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The Science Behind Raw Dog Food

The Science Behind Raw Dog Food

When you tell people that you plan to put your dog on a raw diet, it is likely that you will experience some pushback. People may wonder whether dogs have evolved at this point to prefer or even need cooked meat or whether a raw diet can truly provide your four-legged friend with the nutrition that they need to thrive. In this blog post from Raw K9, we discuss the various ways that science backs a raw dog food diet, sometimes referred to as a “species-appropriate diet” or “evolutionary diet.” For the most nutritious and delicious raw dog food available anywhere, turn to Raw K9. Our bestselling complete beef meals, starter packs, and ultimate bundles can provide your canine companion with everything they need to get the fully-rounded raw diet that they deserve. Read on to discover the science behind raw dog food then browse our selection of products today. 

The Raw Proof Study

In February 2020, the results of a 24-month study by the University of Exeter in the UK into a species-appropriate diet for dogs were finally published, and the impact has been huge for raw dog food proponents. The study set out to investigate two things: first, whether a raw food diet could meet the highest possible nutritional guidelines for dogs, as specified by the European Pet Food Industry. Second, whether such a diet would be nutritionally adequate when fed to a meaningful sample of dogs over 26 weeks using the rigorous trial protocol developed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

The primary researcher — Dr. Richard Allport BVetMed, VetMFHom, MRCVS — set out with the hypothesis that a raw diet could, indeed, provide dogs with everything they needed to thrive, due to his own experience feeding his and his clients’ dogs a raw diet. Yet he wanted to back up this belief with solid scientific research. His key finding was that “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” (page 15). During the twenty-six week study, none of the twenty-six adult dogs enrolled in an extended version of the AAFCO food trial protocol experience any adverse health effects or significant weight loss. In short, the study concluded that a properly formulated raw food diet will meet an adult dog’s nutritional requirements. 

University of Illinois Study (2018)

According to a 2018 study conducted by the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, “fresh and raw diets for dogs may have health benefits.” The researchers in this study tested the palatability and digestibility of three commercially available fresh and raw diets for dogs. The results showed conclusive evidence that the raw diet resulted in lower triglyceride levels than a kibble diet, even though the raw foods were higher in fat.”

“As far as diet format and market segment is concerned,” head researcher and Professor of Animal and Nutritional Sciences Dr. Kelly Swanson concluded, “it ultimately comes down to consumer preference and philosophy. As long as a diet is shown to be safe and meets the nutritional needs of the pet in question, it is an acceptable option to me. If an owner is willing to pay more for premium ingredients and/or an improved processing method, I am fully supportive.”

Argument About Lack of Scientific Research

One criticism that is often leveled at raw feeding proponents if that there is “no scientific research” to back raw diets. While the two examples above clearly refute this claim, it is also worth pointing out that there is similarly a dearth of scientific research proving that kibbled, processed foods are good for pets. Indeed, no research has been done to determine the long-term effects of feeding kibble, nor to determine if it is actually healthy for your dog.

As for raw diets, on the other hand, one million years of evolution confirm that dogs can indeed get optimal nutrition from eating a diet primarily composed of raw meat. There is significant anatomical and physiological evidence, mtDNA evidence, and circumstantial and statistical evidence to support this, as well as statistics that show that processed food is correlated with a  high rate of diseases in pets. 

The reason for the lack of scientific research into the benefits of raw diets is that the commercial dog food industry (and the veterinarians benefiting from it) aren’t about to fund this kind of study. The sad fact is that the main means of funding scientific studies today is by approaching corporations who have something to gain from your results. Since most raw dog food companies, like our family-owned company Raw K9, are relatively modest enterprises, this kind of funding is simply unavailable.

If raw diets were proven better than commercial diets, there would undoubtedly be a tremendous backlash against the mainstream pet food industry and the veterinary profession that is so financially entrenched with it. Legal ramifications would be probable, due to people suing vets for recommending products that could potentially harm their pets and people suing pet food companies themselves for creating a harmful product without warning consumers of its dangers. In addition, society would no longer have an “acceptable” outlet for disposing of its 4D (dead, dying, diseased, or down) meats and its grain waste.

Go Raw Today With Raw K9

At Raw K9, we firmly believe that raw feeding can have many benefits for your best friend, including improved digestion, a healthier skin and coat, better dental hygiene, a leaner and more muscular build, and improved behavior. Our all-natural, 100% pasture-raised raw beef and alternative proteins (including duck, fish, lamb, quail, rabbit, and turkey) contain everything that your pup needs to enjoy a long lifetime of optimal health. Our raw foods are rich in essential nutrients to help provide energy and support healthy overall development, no matter what age or breed your dog is. Ready to get started with nutritious and delicious raw dog foods? Browse our products now!