Welcome to raw feeding! If you’re reading this, I hope you’ve decided that giving your dog a raw diet of protein, fruits and vegetables is the most beneficial direction to go in order for them to live the fullest, most vibrant life possible. Whatever the reason, I am glad you are here learning about a new way to do the best you can for your best friend.
I grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin. We had lots of animals like dairy cows, steers, pigs, cats, and dogs. They all had their appropriate diet. The cows and steers had grains and alfalfa. The pigs had grain, alfalfa, and whatever fruits and vegetables they could get their snouts into. The cats had milk and (when my brother and I could afford it with our allowance) kibble. The dogs ate kibble, too…and occasionally some cat feces may have made it into their gullets, oy! Each animal we had served a purpose. We fed them what we knew was “good” for them. Our parents learned from their parents, and so on. When I got my very own first dog, I fed him some mediocre kibble like I did with the dogs on the farm. And, when I could afford it, I would buy a more expensive (better) brand. It wasn’t until I began working at a doggy daycare, where the owners fed their dogs raw tripe, that I learned about the benefits of raw feeding. Shortly after my job ended there, my dog, Dude, became severely ill with renal lymphoma (by the way, this generally only happens in cats! Not dogs). It was during this time that I really got into learning about how the canine body processes food..“What foods are good, bad?” and “How can I reverse the cancer in his body?” Little did I know I would only have 45 more days with Dude. He went through weeks of chemotherapy and severe sepsis. In the end it was the cancer which spread to his brain that took him. I was distraught, as any loving owner would be. He was my soul, my sunshine. After much research, I concluded it was feeding kibble over time that was the cause of his cancer. I decided, after all of this happened, that I would dedicate myself to learning as much as I could to help more dogs and their owners from ever having to go through this preventable and unnecessary situation. Heck, I even went to culinary school to learn! I want every pooch to live the life they deserve…the BEST life! And, I have found that raw feeding is the way to achieve this!
Kibble. Oh, boy. Kibble. This word taunts me on a daily basis. I do understand that money is a factor and as a result people choose kibble. I did. I get it. Believe me. Why do dogs eat it? The answer: Because that is what you give them. If they had a choice they’d choose a raw diet like their present day and past ancestors did/do (wolves). But, did you ever wonder how kibble is made? It’s pretty darn nasty. Let’s get started, shall we?
Commercial kibble is roughly 60% carbohydrates. Dogs do not need carbs in any sort of way. I repeat, they do NOT need carbohydrates! They don’t digest them like humans do. They turn to sugars and pollute the body. Kibble is filled with such low quality ingredients, not regulated by the US government, that you have to ask yourself how much nutrition is my dog really getting from this? Dogs are getting more and more diseases, illnesses, and allergies from a kibble diet than ever before. Dog owners are very unaware of the toxins that are in the highly processed, cooked kibble they feed to their dogs each day. There are aflatoxins (a carcinogen from moldy grains) and PBDE’s (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), which are found in flame retardants!
One of the main suppliers for meats to the rendering facilities where your kibble is made, are slaughterhouses. These slaughterhouses supply the carcasses of horses, cattle, chicken, cats, dogs, skunk, rat, and various other animals. Government regulations require meat to be “denatured” (I learned a lot about this in culinary school!) before being sent to rendering plants. This way, the carcass will not be sent off and used for human consumption. What does that mean exactly? Let me tell you. Simply, it means that that the carcass is in some way contaminated which causes it to be unusable for humans to eat. How do they accomplish this? By soaking it in a bevvy of carbolic acid, creosote, fuel oil, kerosene or citronella. Unfortunately, I am sure there are more chemicals than what are in this short list. And, this is just the first step in the making of kibble! Once the carcasses have soaked up the stuff, they are deemed fit and sent off to the rendering plant.
Rendering plants are stock full of raw materials and products. These materials and products are a little of this and a little of that; whole animal bodies and animal parts, plastic bags, Styrofoam, metal tags, plastic ear tags, pet collars. Mostly, it is anything that can be considered waste, but that can still be considered “recyclable”.
Rendering: definition. “Cooking down the raw material to remove the moisture and fat”.
Example: When you cook bacon, the fat is rendered into the pan. In this case, the plastics and metal pieces are also rendered with the fat. Yum.
The processing begins now…all of the supermarket cast-offs and throw-aways are blended in with the chemically soaked animal carcasses to maintain a certain ratio. After this, they are loaded into a stainless steel crater with a grinder at the bottom that pulverizes the ingredients (these are those renderings we talked about) into smaller pieces, and then taken to a smaller grinder where they are further crushed into a paste. Once the crushing and shredding is done, they are cooked at 280 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. This high temperature caused the meat to melt off the bones and produce a soup. Carcass soup.
The carcass soup (and any metal, plastic and pesticides) is sent to a press, which squeezes out any moisture remaining and pulverizes it into a sandy ash. When this is done, what are left are yellow grease, “meat”, and bone meal. Depending on the dominant ingredient/material, the product 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 a label that indicates any use of dog meal, skunk meal, rat meal, or any other mystery meats they have in there. But, they’re in there.
At the end of this process, you have to ask yourself, “Are there really ANY nutrients left in there?” The answer is, quite frankly, no. So, their solution is to spray on a vitamin mixture and additives at the end. That makes it all better, right? Again, the answer is no. The vitamins are no good to the pet if they are not in a digestible form. Since most of these vitamins are man made and synthetic, this is quite often the case.
Once the meal leaves the rendering plant, it is headed to the pet food manufacturing plant where they add their own garnishes and sauces (preservatives, food dye, synthetic vitamins, molasses coating). After this, it is pushed through an extruder, pressure-cooked at VERY high temperatures again, and turned into a paste. This paste is squeezed through pipes that create a blob that can be shaped into little biscuits or shape the company has decided to use. Post-biscuit shaping, they are puffed up like popcorn and baked AGAIN, before being sprayed one final time with fats, synthetic vitamins, and flavor enhancers.
No matter what the original ingredients were going in, even if they were grass-fed this or Pasteur raised that, it all ends up the same. Kibble contains little to no nutrition. What you see on the shelf is a really eye catching bag with colors, words/phrases and photos that appeal to you, as a human. What your dog wants is food, nutrition and sustenance.
Now that the bad part of kibble is out in the open, I think we should discuss something a little more positive, like “how great a raw diet can be for your dog!”
A raw diet is full of so many good things that have the most amazing results!
- Full nutrition!
- Living enzymes and probiotics to help aid digestion and overall cellular health!
- Shinier coat!
- Better dental hygiene and breath!
- More stabilized energy levels!
- Clean ears! (no yeast build-up)
- Beautiful stools!
- Longer life!
- Better digestion!
A raw diet can be daunting to someone who is new to the entire idea. But, we are here to help take the scary part out of that for you. In the following blog PART 2 of Welcome to Raw Feeding, I will go over the wonderful plethora of benefits that raw feeding provides. I will go over what the proteins contribute, and break that down a bit for you. Also, I will go over the amazing facts on vitamins and nutrients that fresh fruits and vegetables bring to the bowl. Be sure to follow!
**As will all blogs or any information posted with regards to TC Raw Eats, these are purely OUR views based on our own research and personal experiences.