Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I Wrote a Letter to Pet's Atlantic about their "Raw Food" article

Oh boy, I'm steamed. So when I'm steamed I have to write a letter. So that's what I did - I sent it off this morning I have a section on my website about food with some of my opinions about it because in the past Charlie has had a weight problem. Thanks to Daisy he's nice and skinny now but he still looks big because he's really deep chested. But that's another post.

The article was called "The Risks of Raw Food" and it was about how dangerous it is and potentially non-nutritious to feed your dog a BARF diet. That could be said for any diet - including a kibble only diet. I'd like to meet a healthy, happy Ol' Roy fed dog!

So anyway, this is what I said this morning:

Hi there - I know the letter below is long, but I think this is a really important topic that needs to be looked at from more than one side. I am just a pet owner and not a veterinarian or a behaviourist or have any credentials, but I have done a lot of research and talked to a lot of people about my pet companion's diets and I was hoping that if you publish my letter you could keep as many of the salient points in there as possible. Maybe it could be a counterpoint article or something like that? I can provide research materials and back-up and write in more detail about this if you'd like - but I tried to be as succinct as I possibly could! The letter is below - and I'd also like to say I thinks it's fabulous that we have a local pet magazine to showcase all the wonderful stuff going on locally in the animal community. I think it's an area that's going to explode over the next few years and hopefully your publication will be able to document it and profit from it!


Letter to Pets Atlantic:

I would imagine – or at least I hope! – you've gotten a lot of mail about the article written by Dr. Alice Crook, DVM "The risks of raw food" which was in your summer issue 2004.

To use some of her words – many people ARE singing the praises of raw food diets – and it's precisely because of some of the worries that she lists when she's talking about why a kibble diet is better! She mentioned concerns with food safety and nutritional deficiencies with diets based on raw meat. That the "big worry is these diets are not nutritionally balanced and complete". I would like to know what is
nutritionally balanced about corn gluten meal, brewers rice, and a bunch of chemicals – the main ingredients in 99% of the commercially available dog food today.

I'm not saying that a "Biologically appropriate raw food" diet is the best diet for every dog, or that it is the only way we should be feeding our lifetime companion animals. I don't even feed my own animals a completely raw diet – but it IS part of their healthy, varied, interesting, balanced over time way of eating. Most people
discover this way of feeding our animals because we've come up against serious health issues caused by the way big conglomerate dog food manufacturers – who veterinarians sometimes seem to be coached by – have been telling us that we must feed our pets. I have yet to come upon any dog anywhere that's been fed a grocery store dog kibble ONLY and lived to be old and healthy with a shiny coat, good joints, bright eyes and good teeth. Whenever a dog's health impresses me enough to
ask what they're fed and their owner says "I feed them X (kibble)" – I always ask the second question – "and what else do you give them?" Invariably they always get selected table scraps, supplements, sardines, and sometimes even raw chicken necks and eggs – whatever – but they're never just fed the kibble only. Ever. Although I'm sure there are dogs out there like there are uncles and aunts who we all have who smoke and drank every day and lived until they were 100 – but imagine how long they could've lived if they had chosen not to do those things!

I have great respect for Dr. Crook – she is a super advocate for the welfare of our companion animals – but she neglected to mention in her article any of the downfalls of a kibble diet. The only thing she mentions is right at the end is where she says "check the ingredient list, and look for meat or meat by-products as the principal ingredients". I REALLY wish she could have talked a little bit more about ingredients that go into making kibble pet food and how important it is to only buy food that have labels that say "fit for human consumption". That way she might have shown the depth of the trouble that is in the pet food industry currently – and given novice pet owners a bit more choice than simply stating de facto – do not
feed raw food to your pet.

Grocery store and most pet food store kibble is made from all the indigestible garbage that is produced by the human food preparation industries. That's a fact. I don't think anyone who's done any research will dispute that – there's historical precedent to say that and it's still happening today. Would you feed your child "wheat middlings" or "animal digest"? Our companion animals have such short
lives – a couple years is a lifetime to them, and that's how big a difference in lifespan a super healthy diet can make – along with increased quality of life. I'd like to get as many days as I can with them. I feed my animals the same food I eat – I've never gotten salmonella or trichinella and I don't think my animals ever will
either – I don't treat their food like it's "dog food" – if you know what I mean!

There are risks to raw food as there is to everything – but to me, based on my research and the research of a lot of people who are a lot smarter than me – the risks of a kibble diet are much higher on the long-term health of my lifetime companion animals.

After I sent that off I emailed one of my raw-feeding friends who said that she's been asked by Pets Atlantic to write an article about the BARF diet - so there will be positive BARF stuff coming up in the magazine - which is super! In my email to her I said to her:

I'm so glad you're writing an article for them about it! Dr. Crook's viewpoint was such a stereotypical veterinarian's viewpoint that it was funny!

I didn't put in - but I thought it was a good thought - the idea that no one goes to the grocery store and unthinkingly says "I think I'll feed my dog raw meat and bones" like they do grocery store kibble, without ever checking the ingredients or finding out what those words on the bag actually mean. Probably 99.99% of people who feed their companions BARF diets have done piles of research into the topic and
are feeding their animals that way because they have seen the results of that type of diet with their own eyes - they don't need a bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo that's been tested on (tortured and abused labarotory) dogs in some far off lab and then published in research journals. Dogs have been around us for 1000's of years, we've been feeding them a BARF diet for all that time - except for the last 75 or
so years since the manufacturers figured out to turn our waste into extruded pellets. That's when all the health problems with our animals started. I think there's a connection!

A well rounded life is the same for dogs as it is for us - lots of fresh air, off-leash exercise, plenty of good yummy food that tastes, smells, and looks good, lots of friends to hang out with when you want to and plenty of time for just hanging out and scratching your itchy bits. If only we could all live like that!

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