I would like to preface by stating that I do not have anything against raw diets. If you have the time, money and dedication, then raw diets can work very well for your dog. This of course takes a little adjustment on the part of the dog’s digestive system. The problem with these types of diets is usually human error. They can be kind of difficult to formulate and require supplements – unless it is a freeze-dried food. The supplements themselves usually pose an issue for many people.
The reason they require these supplements is because our food is not sufficient in many nutrients. These are the same reasons that many people take supplements, and it goes back to how our food is grown and raised. Anyways, my main problem with raw diets is with their advocates. Many of the raw diet fans attempt to push it on other people through the use of guilt and propaganda. I thought I would address an argument that I have now read online and heard in person – several times.
The argument: “Dry commercial dog foods have only been around for about 100 years, which is not enough time (evolutionarily) for dogs to adjust to commercial diets. Before commercial foods, dogs would live off of human’s scraps, leftovers and garbage. This means that dogs have been carnivores up until 100 years ago when we started using the commercial foods. Commercial foods are full of grains, which dogs can’t process and are not used to having to digest.”
My rebuttal: Again, dogs have been domesticated for about 15,000 years (all over the world by 10,000 years ago). Moreover, humans domesticated a number of grains around 10-12,000 years ago. This meant that our hunting / gathering lifestyle was quickly being replaced by agriculture. It only makes sense that, if dogs were living off our scraps, they would get a significant portion of grains. Humans would not solely give them meaty leftovers, but more likely whatever could be spared. If you ask your vet, most likely they will tell you that dogs do not do well on these high protein, grain free diets. It is very hard on their kidneys. As for the remark regarding evolutionary time, that statement would be true if humans were not a factor. Our selective breeding and long-term domestication have allowed dogs to evolve so much in so little time.
The majority of the dog breeds seen today have been around for less than a few hundred years. It is simply unrealistic to think that our dogs are still wolves. I always find it a little humorous when people suggest we treat our dogs more like wolves, attempt to mimic a more ‘natural’ life for them.
Our ‘maltreatment’ of dogs has increased their life spans significantly over that of a wolf. Wolves typically only live 4-6 years while dogs can live to be 10-20 years old. Another interesting tid bit, studies have shown thatchicken protein is the most easily digestible for dogs (around 98%). On the other hand, a wolf’s diet is mostly consistent of ungulates (deer, elk, bison, etc). These protein sources are not nearly as digestible for your dog.