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Should You Put Your Dog on a Raw Food Diet?
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David Brock, in The Republican Noise Machine, points out that television news shows often bring on a conservative guest to represent one side of an issue, and then “balance” that with a supposedly “liberal” guest from the world of journalism or academia. The journalist or professor takes each issue separately, looks at it from all sides, and expresses her viewpoint in a way she perceives as objective. The conservative guest will relentlessly and often powerfully deliver the message d’jour of the conservative movement, while the supposedly liberal guest appears weak and uncommitted, exemplifying the famous quote by Robert Frost, “A liberal man is too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel.”

At some point in the raw diet debates, what I see as my broad-mindedness and objectivity come across as an unwillingness to take a stand, a loathsome form of wishy-washiness. It’s frustrating, because I’m allergic to gurus and would rather people make their own decisions than adopt mine, even if their decision is, in my view, the wrong one. So, what to do?

Those on both sides could learn a thing or two about framing the debate from Lakoff. We need to use terms that will be helpful to the seekers, those swing voters of the dog food wars, and stop using language that triggers fear. Extremists arguing either way, sometimes deliberately and sometimes unconsciously, use fear to get people to do what they think they should do, and the only ethical course is to stop. Stop telling them they are killing their dogs.

Millions of dogs live long, relatively healthy lives eating kibble. It’s just a fact. Their health may not be as good as it could have been, and many of them would have been healthier on a better diet, but a blunt statement that “kibble kills dogs” is going to ring false to nearly everyone who hears it. Just the same, anti-raw fanatics can’t tell me that “raw meat kills pets” when I’ve had so many cats and dogs live long, healthy lives—longer in the case of my Deerhounds then their kibble-fed littermates raised by other people—on raw diets.

Those of us who advocate home-prepared diets need to stop implying that diets based on bones are the only alternative to kibble. Lead people by the hand through easy stages. You can jump from generic grocery store kibble to whole prey carcass in one step, but hardly anyone does, or will. Many of us started out slowly, adding fresh foods to commercial foods, improving the commercial foods we used or switching to cooked homemade diets, before we started really experimenting with diets based on carcasses and bones and hunks of meat.

The process does matter, because it’s by going through their own process at their own pace that people become invested in preparing their dog’s food themselves. It’s a way for them to build confidence in their ability to feed their pet, and to find ways to make it work with their lifestyle and financial constraints. If they are by nature someone who goes whole hog with new ideas, there is nothing wrong with making the big leap—but there is also nothing wrong with crawling before you walk and walking before you run. Be gentle.

We also need to take a long, hard look at the words we use. We can use terms like “nutritious home-prepared diets” instead of “the raw diet.” (Since there is no monolithic “raw diet,” such a phrase is meaningless anyway.) We can use terms like “fresh,” “variety” and “wholesome” to talk about the kind of diets we advocate. We can defuse 90 percent of the criticism of raw and/or homemade diets by simply changing our terms. Specifying the diet be nutritious and wholesome somewhat inoculates the seeker from being told they are feeding an unbalanced or contaminated diet.

Of course, in the end, the pro-raw and anti-raw dog owners will not agree, any more than conservatives and progressives do. Still, before you enlist in the “Red Dog/Blue Dog” wars, consider the power of a few well-chosen words, and at least raise the level of the debate—good advice in politics as well as dog food.

 

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 34: Jan/Feb 2006
Christie Keith has covered canine health and welfare issues since 1991, is the lead science reporter for Pet Connection and writes the "Your Whole Pet" column.

Illustration by Cary Soockocheff

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Submitted by Greg Lucas | October 21 2010 |

It always annoys me that in all discusions about raw diets that raw feeders attack "kibble diets" as if there was only one type of dry dog food in all the world called kibble. In reality kibbles vary greatly in ingrediants and quality. Raw feeders attack kibbler for having ethoxyquin, BHT, BHA, grains, no live enzymes, etc. In reality the kibble I feed has live enzymes because it is coated with freeze dried raw, it has no preservatives like those listed above, is grain free. Nature's variety Instinct is far apart from Science Diet, yet raw feeders lump thsoe two kibbles together with all other kibbles, as if they were the exact same food. Distortions!

I tried a homemade diet for a month based on Lew Olson's book, Raw and Natural Nutrition for dogs. My dog had very small soft poops for a month. I got concerned and went back to the Instinct kibble. My dog will not eat raw frozen patties. And things like eggshells for meatless bone cooked meals, Yogurt or suppplements with ingrediants like weigh and lemon peel that Olson (an influential advocate of raw and natural feeding)that Olso has you feeding do not seem natural anyway.

Submitted by Anonymous | March 30 2011 |

This is a very good article that is well researched on the matter of canine nutrition:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=5315

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