic can order in for you). I don't know how true this is - like I said, I've not done enough research. I saw some raw foods pre-packaged (doesn't that sound like an oxymoron?) at the pet supplies store the other day when we were in there too ... but would it be cost effective as well as healthy to purchase foods like this?

Meanwhile, when I worked for a vet, he always pushed people away from raw and any other foods and told them the best food is what he carried. My point is, everyone thinks their food is the best. That's why they choose the one they do.

So, I'm opening up the panel for everyone. Here's a few questions to consider if you'd like to post and don't know where to begin.

Do you think raw is good or bad? Why?

Is the BARF diet the same as RAW or are they different?

If you don't feed raw, do you avoid feeding raw because you don't know enough about it or don't feel you have time to properly review and prepare it? Or is there another reason?

If you feed raw foods or have researched raw foods and had someone ask you what this "diet" is, what resources would you recommend? Do you have books you'd tell them to read? Or specific websites to check out?

Do you buy the pre-packaged raw foods or prep the foods yourself? If you prep them yourself, how much time per week do you think is spent doing this? (Keeping in mind that I already spend at least an hour per day prepping and cooking the meals for that day for us! That's 7 hours per week!)

15 comments:

Lynda said...

Regarding my own experience, I am very happy with feeding my dogs RAW. Like I said in my post yesterday, it was a switch I made because of my danes becoming ill and they have never looked better. It's been almost 2 years since I've been feeding raw.

We recently rescued a pair of Hairless Chinese Cresteds. They are now on raw and I have no idea what they were eating before. Their skin was horrible and it's clearing up nicely now.

I have an amazing raw supplier who is also a wealth of knowledge. Everything I buy comes in 2 lb bags, so it's easy-peasy to prepare. Takes me about 3 minutes twice a day and that's for 4 dogs! The only prep time is taking the meat out of the freezer and putting it in the fridge to thaw out the day before.

Anyway, I am a long-winded BIG fan of raw over here and I've seen the difference in my dogs.

Gus, Louie and Callie said...

We asked our vet about raw food and she didn't like it because of the possibility of salmonella. Dad did a bunch of research and has a link on our page. Check it out..

Big Sloppy Kisses
Gus, Louie and Callie

GoLightly said...

DDF, yes, and yes, fastng x-ray, fecal after fecal, always fine. I am so on the fence, and that scares me too.
I've put her (Flip) back on cimetidine. It quells her nausea, and her weird new desire to eat poo.
Blaze got switched to keep me sane, and to try to maybe head off what sounds like the same problem in some other kelpies, relatives of my girls.
A Breed Thing?

It's the LONG term effects of any food, and the effects over time that have been researched extensively by the Big Guns..
Not so much the little guns.
My dogs always have looked healthy.
Happy, healthy. Purina ProPlan. But now we're on Gastro
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

My dear DVM buddy says the same things as Gus et.al., and has found her dog (a pomeranian) gets very ill when exposed to dogs fed RAW.

The environment, and the immune system of my dogs, is key. But I can't DO anything about the environment!

Our own immune systems are messed up, too. Just generally, you know I'm talking.

Depends on the dog, unless of course it's MINE, then, bingo.

My red dog was a tummy dog, too.
Tried just about everything with her.

This makes no sense, best I can do.
Thanks for bringing it up.
Question, if you don't mind. Both dogs have lost some weight, Blaze most noticeably. It's healthier for Flip, with her bad hips, to be lean. I seem to need to feed MORE of the Gastro, to keep weight on Blaze. She got gaunt, for a bit.
Darn, I guess that wasn't a question:(
Oh, yeah. Does that make sense?
not to me.

eleanor_rigby said...

I actually think I would try a raw food diet if I could afford it, and had the time to prepare it. I think as natural as possible is best...and whats natural for a dog?...raw food.

Wolves know what to eat, birds know what to eat, fish know what to eat....why don't we? To much processed food. Same goes for dogs.

That said......I buy a big bag of food, and don't practice what I preach:(

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Lynda - that doesn't sound like your RAW diet takes much time at all! Salmonella was mentioned ... have you ever had an issue with this?

Gus, Louie and Callie - I'll pop over and check out your links. Thanks for posting them!

GoLightly - have you tried a high-performance food for your kelpies? My DVM friend that has a kelpie can't keep weight on him unless he's on a high performance food (her choice is Eukaneuba). Might be a direction to go ... I know Gastro is really expensive.

You'll find that the less calories in the food per cup the more you'll have to feed to keep their weight on. If it's got more empty filler and less cals than their bodies are working harder (and burning more cals) to digest the food than a higher calorie kibble.

Eleanor_rigby - I agree wholeheartedly with your comments :)

Hecate said...

I've fed a raw diet for over 30 years. When I showed my morbidity/mortality records to vets from all over the country at a national Greyhound adoption conference, they agreed I have less than a third of the cancer in my dogs that they see in the general pet population. My dogs have less than a fourth of the cancer they see in other retired racing Greyhounds.

I started out using Juliette de Bairacli-Levy's methods, then went more along Kymythy Shulze's, and now pretty much use my own no-grain formula. The diet is constantly evolving, and no two dogs get exactly the same thing.

My two coming-13-year-olds still run around like puppies. When I took one in to the vet recently because she was limping, they couldn't believe how old she was based on her physical condition. And they've seen her since she was six weeks old.

Of course, since they're never sick and I do my own (minimal) vaccinations, the vet doesn't see them very often.

I believe natural challenge is the key to a strong immune system and am not a disinfect-everything fanatic. My dogs like to stash some of their food from time to time and then eat it later. One even buries it. Nothing like finding somebody happily chewing on a semi-mummified chicken hindquarter with dirt all over it.

Never, ever have had any problems with salmonella. Once in a very great while somebody will start producing paint-peeling gas, but a course of activated charcoal capsules followed by high-potency live acidophilus clears it up in a matter of hours.

Lynda said...

Never had a problem with Salmonella, no. I know people that have been raw feeding for decades and they've never had an issue either.

Just wanted to add that it costs me HALF to feed my guys raw than it did with kibble.

GoLightly said...

Hecate, Lynda, do they ever vomit yellow bile?

Rusty was the first one to do this to me, On Eukenuba..
Both kelpies have as well, on Purina proPlan.

I think I prefer paint-peeling farts, I need to renovate, or burn the house down, anyway..

The RAW diet my breeder uses, (pets4Life, in Canada) on a half half basis with kibble, doesn't look or smell, very trustworthy, to me. I've tried puppy with it. She gets "burpy/farty" every time.

Flip farts & barfs it back up.
rocks and hard places...

Anonymous said...

I believe some of you guys have seen commercial dog food in a vet clinic, yea?

Do you know those vet earn commission from those food sold and incentives from selling those food. :X. Got to know from reading a book.

So, if thats the case. Their reliability on the food part should be questioned if they sell those dog food in their clinic.

Lastly, why raw food are better?
When meat are cooked, the nutrients and everything inside gets damaged. So it comes not very good for the dog to digest it.

Dogs naturally have stronger stomach acid than we do, so we shouldnt worry about those disease like salmonella.

However, those disease can happen when the quality of the raw food changes, maybe its spoilt or something.

Humans have completely evolved to eating cooked food, whereas, dogs arent yet.

Barb said...

I've been feeding some form of a homemade raw diet for a little over 10 years now, and it's been fantastic.

My vet isn't in favor of feeding raw, but doesn't ever give me a hard time about it. My dogs are just too healthy! No problems with salmonella or other bacteria... of course I wash my hands well after handling raw meat but think about it... dogs lick their anuses, eat garbage, most of them eat poop if they get the chance. Their systems can handle bacteria very well! Of course, there might be individuals who can't but they are the rare exception.

My husband was skeptical about raw feeding at first - I think he thought it was a fad I'd picked up - until professional handlers started approaching him when he was showing our dogs asking him what we fed our dogs to get their coats looking so good. And judges are always saying what great condition they're in. Now he's a believer and loves to talk to people about how we feed our dogs.

And - touch wood - I haven't lost a dog to a premature illness since feeding raw, and with a breed like Great Danes that's saying something. Right now we've got a 7 year old who is still successfully competing in Excellent level agility.

It does take a little reading before you start - but the idea that you need a lab and a degree in nutrition to feed your dogs is utter nonsense. We don't need those things to feed our human children, for Pete's sake! Why would they be necessary for feeding dogs. How did people feed dogs for all the thousands of years up to the 1940s which is about when commercial dog food started to be popular?

There are lots of good books out there, but if you want a quick, cut-to-the-chase guide to raw feeding I think the best choice is "Switching to Raw" by Susan Johnson
http://www.switchingtoraw.com/
I've given this book to many friends over the years.

Lynda said...

Golightly,
I've never heard of Pets4Life. I also do not have any problems with yellow bile or gas from either end of my dogs. And their breath smells nice and fresh and clean.

The food I give my guys smells great - but it's frozen fresh right from the slaughter house and kept frozen until the day before it's given to the dogs. It's also all human-grade food, just has bones in it too - which is the only reason I don't eat it myself, lol!

My vet doesn't have an opinion on food. He has always said to feed whatever I want. Every time I see him he remarks on the condition of my danes and I always say it's the raw feeding. :-)

GoLightly said...

anon
yes, I understand the commercial interest vets have in food.

"Humans have completely evolved to eating cooked food, whereas, dogs arent yet."
Yet dogs evolved, with us.
I've read that vegetables should be cooked to simulate how the veggies would be in freshly killed animal intestines..

LegendsLiveOn said...

I am a huge fan of RAW. However, I have only given one out of the five dogs I own the RAW diet. He was a GSD mix puppy that I planned on competing in Schutzhund with (went to one meeting and my mom couldn't commit). I fed alternates between chopped steak and ground beef or turkey, with rice, reduced fat plain yoghurt, and fish oil. His coat was healthy, and he grew quickly and gained muscle mass easily. He also digested his food better and shed less. When I did mix kibble in, it was Canidae. It's my preferred dry kibble, but it's a tad expensive.

When I move out and start showing dogs (hopefully get into Schutzhund or something...), I will be feeding RAW and Canidae, complete with all the organs and bones and some veggies, all that good stuff.

I'm a huge fan of organic and health foods (I'll take veggies over anything; didn't even eat meat until I was 9), so naturally I'd like the same for my dogs.

When and if I have children, they are going to hate me. Salad will be a staple, and if they want junk food other than the occasional popsicle or bit of chips they'll have to go elsewhere. I love health food! :]

Rebecca said...

I haaaaate how so many vets sell food out of their offices and then push it on every patient. Around here, at least, the stuff they sell is "Science Diet", which is awful stuff. You could buy food on the same level of quality at the supermarket for a lot cheaper. Not that I would feed my animals something that low-quality anyway.

A couple of examples. My hubby's cat has had a problems with blockages due to imbalanced urine ph. The vet tried to get us to use dry SO. I started doing some research on the problem and found out that most cats who have blockages are cured simply by switching them to canned. My vet didn't tell me this, but that I would have to have him on the special formula for the rest of his life (which is not good for their bones). I switched him to canned, with a supplement from Wysong for his urine ph that we only have to use a few months out of the year in all (we test his urine once a month or so). No more problems, and a hundred times healthier than the SO.

There was also the time that my parents tested their Golden and found out that the poor guy is allergic to beef, chicken, lamb, and pork. So the vet sent them home with a Science Diet food that was hypoallergenic... with chicken in it! ARGH. I sent my parents a nice long list of good foods that didn't contain any of his allergens. They are not that hard to find, and yet the vet sold them some overpriced food that he was allergic too anyway and told them it was impossible to find food without it. Personally, he is one dog who would, in my opinion, do very well on raw, but they don't like the work involved.

Anyway... /endrant. One of my pet peeves there. Just yesterday I had an argument with the vet when we had to hospitalize a kitten who decided she should eat the plastic covering the dogs' dinner to get to their cornish hen (she is fine). I gave them a can of her food in case they needed to feed her, and he tried to get me to agree to feed some Science Diet kitten junk. ;P

As for raw, I think it is the best we could do for our dogs and cats. However, I understand that most people will not even have heard of it, much less have any interest in it. It does take research though I think reading the differences of opinion within the raw community is fascinating. We feed various high quality foods (Evo, Canidae, Taste of the Wild, Instinct, etc.), and raw as much as possible. Someday I hope we will be able to feed raw full time, but right we are putting ourselves through college and can't afford anything but beans and rice for ourselves and good kibble/some raw for the dogs (and canned/some raw for the cats, o'course).

Lexie said...

I left a long winded comment in the previous post. I feed Urban Wolf. You make it yourself - mostly. It's a good inbetween step to raw. You can feed it raw or cooked. I feed cooked, only because it's easier for me to prepare that way. It's done awmazing things for my allergic-to- everything-and then-some shih tzu. He can not eat any grains. But now he is doing great on Urban wolf.