For the raw feeding sceptic
Raw feeding is a relatively novel concept, which is continually gaining traction and popularity as parents learn the countless physical and mental benefits and realise more hard truths behind their conventional tinned or dried food.
Many dog parents are drawn in by "vet recommended" "scientific plan" "breed specific" and "complete" foods, which below the surface are in no way resemblant of the diet a carnivorous animal descended from wolves should eat.
The following expert is a short introduction for the raw feeding skeptic by Dr Nick Thompson, one of the UK's leading vets, raw feeding obsessive and pioneer. He joins us next Wednesday 27th January at 7:00pm for a Facebook Live Lecture, Dr. Nick Thompson | Diet & Disease: from common complaints to The Big C, how is your dog's diet affecting their health?
"But still most of the profession are keen to sell processed kibble and tins of, ‘scientifically formulated’ food. The majority of vets are skeptical that a home produced diet could be as convenient, safe and clinically applicable as the well established processed diets.
I was as skeptical as you when I first heard of raw food feeding, in the mid-90s. I still believed what I’d been taught at college; that clinical nutrition was just too complex for the practicing vet and that leaving it to the professional food manufacturers was the only option. So I carried on pushing packet food, but went for the best I could find; the most natural, the best proteins, the best researched.
Gradually the penny dropped. The theory behind raw food is that dogs and cats have evolved to eat raw food and have been eating it since their ancestors crawled out of the oceans. Logically, if you feed a diet that is readily recognised, efficiently digested and easily assimilated by the mammalian body, you will get less antagonism between food and teeth, food and gut, food and the immune system.
That’s all very well, but does this play out in practice? The theory stacks up 100% and the practice does too; vets advocating raw are able to treat conditions otherwise considered difficult, intractable, incurable or only ‘manageable’.
We are able to treat IBS syndrome, colitis cases, atopy and dental problems in dogs which often respond quickly and permanently. In cats, diabetes mellitus, stomatitis, colitis and an array of allergic disease can often be cured.
In both species, the modern ills of ‘lack of energy’, bad breath, poor coat, scurf, doggy smell, obesity, fussy eaters and recurrent loose stools just become a thing of the past.
The worldwide raw food revolution was started by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, an Australian vet, who, having seen a stark difference in the general health of dogs kept in the outback contrast with their urban cousins suddenly realised the profound effects processed food was having; the farm dogs were being fed mainly raw meat and bones and the townie dogs kibbles and tins. The farm dogs had less chronic disease, were more energetic and contracted less infectious disease.
He fed raw to his own dogs in the country and noted, on moving into an urban environment how his once healthy dogs, now on the ‘best processed food’ gradually developed ‘the same range of problems that my clients pets were suffering’.
Taking his inspiration from the medical journalist Pat Lazarus, Dr. Richard Pitcairn and Dr. Wendell Belfield in the USA, he wrote ‘Give Your Dog a Bone’. Based on his experience with his and his clients’ dogs moving from processed to raw diets,
Since Billinghurst, a slew of other vets and nutritionists have looked at the problem and come to similar conclusions; processed food causes disease; Lonsdale, Schultze, Volhard and even Emeritus Professor of Medicine at UCLA Donald Strombeck (author of the textbook Small Animal gastroenterology) all say roughly the same thing: processed food causes disease. Just as our human doctors do, of course.
I have a second opinion practice in Bath where I see the patients of veterinary colleagues where conventional nutritional approaches have not given the expected results. Patients have mainly skin and bowel problems, but can range from behaviour issues to unpigeonholeable multi-systemic problems.
Raw food is a cornerstone of most cases. The only time I will not consider raw food as part of the treatment is where a client is unwilling (rare) or unable (more common) to consider a raw food diet. If I were cynical, I would say I loved processed food; it pays my wages. I would much prefer to pay my mortgage through preventative medicine including raw food as part of a health strategy, rather than a disease treatment regime.
Raw food is not a dirty word. It’s a logical, safe, simple and economic way to treat many of the otherwise daunting chronic pathologies that bog down daily practice."