How to Talk to Your Vet About the Raw Diet
Despite the steady stream of success stories about dogs living longer and better on a raw diet, there are still many allopathic vets who are hesitant to support this way of feeding. So why the disconnect? How can a dog's ancestral diet--one they've been thriving on for millennia--not be supported by the very people trained in dog health management? Let's dig in.
It's important to note that we believe vets want the best for our dogs; the problem is, when it comes to species-appropriate nutrition, they may not have been taught what's best for our dogs. In the book The Forever Dog by Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib, they write, "As with human medicine, veterinary medicine remains stuck in the age-old paradigm of managing disease and controlling symptoms rather than preventing its onset in the first instance. Your vet isn't purposely withholding this critically important information; rather, she doesn't discuss targeted nutritional interventions, lifestyle choices, and risks and preventive strategies with you because they didn't teach her these things in vet school."
Also, because vets get most of their information from studies funded by the manufacturers of Big Pet Food, they're more likely to suggest only Big Pet Food to their clients. (This means highly processed kibble and canned food almost exclusively.) PhD animal nutritionist Dr. Richard Patton told us "Clinicians who push raw food as dangerous and kibble as safe are outdated and ill-informed and telling the story with biased and incomplete information."
To be fair, it's not just their lack of nutritional training (outside of kibble) that keeps vets from recommending raw: not all raw is created equal, and many vets have treated dogs with digestive issues (and other health ailments) resulting from poorly concocted homemade raw diets. Imbalanced ratios and formulas lacking in key nutrients can give all raw diets--even the good ones, like ours--a bad rap. Vets also worry about the safety factor: that the bacteria in raw meat may be dangerous to the dogs and the humans feeding it.
Finally, while raw diets certainly aren't new in nature, the awareness of them is new, which means it gets labeled as "trendy." Vets worry that feeding raw is just a passing fad with no real "experts" behind it.
So, in preparation of your dog's next well-check, we've anticipated your vet's raw-related questions and provided you with the answers you'll need to intelligently discuss your dog's We Feed Raw diet (and just maybe open your vet's mind).
IS IT COMPLETE AND BALANCED?
A. Yep! All We Feed Raw meals have been formulated by a PhD animal nutritionist with 30 years of experience. The meals are designed to be complete and balanced for dogs of all life stages, including the growth of large-breed puppies (70 lbs or more as an adult). The meals are based on the canine ancestral diet: approximately 80% meaty meat (muscle meat and associated connective tissue and fat), 10% edible bone, and 10% organ meat--all of which is secreting organ. The edible bone is finely ground into the patty. A high-quality vitamin pre-mix is included for an added boost of nutrition and to ensure that all vitamins and trace minerals required by regulatory authorities are in the food in the amounts specified by these authorities.
DOES IT MEET AAFCO REQUIREMENTS?
A. Sure does. All We Feed Raw meals comply with AAFCO recommendations for dogs of all life stages. All major diet components (protein, fat, etc) and the micronutrients (fat- and water-soluble vitamins, trace minerals) meet AAFCO standards.
IS IT SAFE?
A. Absolutely. All We Feed Raw food is sourced from USDA, human-grade meats that are produced in a USDA-certified facility with strict compliance requirements of BRC safe quality food manufacturing. All ingredients must comply with rigid incoming quality assurance specifications, which include screening for microbes. Most importantly, the meats undergo a cold-pressure process known as HPP (high pressure processing). This is a USDA-approved pathogen-reduction step that is effective at neutralizing Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria.
As the demand for raw diets continues to grow among pet parents, so will the demand for vets who support (or at the very least, don't flat-out reject) this way of feeding. "Pet owners are insisting on fresher foods," writes Dr. Karen Becker in The Forever Dog, "and veterinarians are faced with either educating themselves in order to support their clients or losing them." Based on the growing number of pro-raw vets we hear about and meet on a daily basis, we're hopeful that, as time goes on, a large percentage of the vet community will join the revolution in support of fresh, raw food for our canine companions.