Scientific studies into the benefits of raw feeding for dogs and cats are relatively rare – tests are expensive and so often only funded by large pet food companies. A recent study in the Journal of Animal Science however compared the impact of four foods, one of which was a raw diet, on intestinal microbes with some great results. The study is limited and shows only a few benefits but its an important piece in a growing body of evidence for raw feeding.
The study focussed on differences in the microbiota of the faeces of dogs fed four different diets:
- Freshpet Vital Raw – a raw dog food
- Freshpet Vital Balanced Complete Nutrition – a ‘lightly cooked’ dog food
- Freshpet Roasted Meals – another ‘lightly cooked’ dog food
- Purina Dog Chow – an extruded dog food
8 dogs were tested, with the faeces examined over a 7 day period once the dog had been on the diet for 21 days.
The study found that the raw food led to the following (in comparison to the other foods):
• Higher gut acidity – which is obviously good for killing pathogens. They also found a greater prevalence of acid-resistant microbes
• Higher fecal ammonia concentration – this implies more ammonia is being shed in the faeces rather than being processed by the kidneys into urea – thereby providing less stress on the kidneys
• Higher fecal acetate concentration – this implies there is more microbial digestion of insoluble fibres for fuel for the dog
What to take away from this
The study is obviously limited with only 8 dogs, certain foods and a limited scope of focus. However, it is an important study in helping to justify the health claims raw feeders have been talking about for decades. Hopefully more studies will be done in future to show a greater picture of the full benefits of raw feeding. You might also want to check out Pottenger’s seminal work on raw feeding on cat health here
The study can be found here