Feeding Carnivores

Something I had discovered a while ago, put aside, then re-found and recently started putting into practice is the concept of providing raw, whole food for carnivores. If you think about it, it is a bit silly to take our carnivores (dogs and cats, meat eaters) and feed them carbs and vegies with a bit of meat for flavor. But the majority of kibble is just that.

A quick check (you can do an internet search) into what goes into most kibble is enough to turn most stomachs and have you looking for another way to feed your beloved pets. Add to that the fact that ALL feeding methods have some risk (a number of pets died from contaminated kibble) so kibble is not fail-safe. In fact, the AAFCO standards (which are touted as the be-all end-all way to tell if pet food is "safe" to eat) only requires that 8 dogs be fed the food for 26 weeks (about six months) and that at least 6 of them survive. I don't know about you, but a 1 in 4 chance of your dog dying over six months and no long-term testing whatsoever does NOT sound like a good standard for "safe" to me.

So, I'm not feeding my dogs kibble. I'm also not feeding them anything ground or cooked. So, what am I feeding them? At the moment, I'm going to the grocery store and buying whole chickens and chunking them into four or six pieces (of approximately a pound a piece) and feeding the dog one piece a day (making sure to include organs from the chicken whenever I can). My dogs are about 50 pounds, so one poind a day is about 2% of their weight and a good starting point for feeding raw. As they get used to the diet, I'll keep an eye on their weight and adjust as needed.

There are a lot of "concerns" mentioned when the idea is brought up to people unfamiliar with the concept. Let's tackle a few of the most common.

First is the idea that eating bones (especially chicken bones) is bad for dogs (they do eat whatever bones are in the chicken pieces they get). This is a blatant falsehood based on a truth. The truth is that COOKED bones are bad for dogs. However, dogs (and cats) are made to digest raw bones with no difficulty whatsoever.

Next, is a concern about bacteria. But if you think about it a bit more, dogs drink out of toilets, lick each other's butts, and will eat their own feces (or that of other animals). It is reasonable to assume that their digestive tract is not as sensitive to bacteria as ours is. In fact, though harmful (to humans) bacteria is sometimes found in the digestive tract or waste of a raw-fed dog, it is VERY unusual for a raw-fed dog to become sick from the bacteria and when one does become sick it is almost always an indication of a problem that has nothing to do with the raw diet.

Then there's the fact that most veterinarians seem to have a problem with the idea of feeding a dog raw food. There are two ways to approach this concern. The first is the fact that doctors are telling us we need to get away from processed, refined foods and eat more natural, raw foods while vets are telling us the opposite and feed only highly processed, refined kibble. This seems to be a bit odd, to say the least. The other approach is to realize that vets receive very little training in animal nutrition while in school and most information they do receive on the topic is provided by pet food companies (Purina, Iams, etc.). They also receive substantial profits from sale of "vet only" pet food (esp. Hill's Science Diet). There is a motive for even vets that know better to not share that information with their clients.

If you're interested in learning more about raw feeding, you may be interested in the following web sites:

General Information:
Cat Specific Information
Ferret Specific Information (yes, they're carnivores too):

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