So my Brownie has just been diagnosed with early stages of renal failure, and of course the vets have insisted that I switch her to a presciption diet with immediate effect.
I tried to argue as to why I won't do it but pretty much got told that a raw diet was bad for her and would make matters worse blah blah blah; cause a raw diet has very high protein content and with renal failure Brownie will not be able to cope with such a high protein content.
I then asked what was an acceptable level of protein for a dog that had renal disease and was told that it should be approximately 20% MEAT or protein of their total diet. I had to hold my tongue because a raw diet generally has only about 20% protein, and what people don't seem to understand is that high meat content does not necessarily equal high protein content. The main difference, however, between a raw diet and crapple (kibble), is the quality of the protein, particularly the quality of protein that goes into prescription diets.
I also asked then what should the rest of her diet consist of if only 20% of it should be meat. I was told that the remaining 80% of her diet should consist of carbs from vegetables and fruits such as sweet potatoes and potatoes, barley and grains. Again I had to hold my tongue cause these foods are not even appropriate for a healthy dog as it it very difficult for dogs to digest vegetables and grains, much less a dog that has compromised kidney functions.
Anyway, the objective of this post it to just highlight a few things. The first being that if your vet ever tells you to feed a prescription diet to your sick dog, just take a step back and think for a minute:
Why is it that when humans get diagnosed with some sort of disease, the doctors would almost always tell us to change our diet to a more nutritious, natural and wholesome diet and to go organic if possible; but when our fur kids are diagnosed with the same disease, the vets try to shove highly processed foods that are full of chemicals and preservatives with almost zero nutrition down our kiddos' throats?
Secondly, let's take a look at the prescription diet that will be recommended by all vets for our furkids that have been diagnosed with renal failure: which according to the manufacturer is a complete and balanced food that provides all the nutrition dogs need.
According to the manufacturers: the diet is formulated with the following benefits:
- Reduced phosphorus to help maintain healthy kidney function
- Reduced levels of protein to help reduce kidney workload
- Reduced sodium to help maintain normal blood pressure
- Increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids to help blood flow to the kidneys
- Increased levels of B-complex vitamins to compensate for vitamin losses in the urine
- Added antioxidants to control cell oxidation and promote a healthy immune system
It apparently also has reduced sodium at 0.23% compared to 0.084% in raw chicken.
The level of protein in this particular kibble is listed as 14.3% while raw chicken is at about 16.3% and pork at about 20%. But what you need to really consider is that raw chicken and pork is generally free from all sorts of ridiculous chemicals and preservatives that are required to make the kibble and to keep it fresh. So yes while the protein level is lower, you are also feeding your dog a whole lot of nonsense which will stress their already dysfunctional system even more.
In terms of the added supplements, well most of the nutrients are available in raw meat and you can always supplement your dog with better human grade vitamins.
Additionally the type of protein that is used in kibble is far from appropriate for our fur-kids. If you take a look at the ingredients list you will find the following:
Brewers Rice, Pork Fat, Dried Egg Product, Flaxseed, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Liver Flavor, Powdered Cellulose, Lactic Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Dried Beet Pulp, L-Lysine, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Citrate, Choline Chloride, Iodized Salt, Calcium Sulfate, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), L-Threonine, Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), L-Tryptophan, Magnesium Oxide, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors.
It is important to note that all dog foods and cat foods must list the ingredients of their food in order of weight. Therefore, the first ingredient listed is the most important because there is more of that ingredient than any other.
Now, we know that dogs are carnivores and are not meant to eat grains as they simply cannot digest it! And the main ingredient in this food is Brewers rice! (To find out how to properly read dog food labels, check out The Dog Food Project.)
What exactly is brewers rice? Have any of you thought about what it really is? According to The Dog Food Project, brewers rice is a processed rice product that is missing many of the nutrients contained in whole ground rice and brown rice. Contrary to what many pet food companies want to make you believe, this is not a high quality ingredient, just much cheaper than whole grain rice.
Then the second ingredient listed is Pork Fat. It is important to note that any animal fat listed on a dog food is not required to originate from "slaughtered" animals. The rendered animals can be obtained from any source, so there is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: "4-D animals" (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), roadkill, animals euthanized, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on.
Corn gluten meal is also high up on the ingredients list and what it really is, is an inexpensive by-product of human food processing which contains some protein but serves mainly to bind food together. It is not a harmful ingredient but should not rank high in the ingredient list of a quality product.
And then there is Chicken Liver Flavour...Anything that has the word flavour is something you need to be careful about. The manufacturer may or may not give more detailed information about what is used for flavoring and whether it is made from a natural or chemical substance.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture now.
Basically, I just cannot see how a bag of highly processed food can be deemed as a complete and balanced died versus whole, natural and unprocessed meat. It just doesn't make sense. A sick dog needs to get high quality nutrients from reliable and clean sources without any added chemicals and preservatives. Quite frankly, if you fed your dog table scraps, that could potentially be better than that expensive bag of prescription kibble!
At the end of it all, I'd like to quote Jamie Oliver "If you can't understand what's on the label, don't buy it".
Should You Feed Your Dog High Performance Kibble?
Why I will Never Feed My Kids Kibble Again?
We are Carnivores
The Quality of Pet Food Ingredients
The Quality of Pet Food Ingredients Part 2
Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats
Note: This post is intended as a guide or reference and is not meant to replace veterinary advice. The information on this post is based on conclusions that I have made after extensive reading, advice from other raw feeders in particular the Raw Feeding and Raw Chat Facebook groups, and on my experience with my own dogs. Please consult your holistic veterinarian for advice on the most appropriate way to feed and supplement your dogs.