I wanted to share the encouraging results of a study published recently that shows a raw, meat based diet provided a number of important health benefits for dogs. The researchers concluded, “we can improve the well-being of our canine companions by serving up a high meat diet rather than the “human-like” fare favored by many”.
Essentially, this study shows that the best nutrition for dogs is a carnivorous raw meat based diet. Unfortunately, we started to feed dogs and cats processed foods that worked best for the food industry, not what works best for dogs and cats as species.
The creation and development of kibbled foods for pets originally had absolutely nothing to do with what equates the ideal or even best/most nutritious foods for dogs/cats. The template for formulating “pet foods” (which became mainstream in the 1940-50s — not that long ago) had everything to do with how to make money on various by-products from the industrialized grain industry; how to feed pets as inexpensively as possible, using less high quality/more expensive meat proteins (not ideally, from a nutritional standpoint). Pet food was an idea hatched as a new revenue stream for large corporate interests, not to create the ideal food that is best for dogs and cats.
Unfortunately for our animals, since we started to manufacturer proceed kibbled pet foods, the template used for manufacturing pet food has remained firmly in place even now. The only difference has been more clever marketing and some modifications that really do not make a meaningful difference in the quality of the foods or how they are digested/tolerated by our carnivores.
The truth is, in every bag of “grain-free” or fancy kibble, is the same high carbohydrate, highly processed, supplemented (not a good thing IMO!), unhealthy foods that source meats from some of the most inhumanely handled animals within the food system. Our companion animals have been suffering the consequences of eating foods they are not biologically designed to digest and thrive on ever since kibble hit the market.
The study is small and took place over a short period of time (food trials done by the pet food industry share these conditions). I wish the study involved a larger sample size and that a longer period of time was allocated for collecting data, but this study remains worth considering since it is a rare study that looks at the difference between dogs eating a raw meat based diet vs. those eating kibble with impressive results.
One of the most interesting aspects is their collection and analysis of data associated with the microbiome of these dogs. As you may already be aware, microbiome analysis and research is revealing a lot about health and is certainly a hot topic these days. The information this study provides us with reveals that dogs truly are designed to eat raw meat, and that a raw meat based diet is what their bodies truly do best on. Read on for more from various news reports about the study…
New Zealand dog diet study a wake-up call for dog nutrition. The study found that:
- High meat diets are more digestible for dogs
- More nutrients from a high meat diet are able to be absorbed
- Dogs on a high meat diet had higher levels of the bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion
- Dogs on a high meat diet had smaller poo and better fecal health
Study co-lead Associate Professor David Thomas of Massey University said finding high levels of the bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion was particularly exciting as it demonstrated that a dog’s gut is biologically designed to digest high meat diets.
“We already know dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates in their diet, so this study looked at the role different bacteria play in a dog’s digestion system – to help us work toward a clearer picture of what the optimum diet is for dogs,” says study co-lead Dr Emma Bermingham of AgResearch. More Here… ”
“The independent New Zealand study – only the second of its kind in the world – found the high meat diet is easier for dogs to digest, means more nutrients are able to be absorbed, and resulted in higher levels of bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion. Read More… ”
Study Shows Raw Diet Promotes Healthier Digestive System in Dogs
“A study published online last month (in February 2017) investigated the differences in a dog’s fecal microbiome when fed a raw food diet in comparison with an extruded food. The abstract states, “Dietary intervention studies are required to deeper understand the variability of guy microbial ecosystem in healthy dogs under different feeding conditions. Read More...”
While on the topic, it may be worth mentioning an additional study published in 2003 that supports the health benefits of feeding “fresh foods” (aka real, whole foods compared to processed commercial diets) to dogs. This study looked at an impressive sample size of 552 dogs over a 5-year period. Even if the results or conclusions are imperfect, this study shows an incredible difference between dogs fed commercial processed diets vs dogs fed table scraps or fresh foods of living longer by nearly 3 years.
Can you imagine making a change to your daily diet that would allow you or someone you love to live an additional 18 good and healthy years!!??? For humans, with a current average lifespan of 79 years, our improved average lifespan would be 97 years old!
For dogs, the current average lifespan is 11.5 years — according to the research from this study, feeding fresh foods provided dogs 23% more of their total lifespan; nearly three more years of life. The new average lifespan for dogs would be over 14 years. To me, that is HUGE and something we should certainly think more about and look at more closely.
If you want to read more, I highly suggest checking out this article by Dogs Naturally Kibble: Why It’s Not A Good Option For Your Dog or or several pages/articles on this site here, and this blog post here.
Study Shows a Dramatic Improvement in Longevity by Feeding Fresh Foods
In 2003, Dr. Gerard Lippert and Bruno Sapy published a 5-year study of 552 dogs in Belgium that looked several key factors influencing the relationship between the domestic dogs’ well-being and life expectancy on a statistical basis. Characteristics that were analyzed included breed, type, size, weight, sterilization status, nutrition/diet, living conditions/housing, and family environment. ,
The conclusions were that two intrinsic factors (a dog’s breed and size) had a major influence on the dog’s life expectancy, while two external factors (housing and family configuration) had no significant impact. The two most influential external/acquired characteristics that had dramatic impacts on a dog’s life expectancy were sterilization, and the type of food they were fed during their lifetime. According to this study, sterilization raises the average middle age of the dogs in the study by 21 months (1 year and 9 months). However, diet showed to have the most profound and dramatic determination in life expectancy.
The study showed that dogs fed a diet exclusively of home-prepared meals (eating a similar diet as the human family) lived an average of 32 months – close to 3 years! – longer compared to dogs fed a commercial canned food diet. Dogs fed canned foods with the addition of real foods (essentially, fed table scraps) lived, on average, 1 year longer than dogs eating exclusively a commercial canned food.
The summary conclusion of the study states that, “giving dogs home-made food is a guarantee for better protection, well-being and longer life expectancy” and “it is clear from our analysis that the implication of the proprietor of the dog in the selection of food served to the animal is of the greatest importance and that the life expectancy for his dog is directly related with the quality of the food.”
Of course, we agree that feeding fresh foods is ALWAYS, always your very best choice — we also think the quality of every fresh food ingredient being fed really does matter, and will make a significant impact on your animal’s health (yours, too!) We also know, looking at a dog’s undeniable carnivorous physiology, that they are meant to eat a meat based diet. Along this topic, check out Dogs: The Omnivore-Carnivore Question by Dr. Jeannie Thomason & Dr. Kim Bloomer.
It is nice to see two studies that support what we have witnessed and experienced anecdotally for decades and historically before the invention of kibble and canned processed/commercial pet foods. It would be wonderful to see even more research done so we can make the best choices for our best friends and provide them with the longest and healthiest lives possible.