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Evidence for the value and benefits of raw feeding increases...


 I would like to share with you some recent research which I was privileged to hear about on webinars and reading over the past month or so.

Should dogs and cats be fed a high carbohydrate diet?

1. Comparing Wolves and Dogs natural starch consumption

Dogs genomes are different to wolves in a number of aspects including the fact they have genes which allow them to produce amylase (the enzymes which the gut uses to digest starch. Does this mean they can therefore be fed high levels of carbs?

Research has shown that wolves diet consists of approximately 50:50 fat and protein and only 1% starch 

Domestic dogs of a wide variety of sizes and breeds if allowed to self select foods choose to eat 4-7% starch. 

(Feral) Cats naturally eat about 2% starch and natural would choose to avoid more starch if given a free choice.

Wild animals will by the laws of natural selection will eat the foods that give them the best chance of survival.

So why do Commercial cat foods contain as much as 40% starch can we find research to back this up and disagree with the above assumptions. Yes there is a study Hall et al 2018 which found cats would choose t eat more starch than that...

How did they get this figure that is so different - They used as protein sources total un-natural foods such a pea and wheat protein as their food sources because as you can see on the slide and cats like chicken better.
What?!!! Guess who sponsored this research HILLS

There are similar studies in the dog...

Above dogs should to eat less than 10% starch if given the choice and no surprise there is a studies sponsored by H*** Pet Nut*** attempting to dispute this ad again they chose to add to the diet a chicken flavour enhancer to all the diet from which the dogs could chose. They found dogs ate significantly more starchy carbs:

Why do the commercial food guys add carbohydrate? 

1. Its a much cheaper source of calories

2. You need to use starch to bind the kibble and form the dry foods

We have shown dogs and cats would not chose to eat very much starch but is it harmful?

There is increasing evidence to support observations myself and other holistic vets have been seeing for years that pets do much better on a raw based, minimal starch diet or even a cooked home prepared diet if they are balanced of course.

1. a small study compared the number of Toxocara canis egg in dogs fed on raw and processed diet found drastically less worm eggs shed in raw fed dogs:

It would seem the immune system of dogs that are naturally fed are much better able to defend themselves against this intestinal worm. 

A small study on the gene expression of white blood cells - the immune system cells macrophages and found differences in transcriptome expression. Basically within 3 weeks of changing between raw and processed diet there was an increase in inflammatory cell expression. Kibble causes chronic inflammation.

Studies in Finland I think I have written about before show that raw foods are dramatically protective in preventing Canine Atopy Dermatitis CAD in dogs fed a raw diet in the pre-natal period. The lowest levels of CAD in young adults was in the cohort in which the dam was raw fed and pups weaned on to raw food with intermediate level were pups were raw fed soon post weaning.

In other words an ultra processed carbohydrate based diets are a major risk factor in CAD 

(Atopy is inflammation of the skin caused by allergy and extremely common in practice.~)


Newer studies I think are getting us a step closer - it's the microbiome. There are dramatic differences in the bacterial populations in the gut and stool of raw fed low starch diets. There are increases in the variety of bacteria found in raw fed animals.

There are dramatic changes in the numbers and types of bacteria in not only the faeces but also the skin microbiome. We do not know what each type of bacteria does as yet and there is a lot more to learn. 

I will tell you more as I learn it.

Anti raw campaigners will use figures such as an increase in E. Coli spp. & Clostridium spp to berate raw and cite it as evidence raw is dangerous. But there are many sub-species or strains of these bacteria and increasing evidence in fact increased levels of clostridiceae is associated with faecal health and low faecal volume and a healthy microbiome.

The other measure is of the metabolome - chemicals in the body -  Kibble fed dogs have higher levels of methionine and cystathionine chemicals associated with inflammation and bile acids are higher which has in man been associated with colon cancer.

Another small study measured transcriptome in the skin of a small number of Staffies comparing the raw fed to the kibble fed and there are some evidence of an improved immunity and reduced oxidative stress

Most of these studies are very small numbers of animals and of course will be criticised by Big Kibble - Mars, Pedigree , Nestle and other pet food manufactures. 

The micro biome research is very new and I am sure we will learn more over the next few years to support our observations in practice.

If you want to read more then may I suggest reading my Irish Colleague Conor Brady's excellent book

The RFVS Raw Feeding Veterinary Society

We are trying to sponsor our own research into the benefits/risks of Natural Feeding to be able to challenge Big Kibble if you can donate anything please do

Donation Page

References - see images and more available on request.

D. Knueven DVM (personal communication )

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Graham Hines MRCVS
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