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At a Waltham Nutritional Sciences Symposium, researcher Professor Wouter Hendriks presented more evidence that dogs are carnivores (you can see the video summary here). Those of us who feed raw are inclined to say, “Yeah? So what?” We’ve all taken that for granted, given the dog’s sharp, pointy carnivore teeth and carnivorous ancestors. So when I saw some web pages discussing this “new” finding, I was curious to see what anyone would get excited about.

Well, it seems like this might be news to some vets. “In veterinary school we learned that cats are carnivores; horses, rabbits and ruminants are herbivores; and pigs and dogs ­­— like people — are omnivores” says veterinarian Dr Patty Khuly in a recent article.

The vets further solidified their position of dogs as omnivores when a study was published in the scientific journal Nature earlier this year. The summary of that report was:

“Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.”

Dogs Are Carnivores…

Last month, professor Hendriks added another dimension to this study. His work shows that just because dogs have adapted to omnivorous diets doesn’t make them omnivores. Although the researchers in the starch study found a few genes that reflected adaptation to starches, “just a few genes’ difference is regarded as an adaptive shift to a condition. These alone can’t possibly alter the entire digestive evolution of a species” says Dr Khuly.

Dr Khuly also adds that dogs have the following carnivorous traits:

  • Dogs’ teeth are adapted to a carnivorous diet (for tearing muscle and crunching bone to extract marrow).
  • Many of their innate behaviors are carnivorous in nature. Consider digging, for example. Like wolves, dogs dig to hide parts of meals for future ingestion.
  • Dogs, like many large mammalian carnivores, are metabolically able to survive for long periods of time between meals.
  • Dogs have a lot of flexibility in metabolic pathways to help make up for a feast-or-famine lifestyle and a wide range of possible prey.

I’d agree with her up until this point. Dr Khuly then concludes, “The result of these findings, argues Dr Hendriks, is that the dog is undeniably a true carnivore. The dog just happens to have an adaptive metabolism as a result of living with humans for millennia. That’s why the dog is perfectly capable of eating a grain-based diet, as most commercially fed dogs do.

…But Not To Vets

Hold on there. How did we get from “dogs are undeniably carnivores” to “keep on feeding them a grain based diet” in the same paragraph? What just happened there?

Diabetes, a condition where the body is  unable to properly metabolize glucose from carbohydrates, is the most common endocrine disease affecting dogs today and its prevalence is growing every year. Thirty years ago, 0.19% of dogs suffered from diabetes. In 1999, the rate tripled to 0.58%. Today, up to 1.5% of dogs suffer from diabetes.

I’d be the first to admit that diabetes is an autoimmune disease and I’d happily attribute it to vaccine damage. But it also bears stating that unnatural foods lead to unnatural outcomes … like diabetes.

I know that when this article is published, the conventional vets and proponents will say what I’m writing is mostly speculation, there’s no science to back it up. And they’d be right.

But to those vets who continue to feed carbohydrate-laden foods, despite the growing body of research showing that dogs are carnivores, and despite the rise of metabolic disease related to carbohydrate intake, I have this question to ask:

Where is the research backing your carbohydrate-based diets? Feeding trials? Give me a break – just because a dog lives for three months eating your food without any overt signs of disease doesn’t mean that food will sustain him and keep him healthy for a lifetime.

I’m tired of being asked for references and research when vets and kibble companies continuously make huge leaps in logic, despite the overwhelming evidence that dogs are carnivores. Somewhere along the line, shouldn’t somebody stick up their hand and ask why we started feeding dogs corn and rice in the first place? What drove that initial decision?

My vote is MONEY.

Kibble Is Made For People With Wallets, Not Dogs

From the time James Spratt tossed hard tack off the side of his ship to the dogs on the docks, to the first kibbles that had dogs chasing chuck wagons around the house, kibble has had one goal and one goal alone: make money from pet owners.

Does your dog have a wallet? Mine don’t, so I buy all their things for them. And the kibble manufacturers figured that out a long time ago, and directed their marketing to the people with the wallets, not the furry beings who would be consuming their food. So we as humans watched the chuck wagon commercials and thought our dog would really like that stuff. We never paid much attention to what was in the bag, just that it looked cool and we loved potatoes and corn, so why wouldn’t our dogs? Now that we pet owners know better, I have to wonder how much thought vets have given to what’s in the bag.

Now there are two kinds of vets. Those who mindlessly chase chuck wagons and those who don’t. Do you know how to tell the difference between them? That’s simple. One will have shelves full of kibble in their waiting area and one won’t.

I for one wish vets would wake up and see kibble for what it is. It’s a relic from days long gone, when we didn’t know any better. Nobody took the time to figure out what dogs should eat and when people started pumping money into dog food, the pet food companies were more concerned with making their brand better than their competitor than asking, why are we putting starches into these foods? Well, they probably did ask that question and the answer was likely, “because it’s cheaper.”

So now, pet owners are starting to see their furry family members as the little carnivores they are, and the kibble manufacturers are up against it. They need those starches to hold that food together – without starch, those little kibbles would disintegrate into a bag of dust. That’s why the so-called grain free diets are still full of starches like potatoes. They’re just as unnatural for carnivores as corn and wheat, but they’re needed to hold that stuff together.

But while vets may now concede that dogs might not be omnivores, they’re clearly still reluctant to move away from kibble and they’ll continue to view every piece of research through their kibble-colored glasses. They have to, because they’ve got too much invested in it to change so readily. It must be tough to stand in front of a longtime client and say, “Sally, it seems that I’ve been wrong all along and that kibble that I told you to feed Spot might be making him a little sick. You see, I thought he was an omnivore, despite his pointy teeth and relative lack of digestive enzymes to make any use of starches and grains. And then, when research came out saying that he wasn’t an omnivore, I ignored it because, hey, I’ve got all that kibble sitting in my front lobby and all the other vets are doing it. So I hope you’ll forgive me when I still charge you $100 a month for Spot’s insulin.”

Yeah, that’s a tough conversation to have. But wouldn’t we pet owners so love to hear it?

But pet owners have grown up and we can see past the politics and marketing ploys; we just want our dogs to be healthy. That’s why many pet owners don’t see dogs as carnivores as big news; we knew it all along. It’s just common sense – something that’s severely lacking in the conventional world today.

Are you still chasing chuck wagons?

13% say they are already feeding their pets raw food

Allprovide, the all-natural raw pet food company, conducted a survey of 1,826 cat and dog owners across the United States on their pet food preferences, knowledge and interests. The results show that more than 37% of pet owners are interested in a fresh, healthy raw food diet for their pets.

“These statistics demonstrate what we’ve been hearing from pet owners across the country,” said Michael McVay, co-founder of Allprovide. “The more people learn about the risks of feeding pets processed foods and the more they see the health benefits of a fresh, raw food diet, the more eager they are to switch.”

The full results of the study include:

  • Thirty-three percent would be interested in feeding their pets a fresh, raw food diet.
  • Forty-six percent said they hadn’t heard of the raw pet food diet prior to the survey.
  • Thirteen percent of those surveyed already feed their pets raw food.
  • Pet health is the No. 1 factor (94%) for consumers when choosing their pet’s food.
  • Freshness and quality (89%) are the second motivating factors for purchase.
  • Cost is the third consumer consideration (65%) in purchase.
  • Eighty-nine percent of pet parents feed their pets processed foods and fillers.
  • Twenty-three percent of those who feed their pets processed foods report their pets suffer from skin problems, arthritis, kidney problems or food allergies.
  • The same number of respondents (23%) report that their veterinarians have suggested a change in diet to treat those illnesses.
  • Thirty-three percent would prefer to have their pet food delivered on a regular schedule, as opposed to buying it in-store.
  • Fifty-five percent would prefer to give their pets fresh food that can be served naturally or cooked.

The anonymous survey was conducted with 1,826 cat and dog owners who identify themselves as “health conscious.”

Are raw food diets for dogs an ideal meal plan or a dangerous fad? Experts weigh in.
By  – WebMD Article

Raw dog food diets are controversial. But the popularity of the diets — which emphasize raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables — is rising.

Racing greyhounds and sled dogs have long eaten raw food diets. Extending those feeding practices to the family pet is a more recent idea, proposed in 1993 by Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurst. He called his feeding suggestions the BARF diet, an acronym that stands for Bones and Raw Food, or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.

Billinghurst suggested that adult dogs would thrive on an evolutionary diet based on what canines ate before they became domesticated: Raw, meaty bones and vegetable scraps. Grain-based commercial pet foods, he contended, were harmful to a dog’s health.

Many mainstream veterinarians disagree, as does the FDA. The risks of raw diets have been documented in several studies published in veterinary journals.

Potential benefits of the raw dog food diet that supporters tout include:

  • Shinier coats
  • Healthier skin
  • Cleaner teeth
  • Higher energy levels
  • Smaller stools

Potential risks include:

  • Threats to human and dog health from bacteria in raw meat
  • An unbalanced diet that may damage the health of dogs if given for an extended period
  • Potential for whole bones to choke an animal, break teeth or cause an internal puncture

Since Billinghurst’s book,Give Your Dog a Bone, was published, several other types of raw dog food diets have emerged, including commercially processed raw food diets that are frozen or freeze-dried and combination diets that use blends of grains, vegetables, and vitamins that are mixed with raw meat purchased by the owner at the grocery store.

Raw dog food recipes and meal suggestions are readily found online and in books. Interest from pet owners continues to grow, with the widespread recall of melamine-contaminated pet food in 2007 bringing in new followers.

A great article by Dana Scott of dogsnaturallymagazine.

Americans love cereal! The cereal aisle is one of the most densely populated sections of the grocery store, lined with boxes upon boxes of fortified and enriched contents. Moms feel good feeding this stuff to their children because it’s fortified with all of those vitamins and minerals we’ve been led to believe are the building blocks of health.

Have you ever thought about how similar a box of cereal and a bag of dog food are? If you haven’t, then I’m here to tell you they are remarkably similar. Here are a few things they have in common:

They are both highly processed foods

The food needs to be “fortified” with vitamins and minerals to have any value

They both cause ill health and disease in the unlucky consumer


The Dog’s Breakfast

The dog’s breakfast is slang for “a complete mess.” While nobody took the time to write down the exact origin of the phrase, the allusion seems to be to food that is fit only for consumption by the last resort, Fido. It means something so fouled up as to be utterly useless.

When you look at a box of cereal, you’ll often see the words “vitamin enriched” and “fortified.” What do these statements mean? It means that the food has “vitamins” sprayed all over it. But if the food needs to be fortified in the first place, you can bet it’s because there’s something missing in that food.

High heating and processing does that to food – once processed, the food is devoid of any nutrients or enzymes – it is devoid of “life.”

Dog food is treated much the same way. It’s heated, processed and extruded until the final product is virtually unrecognizable as food by the body. Even if the finest quality, human grade ingredients go into the food, by the time it comes out of the extruder, there isn’t much left to separate dollar store food from the expensive premium brands.

In fact, the resulting product is so deficient in nutrients, it’s not even capable of passing minimal AAFCO standards.

Enter The Premix

Like breakfast cereal, kibble needs to be fortified to be recognizable as food. So the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, enzymes and beneficial bacteria that were baked and processed out of the food arebarkfastsquares added back to the food as something called a “premix.”

A premix is basically a bag of vitamins and minerals. This is added to the food and this premix enables the food to pass AAFCO standards and be sold as “complete and balanced nutrition.”

This all sounds pretty logical to the kibble manufacturers, but smart pet owners might ask this question before buying that bag of food:

“Can a dead and sterile food be called nutritionally complete simply because some cheap, synthetic vitamins are sprayed on it?”

The Problem With Synthetic Nutrition

Have you ever looked at a dog food label? Not the part about chicken and rice, the bottom half where it starts to look more like an organic chemistry textbook than a food label. All of those long, convoluted chemical names are, you guessed it, chemicals! They’re not food.

Real vitamins are living complexes that contribute to other living complexes like cell repair, circulatory activities and collagen production. They coexist in food with other living complexes like enzymes and essential trace minerals and they all function synergistically.

Synthetic vitamins, the kind found in premixes, were never alive nor part of anything alive. That’s what synthetic means: it occurs nowhere in nature. Synthetic vitamins are chemicals and the body recognizes them as chemicals, just like it does any other drug. This is why vitamins and drugs are both measured in milligrams. This is also why we have something called “vitamin toxicity.”

It’s virtually impossible to get too much vitamin D from sunshine or foods but dogs are harmed from vitamin D toxicity from pet foods each and every year. Vitamin D toxicity, or hypervitaminosis D, causes bone loss and abnormally high serum calcium levels, which can result in kidney stones and the calcification of organs like the heart and kidneys. These are really common issues in dogs today yet nobody looks at food as a cause until dogs literally drop dead from eating it. Otherwise, nobody makes the connection and the synthetic vitamin D builds up in the dog and creates insidious and seemingly unrelated disease.

Similarly, it’s virtually impossible for real food to cause vitamin A toxicity but synthetic vitamin A toxicity is well published and probably a lot more common that you might think. The effects of vitamin A toxicity include:

  • increased tumor growth
  • joint disorders
  • dry skin
  • enlargement of the liver and spleen
  • immune depression
  • birth defects

Half of adult dogs die of cancer while joint disease is affecting today’s dogs at epidemic proportions.

Kibble Creates Malnutrition

Here are the takeaway points every pet owner should know about synthetic vitamins and premixes (and this applies to all premixes, not just those made in China):

  • Vitamins, minerals and enzymes all work together as co-factors. If one part is missing, in the wrong form or in the wrong amount, then entire chains of metabolic processes will misfire, causing a downward spiral in health that can take months or years to manifest as disease.
  • Synthetic vitamins are treated as drugs by the body and like any other toxin, must be filtered by the liver. Dr Casimir Funk says this about synthetic vitamins: “these are highly inferior to vitamins from natural sources, also the synthetic product is well known to be far more toxic.”
  • Even small doses of vitamin D and vitamin E have been shown to significantly decrease immune function.
  • Ascorbic acid is not vitamin C, it is a chemical isolate of vitamin C.
  • Synthetic vitamin B is manufactured from coal tar and vitamin B12 comes from activated sewage sludge
  • Most vitamin D and lecithin is made from irradiated vegetable oils. Isn’t just a bit counter intuitive to eat something derived from oxidative trans fatty acids with the expectation of better health?
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be associated with virtually every disease. Dr DW Cavanaugh of Cornell University states, “There is only one major disease, and that is malnutrition.”

Real Life Research On Fake Vitamins

What are the real life ramifications of these synthetic vitamins? There are a lot of studies that have a common theme and that is that synthetic vitamins don’t behave in the body like the real ones do. Their actions are either incomplete or harmful. Here are some studies you should be aware of:

  • The 1994 New England Journal of Medicine contains a study were 30,000 Finnish subjects were given beta carotene (which the body turns into vitamin A, a vitamin valuable for DNA synthesis and protecting the cells from harmful free radicals) to show the value of antioxidant vitamins. In this study, the subjects who received the synthetic beta carotene were actually 8 times more likely to suffer fatal heart attacks and strokes than those who didn’t. 
  • In that same study, people taking the fake beta carotene also suffered significant increases in cancer. Lung cancer alone increased by 18%. The study was actually stopped because of the dangers to the people in it. What’s ironic is that synthetic beta carotene which, along with vitamin A, is a powerful antioxidant, is stabilized in refined vegetable oils which are oxidized trans fatty acids, the very things that antioxidants are meant to protect against!
  • Two years later, another study was published in the Lancet showing that synthetic beta carotene actually blocked the antioxidant activity of all the other naturally occurring carotenoids in the diet. So the naturally occurring vitamins in the food were blocked by one fake synthetic vitamin.
  • In one study done in pigs, vitamin B rendered every subject sterile. (Dr Barnett Sure, Journ Natr 1939)

Two Wrongs Don’t Make Alive

The solution to dead food isn’t adding dead chemicals. At best, they are useless and at worst, they are toxic to the dogs eating them. Pet food manufacturers know their food is devoid of nutrition so they add synthetic premixes in. Pet owners know kibble isn’t as good as real food, so they add supplements and most of these products also contain fake, dead, synthetic vitamins. You can put lipstick on a pig – but it’s still a pig!

If you want your children to get all of their vitamins and minerals, walk right by the cereal aisle and buy them some actual food. You remember food – it’s the stuff that grows in the ground and actually looks like it’s got some life left in it. Your dog also needs to eat real food and the best way to tell if it’s real food is that the label has food on it, not chemical names. If you see any ingredients on your dog food label that look like they would come from your drug store instead of your fridge, then don’t buy it – it’s fake!

Looking at a typical dog food label we see such things as: Acetate, Palmitate, Thiamine mononitrate, Thiamine hydrochloride, Thiamine Chloride, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Cobalamin or cyanocobalamin, Ascorbic Acid, Pycnogenols, Irradiated ergosterol or Calciferol, dl-alpha tocopherol, Menadione, Beta Carotene and Retinoic acid . How many of these are true vitamins? None – they are all synthetic chemical derivatives.

To meet all of his nutritional needs, feed your dog food. Not people food, not dog food, just good old fashioned food. Clean, fresh meats are an excellent source of vitamins A, E and D (as is coconut oil). Other vitamins can be sourced through organic produce grown in mineral rich soil.

Can’t afford organic food for your dog? Then you should probably give him supplements. But look for whole food supplements. Unlike their synthetic counterparts, whole food vitamins are made from entire plants with the whole vitamin complex intact. The body actually recognizes this as food, not a drug, and the body doesn’t have to compensate for any missing elements because they are all there, just the way Mother Nature intended them to be. Whole food vitamins don’t leech the body of their missing co-factors and don’t cause a vitamin imbalance leading to disease.

The dog’s breakfast is indeed so utterly messed up, it’s become completely useless at best and harmful at worst. Your dog relies on these synthetic vitamins to make up for deficiencies that already exist in his food. What  do you think the outcome will be?


About the Author Dana Scott

Dana Scott is Editor In Chief for Dogs Naturally Magazine. She also breeds Labrador Retrievers under the Fallriver prefix and has been a raw feeding, natural rearing breeder since the 90’s. She is an advocate for natural health care for dogs and people and works tirelessly to educate pet owners so they can influence veterinary medicine and change current vaccine, food and preventive health practices. Visit Dana’s Labradors at Fallriver Labs.

Stop Feeding Your Pet “Fast Food”Golden Retriever and kitten darwin's natural pet food

How would you feel if, day in and day out, you ate nothing but processed nuggets?
Now, think about your pet’s diet.

Dry and canned pet foods may sound healthy but are actually designed for the pet owner’s convenience and maximum shelf life instead of nutrition for their pet.

Whether you feed your pet from a bag or can, these heavily-processed foods share similar shortcomings:

  • Cooking and high pressure processing destroys most of the vital enzymes and vitamins in the ingredients.
  • Only a small percentage of the lost nutrients are replaced by synthetic additives but even these are not easily absorbed by your pet.
  • Cheap ingredients including grains and fillers add calories but are actually difficult for pets to digest.
  • Protein levels can look good on the label but can also come from difficult to digest sources.
  • Heavily-processed pet foods contain preservatives for long-term storage in warehouses and retail stores. Preservatives not only depletes micronutrients but have been connected with many common allergies – such as yeast on the skin, paws and in the ears.

Start Feeding Your Pet “Real Food”

No preservatives. No high-pressure processing.
No synthetic additives. No hormones. No antibiotics.
No grains, no fillers.

We know that your pet’s digestive system is designed for whole foods with nutrients in their natural form. Darwin’s raw meals are created to compliment your pet’s nutritional needs.

See the Difference Raw Pet Food Can Make

Many customers tell us they see dramatic changes in their pets after switching to Darwin’s:

  • More energy and increased vitality
  • Relief from common skin problems, especially those caused by food intolerances
  • A shiny and healthy coat
  • A sharp decrease in common diseases and conditions like arthritis and diabetes
  • Improved digestion, fresher breath and smaller and almost odorless poops
  • Extended life and improved quality of life

See the Difference Raw Food Makes

Good Nutrition is Important for Pets Too

Darwin’s uses only high quality meats and vegetables in our dog and cat food; we never use fillers. The protein in our meals comes from real meat, not from grains, soy, or “meat by-products”. Our meals are a single meat type each; 100% meat for cats and 75% meat with 25% vegetables for dogs. This single meat source formula is designed to allow you to easily adjust meals if your pet is allergic to a particular meat. Our pet food is minimally processed to maintain the most nutrients possible and immediately frozen to preserve freshness.

Learn about our High Quality Ingredients

The Ancestral Side of Raw Food and Why It’s Important

The concept of the ancestral diet for dogs and cats stems from the fact that dogs and cats have evolved successfully through hunting and scavenging – consuming foods that were high in protein and low in carbohydrates and not at all like the kibble so many are fed today.

Recent nutritional science increasingly supports an ancestral diet—high protein, balanced fats, and at least some fresh foods—as the healthiest approach to feeding most dogs. There is no way of knowing for sure exactly what constituted the diet of the ancestors of the modern, domesticated, dog and cat, but we can estimate that it consisted of about 85 to 90% meat (primarily from whole prey) along with small amounts of fish, eggs, scavenged grasses, berries, nuts and other vegetation.

This low carb high protein diet has almost 50% of the calories coming from protein, 44% from fat, and only 6% from carbohydrate. This protein level exceeds all but a few dry on the market. Darwin’s raw food profile closely mirrors the foods our pets’ ancestors found in nature, making it the best way to feed your pet.