Scientific evidence that a raw food diet for dogs is safe and nutritious
One of the things that sets Honey’s apart is our broader interest in canine nutrition and health and, in particular, finding the optimum diet for dogs.
To this end we have invested a considerable amount of our resources into research.
We have invested in third party research and we have funded our own, major study: Raw Proof.
If you would like to download a copy of the research, click here.
We set out to investigate two things.
First, whether a species-appropriate (aka raw food) diet can be formulated so as to meet the highest possible nutritional guidelines for dogs, as specified by the European Pet Food Industry (FEDIAF).
Second, whether such a diet will prove to be nutritionally adequate when fed to a meaningful sample of dogs over 26 weeks using an extended version of the rigorous trial protocol developed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
It is possible to create a range of complete, species-appropriate (raw meat, raw bone, raw vegetable) adult dog foods that – when fed in conjunction with each other – meet the FEDIAF nutritional guidelines without need for additional, synthetic supplementation.
26 adult dogs enrolled in an extended version of the AAFCO food trial protocol, when fed a range of complete, species-appropriate (raw meat, raw bone, raw vegetable) dog foods, experienced no adverse health effects or significant loss of weight.
Three dogs dropped out of the trials for non-health related reasons.
Traditionally, domesticated dogs were fed a species-appropriate diet consisting of raw meat, raw bones and raw vegetables (a ‘raw diet’), supplemented by table scraps and whatever other food they could scavenge.
After the introduction of processed dog food in 1860 their diet slowly began to change until, by the 1980s, a species-appropriate diet had become the exception rather than the rule.
In recent years the tide has turned.
In 2008, there were barely half a dozen raw dog food producers in the UK and none were members of the main industry body: The Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA).
At the latest count, there are close to a hundred producers and the PFMA has a dedicated raw food group.
There are no reliable figures on how many raw fed dogs there now are in the UK, but a recent report (Pet Care in the United Kingdom, Euromonitor) pointed out that: ‘… raw food is gaining weight in the UK, with some retailers – especially pet superstores and Internet retailers – offering raw food as a way to provide pets with a completely natural diet and link them with their traditional feeding habits.’
With the increased interest in raw feeding has come controversy.
Those in favour claim that dogs enjoy better health and longer lives.
Those against claim that it carries health risks both to dogs and humans.
Both sides depend to a surprisingly large extent on anecdotal evidence, there being a paucity of reliable, relevant scientific research.
What there is, is research supporting highly processed, heavily supplemented dog food.
Not surprisingly, this is funded by the big, multi-national pet food companies.
The self-same companies that helped to create the nutritional guidelines for dog food.
As raw dog food producers tend to be relatively small and local (i.e. located in a single country) they don’t have the time, money or inclination to fund research to support species-appropriate diets.
However, thanks to a few dedicated scientists, every year the body of evidence supporting raw feeding gets larger.
At Honey’s, you won’t be surprised to hear, we are convinced that a raw food diet is beneficial to dogs.
We base this on:
Every species on earth must eat an appropriate diet in order to survive and flourish. For some species the range of appropriate foods is very limited, for others there is greater tolerance. Although, over time, certain species, with varying degrees of success, can adapt to a new diet, it doesn’t alter the core fact that the food they eat must be appropriate. Dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, have the typical physiology and digestive system of a carnivore. Their natural diet, like that of other canids, consists predominantly of prey with a certain amount of vegetable matter (grasses, herbs, fruit &c..). It is what they have eaten for millions of years.
We have been responsible for feeding thousands of dogs a raw food diet since 2009 and we have seen only positive outcomes as a result.
It is one thing to believe something and quite another to prove it.
As raw food has become more popular with dog lovers, so, too, has demand for hard evidence as to its safety and efficacy.
Veterinary professionals, in particular, seek reassurance.
Naturally, they do not wish to recommend anything that could have adverse health implications.
With this in mind, Honey’s launched a species-appropriate diet research investigation.
First, we set out to establish whether a raw food diet could meet the highest possible nutritional guidelines for adult dogs, as set out by the European Pet Food Industry (FEDIAF).
Second, whether such a diet would prove to be nutritionally adequate when fed to a meaningful sample of adult dogs over 26 weeks using an extended version of the rigorous trial protocol set out by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
We designed our investigation with great care to ensure that the we achieved the most accurate possible results.
To this end, we appointed an independent, veterinary surgeon to plan, oversee and carry out the research and employed an independent laboratory for all the analysis work.
The results have been reviewed by a panel of independent veterinary surgeons.
Although our research findings support species-appropriate feeding of dogs, it is important to remember that there is much more work to be done.
To arrive at meaningful research in relation to human diet and its effect on health, Oxford University, Cornell University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine set up a 20-year programme involving 6500 people (China–Cornell–Oxford Project, 1981 onwards) and even then some of their conclusions remain open to interpretation.
We are conscious that further analysis, trials and studies are required.
We plan to undertake more ourselves and we hope that others will rise to the challenge.
In the meantime, we are pleased to have made a modest contribution to the study of canine nutrition.
For decades multinational pet food manufacturers have been taking waste food and other ingredients unsuitable for human consumption and turning it into highly profitable dog food.
Would you feed your family a meal made with condemned beef?
Or spray the children’s tea with rancid fat collected from a deep-fat fryer?
Or serve biscuits made with empty grain hulls?
Because that’s what many dog lovers are unwittingly feeding to their four-legged companions.
The truth is that if you give your dog processed dog food (dried, tinned or in a pouch), you may be feeding them substances that cause them serious, possibly fatal, harm.
If you would like to know more about the scientific evidence supporting raw feeding please do contact us direct.