Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's Raw, What's Meaty, and What's Bone?

"I feed raw.  Shouldn't you?" -- a slogan for Wysong Pet Products, to be printed on tee-shirts.  As a distributor of Wysong's raw-dehydrated foods, I can order 8 tee-shirts free of charge.  I'm ambivalent.

For a niche pet food company to promote raw feeding may seem public-spirited, but not entirely.  Wysong markets a line of dehydrated raw food products, some just meats with supplements and some meats, supplements, and vegetables.  For hiking and camping trips, their line of dehydrated meats is convenient.  For owners who cannot tolerate handling raw-meaty-bones, dehydrated meats are better diets than other pet food options. As treats and training aids, dehydrated meats are great -- they break into tiny bits, are not greasy or sticky, as are the baked liver treats I make at home. So, I am willing to sell Wysong's dehydrated meats for certain purposes.

Dr. Wysong promotes varied pet feeding -- some kibble, some canned foods, some dehydrated raw, and some fresh foods not produced by Wysong. The Wysong-recommended pyramid for healthy pet diets starts with whole prey for carnivorous cats and dogs -- a leap ahead of other pet food manufacturers.  Wysong does not sell whole prey, so promoting whole prey as the best pet diet does not generate profits for his company.  Not many pet owners can feed whole prey, however, unless they are avid hunters with large freezers.

Next best is a diet of raw-meaty-bones, with fresh veggies and fruits (Dr. Wysong seems to be a BARFer, believing that carnivorous pets benefit from eating vegetable matter).  Worse diets include cooked foods, and the worst pet diets of all are just kibble and canned mush, both of which Wysong sells.  I do find it remarkable that this company calls its own products the worst diet for pets.

It is admirable that Dr. Wysong promotes appropriate carnivore diets that his company does not sell.  Unfortunately he blurs a very important distinction between raw-dehydrated foods and raw-meaty-bones.  Dehydrated raw meat products contain ground bones that provide appropriate minerals in the diet but do little to clean pets' teeth.  Raw-meaty-bones that dogs and cats gnaw and chew clean pets' teeth as Nature intended.  Wolf/dogs and cats require raw meaty bones to keep their mouths healthy. Most "raw" pet meat products, such as Wysong's, are minced meats and ground bones.

For 30 years, Dr. Wysong has campaigned against high-starch diets for pets (see August blog).  Starchy kibbles and canned foods are the main source of many pet allergies and serious chronic diseases, he says, because wolf/dogs and cats did not evolve to digest high-carbohydrate diets, which are excreted in huge piles of malodorous poop.  If a kibble can be produced without starches and other carbohydrates, pet owners would have to be educated to recognize that starches are inappropriate foods for carnivorous pets.  When a company produces lines of starchy kibbles and canned mush, what authority do they have to debunk kibble and the complete-and-balanced diet myth?

To educate owners to feed appropriate diets, the entire commercial pet food myth -- that pets can best be fed manufactured foods -- must be debunked.  Some commercial pet foods, such as dehydrated meats -- have a place as treats and convenience foods, but dogs' and cat's principal diet must be raw-meaty-bones.  Pet owners need to be educated to shop for raw meats and meaty bones and to avoid commercial pet food altogether.  Pet owners can shop for all family members in raw meat and fresh food aisles of their grocery store and avoid the pet food aisle like the plague it is.

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