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One answer to pet food scare? Go raw

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  • One answer to pet food scare? Go raw

    The minute officials announced that dogs and cats nationwide had been exposed to contaminated pet food, Daminana Smith’s phone began to ring.

    Worried friends wanted to know: What should I be feeding my animals? What’s safe? What will be good for them?

    Smith, a dog-nutrition specialist, has an answer, although not one officials in the pet-food industry — nor some veterinarians — like to hear. She plans to talk about that answer at a public presentation at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the American Legion Hall in Lebanon.

    Smith will talk about the benefits of a pet diet rich in raw foods, and plans to provide recipes and instructions. She also plans to talk about evaluating pet-food labels and discuss which brands she believes are the most beneficial.

    Admission is free, although Smith said she will place a donation jar to help defray costs of renting the meeting room.

    Smith, of Lebanon, has worked with and around dogs for nearly 50 years. She is a retired veterinary technician and vet surgeon’s assistant, a former professional dog handler for show champions, has taught obedience classes for the Oregon State University Extension Service and worked as a groomer for 34 years. She is now taking formal classes in nutrition, but has been researching dog food on her own for 20 years.

    It was during her dog-grooming years that Smith became interested in nutrition.

    “I saw so many chronically ill dogs that just never seemed to get better,” she said. “Their skin was bad, they had bleeding, hot spots, (they were) listless — a lot of times they had tumors.”

    Smith started researching pet foods, calling universities and veterinarians across the nation. What she found out, she said, convinced her the pet-food industry suffers not only from a lack of regulation, but from filler ingredients that sicken its target population.

    “I’ve got facts, I’ve got numbers, I’ve got newspaper articles from around the nation,” she said. “I’m not making any of this up because have a vendetta against these companies, because I don’t.”

    Smith feeds her own dogs — dachshunds — raw eggs, raw beef liver and heart, raw cuts of beef, and grated, raw organic vegetables, including broccoli and cauliflower. She also grinds up raw chicken necks and backs for them, bones and all.

    “Dogs can eat raw bones,” she said. “It’s when they’re cooked that they splinter and cause all kinds of problems.”

    For treats, she’ll bake wheat-free dog biscuits (dogs get their energy from fats, not carbohydrates, she says) or toss out a grape, raisin or chunk of apple. No breads. No peanut butter. Absolutely no dairy products.

    Veterinarians, she said, rightly object to the idea of feeding dogs “people food.” So does Smith, if they’re talking about the usual sorts of people food: pizza, potato chips, macaroni and cheese.

    Raw food, she said, is another matter. Dogs were designed to eat it, and those who do suffer from skin and teeth disorders and other diseases far less frequently than dogs who are “being fed nutritionless waste loaded with toxic chemicals.”

    Pet-food manufacturers and some veterinarians beg to differ with Smith and other proponents of raw-food diets, some of which are known collectively as BARF — Bones And Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.

    Opponents of such diets say they may be nutritionally incomplete, which can lead to its own problems.

    Smith counters with her own recipe for dog vitamins, a powder she makes and sprinkles on her pets’ food each day. That’s another handout she plans for Tuesday’s presentation.

    The American Veterinary Medical Association says a raw-food diet “is not recommended,” saying raw foods can contain salmonella and other pathogens.

    The danger to humans is mitigated the same way it is when cooking for one’s family, Smith said: Use stainless steel, not plastic, and wash everything thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination. The danger to dogs is almost nonexistent because of the acidity in their stomachs, she said.

    Smith said she doesn’t have a veterinarian’s opinion to offer because she hasn’t needed one, except for the time one of her dogs swallowed a penny. Her oldest dachshund is 14 and in great health, which she attributes to diet.

    “My main thing is, I want your dog to live 10 years longer than it should,” she said. “I want to see people’s pets live and die of old age and natural causes, not some painful and debilitating disease.”
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  • #2
    Funny. A "dog nutrition specialist" mentions feeding her dogs grapes and raisins...foods that are known to be toxic to dogs, and are no longer considered safe to feed a dog at all, seeing as the toxin has not yet been identified, but dogs have been known to develop kidney failure after eating just a couple. And broccoli..another food that is toxic to dogs.

    I -might- go to the bother of making my own dog food. But not raw. Not ever raw. Salmonella aside, dogs are NOT immune to campylobacter.

    My oldest dachshund lived to be 17 on commercial dog food. He probably would have lived longer (he was in great shape) if his back hadn't been broken when my daughter fell on him. Bratwurst lived 14 years, Ronda almost 16. Tyrone, the beagle, just turned 14, and survived an hemagiosarcoma in his spleen. It's been over 2 years, and the average survival is something like 16-45 days post surgery. And all of them ate commercial dog food.


    • #3
      Okay I am not a total When I was reading this article I was thinking that grapes and potato's (don't think she mentions potato's....)white not sweet, and broccoli were nono's for dogs.

      I know there are some of you on this board who feed a raw diet. What do you think are the pro's and con's of this? Did you research what and how much to feed and do you give suppliments? This is not a bash, I am just curious as to what all is involved when you feed raw to make sure they are getting the right things and the right amount. My family already complains that I spend more time making my birds breakfast than I do on their to think what they would say if I started w/the dogs!!
      SheilaB from SC


      • #4
        Well, said, Helly.... It really bothers me when people use a tragedy like this to "prove" their point that XYZ Company (or product) is "evil" or makes our pets sick or whatever. I even read on another message board that veterinarians WANT our pets to get chronic ailments so they can make more $$$. It's sad when any pet (or person) has a bad reaction to a food or to a vaccine or a medical treatment... but the relatively low number that do, are certainly not "proof" that (fill in the blank) is more harmful for our pets (or us) than it is beneficial....


        • #5
          Oh, and I caught the grape/raisin reference, too.... Some "expert"....

          Adding to my previous post.... I have a 17+ year old heeler mix who is blind and arthritic, but otherwise doing well and an almost 10 year old standard poodle who you'd think is 10 MONTHS old for her energy level.... And, of course wild man Arthur.... All fed commercial dog foods, all vaccinated annually, and taking monthly Heartworm and flea preventative.


          • #6
            did any one see the episode of "wife swap" where the family only ate raw foods, it was so gross. why does it have to be raw? if you are gonna make your own dog food, why cant you cook it?


            • #7
              I feed 3 of my 4 dogs totally raw. Even on premium commercial kibble, my eldest basset had a myriad of serious health problems ranging from eye/ear/skin infections, digestive upset, hair loss, you name it. Thousands and thousands of $$ at the vet. The raw diet 100% fixed that for me. I have 1 dog, a pointer, on premium dry kibble as she needs the carbs to maintain weight, being so high energy. My other 3 have zero grain requirements at all, and don't get any.

              They all get some minor supplementation, depending on the time of year, their diet, and their individual needs. They also get fresh fruit/veggies everyday, in addition to raw chicken/beef/whatever else. They're in wonderful condition, and even at 9 years old, their teeth are pearly white from the bones.

              I have a wonderful vet who has written and lectured extensively on the raw diets, so obviously she approves of the diet & monitors it during yearly check-ups.

              As for some of my reasons for doing it, I could write a book! It's what I believe it natural & biologically appropriate for the species. (Research suggests there is no significant change to the digestive system in domesticated dogs from their wild counterparts). Dog food has only been around since 1940, dogs have been around much longer than that! Cooking food destroys enzymes and minerals, just like it does human food. I do not trust 99.9% of the ingredients in dog food; IMO, nothing that is loaded with filler, preservatives, and is extruded and baked at high temperatures so it can sit on a shelf in a store for 2 years is healthy. I also don't believe that it's healthy for an animal to eat one single thing its entire life. Even if you feed a healthy food, should you eat nothing but it for the rest of your life? Variety is healthy! I guess to summarize, I think a variety of fresh, whole foods is healthier for every animal on this planet than a processed, preserved diet.

              Anyway, these are some of MY reasons. I have researched it extensively for many years and it's the right choice for my pets and my household. It isn't right for everyone, and I really hope this doesn't turn into another heated/nasty debate about it!


              • #8
                I had a retired couple leave their dog boarding with us for the night and their dog didnt eat dog food. The dog ate whatever they were having for breakfast/lunch/dinner. So she brought the dog half a sirloin steak and a side of buttered carrots. I was tempted to eat it.

                What I really started posting for was to ask... can cats be on a raw diet? And is it just raw chicken? Do you use pork? How do you know what to feed them? And when you say raw do you mean... really raw? Not cooked or boiled or baked or anything? This is interesting.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by SiotehCat View Post
                  What I really started posting for was to ask... can cats be on a raw diet? And is it just raw chicken? Do you use pork? How do you know what to feed them? And when you say raw do you mean... really raw? Not cooked or boiled or baked or anything? This is interesting.

                  Yes, cats can be on raw but you have to monitor them more closely. Dogs will eventually eat when they get good & hungry, but a cat might starve itself to death if it doesn't like what's for dinner! Cats actually have almost NO requirement for vegetables/grain/etc. They are true carnivores & all the books I've read say that cats need only 1t of veggie matter/day. The rest is all meat. I do give my cats as much raw meat as they want, but also keep dry out for them at all times. The first time you see a small housecat chew thru & devour a chicken neck, you will be amazed! I have one cat who will only eat raw, won't touch the dry kibble.

                  There are MANY MANY books out on this subject, and any holistic vet can advise you on a raw diet. They're all able to help you with what to feed, how much, etc. I do not feed pork because raw pork can still be dangerous with trichinosis. I feed everything else though, beef, chicken, lamb, rabbit, buffalo, fish, gizzards, whatever. Totally raw, no cooking. (Cooked bones can be dangerous!!)


                  • #10
                    If my mom had the time and $$, she'd probably go raw for our critters. They already eat better than we do with the ingredients in their organic kibble. The dogs got barely-sauteed liver for a while (sauteed only because they wouldn't eat the raw) but it got too time consuming for my mom. There are lots of debates of what's good for a pet and what's not. What I'm confused about is garlic. Some say it's ok, some say it's really bad like onions. There are also debates on the uses of corn in a pet's diet. Who knows. Before dogs got domesticated, they ate meat and whatever THEIR food ate, they got pre-digested. We've been messing with dog genes for thousands for years.
                    debate debate debate...........


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RevWind View Post
                      What I'm confused about is garlic. Some say it's ok, some say it's really bad like onions.
                      Yes, I would really like to know about garlic, too. I thought it was ok then saw it on a list of foods that dogs should not eat. Helly? anyone?


                      • #12
                        hmmm.... So it's okay for the BARF advocates to spout off about how "bad" commercial dog foods are, but the reverse is not acceptible? I haven't seen ANY one on here who feeds premium or super-premium commercial pet foods insulting the raw diet, but I've certainly seen MANY raw advocates using this sad incident to "prove" that their way is the only way to feed.

                        And it IS difficult to take seriously the advice of a person who feeds grapes to her dogs, as grapes are known to be toxic to dogs.


                        • #13
                          I don't have any issue with people advocating raw or the higher-tier foods. But I DO have serious problems with those who go around saying that grocery store or middle-tier premiums (the best of the best I call the super premiums) are inherently "bad". There is NO "best" food or method of feeding that works for every pet on the planet.

                          I adopted a Siamese cat from the vet I work for. I tried feeding him Innova and Wellness, and he ate them ravenously--then immediately vomited. Iams, however, he thrives on with no vomiting and his coat is glossy, he's energetic.... So for this individual cat, Iams is the "right" food. So am I harming him by feeding him a food he thrives on rather than "better" foods he can't keep down? Absolutely NOT!


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by k9stylist1968 View Post
                            hmmm.... So it's okay for the BARF advocates to spout off about how "bad" commercial dog foods are, but the reverse is not acceptible? I haven't seen ANY one on here who feeds premium or super-premium commercial pet foods insulting the raw diet, but I've certainly seen MANY raw advocates using this sad incident to "prove" that their way is the only way to feed.
                            There is no one way to feed, every animal is unique. I'm a diehard BARF believer and even I feed commercial kibble to one of my dogs. Because it works the best for HER. Some dogs are allergic to beef, some to chicken, some to wheat, every single dog is different, much like they are to groom. Ultimately, their diet should reflect this.

                            Also, if you're going to feed raw you have to look into how to do that correctly - making sure the dogs are getting a balanced diet with all the minerals and nutrients they need. You can't just throw them a chicken leg once a day and be done with it. If that's what you're looking for, I'd say you're better off feeding a premium kibble.

                            There are wonderful commercial dog foods available these days! The industry has made huge improvements, thank god. There is also lots of **** still on the market, things loaded with BHA/BHT, ethoxyquin, food coloring, things that I believe are largely responsible for the health problems our pets are coming down with in record numbers. But, it's none of my business what anyone else feeds their dog & if someone wants to feed Ol' Roy, I won't lose any sleep. People load their kids up on McDonalds 3x/day too, such is life.