Give your dog a healthy diet, and they will give you healthy behavior.
There are a lot of products for pet consumption out there and they all claim to be healthy for your pet. The truth is most of them aren’t. Many of the ingredients in your typical kibble are questionable to begin with; pair that with a ton of processing and a great deal of added chemicals, and you have food that is very high in caloric value and very low in nutritional value.
The fact is that most common health problems our animals have can be greatly reduced or even eliminated on the right diet: allergies, skin problems, anxiety issues, behavioral problems, diabetes, thyroid issues, cancer, dental problems, arthritis, and more.
When a client hires us for private dog training in Los Angeles, we ask about their dog's diet before we even start their training program — diet and nutrition is that important!
One of the best diets for your dog is the raw food diet. We compiled the most frequently asked questions we get about the raw food diet and took them to the professional for answers — literally! Jacqueline Hill is the Vice President of Operations and Product Development at Answers™ Pet Food, a company that produces wholesome raw foods for dogs and cats.
Jacqueline was generous enough to take the time out of her super busy schedule to answer our raw dog food questions, so let's get started!
What is a 'raw food diet'?
Jacqueline Hill: A raw food diet is raw meat, organ, bone and other ingredients, like vegetables to make it a complete diet. It is frozen and then thawed when ready to be fed.
Is it safe to feed my pets raw meat? Or raw milk? Won't they get sick?
As apparent to most pet owners pets can consume bacteria without getting sick. Most dog owners experience dogs eating poop and other disgusting things. That does not mean they never get sick from bacteria but they can consume quite a bit without getting sick. Pet food regulatory does not allow raw pet food (or any pet food for that matter) to contain harmful bacteria. Some raw pet foods use pasteurization to meet this regulatory requirement. At Answers we feel pasteurized raw isn’t really raw and too many nutrients are lost. We use fermentation to protect our food while it brings the benefits of probiotics to the food.
What was your reason for starting a raw food company?
One of the main reasons was to provide a raw diet that met all regulatory requirements without using pasteurization. And to make a food that could be used as the first medicine. We offer two unique superfoods: fermented raw goat milk and fermented fish stock that provide concentrated nutrition.
Where do the animal products come from? Is there any sort of screening process for these farms and the way they raise their animals?
We only buy meat from farms that are Global Animal Partnership (GA) rated. This ensures none of the livestock used for our products are subject to confinement feeding facilities. This is the same standard Whole Foods uses.
What are some of the health benefits from a raw food diet?
There is a veterinarian in Hollywood by the name of Henry Pasternak who wrote a book Healing Pets with Nature’s Miracle Cures. He states in his book 90% of pet’s health problems are due to what we are feeding them. What he is saying is processed pet food (kibble and canned) is making our pets sick. So to answer your question the health benefits of feeding a raw diet are significant. The raw pet food category has been growing by leaps and bounds because raw food produces results.
It's very expensive and I'm having trouble justifying the cost of a raw diet. Is it worth it?
Without a doubt it is worth every penny. There is a saying once you go raw you don’t go back. Many pet owners are surprised to find out once they add up the cost of kibble, the cost of supplements (which are not needed when feeding raw), and the money they save at the veterinarian, they realize they are saving money by feeding raw!
What's wrong with kibble/canned food? I've been feeding my dogs these types of food for years and I've never had an issue. Why should I make the switch?
Because we have accepted a new norm of shorter lives for our pets. Dr. Pasternak (along with many other veterinarians) says in his book we can increase our pet’s lifespan almost by three times by feeding a raw diet. Homeopathic veterinarian Dr. Christine Chambreau states average life span for dogs should be 20 years and average lifespan for cats should be 25 years. Of course quality of life is important too. Many pet owners respond with “my dog acts like a puppy again” when they switch to a raw diet. So many pet owners don’t realize their pet doesn’t feel good because they can’t articulate it.
Can I use the raw diet as a supplement instead of their whole diet? Will that be beneficial?
Any raw is better than no raw. Many pet owners use our milk and or fish stock over their pet’s kibble diet and report great benefits.
Have any studies been done on the effects of a raw food diet that weren't sponsored by a raw food company?
Yes in the 1930s and 1940s Francis Pottenger did studies comparing raw and cooked diets with cats using 10 generations. There has also been some European studies. Raw diet has been sold commercially for 10+ years. The evidence based research is “evident”.
Have you had any dogs who had an issue that was improved by eating a raw food diet?
Prior to Answers I worked for Natures Variety and was involved with 30 case studies with raw diet addressing everything from allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and urinary problems. All case studies showed improvement on a raw diet. Veterinarians have done case studies with Answers on pets with kidney disease, malabsorption, and allergies (to name a few) all showing improvement on the raw diet.
We can personally speak to the positive health benefits of the raw food diet since switching our dog about a year ago. Going raw has eliminated our dog's upset stomach and allergies, and we even noticed that his coat is shinier and fuller. We've had success and are happy with the switch!
Just as we recommend to our private dog training training clients, we say the same to you: do research into dog food companies and check ingredient labels to make sure you are giving your dog a healthy diet based on whole foods and quality ingredients.
And don't forget: a healthy dog is a happy dog!
Note: Consult with your veterinarian before switching your dog's diet.
Jacqueline C. Hill
Jacqueline attended Iowa State University and majored in Microbiology. During her 15 years as a practicing veterinary technician, she studied many of the holistic/alternative modalities with an emphasis in nutrition. For 12 years, Jacqueline owned and managed Valley Hill Stables, a horse boarding facility. Jacqueline coordinated a natural food co-op in Pennsylvania for 5 years. She is a member of The Weston A. Price Organization, The Organic Consumer Association, and The Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Hired in 2004 by one of the largest raw pet food manufacturers in the nation, Jacqueline served as the Northeast Territory Manager until her promotion to Eastern Regional Manager in 2005. In 2007, she was also appointed as leader of the company’s Veterinary Task Force. She has been a raw pet food feeder for 20+ years.