Myths About Raw Feeding


On this page: "Raw Meat Myths", and the conclusion to this rebuttal


Raw Meat Myths
False: Chicken and turkey bones are soft and wholly digestible. Especially baby back and necks.
Truth: History and present records show that this is completely untrue. Thousands of dogs have died or been severely injured, over the years, from consuming raw fowl bones.

I am not sure which history or present records are being referred to since they are unreferenced. Are we talking recent history or ancient history? If we are talking ancient history, then how can we tell an animal died from consuming raw fowl bones if all the internal organs have turned to dust? If we are talking recent history, then that means this documentation is readily available if it were there. I know that in recent history dogs have died from cooked fowl bones, which is why vets tell people to avoid feeding fowl bones. This is an unsubstantiated generalization that remains to be proven, especially since thousands of dogs, coyotes, foxes and wolves are thriving on raw fowl bones (granted, wolves prefer large herbivores as prey but will eat the occasional fowl).


Farm dogs and Coyotes are consistently treated for bone fragments and splintering in their stomachs or throats after having killed live chickens, hens and turkeys - yes, even baby fowl.

I personally do not know of a single person who would treat a coyote to anything except a .22 slug. That observation aside, my next question is: certainly this would be documented by the people who treated them, no? Where is this documentation? "Farm dogs" and coyotes are notorious scavengers that will raid trash and eat anything they find, including cooked chicken bones. Do we know whether these are raw fowl bones or cooked fowl bones?

Even though this is not directly addressed in this myth, I want to remind the readers that if a farm dog or coyote is x-rayed and has bone in its stomach and intestine, the presence of the bone does NOT mean that there are punctures, splinters, etc. All this means is that the animal ingested bones. It would be worthwhile to know how these farm dogs and coyotes were diagnosed as having bone fragments and splintering bones as their main problem, since the majority of conventional veterinarians will see bones and immediately blame the bones for the problem even if the bones are not the problem (this just demonstrates how ingrained the "bones = bad" train of thought is). Several raw feeders on the Yahoo! Rawfeeding list have experienced this veterinary oversight with their own dogs when the ingested bone was not at all related to the problem for which the dog was presented to the vet, and yet the bone was immediately blamed. The presence of bone fragments and splinters simply means the animal ingested bone.

Can raw fowl bones puncture the intestines of the animal that ate it? Anything can happen, but the majority of dogs and other canids eating wild or domestic raw fowl seem to be quite fine eating raw fowl bones.


Another way small fowl bones have painfully harmed dogs is they become jammed or lodged between teeth or through the palate.

Yes, this can happen. Dogs also become painfully harmed when they choke on kibble or get tennis balls or toys jammed in their throats and palate. Dogs can also suffer injury and death from rawhides and fake bones that get lodged in the throat or swell in the intestines.

One suggestion to avoid this occurrence is to avoid feeding small fowl bones. Stick to things like WHOLE chickens, not just parts. Consider supervising the animal while they are eating. And above all, remember that this is not a wide-spread occurrence or epidemic like it is made out to be, especially since thousands of dogs and wild canids are safely consuming raw fowl with no ill effects.


I receive email frequently from ex-barfers whose dogs have been harmed or killed from being fed raw chicken and turkey bones.

That is unfortunate, and I am sorry that this has happened. I do not wish to negate or trivialize these occurrences, but I do not like accepting things on 'hearsay', especially when there are so many questions that surround said injuries and deaths. I personally would like to know more of the circumstances surrounding said harm and death. What was the dog being fed? Was the dog experienced with eating raw bones? How long had the dog been eating a raw diet? Was the dog being fed a species appropriate diet, or was it eating too much bone? What kind of bones was it eating: bony chicken backs and wings, or a nice large meaty bone? Did the dog have any other health issues, including chronic disease? How did they determine that the dog's injury or death was linked to the diet, or did they and the vet simply assume this?


Even Dr. Billinghurst, in his rebuttal to my website, admits there is risk. In his latest book he has a disclaimer that raw bones may be hazardous. Duh! Too bad he didn't mention it in his book when he recommended that you feed your dog raw bones!

Yes, there is a risk. There is a risk to EVERYTHING, whether we like it or not. NOTHING in life, including our dogs' lives, is risk free, plain and simple. Those who feed their dogs raw meaty bones as part of a species-appropriate diet feel that the risks of feeding commercial food or cooked food for their animals' lifetimes far outweigh the risks of feeding raw meaty bones. This is a personal decision that everyone has to make; no one is going to make it for you, and it is up to you to educate yourself about the risks associated with each diet. Please keep in mind that kibble also is not a perfectly safe food like people wish you to believe. Once again, the deaths associated with Diamond pet foods comes to mind. Little did those people know that their pets' "safe" commercial food could cause them a horrifically premature death.


False: Bones won't splinter on a full stomach.
Completely untrue!

Yes, if the bones are cooked they can splinter, even on a full stomach. If the bones are raw they should be safely digested and passed through without any harm. That is why raw-fed animals' poops are made up of powdered bone. That is all that is left. Bone powder. I do not really understand this whole "bones won't splinter on a full stomach" statement since if there is any splintering done it generally is when the dog is chomping on the bone. If there is splintering occurring, it is generally because the bone is cooked. The splinters in the stomach usually have to first be created by the mouth, so if they arrive in a full stomach, they are plopped into a mix of digestive juices, raw meat, and whatever else the animal ate. Bones can puncture a full stomach or any stomach if they are cooked. If they are raw, the possibility still exists, but it is a very SLIGHT possibility, plain and simple. The canine stomach is well equipped to handle bones; it is highly elastic, expandable, and durable with very strong digestive juices (acids and enzymes). It is not indestructible, of course, but it is durable.


Many times jagged chunks of bone do their damage in the throat. Dogs have died from choking on bones.

Jagged bone chunks can do damage in the throat, particularly if the bone is cooked (big surprise). Raw bones wrapped in plenty of meat make their way to the stomach quite fine, as demonstrated by the thousands of raw fed dogs and wolves safely eating their meals tonight.

Yes, dogs have died from choking on bones. Anything is possible. Dogs have also died from choking on kibble, tennis balls, string, racket balls, rawhide chewies, toys, rocks, and fake bones. Dogs can also choke on their own spit or their own tongues (usually the dog has to be unconscious first). Choking is not limited to raw diets, and choking is a risk with any object the dog places in its mouth, including those pre-formed pellets.


And, regarding the stomach, bones do not pass as quickly as the food. Digested food does not protect the lining of the stomach from sharp objects.

Bones may not pass as quickly as the food, but they generally are quickly turned into soft, putty like 'bone fragments' by the acids of the stomach. Digested food may not protect the lining of the stomach from sharp objects. Just another reason NOT to feed COOKED bones. I have watched dogs eat raw bones quite a few times, and the chunks they break off to chew and eat rarely have very sharp edges for puncturing. The edges generally are uneven but dull; any pieces that do have sharp edges are often left behind by the dog. Only very rarely does a bone fragment come out the other end relatively undigested; if this occurs, it usually occurs in dogs that are new to the diet.


Wolves eat fur, cartilage and muscle meat along with the bones which helps prevent injury from fragments.

That is the common theory, yes. This is what wolves eat, and this is what prey-model feeders feed their pets. What happens, then, when wolves return to a kill that has nothing but meat and bones left and then eat some of the remaining bones until the next successful hunt? These wolves survive quite well, possibly because the digestive juices in the stomach make short work of bone fragments. As a sidenote, bones are a surprisingly nutritious food for canids (Mech, L.D. 2003. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, pg 125) and have been fed to our dogs and their ancestors for their entire history until 70-100 years ago.


I'm not recommending you feed your dog bones in this manner, but it should be noted that your dog doesn't have this advantage on the barf diet.

Why should dogs not be fed in this manner if this is what wolves and their predecessors have been eating and surviving on for one million years? This is what our dogs were designed to eat!! And no, dogs do not have this advantage on the BARF diet, which is an inappropriate model for our carnivorous pets. Prey-model diets are just that: diets modeled after the whole prey wolves and wild dogs eat.


False: Cooking the meat destroys the quality of enzymes and predigests the meat.
Truth: The benefit of meat for dogs is protein not enzyme.

Cooking does destroy enzymes, because most enzymes are not viable above 50 degrees Celsius or 122 degrees Farenheit (Campbell, M.K. and S.O. Farrell. 2003. Biochemistry. 4th edition. pg 137). The benefit of meat for dogs is everything meat provides: protein, enzymes (which do the work of 'predigesting' the meat as the animal crushes and lyses the cells), fat, vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and water.


Secondly, cooking the meat makes it much more digestible as raw meat has indigestible collagen proteins.

Actually, that is not true. Most proteins are highly sensitive to heat, and it is considered "common knowledge" that heat denatures proteins and enzymes. Cooking the meat makes it less digestible for the dog, as cooking changes the structure of the proteins and this change decreases digestibility (Oste, 1991). Collagen proteins are not indigestible until they have been cooked. One easy test of this to look at the volume of a raw-fed dog's feces to the volume of a cooked meat-fed dog's feces.


In the wild, mother dogs eat the meat from a kill and regurgitate for their pups - serving predigested meat.

Yes, the meat is predigested, but it is not cooked. Meat carried in the stomach is one of the easiest ways to bring a food source back to pups, and since they are being weaned off milk and onto solid food it makes sense that it has to already be chewed up and 'predigested'. Let me remind the reader again that 'predigested' meat is NOT cooked meat. Predigested means the proteins are already being broken down into their constituent parts. Cooked means the protein structure has been altered so that it cannot be effectively broken down into its constituent parts.


In addition, raw meat is very high in fat.

Certain meats may be high in fat, particularly meat from conventionally raised domestic animals. But do not forget that raw meat is mostly water. The protein content and fat content of meat is not that much higher than the protein and fat in kibbled foods. The difference is that it is raw, more easily digestible, and is of superior quality to protein and fat in cooked meats. Additionally, the physiology of our pet carnivores is designed to thrive on protein and fat with little to no carbohydrate.


Thousands of dogs die every year from Pancreatitis, and some are disabled by this disorder after being fed a raw meat diet for a short time.

Yes, dogs die every year of pancreatitis, but this is a universal issue, meaning dogs fed kibble and cooked food and even raw food contribute to those deaths (although I have yet to hear of a raw-fed dog dying from pancreatitis). Pancreatitis is an indication of a sick pancreas, and it can be triggered by many factors. High fat is a common trigger, and some dogs may indeed have a bout of pancreatitis after eating raw meat, particularly if they have been eating kibbled food for most of their lifetime up to that point. This indicates a pre-existing problem with the pancreas. But the typical cases of fat-induced pancreatitis occur when a commercially-fed dog is handed that big chunk of cooked fat off the prime rib or skin and fat from a left-over turkey. But I cannot stress this enough: a pancreatitis attack is a symptom of an already sick pancreas and of an unhealthy dog (even though it may "look" healthy). You can logically ask: "Why this dog? Why now?", particularly since there are thousands of other dogs eating fatty meals or cooked fat that has been handed to them with no ill effects. So why this dog? The answer is that the dog is not completely healthy. If the dog was completely healthy, pancreatitis would not occur. The animal needs help to get its overall health back in order.


Not only is raw meat high in fat, but the pancreas is made to produce enzymes.

Of course the pancreas is 'made to produce enzymes'; this is what pancreases do. They produce digestive enzymes like lipase, trypsinogen, chymotrypsinogen, amylase, ribonuclease, and deoxyribonuclease (Saladin, K.S. 2004. Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function. pg 963). This is one of the reasons for the pancreas' existence.


Supplementing with too many live enzymes can cause the pancreas to shut down.

This is an absurd undocumented myth. Live enzymes do nothing but make the pancreas' job easier. The enzymes in raw meat help predigest the meat, which means the pancreas has to release less lipase, ribonuclease, and deoxyribonuclease and thus has an easier job. The pancreas is regulated by a complex feedback loop that tells it when to stop producing certain enzymes or when to produce more. The pancreas 'turns on' when the parasympathetic nervous system signals that food is being ingested and is entering the stomach. It starts producing digestive enzymes and releases these into the duodenum (upper portion of the small intestine), where they do their work on the fats, proteins, and carbohydrates in the food (if carbs are present). The pancreas is signalled via feedback loop to stop producing digestive enzymes at the appropriate time (Saladin, K.S. 2004. Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function. pg 964). Regardless of what the animal ingests, the pancreas is ALWAYS turned on at first and is turned off when it is no longer needed. One must also remember that the pancreas has endocrine functions as well; it secretes insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin (Saladin, K.S. 2004. Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function. pg 651), so it is not 'shutting down' because it does not have any more work to do (which would be the case if it were true that too many live enzymes cause the pancreas to shut down).


If your dog has Pancreatitis and you aren't aware of it – a high fat diet of raw meat could kill them.

A dog does not 'have' pancreatitis without you being aware of it. Pancreatitis is simply the name given to acute inflammation of the pancreas (Saladin, K.S. 2004. Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function. pg 978). A dog that 'has' pancreatitis is having a sudden (hence 'acute') inflammation of the pancreas for whatever reason, meaning it is an immediate, unusual condition (as opposed to 'chronic'). If your dog has an already-damaged pancreas and you feed it a diet of raw meat or something high in fat, then your dog may have an attack of pancreatitis. The high fat can trigger pancreatitis, but again, the pancreas is already damaged for whatever reason or the dog is not in good health despite "looking" healthy (Carnivores have a great knack for appearing 'healthy' despite injury or illness. It is a strong survival mechanism, because any sign of illness or injury results in isolation from the pack and death [Lonsdale, Tom. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones. Chapter 14.]).

For those who are curious about what happens during a bout of pancreatitis: Severe pancreatic inflammation is induced for whatever reason (trauma and high fat are two reasons that are commonly guessed). Inflammation of the pancreas leads to leakage of the pancreatic enzymes into the surrounding tissue, and these enzymes then digest the tissue they touch and cause further inflammation and hemorrhage (Saladin, K.S. 2004. Anatomy and Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function. pg 978). So pancreatitis is a big deal, but it is a symptom of an already sick pancreas. It can happen to a raw-fed dog, just as it happens to kibble-fed dogs and cooked food-fed dogs. Again, the important question to ask is "Why this dog?" Something about the dog has set it apart from all other dogs that can safely eat high-fat meals (and carnivores are designed to eat meals with lots of protein and fat), and that something is clearly the absence of total health. After all, if the dog was truly and totally healthy, it would not have a 'bout of pancreatitis.'

The pancreas is designed to secrete enzymes. The harder a food is to digest, the harder the pancreas has to work at digesting that food, since demands for more enzymes are placed upon it. In the case of kibbled foods, the pancreas must secrete a high amount of amylase to digest the high amounts of carbohydrates and starches. The fact that kibble is not digested very efficiently (hence the huge smelly stools) leads one to believe that dogs are not very good at digesting starches and carbohydrates. In addition to the high amount of amylase, the pancreas must also produce lipase to digest fat and ribonuclease and deoxyribonuclease to deal with RNA and DNA (found in proteins and live cells). The pancreas must also produce insulin to deal with the high amount of glucose pouring into the blood as the digestible parts of carbohydrates and starches are somewhat broken down into glucose. The same thing happens with cooked food if meat, vegetables, and grains are all present. The pancreas does not have to work as hard since the freshly cooked food is a bit easier to digest than the pelleted kibbled food. When a dog is fed a meal of raw meat and bone, the pancreas produces primarily lipase, ribonuclease, and deoxyribonuclease to deal with the fat and protein. Small amounts of amylase may also be produced, but nowhere near the amount required for kibble or cooked foods. Because raw meat begins to be digested by the enzymes from the lysed cells (which are crushed as the dog chews its food), the pancreas does not have to secrete huge amounts of lipase and the protein-digesting enzymes. This translates to a lesser workload for the pancreas.


False: Freezing kills all parasites and bacteria.
Truth: Freezing kills some but not all parasites and does not kill most bacteria.

Freezing kills most parasites that are rarely present in human-grade meat of developed countries. Freezing simply halts the growth of most bacteria.


The most dangerous parasite in raw meat is toxoplasmosis. It can kill your dog.

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a protozoan known as Toxoplasma gondii that primarily infects cats. It does occur in a range of species, including man. It is found in raw meat, and is thought to occur through the handling or eating of infected raw meat. However, infection is very rare. A survey of dogs in Western Europe found high exposure to but low prevalence of the disease (Jacobs, D.E. and M.T. Fox. 1991. Endoparasites. Canine Medicine and Therapeutics, 3rd edition. pg 704). In some human populations, up to 90% of the population will show serological evidence of exposure, but clinical disease is incredibly rare (Stevenson, W.J. and K.L. Hughes. 1988. Parasitic diseases. Synopsis of Zoonoses in Australia, 2nd edition. pg 220). Toxoplasmosis is not a disease of epidemic proportions. While it is a risk, it is a low risk, and purchasing meat from human-approved sources is one way to completely minimize the risk.


I know of two recent cases where dogs died from this parasite after eating raw meat.

Yes, it is possible, but can one be certain this parasite was contracted from the meat? What kind of meat are we talking about here—some infected, rotting carcass the dogs found or meat specifically selected for their diets? What about the ingestion cat poop from infected cats? Two recent cases out of how many thousands of dogs eating raw meat? The percentage is negligible, and for raw feeders this negligible risk is far outweighed by the poor health promised by commercial foods. How many hundreds (or thousands; Pedigree and the newspaper articles did not specify the number of deaths other than noting that this was a widespread problem affecting several countries) of dogs were killed in the course of several days because of toxic molds in their Pedigree dog kibble? What about the approximately 100 dogs that died from aflatoxin poisoning from their Diamond pet food?


Dr. Michael Harrington, a Veterinary Neurologist reported that he treated a dog with thousands of parasites from a raw meat diet, which turned to worms in his brain. An MRI showed the dog's brain looked like Swiss cheese.

I would like to know what parasite this dog was infected with, and if it really was contracted from the raw meat he was eating. How did the doctor determine that it was from the meat? Or did he, like so many other veterinarians, simply assume that the dog's problem was from its diet? Dogs can and do get into all sorts of things, including other animals' feces and rotting carcasses of sorts. Again, one case in how many thousand?


The parasites are usually much more dangerous than the bacteria.

It depends on which parasite and which bacteria you are discussing. Dogs are capable of 'handling' both parasites and bacteria if they have a healthy immune system. Most parasites can be safely dealt with using natural, holistic treatments or modern medicine, and meats obtained from human-grade sources are going to have a negligible risk of parasites. This is a risk, but is is an incredibly small risk. See the Parasite myth for more detail.


Cats and people are also susceptible to this parasite. Pregnant women are told not to change kitty litter when pregnant because toxoplasmosis can effect the baby. Cats who carry toxoplasmosis from eating birds and rodents, while pregnant, often birth deformed kittens.

Cats are primarily the carriers of toxoplasmosis. It is recommended that pregnant women who are not immune to toxoplasmosis (since many people are exposed to and immune to this protozoan [Stevenson, W.J. and K.L. Hughes. 1988. Parasitic diseases. Synopsis of Zoonoses in Australia, 2nd edition. pg 220]) wear gloves when handling raw meat and changing kitty litter.


False: Grapefruit seed extract kills all dangerous bacteria.
Truth: This is completely un-scientific and unproven. Furthermore, some bacteria thrive in the acid environment of the stomach. Grapefruit Seed extract is irritating to the dog's stomach lining and the taste is bitter.

I have no experience with grapefruit seed extract, so I respectfully bow out on this one. However, I highly doubt that it kills ALL dangerous bacteria.

Yes, some bacteria do survive in the acid environment of the stomach. The dog's intestines are lined with beneficial bacteria that help control the rate of growth of harmful bacteria. Surprisingly, dogs eating cooked foods are the ones that suffer from a disease called small intestine bacterial overgrowth (Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones. pg 85); the cooked food actually can harm the population of beneficial bacteria.


False: Adding calcium through bone meal or bones balances the phosphorous/calcium ratio.
Truth: The phosphorous/calcium ratio in a dog's diet is one of the most critical for optimum health. It's difficult to provide an accurate balance in home-made diets.

The phosphorous/calcium ratio is incredibly important, and yes, it is very difficult to provide an accurate balance in home-made diets—by which I mean those that are home-cooked and boneless.


It's an uneducated, "amateur" idea to add bone meal because it contains both phosphorous and calcium, which negates any balance.

Yes, bones (and bone meal) contain both phosphorus and calcium, of which calcium is the higher percentage. Bone meal should not be added in order to compensate for lack of calcium, because it is difficult to obtain the appropriate ratio. This is one of the biggest issues faced in making a 'balanced' home-made, cooked diet for pets. A species appropriate diet based on whole carcasses and raw meaty bones gives dogs the appropriate balance of calcium and phosphorus.


There is also the threat of Mad Cow Disease in some locations.

Yes, there is...if you are a human or a cat. Oddly enough, canids do not exhibit any form of TSE—Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy (which is what Mad Cow is: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy). It has been postulated that canines are not affected by the prions causing TSE, and that the reason we are seeing higher incidences of Chronic Wasting Disease (a TSE affecting cervids) in elk and deer is that there is a lack of wolves to weed out the sick deer and elk and keep the population in check. Please note that the prions responsible for "causing" TSE are not denatured through cooking, even at high temperatures. These prions have been knonw to survive even something as extreme as autoclaving. Thus, cooked-food and kibble-fed dogs would be at risk of TSE if canids were susceptible to it.


You would be better off giving them a Tums tablet or a serving of Broccoli.

The best option would be to provide your pet with a species appropriate diet of whole carcasses and raw meaty bones. Tums is likely to have unknown effects in a dog, and the nutrients in broccoli are unavailable to the dog due to the dog's inability to digest plant matter adequately.


A few of the disorders caused by feeding raw meat are; Nutritional Secondary Hyperparahtyroidism (parathy gland) and kidney failure due to the inability of the kidney to remove high amounts of phosphorous from the body.

This is a dramatic reminder that bone is NECESSARY to ensure the proper balance of calcium and phosphorus. For more information on secondary hyperparathyroidism, please click here. Kidney failure often occurs as a result of secondary hyperparathyroidism because phosphorus cannot be removed quickly enough from the body. Once again, feeding a species appropriate raw diet of raw meaty bones and whole carcasses bypasses this problem, since the problem of excess phosphorus and the possibility of secondary hyperparathyroidism are primarily associated with feeding a diet of only raw meat. Just another reason why bones are necessary.


When kidneys fail due to over abundance of phosphorous, the body compensates by robbing jaw bone for calcium to balance these circulating blood levels. This is also known as Rubber Jaw.

Yes, Rubber Jaw does occur, particularly in reptiles that do not have enough calcium in their diets. While this can happen in mammals, it must be noted that the entire bone structure is robbed for calcium, which results in osteoporosis of sorts. It is vital to ensure the dog receives appropriate calcium and phosphorus levels. Oddly enough, commercial foods still do not have this ratio correct. Calcium is oversupplemented, resulting in erratic growth spurts, rapid growth, and a higher prevalence of joint disorders like hip and elbow dysplasia. Has anyone else noticed that the majority of dogs with non-genetic hip dysplasia (i.e. unilateral hip dysplasia) are fed a commercial diet?


There are also a number of osteopathic disorders.

There are a number of possible bone disorders that can occur when the calcium:phosphorus ratio is out of whack. Once again, just another reason to feed a species appropriate raw diet of raw meaty bones and whole prey.


False: Acidophilus and FructoOligoSaccharides will also kill dangerous bacteria.
Truth: Sound impressive? Acidophilus is a "friendly" bacteria that aids in digestion. It is not a bactericide. Fructo = fruit, oligo = few or decreased, saccharides = sugar. These sugars are added to provide a food source for the acidophilus.

Both of these are added to several commercial foods in order to increase the digestibility of the kibble. This is primarily where you will find both of these. You will also find these in probiotic pastes. This is one of the primary uses of acidophilus; acidophilus is used to replenish the population of beneficial bacteria in the intestine. Bringing 'friendly' bacteria up to appropriate levels does help decrease the populations of dangerous bacteria in the gut.


False: Pasteurization leads to arthritis. The makers of raw meat diets often suggest a meal plan that contains whole, raw dairy.
Truth: Dogs in the wild (which is the basis of the raw meat argument) do not eat dairy. They eat eggs – eggs are meat not dairy. Dogs have a very low tolerance for dairy because of the lactose. They do not produce lactase (which digests the lactose) after being weaned from their mother’s milk.

The issues of pasteurization are best reserved for a different discussion. Milk products are generally not recommended for dogs as they do lack the enzyme lactase. A species appropriate raw diet does not include dairy products. It does include eggs, which are a wonderful food for dogs.


False: Dogs drink the milk from lactating goats that have been killed.
Truth: Not many goats live in regions where large wild wolves do - unless the wolf is stealing from a farmer. The number of incidents where a wild wolf would have killed a female, lactating goat, are so few that this is not a standard ingredient of the wild dog's diet - nor should it be the domestic dog's.

I have never heard this myth, but either way, it returns to the milk issue. A species appropriate raw diet does not include milk.


False: Dogs are carnivores
Truth: Dogs are omnivores. They eat both vegetation and meat, of which vegetation is the higher percentage.

This is a blatant fallacy. Dogs are carnivores, and while they may eat a small amount of vegetation in the form of grass (which comes out the same way it went in), meat is the higher percentage. The diet you describe is typical of a true omnivore like a bear. Everything about a dog, from its dentition to external anatomy to internal anatomy tell us that it is a carnivore. For a greater discussion of dogs as carnivores, please see the Omnivore myth. For now, look at the picture of the skull of a black bear (left). This is the skull of an animal that truly does eat a higher percentage of vegetation, and you will notice that it has relatively flat molars that allow it to do so.

Black bear skull

This skull above is the skull of an American Black Bear. Notice the relatively flat shape of the molars.

Tartar-encrusted dog teeth

These teeth above are those of a commercial food-fed dog. Notice the large carnassial teeth (left) and pointed premolars and molars. Also notice the nasty tartar on the teeth. This tartar, which is highly prevalent in commercial food-fed and cooked food-fed dogs, is absent in raw fed dogs.

Lower jaw of dog

Here's another view: this is the mandible (lower jaw) of a dog. Compare the shape of these teeth with those of the bear skull. You will notice how different the premolars and molars are. This is because the bear is a true omnivore that eats both vegetation and animals (and has teeth shaped accordingly), whereas the dog is a carnivore designed to eat a diet primarily of other animals (and hence the different dentition).

Anatomy and physiology are dictated by form and function. The form of the the dog's teeth and jaw dictate a function of eating other animals, not plant matter.


Domestic dogs do not have the same skull shape or number of teeth that wolves do.

No, they do not, but they still have the exact same kind of teeth, all of which are designed for grabbing, tearing, ripping, and shearing meat and bone. Dogs still have virtually the same internal anatomy and physiology of wolves as well, which is why they are often used as models for wolves in physiological studies (Mech, L.D. 2003. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation. pg. 115).


You could say they are carnivorous.

They are carnivorous because they are carnivores. A carnivorous animal eats other animals. An omnivorous animal eats plants and animals. If an animal is an omnivore, it is omnivorous. This is just playing around with semantics.


Cats are true carnivores, however, that doesn't mean that raw meat is safe for them either. There are very obvious differences between cougars, lions, tigers and your housecat.

Cats are obligate carnivores: they must have meat to survive, particularly meat that supplies taurine (which most meats do). And yet our cats are forced to consume grain-based, dry diets.

Raw meat and bones are a perfectly acceptable diet for domestic cats. There are very obvious differences between lions, cougars, tigers, and housecats, but their teeth and digestive systems are all incredibly similar and are all designed for a carnivorous lifestyle.

Be sure to read the article: "Your Dogs and Cats Need Meat".


Thank you, readers, for making it a point to journey with me on this rebuttal of the Second Chance Ranch raw meat page. I hope that you will be able to look at anti-raw claims more critically now and with a better, more learned eye that can spot the serious flaws, glossed over pseudo-science, and one-sided factoids. I hope that you will consider a prey-model raw diet for your pet. Just a few more closing remarks:

1.) Check out case studies and "scientific" studies thoroughly, regardless of whether they are referring to commercial foods or raw diets. These studies certainly do not document the true health benefits of commercial food; such documentation does not exist (unless you are referring to Brand X's dog food being tested against Brand Y)! They do document the kinds of bacteria and parasites that can be found in meat, but they do not provide any conclusive evidence to demonstrate that dogs are routinely affected by such things when fed a proper raw diet. Moreover, these studies are often biased to begin with by automatically assuming that raw-fed animals pose a health risk to the rest of society (and yet they ignore the dirty, bacteria-laden mouths and huge, malodorous stools of commercial food-fed dogs that pollute our parks, playgrounds, neighborhoods, and watersheds.). The scientific 'facts' and case studies a veterinary university can provide are often worthless, especially since most of the studies and research is funded by the pet food companies (an example of this would be the recent study done by Ohio State University's vet school to determine the prevalence of bacteria in the diets and stools of raw-fed—defined as a dog eating raw meat 3 or more times a week—and commercial food-fed dogs. The study is funded in part by Nestle-Purina Company.). The 'case studies' and scientific papers must be taken with a large grain of salt as well; the research is often poorly performed, the analytical methods are often irrelevant to raw-fed animals (such as using blood values taken from kibble-fed dogs as a base-line for comparison, or using AAFCO standards to analyze a raw diet), the sample size is generally too small to draw any viable conclusions from, and the studies are anything but objective. Additionally, NONE of these studies have ever been performed on dogs being fed a species appropriate raw diet based on whole prey.

2.) Remember what is involved during tester trials for pet food. The animal testing for pet foods is unusually cruel, as demonstrated by the recent charges brought against Iams/Eukanuba for animal cruelty. Lock tester dogs in cages, feed them nothing but the same food for 6 months, and see if they survive (oh wait, two dogs can die during the trial but the food can still be marketed). If they do, then the food is marketed as 100% complete and balanced for that life stage, although the testing does not serve to examine long-term nutritional relationships or long-term health or the relationship between that food and disease. This means food bearing the AAFCO seal can cause incredible long-term harm—like cancer and premature death—to your pet and still be 100% complete and balanced since it passed the 6 month mark successfully (Wysong, R.L. 1993. Pet Health Alert. Wysong Corporation. Quoting: Collings, G.F. et al. October 1992. Veterinary Forum. pg 34). A proper, species appropriate diet has been 'tested' in wolves and other wild canids for over one million years. How is that for animal testing?

3.) Support your local meat industry: your local farmers, ranchers, butchers, etc. Get the whole fresh product and avoid the corruption found in the commercial pet food industry (this includes pre-made, commercial raw diets). No need to buy this and that 'special supplement' or 'special raw diet'; just buy raw meaty bones and organs, fresh.

4.) Always ask the question: How can processed foods possibly be better for our pets than fresh, whole foods?

5.) Above all, think critically and thoroughly. Do not accept things at face value: studies, veterinary opinions, professional opinions, etc. Always look deeper and analyze all sides of the issue. Do not go jumping into anything—raw feeding, feeding a home-made cooked diet, or feeding kibbled food—without researching and knowing why you are choosing the feeding method you are feeding. Diet is and probably always will be a controversial subject; I highly doubt that the two camps (anti-raw and pro-raw) will resolve their differences soon since there is a multi-billion dollar industry in the picture. Thus, as a pet owner it is up to you to find out what is best for your pets; you are the only one who can and should make that decision for your pets. Let no one else make it for you!

I wish you and your pets the best in life.

If you would like to read a brief analysis another raw feeder wrote regarding the "Research links" on the Second Chance Ranch raw meat page (I believe these links have since been removed or changed), please click here.