Question for experienced BARF'ers

Talk about diets, exercise, and disease.
Doberpit

Question for experienced BARF'ers

Postby Doberpit » Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:07 am

I got into a long and heated debate, as I tend to do, with my vet about the topic of canine diet. This vet is not a hack. She was schooled at the finest academic institutions of higher learning in her field and has over a dozen years of professional experience in the field, often caring for the most problematic cases that other vets haven't been able to resolve. In short, she has my respect.

The argument began when I told her that I've decided to switch my dog to an all raw diet. Where I grew up, it was actually quite common to feed dogs all-raw diets, and kibbles and other commercial, processed foods were not the norm.

My vet proceeded to warn me about the dangers of raw food and how poorly the American meat industry was regulated and how frequently harmful bacteria, worms, and other nasties made their way to meats, even human-grade meats. She printed two different articles from the respected veterinary medical journals in which the topic of raw diets for canines was discussed as risky, with alarming stats on the incidence of "diseased" meats.

My own experience has been that I rarely got the various dogs who I fed an all-raw diet sick, though it would happen once in a blue moon. But I read all the research and it was actually pretty scary. She recommended that if I didn't like the quality of kibbles and other pet food products, that I cook the raw food I buy for my dog to kill all the germs and bacteria.

Would love to hear about your experiences...

xBullyLovex

Postby xBullyLovex » Wed Jul 12, 2006 7:54 am

Most vets are against raw diets, that's just something most barfers/raw feeders have come to learn. My vet used to be against it, but chose to take some classes in holistic medicine & nutrition and she is much more accepting of it. The only thingns she warns me about is making sure I know which fish are ok and which are not, and to be sure that I am making sure my dogs get everything they need nutritionally.

There are always going to be die hard pro raw/barf and die hard against raw/barf people in the world.

It took me awhile to switch to raw because I kept hearing all this that and the other. I finally took a chance and said ok, if my dogs live and do ok on kibble which has been processed, baked into little peices, has tons of additives, ect. Then why not try a natural prey model diet and see how they do. So after doing a TON of research, buying book after book, joining groups, ect. I switched, and I have never looked back. Their energy levels, skin, coat, allergies, muslce tone, their gusto to eat where as with kibble they ate it, but not with the excitement, tails wagging, type of attitude. They are just so much happier, and i KNOW what they are getting, there's no worry of artificial chemicals, things like K3 which is in a lot of foods, even premium foods, that has been shown to cause cancer.
My dogs have not been to the vet for allergies, ear infections, dandruff, ect. Since I have started feeding raw. They go for their yearly's and my vet loves seeing them. Their teeth are clean for their age, they've never had dental cleanings done.

I've never had an incident of a sick dog from feeding raw. The only thing I don't feed is pork, and that's just a personal preference because it is too rich for my dogs and gives them cannon butt LOL.
I have a huge chest freezer and buy their food almost 2 months in advance so their food has always been frozen for around 3-4 weeks before they eat it. (not to mention buying in bulk is much cheaper lol)

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Postby PineysMom » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:39 am

Is this vet of yours a trained nutritionist as well, Doberpit? Most vets don't know very much about nutrition, because they haven't been trained in that field.

xBullyLovex

Postby xBullyLovex » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:05 am

Not to mention most vets push Science diet because S.D. helps pay for vet school as long as the vet sells and recommends their product.

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Postby dickybird » Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:45 am

I've been feeding raw for over 4 years now and have never had any illnesses related to feeding raw. Tucker has had some problems with Salmon Oil and his pancreas, and we are still working out what foods Muay Thai is allergic to, but that is it.

From what I've been told, vets only take about 4 hours of classes on nutrition. Also, vets don't make a whole lot of money off of people who feed raw because their dogs are healthier.

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Postby Misskiwi67 » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:43 am

xBullyLovex wrote:Not to mention most vets push Science diet because S.D. helps pay for vet school as long as the vet sells and recommends their product.


I'm soooo freakin sick of hearing this. We push Science diet and eukaneuba products because we think they're good foods that help pets.

By the way, I was talking to one of the vets at my clinic this week, and the big companies aren't the only ones giving away free stuff. She worked in Kentucky for 3 years before moving back to South Dakota, and there was a really big natural foods store. The store owner was a big advocate of natural foods, which is understandable, but she REALLY pushed the Innova foods.

Turns out, Innova sent her on an all-expense paid cruise every spring for distributors to learn about new products.

I really wish Science diet would send me on a cruise... this free food stuff is just the pits!

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Postby Misskiwi67 » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:56 am

dickybird wrote:
From what I've been told, vets only take about 4 hours of classes on nutrition.


Nah.... we get a little bit more education than that, but I agree that its not nearly enough. However, thats the way it works with a LOT of veterinary topics. By the time I graduate, I'll have less than 20 hours of education in exotic animal medicine, but I plan on becoming an exotic animal vet. A lot of our education is the same as yours, through special interest and self-education. However, if a vet is particularly interested in a topic like nutrition or exotic animals, they have access to continuing education courses, VIN, other vets, not to mention the experience of seeing hundreds of animals a week.

The real question isn't how much education they got in school, but how much interest do they have, and how much time have they taken to read the research and pay attention to trends in their own area?

dickybird wrote:Also, vets don't make a whole lot of money off of people who feed raw because their dogs are healthier.


So you think vets are secretly hoping that your pets get sick so we can make more money???

Actually, foods are among the lowest mark-up, and seldom make vets much money. And the only dog I've ever met who was fed a raw diet spent just as much time at the vet as any other dog. Prophylactic gastropexy (to prevent GDV) surgery isn't cheap, and neither are the frequent visits for her allergies to grass, and her twice yearly trips through barb-wire fences. And um... I'm pretty sure that treatment for pancreatitis isn't cheap either.

In the long run, vets just want pets to be healthy. Pets fed a raw food diet still have allergies, get ear infections, need their puppy shots and heartworm preventative, and eventually the majority will get either arthritis or cancer before their lives are over. All of these things involve trips to the vet, and these are the things that pay the bills. Diet has nothing to do with it, but can prolong the lives of pets, which is what every vet would like to see.

In reality, I think pets fed raw food diets spend more time at the vets office. Not because their diet is poor, but because their owners are MUCH more proactive about their care. A smart vet will educate and encourage these clients, and hope to keep them and their pets around for a long, long time.

Doberpit

Postby Doberpit » Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:27 am

I don't know how much nutritional background she has but it is not insignificant. One of the courses of study I undertook myself (not as a major though) is nutrition, but for humans of course. At one point in my life, I was a registered dietitian and personal trainer. So I am very conversant on the topic and she seemed knowledgeable. But I don't know if she was an expert on nutrition or not.

She, BTW, like Misskiwi, had zero preference on brand and did not recommend any specific food. She only warned me about the prospects for disease and gave me some data from a trusted source to back it up.

So Misskiwi, what is your position on this? What do you think about the prospects for disease? The study I was given was published in a veterinary journal and claimed, if I'm not off by a few percentage points, that almost 1/3 of the raw pet meats are carrying some form of harmful bacteria....

xBullyLovex

Postby xBullyLovex » Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:49 am

Misskiwi67 wrote:
xBullyLovex wrote:Not to mention most vets push Science diet because S.D. helps pay for vet school as long as the vet sells and recommends their product.


I'm soooo freakin sick of hearing this. We push Science diet and eukaneuba products because we think they're good foods that help pets.

I didn't say all vets. We don't have any vets around here who push anything but S.D. and 2 of the vets are the ones who said that's why they push it. They don't think it's a bad food, but they said themselves there are better and there are a lot worse.
I'm sure S.D. aren't the only companies that offer bonuses for recommending their food, they just happen to be the only one in my area that do it.

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Postby DogNerd » Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:18 pm

Hey Doberpit I see that you are in SF. There are many raw-friendly vets here, and some maybe not raw-friendly but raw tolerant. Because this option is available, I think it is worth it to switch to another vet. You also might want to join the SF raw feeders coop, whether or not you are ready to order (sfraw.com.) There is tons of information shared there with regards to local resources and also lots of old messages you can go through with discussions about dealing with vets.

As for the worry about disease, I guess I go by anecdote - my own personal experince and the experience of others. I have an almost 15 year old standard poodle that has been eating raw since he was about 6 and we have never had any raw-related illness. Before he was on raw he had pancreatitis, and chronic GI problems as well as many other chronic health issues.

There are some risks, I am sure. I am sure there are dogs out there that have become ill from eating raw meat as well as dogs that have choked on bones. There are more examples though of dogs getting sick from bad kibble, getting bloat, or ending up with cancer or other chronic illness. I'm happy taking my chances with raw. I like the odds and the results much better.

Doberpit

Postby Doberpit » Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:31 pm

Nerd (I love the name),
I just signed up for membership to sfraw. Thanks for the heads up.

Red Chrome

Postby Red Chrome » Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:05 pm

I love feeding RAW. My vet said nothign negative about me switching to RAW food. He was actually pretty supportive. I have a good contact with a couple butchers and a really good contact on Green Tripe. :thumbsup:

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Postby Kirstan » Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:12 pm

I feed a mix - tw in the am and a vet prescribed raw in the pm. Dogs look great. Meat is humanely farmed (and damn expensive but I'm vegan and that's how I have to set it up for myself) and soaked in a bit of grapefruit seed extract and water for 2 hours b/f feeding it... also vet prescribed.

Each dog has their own mix on the raw and we revisit it every quarter to make sure everyone looks good. No issues o/s of me screwing up the veggie mix once.

I add a bit of venison tripe every couple weeks.

~k.

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Postby Misskiwi67 » Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:15 pm

Doberpit wrote:
So Misskiwi, what is your position on this? What do you think about the prospects for disease? The study I was given was published in a veterinary journal and claimed, if I'm not off by a few percentage points, that almost 1/3 of the raw pet meats are carrying some form of harmful bacteria....


My recommendation is to proceed, but with caution. Yes, raw meats carry bacteria and parasites. My dog eats much worse (rotten carcasses and feces) on our runs in the field.

My biggest worry is meeting all the nutritional needs of the dog. I don't like dogs younger than one year of age eating home-made diets. After that, educate yourself, make sure you get the proper ratio of calcium, phosphorus, and other nutrients, and you should be pleased with the results.

My favorite diet is the kibble for one meal, raw for the other meal diet. This covers your ass, but still allows for the variety and quality that raw diets provide. My best vet school friend feeds her dog this diet, and I was shocked and amazed that her "perfect" dog could look more fit, more muscled (with no additional excercise) and have a healthier, shinier coat.

It did not, however, have any effect on the dogs environmental allergies, which was the original goal, along with preventing GDV. Diets can have positive effects in many areas, but they aren't the end-all be-all. As long as people realize this, I think feeding your pet the best diet you can provide is one of the best things you can do for your dog.

Do your research, keep your pet on a regular deworming schedule, make sure your vet is well informed should any issues arise. If you cover all your bases, then I think raw diets are one of many excellent diet options.[/b]

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Postby X-girl » Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:19 pm

Misskiwi67 wrote:
xBullyLovex wrote:Not to mention most vets push Science diet because S.D. helps pay for vet school as long as the vet sells and recommends their product.


I'm soooo freakin sick of hearing this. We push Science diet and eukaneuba products because we think they're good foods that help pets.


And others are sick of hearing that some people think these products are even remotely good. If that's the best you can do - fine. If you can do better then why wouldn't you?


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