Saturday, January 26, 2013

Communication to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (UK)

Mr. Nick Stace, Chief Executive Officer
Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

Dear Mr. Stace:

Dr. Tom Lonsdale invited me to send you a communication about my experience with raw-meaty-bones, as a dog breeder and as the founder of Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op. 

History with dogs:
  I raised Papillons for 10 years.  The first Papillons were fed cooked chicken and rice.  That's what the veterinarian told me to feed, because I was not willing to feed commercial pet foods.  The first dogs lost their teeth by the age of 10.  They had rampant gum disease, even though I had their teeth cleaned every few years -- not often enough, obviously.  The second two Papillons were luckier, because I discovered raw-meaty-bones when they still had their teeth and their health.  They loved chicken legs and thighs -- each a good meal for a small dog.  They loved chewing on small beef neck bones.  They ate a good variety of beef parts, cut into approximately 2" x 2" hunks -- large enough for them to chew but not to swallow whole.  


The key to feeding small dogs and puppies is to make the pieces large enough for them to have to chew and not to try to swallow whole.  Nani died at almost 14 years from a sudden heart attack.  Ben died at almost 15 from a sudden heart attack.  Neither had any chronic degenerative diseases, had healthy mouths, and great spirits until the last moment of their lives. 


I began breeding Labrador retrievers 13 years ago when I moved to a farm where the dogs could run.  At first I fed the dogs commercial kibble that the veterinarian told me it was “premium quality”, guaranteed to be “100% compete and balanced".  Several dogs had itchy skin, ear irritations/infections, and poor coats.  One had sore joints.  Veterinarians prescribed anti-histamines, steroids, and antibiotics.  Then came prescription diets with limited ingredients.  The poor dogs were constantly receiving some kind of medication to alleviate their health problems and eating an unhealthy diet.   Fortunately, against veterinary advice, I also fed the dogs some raw meaty bones three or four times a week to keep their teeth clean and gums healthy. . At least I had learned that much about dogs. 


After 7 months of feeding commercial pet foods, and observing “allergy “problems, I consulted Robin Woodley, DVM, an alternative veterinarian in Kapa’au.  Dr. Woodley told me she will not even treat dogs that are fed commercial pet foods, because those foods cause so many health problems.   Thus began my voyage toward raw feeding.  Dr. Woodley recommended a BARF (Bones and raw food) diet, which I prepared at home.  Almost immediately, the dogs “allergies” disappeared, and they became notably healthier and happier.  The “super-premium”, “100% complete and balanced” kibble that other vets recommend and sell was causing their health problems (and health problems for tens of millions of other pets).  


Today.  I now raise both Labs and standard Poodles, which were added to the kennel three years ago.  I feed my 18 dogs (and one Maine Coon cat) Raw Meaty Bones (rmb).  Remember, we are feeding a friendly wolf, whose normal diet consists of whole prey – raw meat, organs, and meaty bones.  Genetic research shows that dogs are a sub-species of grey wolf.  Dogs did not evolve to eat grains and cooked foods.  Commercial pet foods are not digested well and come out as huge, smelly poops.  RMB-fed dogs have 1/3 as much poop, and it doesn’t smell bad!  The health benefits of feeding a species-appropriate diet are enormous.


My puppies are raised on raw-meaty-bones from the age of 3 to 4 weeks.  Until they get teeth, they get a mush of ground meats, raw eggs, and plain yogurt with a vitamin/ mineral supplement.  When they have teeth, they begin to eat a full array of meats and meaty bones.  I watch them with their first chunks of meat.  Puppies learn quickly how to chew raw meats and to gnaw on meaty bones (often using their feet to hold).  

I have never had a case of salmonella or any other bacterial infection in dogs or puppies.  Let's remember that I am reporting experience with dozens of Labs and standard Poodles and with literally hundreds of puppies over 13 years.  I have had no problems with feeding rmb to small dogs, large dogs, or cats, as long as the meats and bones are large enough for them to chew.
 

I have not had any fractured molars or excessively worn teeth.  The key to preventing tooth fracture is not to feed bare bones.  The diet is MEATY- bones that elicit gnawing, not cracking down on hard bones.  Weight-bearing bones from herbivores are very hard and unsuitable for tooth-clearning.  Much better to clean teeth are softer bones, such as ribs, and bones with many angles, such as neck bones.  My oldest Labs show some tooth wear, but I am sure they will die before their teeth become dysfunctional.  Their teeth stay pearly white even into old age.  Their gums are a healthy salmon pink.  They have no chronic degenerative diseases.

The largest improvement in pets' health comes from removing commercial pet food from their diet.  From that point, one can feed 100% raw-meaty-bones, or mostly raw-meaty bones with some added veggies and supplements, if one likes to spend time and money on these unnecessary things.  After all, dogs and wolves can survive on garbage scavenged from human dumps.  Garbage is surely not an ideal diet, but dogs can digest carbohydrates, if life depends on it.  Most pet owners do not aim to feed their beloved pets a starvation diet, so why load them with minced veggies and cooked starches?  The ideal diet is a variety of meats and meaty bones.

Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op.  In July 2010, I decided to arrange delivery of local, grass-fed beef to my farm.  For many years before, I had met the Hawaii Beef Producers (HBP) delivery truck at restaurants and grocery stores to which they deliver.  Other pet owners were also at these locations to pick up meats and bones for their pets.  Why not consolidate?  HBP agreed to deliver to my farm.  The USDA meat inspector at the HBP plant agreed to inspect for health some beef parts that are not used for human consumption (e.g., tracheas, lungs, spleens).  Most co-op meats are USDA approved for human consumption but not preferred by US consumers (e.g., cheek meat, back ribs, neck bones, liver, and kidneys). 

I formed a non-profit co-op, posted a web site for orders, and send a consolidated pet-food order to HBP weekly.  Six months after founding, the Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op had 21 members, all recruited by word-of-mouth.  Twelve months later the co-op had 121 members, and now has 150+ members, all recruited by other members.  I have heard more than 100 stories of how dogs and cats get well on rmb, of how puppies thrive on rmb, and of how rmb made their aging, ailing dogs alive again. It is hard for me to believe the large number of pet owners who tell the same sad story of veterinary "treatment" for starchy pet-food-induced illnesses and how their pets' health improved dramatically on the rmb diet.

Raw pet-food co-ops are thriving in most US cities, all without approval from veterinarians, most of whom oppose raw feeding.  I don't have to tell you of the enormous financial support pet-food companies supply to veterinary schools, to veterinary research, and to veterinarians in practice.  In 2010, I conducted a Freedom-of-Inquiry investigation of the 26 US accredited veterinary schools to determine sources of funding for the schools, faculty research, and students.  You will know that, not only are vet schools, research, and students supported by global pet-food companies, but pet-food companies also send representatives to teach the small-animal nutrition course.  It's a scandal waiting to happen. 

 If these data applied to human medical training, research, and practice, the complicity of medicine with commercial food manufacturers would have been publicly exposed many years ago.  Until veterinary medicine frees itself from the grip of pet-food companies, it is vulnerable to public distrust -- and disgust.

I hope this commentary is helpful to you and your colleagues, as you deliberate the future of veterinary medicine in the UK.. It seems the pet-food companies realize that raw and "natural" foods are preferred by increasing numbers of pet owners.  They adjust their advertising, if not their products, to meet the new demand.  Veterinarians should lead the march toward greater pet health, not impede its progress.  It's time for evolutionary and genetic knowledge to inform veterinary practice about the dietary needs of carnivorous pets.
Sincerely yours,

Sandra Scarr, Ph.D.
Commonwealth Professor of Psychology emerita

University of Virginia
University of Virginia