Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant


Types of Raw Diets

Complete raw diets - with vitamins. minerals and balanced in calcium/phosphorus ratios.

Straight Meat or Meat/Bones - (incomplete diets) need to be balanced in their calcium and phosphorus ratio before use them by adding other companion products. This is done with a companion product the company will instruct you to purchase. (These must be used with a variety of other foods in order to bring them up to a complete diet)

Grains/veggie/fruit diets and you have to add the raw meat.
Examples: SoJo's and Honest Kitchen Preference Foundation.

Homemade Diets* - raw meat from grocery store and mixed with other human foods. No control over calories, calcium levels, very unsafe and unbalanced.

Homemade Diets* - cooked meat from grocery store and mixed with other human foods. No control over calories, calcium levels, very unsafe and unbalanced.

*I do NOT advocate feeding a "homemade" diet due to not being able to balance a diet and control the vitamin/minerals and calcium/phosphorus levels or ratios.

The real pioneer in animal nutrition and the concept of feeding raw is Dr. Randy Wysong not Dr. Billinghurst, the advocate of the BARF diet (Bones and Raw Foods) or Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods.  Billinghurst's Philosophy was good on paper and very problematic in reality, so much so that he now has made a commercial product so he can control what consumers do so they do not damage their dogs with unbalanced diets.
"Pottenger's Cats - A Study in Nutrition" which took place from 1932-1942, determined that processed foods had a drastic effect on the health and structure/dentition of these cats when they were fed a processed diet vs a raw diet. I find it interesting that many quote these studies and yet there are numerous holes in the study if you ever read it, and still no one pin points the actual reason these diets a problem for these cats.

It was because 1) they were nutritionally unbalanced first
2) they were lacking dietary enzymes because the foods were pasteurized or cooked. There are as many opinions and theories on feeding raw on the internet, as there are hairs on a dog. And this issue of Raw vs Kibble is not going away, so I want to provide you with some information that will help you to help your clients to make better choices for their pets.  I want to provide you with three articles from qualified individuals, not just my opinion as the GreatDaneLady.



An Evaluation of Raw Meat, Bones and Food in healthy dogs and cats.

Lisa S. Newman, N.D., Ph.D., Azmira's Director of Research
Lee Veith, D.V.M. Veterinary Regulatory Board

It is shown that a long term B.A.R.F. (bones and raw foods) diet is likely to decrease the overall health of the pet. The pet's ability to digest the raw foods is compromised by evolutionary changes to the digestive tracts of domesticated pets. The difficulty in digesting raw foods combined with this evolutionary weakness creates a systematic breakdown of immune responses, leading to a variety of nutritionally-based symptoms. Elimination of the raw foods protocol resulted in a reversal of the obvious symptoms reported during long term use. When the B.A.R.F. approach was resumed, the return of symptoms occurred within two months. Nutrients including viable proteins still available in slightly cooked foods and some higher quality, easy-to-digest commercial diets -- to fuel curative processes such as detoxification (blood purification), improved organ function (to increase nutrient utilization), and superior tissue growth -- can be utilized, long term, with vastly improved "health responses" to substantially mitigate chronic conditions.

The interest in the B.A.R.F. method during the early Eighties prompted Dr. Newman to recommend a raw foods approach, as she was already recommending Macrobiotic diets with her animal and human clients, often with mixed results.

One of the most frustrating conditions in both dogs and cats fed raw foods, particularly the yeast, bone meal, muscle and gristle trim tissues and chicken parts such as necks or backs commonly used, is that of digestive disorders and the resulting deeper weaknesses, such as allergies, arthritis, I.B.S., liver, kidney or thyroid imbalance, poor immune responses and other organ issues, including diabetes and seizures. These diets prematurely age the pet, especially when symptomatic holistic or medical suppression is also being applied rather than addressing the digestibility of raw foods.
In 1985, Dr. Newman concluded an initial one-year study of household dogs and cats with a history of good health and no compelling conditions who where separated into three groups; the raw food eaters, home cooked diets and healthy commercial diets supplemented with Dr. Newman's recommended foundation supplements (Mega Pet Daily, SuperC2000 and Garlic Daily Aid). (Editorial comment from The GDLady - in addition to a high quality kibble she provided Vitamin C (immune boost), Garlic (immune boost, purification/detoxification) and a whole food vitamin/mineral supplement - not synthetics, so it will not conflict with what is on the kibble, to cover the nutritional bases with approved whole foods.)

 These results have recently been re-confirmed after an additional five years of nutraceutical data and several six-week follow-ups with previous test subjects who remained on their group's dietary recommendations.

All of the above-mentioned changes became even more pronounced for some pets during the second study with the utilization of Azmira's Animal Nutrition Formulas, not available during the first trial. These award-winning formulas contain fresh human-grade ingredients, rather than the less potent, basic animal grade or rancid "human-grade inspected" (but NOT "approved") ingredients as found in the other "top Natural Brands" previously used in 1984-85. All dogs and cats were healthy at the onset of this study, regardless of previous diets used and lifestyle.

There was a comparative one year study done on immune enhancing, tissue building nutrients, in particular protein, found in fresh animal tissue and the optimal delivery system for their assimilation. These nutrients, combined, have been noted for their ability to address various conditions, especially the six common conditions behind the majority of prematurely aging dogs and cats. Although causes are numerous and often in conjunction with one another, nutritional imbalance, poor digestion and assimilation are the basis for the majority of chronic conditions today, including arthritis, allergies and endocrine issues such as low thyroid levels commonly associated with improper protein utilization.

These healthy dogs and cats were separated into three dietary groups and one control group which consisted of eight dogs and twelve cats left to the owner and vet's discretion to use allopathic methods of feeding and care; First group contained sixteen dogs and seventeen cats who were supplemented with Dr. Newman's vitamin/mineral protocol while fed a high quality commercial dry and/or canned food. The second group of twenty-two dogs and nine cats was fed the same home cooked diet with no other supplementation than available within the ingredients. Subject group three contained twenty-one dogs and eighteen cats (six of which where champion Siamese cats who belonged to one of the top breeders and staunchest advocates of raw food for pets), following the same 75% raw meat, 25% raw vegetables recommended at the time. To be chosen for participation, each animal was particularly healthy and well adjusted.

With sixty-seven mature dogs participating, ranging in age from 2 yr to 11 yr, half the dogs were small and medium-types, mostly Cockers and Terriers plus mixes, while the other half were full breed and mixes of Shepards, Rotties, Goldens and Labs; the same quality ingredients free of artificial ingredients and chemical preservatives for the three study groups was followed, while the control group under individual and random feeding guidelines choose foods within, as well as outside, the study parameters. All animals were given fifteen minutes of exercise and fresh air daily to aid in detoxification and nutrient utilization. No other digestive support or veterinary medication was applied.

Before the beginning, and after the end of this initial study and the follow up in 1991, an objective veterinary assessment was compiled for certain medical parameters: all the dogs and cats were photographed, confirmed on their weight, passed basic blood profiles, plus clinical absence of internal and external parasitic, fungal or viral infestation (to rule out underlying weakness) and given a behavioral assessment regarding their particular environmental or behavioral triggers.

During the whole period of research, subjects' caregivers kept a daily log that recorded how the animals acted, slept, how stable was their appetites (acceptance of ingredients), the specific changes observed after so many days, including the overall condition of the animals and rapidity in loosing health or gaining wellness. Each section was scored on a "1 to 10" rating and the score combined for the final analysis and percentages reported. Feedback gathered was utilized, not only to explain the symptoms still present on raw foods yet eliminated with other diets, but to help formulate Award-winning Azmira Animal Nutrition to the best standards available in the industry, improving commercially available natural diets.


By far, at 61%, the pets in group one, fed a high quality commercial diet plus Dr. Newman's daily supplementation protocol faired the best, cats slightly over dogs - with a total absence of nutrition-related symptoms; 73% of these animals showing improvement within the first week and 92% by week six.

Subjects that were only fed home cooked foods, with slightly steamed or broiled meats plus cooked and raw vegetables came in a close second at 29% improvement, dogs improving some over cats, most within the first four weeks.

The group on raw meat, bones and vegetables, responding with a poor wellness rate of only 8%, also had the lowest maintenance success other than the control group when reexamined in 1991.

For more articles by Dr. Neuman go to:

Raw Meat Diets For Companions - by Dr. Wendall O. Belfield

PETE PENNELL noted in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle - there is a column called “Ask the Vet” by Jennifer Larsen, D.V.M., assistant professor, Nutrition Support Service, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.  In an article entitled Is Raw Food Diet Tied to Problems.  The closing statement is “At this time, the benefits of feeding raw foods remain unproven, while the risks have been well documented".  Here is that Article:

Q: I want to feed my dog a raw food diet, but my vet thinks it isn't a good idea. What problems can there be and what concerns should I have?

A: Many people promote the use of raw diets as a way to improve health and life span in pets. However, there are no studies to support these benefits. In contrast, there are documented problems associated with the use of raw diets. These include the risk of nutritional imbalance and the risk of illness from bacterial or parasitic contamination. These problems apply to both home-prepared and commercial raw meat diets.
Many home-prepared recipes and commercial raw diets are not complete and balanced, and many veterinarians have treated pets with severe problems due to eating an unbalanced diet. Additionally, meat purchased in human supermarkets is often contaminated with E. coli, salmonella and other pathogens. Studies as well as product recalls have demonstrated the presence of pathogenic bacteria in samples of several commercially available raw food diets. These factors can pose a risk not only for the pet, but also for the people in the household. Proper handling of raw foods is crucial for reducing the risk, but safety cannot be guaranteed.

At this time, the benefits of feeding pets raw foods remain unproven, while the risks have been well documented. Many of the goals of raw diets can be satisfied with a properly formulated, complete and balanced, home-cooked diet. It is best to discuss food options and your pet's medical history with your veterinarian so that you can make an informed decision about your pet's diet.
Jennifer Larsen, D.V.M., assistant professor, Nutrition Support Service, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

Summary: Comments from The Great Dane Lady

My position as a nutritional consultant, professional breeder of 40 years, pet owner and consumer - I want the safest, the best diet that is affordable for my pets. It is also necessary that my feeding program fits my busy lifestyle without compromising my pet's health. It can be done and done properly without me going out and killing livestock, dragging it home and letting my dog ravage the carcass.

Many of the goals of raw diets can be satisfied with a properly formulated, complete and balanced, diet with the incorporation of some healthy human foods. The days of people putting kibble in a bowl and walking are way are over. People want to do a little extra for the dogs, but they do not necessarily want to dedicate an enormous time or money to it. This is why carefully chosen holistic supplements, natural treats and healthy human foods are so popular today - it makes the pet owner feel as if they are doing their best as long as they have a solid foundation of a food like Precise Holistic Complete foods as the core of their pet's diet.

Here is the reality of feeding a totally raw diet. In order for me to do it for my pets, I have to be able to store it, afford it and be willing to handle it twice a day. With 4  Danes , a Collie, Sheltie, Pug and 5 cats, it is highly unlikely you are going to find me doing this, it is simply not something that fit's my lifestyle nor my pocket book. Many people have more than one dog.

Do you know to feed a 185# Great Dane it would take 33 - 35 lbs of a balanced raw commercially prepared diet at the rate of $150 - $200 a week depending on the brand?

Ok...figuring let's say $175 per week per giant dog, $175 a week per the other three dogs (not counting cats). That would cost me $875 plus tax... a month to feed my dogs, not to mention I have to the product shipped to me (which I didn't figure in the cost of that and I have to store it which means buying a large freezer). That is storing 742 lbs of raw diet per month.

Oh, I forgot, who is going to move this 742 lbs of raw frozen product from the delivery, IF it can be delivered to the house. Then who is going to move that 742 lbs of raw frozen product to my freezer?? If it is not shipped to the door, then I have to travel to purchase it either weekly or once a month - if it's once a month that means I drive an hour to pick up 742lbs of raw diet  in Indianapolis, then I have to unload it from the store into the van, drive it back home and load that same 742 lbs into the into the freezer in my home.  This is not a real convincing argument for feeding raw when one has even a couple of medium sized dogs let alone multiple animals.

Nutritionally, I understand the dietary enzymes missing in all commercial foods are an issue for overall wellness. But unless your dog kills a rabbit running thorough your backyard and guts it and eats it right then and there...the nutritional sulfur (MSM) AND dietary enzymes start to dissipate IMMEDIATELY when raw sits or is stored, even in cold storage.

If you are feeding a raw diet, many dietary enzymes are lost in the handling, storage, freezing, but you can feed a high quality kibble like the PRECISE line up and you can put that 'LIVING COMPONENT' back into the pet's diet - you do NOT have to feed meat raw to put the living component back into a diet! Raw meat is not the only way to wellness and longevity.

Options to Provide Living Component to Your Pet's Diet:

1) Dietary Enzymes Supplementation (Brands: Dismutase or Nzymes both available at www.firstchoicenaturals.

2) Feeding fresh fruits, vegetables (crushed or pulverized if raw, helps for digestion) and raw nuts (almonds, pecans, organic peanuts) seeds (pumpkin, sunflower) (NOT macadamia), to your pets along with a high quality kibble like Precise Holistic Complete or something from the Nutri Source/Pure Vita or Planet Organics line up - the fresh/raw foods provide dietary enzymes "living component".

Other Things To Consider About Raw:
  • When we feed a raw diet, homemade or commercial - 70% of that diet is water.
  • It is difficult for manufacturers to get enough high quality vitamins/minerals in the diets.
  • This has been a downfall of many raw diets. They may fall within AAFCO guidelines, but they are generally the not optimal nutrition, with is common in high quality kibbles. I feel the problem is that it requires so much raw to be eaten before the dogs nutritional needs are met due to the fact that 70% of it is water.
  • There has been more studies on animal nutrition and kibble , than there have ever been done on raw diets. It is a new industry and the jury is out yet on the pros/cons.
  • There is always the potential for salmonella, listera and ecoli  etc. and not every dog's digestive tract is healthy enough to handle these pathogens.
  • Although raw pet food manufacturers test for pathogens, most do not test for parasites, protozoa, flukes  which can be deadly.
  • Most of the research done on raw diets was in the 30's 40's and the commercial dog foods of those days were horrific compared to the commercial dog foods of the past 10 years. I feel the research on animal nutrition is rather antiquated and is only now being challenged at the University Research level.
  • Dehydrated Raw Diets are not truly raw diets and missing some dietary enzymes.
  • True animal nutrition research is rarely available to the average consumer.
  • Most of the current and most dynamic research on canine/feline diets is being done overseas in Europe and specifically on performance dogs in Sweden and Finland.

Personally, I do use 80-90% Precise Holistic Complete line of kibble and 10% - 20% Honest Kitchen - a dehydrated raw from the line up of many good foods, then I use my CORE 4 Supplements, which includes the dietary enzymes in Nzymes Granular or Pet Treats, and have the best of all worlds, with out the guilt. And better yet, I know this works..I have had many dogs live extended lives with no cancer
serious disease. In all cases they were just old and gave out. I had to make the decision to let them go, they did not die of disease.

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