Brennen McKenzie, a California veterinarian, has taken an unblinking look at the "RAW" versus commercial dog food debate.
McKenize has found a lot of puffery, bloviating, conspiracy, philosophy, and paranoia from the the RAW folks, but not much science to support their claims and quite a bit of evidence that commercial dog foods are more than just fine -- they are probably safer and more nutritious as well.
The argument that dogs are designed by their evolutionary history to eat raw meat based diets is riddled with errors and fallacies and ignores the impact of tens of thousands of years of domestication and cohabitation with humans ... The accusations that commercial dog foods are nutritionally inadequate or unsafe are not supported by any objective or scientific evidence, only anecdotes, intuition, and conspiracy theories. There is, in contrast, significant evidence that commercial dog foods are nutritious and healthy and that they have contributed to greater longevity and reduced nutritional and infectious disease morbidity of dogs fed these diets.
The benefits promised by advocates of BARF diets for dogs are numerous... However, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support these claims. BARF proponents have no shortage of opinions and anecdotes to demonstrate the benefits of their diets, but they have a severe shortage of data.
The risks of raw meat based diets, however, are well-documented. Homemade diets and commercial BARF diets are often demonstrable unbalanced and have severe nutritional deficiencies or excesses. Dogs have been shown to acquire and shed parasitic organisms and potentially lethal infectious diseases associated with raw meat, including pathogenic strains of E. coli and Salmonella...
So with a dodgy theory behind it, no sound evidence of benefits, and clear risks, there is no justification for recommending raw meat based diets for dogs.
Of course not everyone agrees! You will hear cautions from some people. No problem there, but be sure to down the leash before listening too closely.
Do they own a cancer-prone breed like a Bernese Mountain Dog, a Scottish Terrier, an Irish Wolfhound, or a Flatcoated Retriever?
Do they own a giant breed like a Great Dane or a Scottish Deerhound, which is likely to die from gastric torsion or heart disease?
Do they own a toy breed whose jaws are too crowded to hold its teeth, or do they own a heavily inbred rare breed with a gene pool that was closed with less than 50 dogs?
Now ask yourself this: are you really going to listen to these people when it comes to the health risks associated with dog food when the same people so clearly ignored the more obvious and well-documented risks associated with breed selection?!
Do you also ask ask bankrupts for their business plans, three-time divorcees for marital advice, and the obese for dieting tips?
If a person does not know enough about dogs to stay away from a famously unhealthy breed, why would you think they know enough about dog food (or relative risk) to give advice?
If a person does not have enough common sense to read the label on the DOG -- the most important decision they will make when it comes to owning, raising, training or living with the animal -- why would you pay any attention to what they have to say about dog food?