The Pet Parallel

I have a Golden Retriever and two cats.  (All were rescues by the way.)  All are obese.  I recently spent a lot of time reading labels at Petsmart, trying to find both dog and cat foods that were low-carb.  Nothing seemed to fit the bill.  So I got the idea that perhaps I could just feed them all raw meat.  I searched the web for advice and found that the whole subject of whether or not it is safe to feed pets raw meat has crazy parallels to the low-carb/high-fat for humans debate, that is the topic of this blog.

Advocates of feeding raw meat to dogs and cats are full of first hand accounts of curing their pet’s diabetes, irritable bowel disease, skin conditions, and of course obesity, and some advocates happen to be doctors of veterinary medicine.  Meanwhile the vets that argue that it is unsafe claim that raw meat carries microscopic parasites that will cause illness.  The raw meat people respond by saying that the animals are generally immune to these parasites and that vets are getting their information from pet food companies who are deliberately out to misinform.  They even tout articles from scientific journals that back their position.

Of course you know whose side I am on in this debate.  How anyone can argue with a straight face that feeding a domesticated wolf raw meat is dangerous for their health is completely beyond me.  I’ve seen my Golden Retriever eat a rotting fish that was a least a week old.  If that didn’t make him sick, then what’s in some ground pork from the supermarket that will?

And the debate gets truly absurd about cats.  Unlike the omnivorous canines, cats are obligate carnivores.  This means that they have to eat meat or they die.  Their natural diet is field mice, and the occasional bird.  Cats can’t handle the toxins in a host of plants.  We all know not to let a cat eat your holiday poinsettia, but if you could somehow feed a cat some onion, this would kill it as well.  Meanwhile we are told by manufacturers that feeding cats cereal grains is the healthiest diet for them, and that it is perfectly safe.

Well I’ve made the switch.  I am feeding the Golden ground pork that I buy from the asian supermarket for under $2 a pound.  It actually costs less per pound than the IAMS dry dog food it is replacing.  The dog is clearly happy with the change.  I am now feeding my cats partially cooked chicken.  It is a little bit of a hassle and one of the cats is clearly unhappy with the change but I expect he’ll get over it.  I’ll keep you posted on this grand experiment.  For further reading on this topic check out:

catnutrition.org

http://feline-nutrition.org/health/a-vets-view-andrea-tasi-vmd

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_feeding

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2003/09/29/urbananimal.DTL

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10 responses to “The Pet Parallel

  1. Innova Evo is low carb. Our cat has eaten it for years.

  2. Do you give your dog supplements too? What is wrong with cooked meat vs. raw? I have been contemplating how to change my 6 mo. old lab’s diet to something healthier than dog food – like my diet – whole foods paleo type. I have had many dogs, but not like this one. This dog is a veggie freak – he loves carrots, bell peppers, olives and cucumbers (things I’m putting in my salad). Whats wrong with those things plus lots of meat? I already avoid grains in his dog food, but all commercial dogfood is processed food isn’t it?

    • If you read the blogs about it, there seems to be a consensus that raw meat is better for dogs than cooked because some nutrients are lost by cooking. I am no expert on that but I do know that wolves don’t cook. My only concern about feeding my dog veggies is that he is very obese right now, and I want him to slim down, so I figure the closer I get to zero carbs, the better off he’ll be.

  3. Thanks for giving me the heads up on Evo. I had to go out of my way to get it, but it seems to be a pretty good product. The cats like it too.

  4. Raw meat is definitely ideal for pets, in my opinion. However, be careful about supermarket meat. You do need to be careful in terms of quality, specifically because of the fact that it is sold under the assumption that it will be cooked (and therefore may have “additives”, etc. that would not be good for pets to eat). It is costly, but there are raw foods designed specifically for pets to eat with the understanding that they will not be cooked.

  5. george henderson

    “I’ve seen my Golden Retriever eat a rotting fish that was a least a week old. If that didn’t make him sick, then what’s in some ground pork from the supermarket that will?”
    Brilliant; who hasn’t seen this? What are the diseases killing dogs? Contagious viruses they get from other dogs, and degenerative diseases from eating cereals etc.
    I would boil sheep offal because of the risk of hydatids. This is probably more of a danger to humans than the dog though.

    The real danger is that there is not enough fat in the meat to replace the carbs; on zero carb, you need 4-5 fat calories to every calorie from muscle protein.
    Dripping (tallow), cheese, lard, bacon fat, marrowbone, chicken skin, mackarel, and brisket are some of the fats I feed my dog with her meat. No-one would eat raw tallow unless they were fat-deficient, so this is a good test. Also feed them bones and gristle or skin. This gets the right mix of amino acids, minerals and vitamins into the diet.

    There is evidence that vegetable antioxidants (not grains) are good for dogs, probably mainly as an antidote to grains, PUFAs etc. There’s no evidence that they’re essential, but I don’t see anything wrong with them. My dog loves raisins and prunes, but won’t eat other fruits or sweet things.

  6. george henderson

    P.S. she loves fat but won’t touch olive oil even if she’s starving.

  7. George is right – you have to add in enough fat, and they also need lots of bones, or they’ll be mineral deficient. Not just the kind they chew on (beef bones), but the kind they consume (chicken). These MUST BE RAW. Cooked bones splinter, and can be fatal. Organ meats are also necessary (hearts, liver, kidneys).

    Side benefit: Clean teeth and fresh breath!

    Your pets will live long healthy lives, free of the plagues of what most owners think are unavoidable diseases of “old age.”

    I know whereof I speak, I’ve been breeding and showing dogs for forty years.

    • I have learned to add powdered kelp to the diet in winter, my part of the world is not high in iodine and this is added to the commercial dog food my dog doesn’t often eat.
      Signs of thyroid problems due to low iodine (or potentially selenium, but this will usually be adequate in meat) are, spooky behaviour (dog becomes afraid or depressed), loss of hair, dark patches or discolouration on skin. Mastitis can also occur. There are probably a few rare symptoms that you might see due to thyroid impacting on other endocrine systems.

      Maybe this is why dogs like rotten fish and are vulnerable to sea-borne toxins (such as sea slugs), which may smell of iodine.

  8. I feed my two cats and dog a primal diet. I would encourage you to read http://www.catinfo.org/ a site written by a vet about feeding cats a raw food diet. She goes over what you need to add to just plain old meat to keep your cats healthy. I would also read it if you have reverted to dry food for your cats. There can be some rather serious side-effects. Dogs needs are a bit different and I don’t have a resource like that..sorry 🙂 But I have fed them Nature’s Variety Raw http://www.naturesvariety.com/ and Primal Pet Food http://www.primalpetfoods.com/ with good success My one cat is picky and he prefers Primal Pet Food. Good luck!

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