Raw Pet Foods And The AVMA – Part III

Dog at dining table eating raw food

You will recall that this article set out to establish the reasons for and behind the AVMA’s policy that raw fed pet foods are not safe. In Part 1 and Part 2 we uncovered evidence to strongly suggest that the AVMA’s policy was influenced by a major dried pet food manufacturer. This was despite evidence that kibble or grocery store bought meat posed similar (if not greater) health risks than a raw diet, and that somewhat shockingly for a professional medical body, no account was taken of the fact that humans are not dogs.

The scaremongering highlighted in previous posts on this topic is even more evident when one reads further into the AVMA’s report:

Q:  Have cases of human illness been associated with raw food diets? 

A:  To date, there have been no reports of human illness associated with raw food diets. 

Q:  Have cases of human illness been associated with commercially processed kibble diets? 

A:  Yes, there have been cases of human salmonellosis associated with commercially prepared diets. 

WOW sticker

It really is worth reading those four lines above again.

Wow … right?

This is what really shocked me about the AVMA’s report: even though there is no evidence of ANY human illness from a raw pet food, the AVMA in its wisdom has decided that this risk is still sufficient for it to come out against raw diets, and for Pet Partners (PP) (the USA’s largest pet therapy association) to ban raw fed dogs from therapy groups!  This completely ignores their own evidence that someone is more likely to become infected with salmonella from kibble rather than a raw diet, and PP’s evidence that more harmful bacteria were found in the stools of dried fed dogs than those on raw.

Taking all the above into account, do you still believe the AVMA’s statement that no pet food company influenced their policy?

Me neither!

It would appear that the AVMA is not, however, totally blind to the benefits of raw feeding:

Q: What are the benefits of raw diets, and how do they compare with commercially processed kibble diets?

A: There are many anecdotal reports of benefits associated with feeding raw food – including easier weight management; reduced dental disease; healthier coat and skin; elimination of allergies; improved overall health and immunity; and more – but there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. Raw food advocates also contend that the diet more closely resembles what dogs’ and cats’ ancestors ate, but this does not account for the evolutionary, biological and dietary changes that have accompanied domestication to produce the pet dogs and cats that currently share our lives. According to the Pet Food Institute raw pet foods comprise approximately less than 1% of the pet food market. 

There is so much wrong with this statement that it is worth spending a little time pulling it apart:

There is no scientific evidence …

This is unfortunately true.

The reason why there have been no detailed studies as to the benefits of raw feeding simply comes down to time and cost. A full study has been estimated to cost in excess of $200,000 and would have to run for at least two years for reliable data to be obtained. Multiple studies may also be required, making this prohibitive for most raw companies, who are usually small and often family run. No large pet food company (bearing in mind that the majority of all pet foods are made by only five global brands) will fund such studies as they are already heavily invested in pushing a dried food. They are hardly likely to back any research which could jeopardize their billion dollar businesses by coming down on the side of raw.

” …this does not account for the evolutionary, biological and dietary changes that have accompanied domestication… “

The AVMA appears to believe that evolutionary changes can happen virtually overnight.

(So much for their policy being arrived at scientifically…!)  It appears to have forgotten that dried pet foods are a relatively recent invention, with the first dried dog biscuit appearing in the late 19th Century. Therefore from the earliest domestication until around 1900, humans fed their dogs… meat, and scraps, and bones!  To suggest that a dog’s biology can change within the space of a century is absurd, and pays no attention to the marked similarities in other (wild) canines who survive on a diet of meat, bones and offal (and possibly some pre-digested vegetable matter, but that’s open to controversy and the subject of another post).

This may factually be correct, but ignores the rapidly increasing popularity of this type of diet.

In 2013, the natural dog food industry was worth $92,000,000 in the USA alone.  In 2015, this figure is estimated to be $144,000,000 with an expected rise of 25% over the next twelve months. 13% of US pet owners already feed their pet a fresh raw diet, meaning nearly 23,000,000 Americans feed a diet that the AVMA considers dangerous.  Given that there are no scientific studies, this rise in raw feeding can only be due to pet owners personally experiencing the benefits of a more natural diet for their pets, or from anecdotal evidence. Raw pet food companies don’t usually have the budgets for huge marketing campaigns like the bigger pet food companies, so are unable to sway large portions of the pet food buying public, making these figures even more impressive. Surely if such a diet was dangerous, and there was sufficient evidence to support this, the interest in and popularity of raw feeding would be dropping?

Free From Pathogens & Fundamentally Flawed!

So, we have established that the AVMA only supports diets which are free from pathogens, so as to avoid poisoning our pets and our families, but it would appear that their reasoning for doing so is fundamentally flawed – in that no account is taken of the natural ability of our pets to deal with the bacteria found in raw meat. Their policy appears to have been influenced by one of the world’s major dried pet food companies, despite assertions to the contrary, and is without any scientific basis.

Want a delicious raw recipe you can feed your dog today? Check this out

Sadly the consequences of this ill-thought out policy are many:

  • Vets will not recommend a raw, natural diet to their clients (despite, I suggest, many being aware of the potential benefits) because it is frowned upon by their professional body
  • Potential therapy dogs are prevented from doing extremely important work helping the elderly, the young, the sick and the infirm
  • The pet food conglomerates are now able to wave this policy as proof that their dried, processed pet foods on which their billion dollar industry depends (which are often made from the waste by-products from the other arms of their businesses) are recommended by the veterinarians’ professional medical body.

Anyone else think this stinks?

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