Kibble is Kibble is STILL Kibble Written by Dr Jeannie Thomason – The Whole dog

Is Kibble bad for our pets?

Dog owners are becoming  confused over what food is the best for their dogs. There seems to be so much conflicting information out there today. Who do you believe? With all the recalls over the last several years, we worry about safety and quality nutrition.

It is so simple to me what the truth is about the best food to feed our dogs however, somewhere along the road over the past 50 years or so, we have all been lead to believe that somehow, by some miracle or perhaps evolution has made our dogs omnivores. This a lie that the majority of pet owners have bought into hook, line and sinker. Not being enough of a lie, we have also been lead to believe that our dogs are after-all, domestic animals so, they are best fed processed, commercial “dog food” that supposedly is nutritionally balanced and scientifically formulated to be healthy for our pets.

We are told that this highly processed, over cooked “stuff” contains whole grains, vegetables and real meat! I mean, after all, look at those wonderful commercials we see on TV about how healthy the food is and our dogs themselves don’t realize they are eating something “good for them, they just know it tastes good”. And after all, don’t our veterinarians carry similar foods and recommend it to us to feed to our dogs as well? Surely schooled veterinarians know what is best for our dogs. After all, what else do you feed a dog but “dog food”, right?

WRONG, oh so wrong!

We have been bombarded with this information for so long and so often that we have come to believe a lie my friends. A LIE produced by the multi-billion dollar pet food industry that sponsors the classes in veterinary colleges that are taught to the veterinary students to scare us all into thinking that we must buy and feed their
“scientifically formulated”, processed food products or our dogs will never really be healthy.

Are you aware that just over the last 25 years dogs (and cats) have been presenting with obesity, kidney disease, diabetes, liver failure, skin disorders, IBD and even cancer by the time they are 5 years old if not younger?! This was rare to un-heard of in our canine companions until this time. Our dogs should live well into their late teens and early twenties with few to no health problems ever seen. Let’s stop and ponder this for a moment. Why do you think dogs are so much sicker these days than ever before in history? Could it be that we are feeding them foods they are not designed to be able to digest in the first place? Could it be that these foods are processed and cooked down until there is NO nutritive value remaining?

Did you know that pet food manufacturers actually spray on a soup of thrown away restaurant grease/cooked fats with synthetic vitamins and other additives to their products before sealing the bags and shipping them out? It is the addition of these synthetic additives, flavor enhancers and some vitamins that are necessary to make the kibble come anywhere close to being able to be called complete and balanced. The ingredients listed on the bag have no nutritive value once processed into what you see when you open the bag. Any nutrition in the ingredients the kibble started out with has been destroyed. However, I am getting just a little ahead of myself here. Let’s start at the beginning.

Dogs are carnivores

If you were to look inside the body of a wolf and a little Japanese Chin (or any breed of dog for that matter); side by side you would see they both have the *exact same kind of teeth, saliva, digestive tracts, stomach acid, kidneys, liver etc. The only difference you would be able to find is that the organs would be smaller in size relative to their bodies. The little Chin would be identical internally in every way to the wolf.

Interesting? After all, the Chin and our domestic dogs today were originally bred from wild dogs/wolves. So, what does a wolf eat? Kibble? Fire roasted carrots and rabbit stew?

*For more information about our dogs being carnivores, please read HERE

Let’s be perfectly clear right here, that processed pet food, (no matter what brand, no matter how much it costs, if the ingredients are organic, or nothing more than road kill and euthanized animals) all ends up the same way – nutritionally DEAD and void of any true nutrition. That’s right, it does not matter what “raw materials” you start out with; whether it is premium, grass fed, organic beef, lamb or what have you, the final product is pretty much the same as the cheapest kibble you can buy at the grocery store.

How can this be?

First of all let’s see what the pet food industry really means when they label their ingredients as “natural” or “organic”.

Because our United States government has never bothered to define “natural” for human foods, this word essentially means anything the manufacturer says it does, especially when it comes to pet food.

AAFCO’s official definition is:
NATURAL: A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as may occur unavoidably in good manufacturing processes.

Did You GET THAT?? You can render or extrude a pet food into mush, but it’s still considered “natural” if you haven’t added anything synthetic, unless you had to.

AAFCO also says that labeling something “natural” must not be misleading; but even AAFCO knows this is impossible. Pet food companies may in reality NOT add anything synthetic in the main raw materials for the food. However, typically they buy bulk mixtures of vitamins, minerals and other additives to spray on the finished product from factories overseas, where, as we all learned in the 2007 pet food recalls, quality controls are for the most part more nonexistent then they are here.


Officially, the word organic refers to anything that is now, or ever was, alive. Your dog is organic according to this – your lawn is. Your salad is. Your newspaper is, you are! Yes, this means that without any real quality control over pet food manufacturing that they may say their food is organic if they use once live meat or veggies in the “raw materials” they start out with for their unique formula.

Now, to even begin to understand the pet food industry we need to look at the “raw material” as it is received at the plant. Typically, the slaughterhouse for animal carcasses is one of the main suppliers of material to the rendering industry. To prevent condemned meat from being re-routed and used for human consumption, government regulations require that the meat be “denatured” before being sent to the rendering plants. Nice word, but what does that mean? Basically it means that first it must be contaminated in some way that would make it virtually unusable for human consumption. Some of the materials used to accomplish this task are: carbolic acid, creosote, fuel oil, kerosene, citronella, etc. Once this stuff has literally soaked into the meat, it’s then fit to be sent on to the rendering plant.

Rendering plants are piled high with “raw product/material” consisting of a mixture of whole bodies and animal parts, plastic bags, Styrofoam packages, metal tags, pet collars-anything and everything that is considered to be “waste”- but suitable for recycling.

“Rendering” is the beginning process of cooking the raw animal material (truly organic range free chicken or rendering plant carcasses) to remove the moisture and fat. In the processing of pet food, all the raw materials used to make the pet food are first blended in order to maintain a certain ratio between the contents e.g. animal carcasses and supermarket rejects. Then, the carcasses are loaded into a 10- foot deep stainless-steel pit or hopper with an auger-grinder at the bottom that grinds up the ingredients into small pieces. These pieces are then taken to another auger-grinder for even finer shredding. Once shredded fine enough, the shredded material is then cooked at 280 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes (the amount of time and temperature the U.S. uses, those in Britain and Europe may differ slightly but, remember the high temperature and the amount of time it is cooked). This part of the processing /cooking causes the meat to melt off of bones to produce a soup or slurry.

The cooked meat and bone slurry, along with any metal, pesticides, etc. that may have been in what was rendered down are then sent to a hammermill press, which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverizes the product into a gritty powder. Once the batch is finished, all that is left is yellow grease, “meat” and bone meal. Depending on the dominant ingredient of a particular run, the product now becomes: beef, chicken, lamb, meat meal, meat by products, poultry meal, fish meal, fish oil, yellow grease, tallow, beef fat, chicken fat, etc. You will never see on the label any signs of using dog meal, cat meal, skunk meal, rat meal, or any of the other “goodies” but “its in there”. If the raw materials came from a slaughter house then it is mixed in with the everyday batches of “raw material”.

The term “meal” on a pet food label simply means that the materials in the meal have been rendered. The quality and content of the meal may be variable across batches. In the USA, this means that some question the nutritional value of the by-products. James Morris and Quinton Rogers, two professors with the Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of California at Davis Veterinary School of Medicine, felt there was a lack of information on the bioavailability of nutrients of pet food ingredients. The pet food labels give the supposed nutritional adequacy, but think about it, there are no true nutrients left from the processing so all that you can really look at is the vitamin mixture and additives they spray on at the end of processing. Not only this but these “nutrients” are no good if they are in a form indigestible by the pet which is normally the case since these vitamins, etc. are synthetic/man made.

Once the meal is made or sent to the pet food manufacturing plant, they then add their own “enhancers” (i.e. preservatives, food dye, synthetic vitamins, etc.) and put it through an expander or extruder. It is then pressure-cooked (steam, pressure, at very high temperatures again) and becomes a paste which is extruded through pipes which shape the blobs of paste into small biscuits or other uniform shapes. These are then puffed like popcorn and baked or dried again before being sprayed a final time with fat, digests, and the synthetic vitamins and flavor enhancers.

In some cases, the cooked meat and bone go directly into a press, which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverizes the product into a gritty powder. The grit is then sifted to remove the excess hair and large bone chips; although, at times larger bone chips and hair do get past the sifting process as some owners can attest to finding in the resulting kibble. This is then added to cereal fines (processed grains) and any cooked, ground vegetables they will be using; which may then be made into paste, baked and broken into pieces and then sprayed with fat, digests, vitamins and flavor enhancers.

Facts regarding the effects of heat during processing.

The processing effectively kills off any beneficial enzymes, amino acids, etc. It does NOT kill off or get rid of the sodium Phenobarbital in the carcasses of any euthanized animals that may have been used.

Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) are formed when food is cooked at high temperatures (including when it is pasteurized, sterilized or extruded). When the food is eaten, it transfers the AGEs into the body. AGEs build up in the body over time leading to oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.

At 110 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 43 degrees Centigrade), two of the 8 essential amino acids, tryptophan and lysine, are destroyed.

When food is cooked above 117 degrees F for only three minutes or longer, the following deleterious changes begin and progressively cause increased nutritional damage as higher temperatures are applied over prolonged periods of time:

*proteins coagulate

*high temperatures denature protein molecular structure, leading to deficiency of some essential amino acids

*carbohydrates caramelize

*overly heated fats generate numerous carcinogens including acrolein, nitrosamines, hydrocarbons, and benzopyrene (one of the most potent cancer-causing agents known)

*natural fibers break down, cellulose is completely changed from its natural condition: it loses its ability to sweep the alimentary canal clean

*30% to 50% of vitamins and minerals are destroyed

*100% of enzymes are damaged, the body’s enzyme potential is depleted which drains energy needed to maintain and repair tissue and organ systems, thereby shortening the life span.

Remember, the rendering process alone takes place at a minimum of 280 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes!

When proteins are subjected to high heat during cooking, enzyme resistant linkages are formed between the amino acid chains. The body cannot separate these amino acids. What the body cannot use, it must eliminate. Cooked proteins become a source of toxicity: dead organic waste material acted upon and elaborated by bacterial flora.

According to the textbook Nutritional Value of Food Processing, 3rd Edition, (by Karmas, Harris, published by Van Nostrand Reinhold) which is written for food chemists in the industrial processed food industry: changes that occur during processing either result in nutrient loss or destruction. Heat processing has a detrimental effect on nutrients since thermal degradation of nutrients can and does occur. Reduction in nutrient content depends on the severity of the thermal processing.

Kibble causes inflammation in our pet’s bodies

Kibble food has a high starch. All kibble must contain some form of starch to allow the ingredients to “stick” or bind together. Commonly used starches include various grains (corn, wheat, oat, rice, millet), pea flour, potato or tapioca among others. These foods are first of all, not able to be digested by carnivores – they lack the enzyme amylase that omnivores have in good supply to break down these starches. Secondly, starches are converted to sugars in the body which in turn cause inflammation by stimulating insulin release. High insulin levels over a lifetime can lead to a host of inflammatory processes.

Inflammation is the activation of the immune system in response to irritation, infection or injury. Characterized by an influx of white blood cells, redness, heat, swelling, pain, and dysfunction of the organs involved, inflammation has different names when it appears in different parts of the body.

Actually, the “dry” nature of the kibble can, in and of itself, cause inflammation. This is because it causes a short-term dehydrated state in the intestines, making the digestive process even more difficult.

So, it is easy to see that no matter what wonderful (or not so wonderful) ingredients the pet food company may start out with, the rendering, cooking, drying, canning and baking (at high temperatures) destroy vitamins, amino acids and enzymes while rendering the proteins a source of toxicity.

In my opinion, it is no coincidence at all that since 1950, as processed food proliferated for both humans and pets, that not only have cancer rates steadily increased to the highest point in history but, we are seeing an increase in liver disease, diabetes, IBD, chronic skin ailments and other once un-heard of dis-eases in our pets today.

The un-healthy effects of consuming cooked food into a digestive system never designed to eat cooked food in the first place, is stretching it to even be considered minimal nutrition. Feeding kibble forces the animal’s body to raid its dwindling supply of nutrient reserves and enzymes which in turn, causes it to remain hungry for quality nutrients after a typical meal. This leads to further hunger even though the stomach is full. The result can be chronic overeating and the rampant obesity now seen in our dogs as well as ourselves nationwide.

We have not even talked about the GMOs in pet food and the toxic affects they have on our pets!

I am often berated for recommending a raw diet as being the very best for our carnivorous pets however, after all my research, education and the experience of feeding my own dogs a raw meaty bone diet for over 20 years now, I can have seen firsthand how much healthier and longer lived our pets can be if fed a species appropriate, fresh, raw meat and bones diet. All the nutrients are there – alive, naturally balanced and complete. Unlike Kibble that is all the same in the end – it still dead, processed, void of life or nutrition – no matter what great ingredients it may have or have not started out with.

Don’t Be Fooled Grain Free is Not Carb Free! By Dr Karen Beker


90 Percent of Pet Foods May Cause Disease in Your Pet

As you might suspect, the driving force behind the pet food industry is not to create a nourishing, species-appropriate diet for your pets; the focus is on making a profit, unfortunately often at the expense of your dog’s or cat’s health.

Dr. Becker explains:

” … 90 percent of pet foods out there contain totally inappropriate ingredients that are not nourishing and actually create low-grade inflammatory processes, diabetes and obesity. All the same health issues occurring in the pet world are occurring in the human realm in terms of overall health. But additionally, these pet foods are rendered, [which means]… not approved for human consumption. On top of the inappropriate ingredients in pet food, if people really knew the quality of food they are feeding their pets, they would be totally appalled.”

For example, the scrap meat that is deemed unfit for human consumption (because it contains tumors, abscesses, diseased tissues, etc.) is often rendered and used as “protein” in pet food.

Bottom line – if you feed a mass marketed commercial pet food, your dog or cat is typically getting a low grade concoction of rendered, leftover animal parts (including not only diseased tissues but can often include beaks, feathers, snouts and feet) and other inappropriate ingredients like genetically modified (GM) corn or soy, as well as wheat and rice.

Your Dog or Cat Wasn’t Meant to Eat All Those Carbs

Another biologically inappropriate ingredient found in plentiful supply in the vast majority of commercial pet foods are grain-based carbohydrates.

“Dogs and cats are by nature carnivores. Kitties are obligate carnivores. Dogs are scavenging carnivores. These two carnivore species don’t even have a carbohydrate requirement. We are putting into their bodies a bunch of foods that are metabolically unnecessary, that are setting up the same degenerative processes that are occurring in human bodies,” Dr. Becker said.

If you’ve ever wondered why dog and cat foods contain so many grains if they’re not nutritionally necessary, it comes down to profits once again. Grains are cheap fillers, and this is why they’re added to most pet foods – not because they have any nutritional benefit for your dog or cat. To create a truly meat-based food costs more, and it is far less expensive, and easier, for pet food manufacturers to load their foods with corn, rice and wheat than it would be to figure out how to make a competitively priced food that would actually be species-appropriate.

“Grain-Free” Doesn’t Mean Carb-Free

Even many of the higher end pet foods marketed as “grain-free” contain carbohydrate fillers like potato or pea fiber. And adding to the problem is the fact that many veterinarians will tell you these and other carb fillers are “good sources of energy,” which could not be further from the truth.

Dr. Becker continued:

“It’s interesting that veterinarians have started marketing some of these carbohydrates as a good source of energy. But absolutely, we know that dogs and cats are not requiring any of these grains – they break down into sugar.

Sugar, of course, causes an insulin release. Insulin then causes blood sugar to drop. Cortisol is then released to rebalance blood sugar. So dogs and cats are dealing with this whole cycle of carbohydrate ingestion, insulin release, and cortisol release. The metabolic syndrome that’s occurring in people – leptin resistance – is absolutely occurring in pets as well. We’re seeing diabetes in dogs and cats, most certainly, and obesity that leads to musculoskeletal issues and secondary organ degeneration. The whole cycle is occurring in pets.”

Your Vet Probably Doesn’t Know Much About Dog and Cat Nutrition

Shocking? Yes. But true nonetheless. Many nutrition courses offered at U.S. veterinary schools are not taught by nutritionists… they’re taught by representatives of major pet food companies. It’s obviously a major conflict of interest, and as a result most veterinarians graduate without having any unbiased nutrition information.

The “education” being offered by pet food companies can quite blatantly promote their products. Dr. Becker remembers being given a laminated chart in veterinary school that listed nationally known dog and cat food brands as the “prescription solutions” to various pet conditions like liver failure or kidney failure. Vet students weren’t taught what to look for in terms of nutrients to support health and healing… they were taught to “prescribe” a certain brand of food.

She continued:

“Veterinarians are graduating totally incompetent and unable to effectively talk about foods outside of what they learned from pet food manufacturers. If they did receive any nutritional counseling, it was archaic…” They are graduating not only with a lack of knowledge about pet nutrition, but also with a skewed perception of what whole nutrition really means.”

This could explain why your veterinarian may have told you to only feed your pet a certain grain-heavy “prescription” diet, or to avoid offering “people food” (even if it’s healthy, species-appropriate food for your pet). And if you’ve ever tried to discuss thinking “outside the box” regarding your pet’s diet, as in providing fresh, whole foods instead of highly processed kibbles or canned varieties, there’s a good chance your vet was not impressed.

“Veterinarians, oftentimes, become pretty defensive – as do medical doctors – when they’re confronted with these issues, because they don’t have enough knowledge to be able to confidently defend their position. They weren’t given a whole lot of nutrition training,” Dr. Becker said.

A Homemade Diet is Best – IF You Do it Right

Your veterinarian may try to discourage you from cooking whole foods for your pet, or feeding raw foods, but if done properly, this is almost always the healthiest way to nourish your pet (just as it’s the healthiest food for you, too). The whole debate about feeding pets raw food (and many veterinarians will discourage you from feeding raw) doesn’t make a lot of sense considering dogs and cats have consumed living, raw meats for thousands of years; it’s what they’re designed for.

“I’m a big proponent of people home cooking or home preparing food for their pets,” Dr. Becker said. “And really, homemade food’s the best and worst food you could possibly feed your pet.”

What Dr. Becker means by best AND worst is… you must remember that simply feeding your pet some raw beef or chicken will in no way meet his nutritional requirements. And if that’s all you feed him, it can be even more dangerous than offering an inexpensive commercial pet food.

Skeletal issues, organ degeneration and endocrine abnormalities are just a few examples of what can occur due to dietary deficiencies of essential fatty acids, calcium, trace minerals and other nutrients from an improperly prepared homemade diet. Well-meaning pet parents are trying to feed species-appropriate food to their dogs and cats, but what many are missing is the need for nutritional balance.In the wild, animals do not just eat the muscle meat of their prey – they consume organs, glands, bones and other body parts that provide for their nutritional needs.

According to Dr. Becker:

“Wild dogs – wolves, coyotes, dingoes, and African wild dogs – have all been documented to sample their environment. They may eat some berries and some grasses. Kitties, certainly, will occasionally nibble on grasses. But hands down, 95 percent of their diet is whole prey. That means skin and fur for fiber; tendons, muscles, and ligaments for additional fiber; whole protein in terms of muscle for energy source.

The contents of the GI tract of prey provides predigested vegetable sources, as well as an abundant source of gastric juices, plus vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

But also remember the head is consumed… They eat the pineal gland, pituitary, liver, spleen, heart, and kidneys. All of those glands provide a whole food source that makes a perfect nutritional package for that particular species. Canis lupus, the wolf, is 99.9 percent genetically identical to the domestic dog. There really is no genetic differentiation between a wild wolf and a domestic dog… That gives us some idea how we should be nourishing our pets.”

If you’re interested in preparing a homemade diet for your pets, see Dr. Becker’s cookbook Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats. Based on the ancestral diets of canines and felines, this book provides a rotational feeding plan and recipes for a meat-based diet that includes appropriate levels of vegetables, fruits, and supplements to complete the diet, analyzed to ensure nutritional needs are met. It will closely mimic what your dog or cat would be eating in the wild, if given the choice, but using ingredients that are easy to source and prepare in your own kitchen.

For example, to mimic the gut contents of prey animals, Dr. Becker recommends adding a mixture of pureed vegetables and probiotics to your dog’s or cat’s meals. This mixture provides highly beneficial antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and phytonutrients not found in muscle meats. There are actually four main categories of balanced nutrition for pets. These are:

  1. Meat, including organs
  2. Veggie and fruit puree
  3. Homemade vitamin and mineral mix
  4. Beneficial additions such as probiotics, enzymes, super green foods that aren’t required to balance the diet, but can enhance the vitality of your pet

Dr. Becker’s recipes for dogs are based on 75 percent meat/organs/bone and 25 percent vegetables/fruits. For cats it’s 88 percent meat/organs/bone and 12 percent veggies. These are the ratios that seem to work well for most healthy pets. That said, if you decide to use a commercial pet food, Dr. Becker offers some helpful guidelines for selecting a quality food, such as avoiding the toxic preservatives ethoxyquin, BHA and BHT. In addition she notes:

“Home cooking is the best thing you can do. Second best is to know the company you’re purchasing from really well so you’re able to discern that the ingredients it uses are U.S.-sourced, human-grade, preferably organic, and of course, species-appropriate – meaning, carbohydrate-free.

These are usually very small companies. The majority of commercially prepared pet foods I can truly wholeheartedly recommend are brands no one has ever heard of. You will never find them at the grocery store. You will not find them at big-box stores like Petco or any of the PetSmarts around.

…Needless to say, you’ve got to really read the labels very, very well. My rule of thumb is this: when you read the label on a dog or cat food, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient or wonder what it is, if you’re not able to clearly discern exactly what it is, don’t put it in your pet’s mouth.”


Dogs are Carnivores by Dr. Jeannie Thomason- The Whole Dog

I feel this bears repeating these days as so many people are treating their dogs like they are humans. I too love my dogs with all my heart and just like they are my children however, we need to remember they are not humans. Nor do they think like humans nor eat like humans. God created dogs to be carnivores to help keep nature in balance.

The assumption that dogs are omnivores remains to be proven, whereas the truth about dogs being natural carnivores is very well-supported by the evidence available to us.

Let’s start in the mouth.
Like humans, dogs have two sets of teeth in their lives. The 28 baby teeth erupt through the gums between the third and sixth weeks of age. Puppy molars. Puppy teeth begin to shed and be replaced by permanent adult teeth at about four months of age. Although there is some variation in breeds, most adult dogs have 42 teeth, with the premolars coming last, at about six or seven months of age.

As you look into your dog’s mouth, notice those huge impressive teeth (or tiny needle sharp teeth). These are designed for grabbing, ripping, tearing, shredding, and shearing meat (Feldhamer, G.A. 1999. Mammology: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. McGraw-Hill. pg 258.). They are not equipped with large flat molars for grinding up plant matter. Their molars are pointed and situated in a scissors bite (along with the rest of their teeth) that powerfully disposes of meat, bone, and hide. Carnivores are equipped with a peculiar set of teeth that includes the presence of carnassial teeth: the fourth upper premolar and first lower molar. Hence, dogs do not chew, they are designed to bite, rip, shred, scissor/crush and swallow.

Canine teeth or as some people call them, Fangs are for grabbing and puncturing, incisors for nibbling, premolars for tearing, and molars for crushing (not chewing or masticating) bone — although our sweet, cuddly family dog may appear to be far more civilized than his wild relatives, he still has the same equipment for eating, grooming, greeting, and defense as his wild relatives.

Four premolars line each side of the upper and lower jaws in back of the canines. These are the shearing teeth, used to rip great hunks of flesh from prey animals. Although our pets no longer hunt for survival, our dogs can still eat in the manner of wolves – by grabbing the meat with the premolars and ripping it off the bone.

The top jaw has two molars on each side, and the bottom jaw has three. These are the crushing teeth, used by wolves to crack medium sized bones like caribou or deer.

Their jaws hinge open widely, allowing them to gulp large chunks of meat and bone. The skull and jaw design of a carnivore is a deep and C-shaped mandibular fossa which prevents lateral movement of the jaw (lateral movement is necessary for eating plant matter). Yes, I emphasize the “gulp”. Dogs do not “chew” their food. In the wild, resources are scarce, Carnivores are designed to be able to gorge and fast for this very purpose; as they are hard wired for this no amount of thinking “he knows he gets fed twice a day” etc. will change the dog’s perspective. He may crunch down once or twice but the fact remains that he is just not designed to “chew” his food. Many people new to raw feeding freak out that their dog might swallow the meat and/or bones whole. YES, they will pretty much do that. They will tear large chunks of meat off the bone and then if the bone is smaller such as a chicken or turkey bone, they will crush the bone by chomping down once or twice and swallow. God designed the dog’s stomach acids to be much stronger than ours and they are designed for digesting large lumps of meat and even good size pieces of RAW bone.

However much, we humans have done to tinker with and change the dog’s body design (resulting in varying sizes and conformations), we have done nothing to change the internal anatomy and physiology of our carnivorous canines. “Dogs have the internal anatomy and physiology of a carnivore”. (Feldhamer, G.A. 1999. Mammology: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. McGraw-Hill. pg 260.).

They have a highly elastic stomach designed to hold large quantities of meat, bone, organs, and hide. Their stomachs are simple, with an undeveloped caecum
(Feldhamer, G.A. 1999. Mammology: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. McGraw-Hill. pg 260.).

They have a relatively short foregut and a short, smooth, unsacculated colon. This means food passes through quickly. Vegetable and plant matter, however, needs time to sit and ferment. This equates to requiring longer, sacculated colons, larger and longer small intestines, and occasionally the presence of a caecum. Dogs have none of these, but have the shorter foregut and hindgut consistent with carnivorous animals. This explains why plant matter comes out the same way it came in; there was no time for it to be broken down and digested (among other things). Some educated People know this; this is why they tell you that vegetables and grains have to be pre-processed for your dog to get anything out of them. But even then, feeding vegetables and grains to a carnivorous animal is a highly questionable practice.

“Dogs do NOT normally produce the necessary enzymes in their saliva (amylase, for example) to start the break-down process of carbohydrates and starches; amylase in saliva is something omnivorous and herbivorous animals possess, but not carnivorous animals. This places the burden entirely on the pancreas, forcing it to produce large amounts of amylase to deal with the starch, cellulose, and carbohydrates in plant matter. The carnivore’s pancreas does not secrete cellulase to split the cellulose into glucose molecules, nor have dogs become efficient at digesting and assimilating and utilizing plant material as a source of high quality protein. Herbivores do those sorts of things” Canine and Feline Nutrition Case, Carey and Hirakawa Published by Mosby, 1995

Experts agree that wolves only eat the stomach contents of their prey when the prey is quite small and it gets consumed as a result of eating the entire animal (like a rabbit for example). L. David Mech, is considered the world’s top wolf biologist. In his book, Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation (2003) he and other contributing experts compiled over 300 years of research and observations of the wild canine. An excerpt from this informative work clearly portrays the natural, instinctive eating behavior of the carnivore. “Wolves usually tear into the body cavity of large prey… and consume the larger internal organs, such as lungs, heart, and liver. The larger rumen/intestines [one of the main stomach chambers] is usually punctured during removal and its contents shaken out or spilled. The vegetation in the intestinal tract is of no interest to the wolves, but the stomach lining and intestinal wall are consumed, and their contents further strewn about the kill site.” [description added]

The Kerwood Wildlife Education center (Hunting and Meals pages) describes the eating habits of the wolf as: “The wolf’s diet consists mostly of muscle meat and fatty tissue from various animals. Heart, lung, liver, and other internal organs are eaten. Bones are crushed to get to the marrow, and bone fragments are eaten as well.” The only part consistently ignored is the stomach its self and its contents. Although some vegetable matter is taken separately, particularly berries, Canis Lupis doesn’t seem to digest them very well.”

Thus, feeding dogs as though they were humans (omnivores) taxes the pancreas and places extra strain on it, as it must work harder for the dog to digest the starchy, carbohydrate-filled food instead of just producing the normal amounts of the enzymes needed to digest proteins and fats (which, when fed raw, begin to “self-digest” when the cells are crushed through crushing and tearing and their enzymes are released).

Our dogs do not have the kinds of friendly bacteria that break down cellulose and starch for them as we humans/omnivores do. As a result, most of the nutrients contained in plant matter; even pre-processed plant matter are unavailable to dogs. This is why dog food manufacturers have to add such high amounts of synthetic vitamins and minerals (the fact that cooking destroys all the vitamins and minerals and thus creates the need for supplementation aside) to their dog foods. To compensate for this, the manufacturer must add a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than the dog actually needs. The result of feeding dogs a highly processed, grain-based food is a suppressed immune system and the under-production of the enzymes necessary to thoroughly digest raw meaty bones. (Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones).

Dogs are so much like wolves physiologically that they are frequently used in wolf studies as a physiological model for wolf body processes. (Mech, L.D. 2003. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation).

Additionally, dogs and wolves share 99.8% of their mitochondrial DNA (Wayne, R.K. Molecular Evolution of the Dog Family).

This next quote is from Robert K. Wayne, Ph.D., and his discussion on canine genetics (taken from “The domestic dog is an extremely close relative of the gray wolf, differing from it by at most 0.2% of mDNA sequence…”

Dogs have recently been reclassified as Canis lupus familiaris by the Smithsonian Institute (Wayne, R.K. “What is a Wolfdog?”(, placing it in the same species as the gray wolf, Canis lupus. The dog is, by all scientific standards and by evolutionary history, a domesticated wolf
(Feldhamer, G.A. 1999. Mammology: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. McGraw-Hill. pg 472.).

Those who insist dogs did not descend from wolves must disprove the litany of scientific evidence that concludes wolves are the ancestors of dogs. And, as we have already established, the wolf is a carnivore. Since a dog’s internal physiology does not differ from a wolf, dogs have the same physiological and nutritional needs as those carnivorous predators, which, remember, “need to ingest all the major parts of their herbivorous prey, except the plants in the digestive system” to “grow and maintain their own bodies” (Mech, L.D. 2003. Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation.).

Some people are under the impression that the bacteria in raw meat may hurt the dog. IF your dog has an immunocompromised system or some underlying health problem then the bacteria may cause a problem and should be introduced slowly and carefully.

Sadly, raw diets have also been blamed for causing things like pancreatitis and kidney disease, when in reality the underlying disease was already there and is was simply brought to light by the change in diet and detoxing or going through a healing crisis.

Dogs are surprisingly well-equipped to deal with bacteria. Their saliva has antibacterial properties; it contains lysozyme, an enzyme that destroys harmful bacteria. Their short digestive tract is designed to push through food and bacteria quickly without giving bacteria time to colonize. The extremely acidic environment in the gut is also a good bacteria colonization deterrent. People often point to the fact that dogs shed salmonella in their feces, (but, then again, even kibble-fed dogs do this as well!) without showing any ill effects as proof that the dog is infected with salmonella. In reality, all this proves is that the dog has effectively passed the salmonella through its system with no problems. Yes, the dog can act as a salmonella carrier, but the solution is simple – do not eat dog poop and wash your hands after picking up after your dog.

As mentioned above, even kibble-fed (processed commercial diets) dogs can and do regularly shed salmonella and other bacteria. Most of the documented cases of severe bacterial septicemia are from kibble-fed animals or animals suffering from reactions to vaccines. Commercial pet foods have been pulled off shelves more than once because of bacteria AND molds that produce a deadly toxin. What is the solution? Use common sense. Clean up well and wash your hands. Think about your dog, this is an animal that can lick itself, lick other dogs, eat a variety of disgusting rotting things, and ingest its own feces or those of other animals with no ill effects. The dog, plain and simple, can handle greater bacterial loads than we can. Let’s face it; a healthy dog will not suffer from bacterial infections or bacterial septicemia. it is just common sense. A dog suffering from “salmonella poisoning” is obviously not healthy, especially when compared to a dog that ate the same food with the same salmonella load but is perfectly healthy and unaffected. The first dog has suffered a ‘breakdown’ in its health that allowed the bacteria to become a problem; if one is talking in homeopathic medicine terminology, this is simply one more symptom that shows the dog is suffering from chronic disease.

I believe that it is the kibble, not the raw meat that causes bacterial problems. Kibble in the pet’s intestine not only irritates the lining of the bowels but also provides the perfect warm, wet environment with plenty of undigested sugars and starches as food for bacteria. This is why thousands of processed food-fed animals suffer from a condition called Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, or SIBO. Raw meaty bones, however create a very inhospitable environment for bacteria, as RMBs are easily digestible and have no carbohydrates, starches, or sugars to feed the bacteria.

What about Cooked diets?

There are several aspects of cooked diets that pose problems.

First – the effects of heat.

If you burn your finger, what happens? The skin tissue dies. Overly apply heat to food and the nutrients are progressively killed/destroyed.

The act of cooking foods, alters the proteins, vitamins, fats, and minerals in a food. This alteration can make some nutrients more readily available and others less available. Cooking can alter fats to the point of being toxic and carcinogenic.
(The American Society for Nutritional Sciences. April 2004.

Meat Consumption Patterns and Preparation, Genetic Variants of Metabolic Enzymes, and Their Association with Rectal Cancer in Men and Women.
Journal of Nutrition. 134: 776-784.) and cooked proteins can be altered to the point where they cause allergic reactions whereas raw proteins do not. (Clark, W.R. 1995. Hypersensitivity and Allergy, in At War Within: The double edged sword of immunity, Oxford University Press, New York. pg 88.).

If an animal has an “allergy” to chicken or beef, it is most often cooked chicken or beef and rarely the raw form.

Cooking denatures protein. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, denaturation is a modification of the molecular structure of protein by heat or by an acid, an alkali, or ultraviolet radiation that destroys or diminishes its original properties and biological activity.

Denaturation alters protein and makes it unusable or less usable. According to Britannica, protein molecules are readily altered by heat: Unlike simple organic molecules, the physical and chemical properties of protein are markedly altered when the substance is just boiled in water. Further: All of the agents able to cause denaturation are able to break the secondary bonds that hold the chains in place. Once these weak bonds are broken, the molecule falls into a disorganized tangle devoid of biological function.

Again, according to Britannica the most significant effect of protein denaturation is the loss of its biological function. For example, enzymes lose their catalytic powers and hemoglobin loses its capacity to carry oxygen. The changes that accompany denaturation have been shown to result from destruction of the specific pattern in which the amino acid chains are folded in the native protein. In Britannica is the acknowledgement that “cooking destroys protein to make it practically useless”

There are two ways to denature the proteins: chemically using digestive enzymes, or through the use of heat. Via heat, the body does not have the recombinant ability to utilize damaged denatured protein components (amino acids) and rebuild them once again into viable protein molecules.

Some Physiologists claim that cooking and digestion are virtually the same: that cooking is a form of pre-digestion where heat is used to hydrolyze nutrients that would otherwise be hydrolyzed at body temperature through digestion. This due to the enormous heat exposure during cooking, that denatures the protein molecule past a point of being bioactive, however, body heat is too low to effect the protein molecule so adversely. When proteins are subjected to high heat during cooking, enzyme resistant linkages are formed between the amino acid chains. The body cannot separate these amino acids. What the body cannot use, it must eliminate. Cooked proteins become a source of toxicity: dead organic waste material acted upon and elaborated by bacterial flora.

When wholesome protein foods are eaten raw, the body makes maximum use of all amino acids without the accompanying toxins of cooked food.

It should be well understood and recognized in scientific literature that heat breaks down vitamins, amino acids and produces undesirable cross-linkages in proteins, particularly in meat.

At 110 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 43 degrees Centigrade) two of the 8 essential amino acids, tryptophan and lysine, are destroyed. When food is cooked above 117 degrees F for three minutes or longer, the following deleterious changes begin, and progressively cause increased nutritional damage as higher temperatures are applied over prolonged periods of time:

*proteins coagulate
*high temperatures denature protein molecular structure, leading to deficiency of some essential amino acids
*carbohydrates caramelize
*overly heated fats generate numerous carcinogens including acrolein, nitrosamines, hydrocarbons, and benzopyrene
(one of the most potent cancer-causing agents known)
*natural fibers break down, cellulose is completely changed from its natural condition: it loses its ability to sweep the alimentary canal clean
* 30% to 50% of vitamins and minerals are destroyed
*100% of enzymes are damaged, the body’s enzyme potential is depleted which drains energy needed to maintain and repair tissue and organ systems, thereby shortening the life span.

Dr. Kouchakoff of Switzerland conducted over 300 detailed experiments, which pinpointed the pathogenic nature of cooked and processed foods. Food heated to temperatures of just 120 to 190 degrees F (a range usually relegated to warming rather than cooking which, nevertheless destroys all enzymes), causes leukocytosis in the body. Leukocytosis is a term applied to an abnormally high white corpuscle count.

Second, cooked food lacks all the benefits of raw food. Cooked food is deficient in vitamins, minerals, and enzymes; because the very act of cooking destroys or alters much of them (exceptions to this are things like lightly steamed broccoli or tomatoes, but these are not appropriate foods for carnivores!). This decreases the bioavailability of these valuable chemicals and makes them less available to the animal. This is why these things have to be added back into cooked diets or processed pet foods This is why a variety of supplements need to be added and why a variety of species inappropriate items are utilized as ingredients in these meals!

Vitamins and minerals can be added back into cooked food, but finding the appropriate balance is incredibly difficult if not impossible. Synthetic vitamins and minerals do not always exhibit the same three dimensional structure that the natural forms had, which means their efficiency and use to the body are substantially decreased. This is compensated by over-supplementation, which then results in the inhibited uptake of other necessary vitamins and minerals. For example, excess inorganic calcium reduces the availability of iron, copper, iodine, and zinc.

If you are feeding a cooked, home-made diet, how can you be sure that your pet’s needs are being sufficiently met if the very act of cooking destroys much of what is beneficial to your pet?

Essentially, once you cook your pet’s food you have destroyed the amino acids, and other important nutrients and are now left to guessing which vitamins or minerals have been destroyed, which means you would have to know how much was present in the food in the first place, and how much supplementation your pet now needs. Then you run into another problem: no one really knows what our pets REALLY need and use in terms of vitamins and minerals. We only know what amounts are too much and what amounts are too little OVER A SIX-MONTH PERIOD, not over a period of years.

Additionally, how can we be sure that researchers have discovered all the nutrients in raw food that are necessary for our pets? This still is an on-going process (such as Eukanuba adding DHA to their foods; DHA is naturally found in raw prey, so any dog or canid eating raw prey has been receiving appropriate levels of DHA). Feeding cooked food also causes pets to miss out on these ‘unknown’ nutrients, whereas raw food contains them in appropriate amounts.

Some try to compensate for vitamin and mineral deficiencies without resorting to supplements and ignorantly add vegetables, grains, and dairy products to their carnivores’ diets. Complex recipes are developed that create a wide range of foods for the dog (or cat) that must be cooked, steamed, blended, etc. in order for the dog to receive proper nutrition. Our carnivores once again have an omnivorous diet forced upon them in order to help them obtain all the appropriate nutrition that could simply be had by feeding a variety of raw meaty bones and organ meats. Simplicity and perfection are traded for complexity and imperfection. Raw food, however, has the perfect balance of vitamins and minerals if fed as a part of a prey-model diet (i.e. a whole rabbit or chicken)

Raw food also has unaltered proteins and nutrients, and the bio availability of these nutrients is very high. And raw food, particularly whole carcasses and raw meaty bones provide the NECESSARY teeth-cleaning effects that are lacking in any cooked diet. Periodontal disease-causing bacteria are scraped away at each feeding, whereas a cooked food-fed dog has that bacteria remaining, which are then coated over by a sticky plaque resulting from the cooked grains, vegetables, and meat proteins.

According to the textbook Nutritional Value of Food Processing, 3rd Edition, (by Karmas, Harris, published by Van Nostrand Reinhold) which is written for food chemists in the industrial processed food industry: changes that occur during processing either result in nutrient loss or destruction. Heat processing has a detrimental effect on nutrients since thermal degradation of nutrients can and does occur. Reduction in nutrient content depends on the severity of the thermal processing.

Protein molecules under ideal eating and digestive conditions are broken down into amino acids by gastric enzymes. Every protein molecule in the body is synthesized from these amino acids. Protein consumed IS NOT used as protein: it is first recycled or broken down into its constituent amino acids AND THEN used to build protein molecules the body needs.

There are 23 different amino acids. These link together in different combinations in extremely long chains to create protein molecules, In school, we were told it is like individual rail cars form a train. The amino group gives each amino acid its specific identifying characteristic that differentiates it from the others. Excessive heat sloughs off or decapitates the amino group. Without this amino group, the amino acid is rendered useless and is toxic.

I am often berated for recommending a raw diet as being best for our carnivorous pets but after all my research and feeding my own dogs this way for over 25 years now, I just KNOW that our dogs (and cats) were meant to eat RAW meat and bones and if all healthy carnivores were fed such that they would be much healthier in the long run. They would Thrive! Not just survive….

You may also want to read Dogs – The Omnivore/Carnivore Question

For more information on cooked food versus raw food diets for our dogs, please check out the articles below:
The Pottenger Cat Experiments
Pottenger’s Cats – A Study In Nutrition
Cooked Vs. Raw Foods For Pets

I also highly recommend Carissa Kuehn’s web site:

*A consultation is highly recommended before switching your dog to a raw diet or any natural, preventative program is started. A consultation includes guidelines and support in feeding a proper species appropriate diet and holistic program suggestions that are custom-tailored to your own dog’s individual and personal needs. This is particularly imperative in pets that are aging or with existing health issues, or if you’ve done a lot of outside reading and have conflicting information.

Copyright 2003 -2014 This article is the sole property of Dr. Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.

The information offered by Jeannie Thomason, VND is intended to provide general guidance and information. Nothing in this article, on the web site or during a consultation constitutes traditional allopathic veterinary advice. The information in articles on the website are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.