"You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit the views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."— Dr. Who
The implication here is that because there is "no scientific research" performed by institutions like the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA), raw diets should not be fed. This 'no scientific research' declaration is a cop-out claim that has been used to "debunk" raw diets and suppress the truth. But one must realize that there is NO evidence whatsoever to prove that kibbled, processed foods are good for your pets. The only research that has been done into processed foods was performed to see a) if dogs could be fed a grain-based food, b) if dogs could survive acceptably on these processed foods for a short period of time, c) if X brand of food can do such-and-such for the dog (help with kidney disease, help with diabetes, help with obesity), and d) if X brand of food is "better" (more palatable, better liked, less total stool volume, etc.) than Y brand of food. No research has been done to determine the long-term effects of feeding kibble, nor to determine if it is actually healthy for your dog (it is just assumed healthy because it has passed a 6 month feeding trial, and then manufacturers falsely advertise their product as healthy.).
But as for raw diets: one million years of evolution apparently is not enough evidence for those citing lack of research and lack of studies in scientific literature. Neither the anatomical and physiological evidence of dogs, nor mtDNA evidence, nor circumstantial and statistical evidence of diseases in processed food-fed pets, nor anecdotal evidence are enough from those becrying the lack of "studies" and "research". Anecdotal, eyewitness evidence is dismissed because it is scientifically "unfounded" and anecdotal, even when the evidence is standing right before their eyes in easily seen, wonderful health (It is interesting to note that eyewitness evidence is enough to help condemn a man in a court of law, but is not enough for the "scientific" community composed of pet food manufacturers and their affiliates—which include vet universities and most vets.). People then expect raw feeders to take their anecdotal and eyewitness evidence as truth when they have already dismissed the evidence offered by the raw feeder as anecdotal. "I've seen so many dogs come into my clinic with nutritional problems because of raw diets!" (What about all the sick commercially fed pets that come into your office?) "Bones are going to kill your dog" (Oh yeah? Says who? Prove it!). This distinct bias has been used in veterinary literature to "prove" raw diets are not as good as commercial:
"Although there are numerous claims to the health benefits of raw food diets, all are anecdotal...The raw bones included in many of these diets carry risks, and although the actual incidence of complications resulting from ingestion of raw bones is unknown, there are reports of intestinal obstruction, gastrointestinal perforation, gastroenteritis, and fractured teeth..." pg 706, emphasis added (Freeman, L.M. and K.E. Michel. Evaluation of raw food diets for dogs. JAVMA. 218(5): 705-709)
The claims of raw food diets are dismissed as anecdotal, and then the readers are later asked to consider the similarly anecdotal, undocumented "reports" against raw food diets! This is nothing but a head-in-the-sand approach that attempts to maintain the status quo.
There is a lack of "scientific" evidence in the form of research studies on raw diets. Why? Well, who is going to pay for an extensive research study on raw diets when the evidence may be damning? People point to all the studies done by commercial pet food companies and cite the lack of similar studies done on raw diets as evidence that raw diets are bad and inferior. But let us look at how studies actually come about.
First, you must come up with a hypothesis and a purpose. What are you studying? Why are you studying it? What do you expect to prove? After you figure this out you design your study, including methods, control groups, and variables. You draw out everything in great detail, and then you incorporate this into a grant; after all, you need a large amount of money to run your study. So where do you get the money? You look at individuals, corporations, and companies that might be interested in your project. Some of the bigger companies and corporations already have pre-existing grant monies for which you can apply. Other times you have to present the grant to a company and ask for funds that have not already been set aside into a specific grant. How do you ensure the receipt of this money? You appeal to people who will have a great interest in what you are doing. You appeal to the companies that in some way have a financial interest in what you are studying (for example, a biomedical company that wishes to branch out from artificial joints into artificial menisci and artificial vertebral discs—which happen to be what you are studying!), and will therefore fund your project so as to find out more; it just might pay off for them in some way. That is the key: you are approaching companies that may offer you money because there will be something in it for them.
But what happens if the results actually reflect unfavorably upon the product you are testing or the method you are studying, and therefore reflect unfavorably upon the company that makes said product or endorses said method? It depends on how much is at stake. If there was very little at stake initially—perhaps it was a small pilot study with the company looking to see if artificial menisci might even be worth their time—then there should not be a problem. It tells them what they wanted to know and it was not a big loss (Some would argue that perhaps pet food companies did this with raw diets. But if that was the case, they would have all the facts and figures reflecting negatively on raw food readily available; they could simply parade out the results of that study to prove once and for all that raw diets are worthless. But, they do not do this. Why? Because they do not have these results.). But what if billions of dollars and an entire existing superstructure were at stake? What will happen to the results? In human medicine, this has led to the suppression of information, such as the suppression of information regarding the dangers of Vioxx (To read more about how this happens in industry, visit Mercola.com.).
Now let us apply this to the pet food manufacturers and to studies into raw diets. Almost every single study performed on commercial pet foods has been partially or fully funded by pet food companies. An example would be Purina's own study on extending the life of your pet; they discovered that by feeding smaller amounts of their Purina dog food and thus keeping the dog from getting fat, you could extend the life of your dog by two years. This, of course, supports the already well-known thought that keeping your pets trim is better for their health (once again, scientific "studies" being used to prove what is common sense.). But by using only their food in the study, they can then insinuate that it is Purina dog food that extends the life of your pet—and the little asterisk on the ad or the fine print on the TV tells you that this is only if you feed less than the recommended amount on the bag, thereby keeping your pet trim and not fat. But who reads the fine print?
Let us look at raw diets. Who would support a good, solid study into raw diets? What would happen if the results reflect negatively on commercial diets and positively on raw diets? Think of how much they have to lose!! Personally, I feel the lack of studies and the lack of willingness to do studies on raw diets indicates a desire to hide something, to cover something up that people do not want to be found. And I know of no pet food company that will pay for a raw diet research study. None of their control groups in their own studies are even fed a raw diet! The studies are performed under false assumptions that dogs are omnivores and can be maintained healthfully on grain-based, processed diets. Interestingly enough, it was the scientific research of the pet food companies that helped prove that dogs have no need for carbohydrates. The research in their own files (and in the Waltham Book of Dog and Cat Nutrition) demonstrates perfectly well that they know dogs are carnivorous animals. And yet they continue to mislead the public, the veterinarians, and the vets-to-be.
There have been "studies" done on bacterial content, nutritional analysis (according to AAFCO standards), and parasites in raw meat (using only the old, pre-existing literature on what kind of parasites could possibly be found in raw meat), but there are no studies that go in depth and objectively study the health effects of raw diets. Why would there be? This would involve a long, intense study requiring collaboration of vets nationwide and of multiple pet owners, or undue suffering to hundreds of "test" dogs who must be fed improper raw diets in the name of "scientific objectivity" (and there is the possibility that these poor results would then be used to show that ALL raw diets are bad). Indeed, funding is a huge issue as well, but I feel there are underlying issues: a fear of what may be found, that raw diets will indeed be proven better, that commercial diets will be proven unhealthy. This drastically cuts against the status quo and would destroy pet food companies and the veterinarians who depend on them to provide a clientele.
If raw diets were proven better and commercial diets were proven harmful, there would be a tremendous backlash against the pet food industries and the veterinary profession that is so entrenched with it. Legal rammifications would be a highly probable option: people suing vets for recommending a product that harms their pets; people suing the pet food companies for creating a harmful product without warning consumers of its dangers, for falsely advertising that product as healthy, and for lying and covering up the information that indicated otherwise; and vets suing the universities for providing an inadequate, faulty education. Thousands of people would be laid off, a multi-billion dollar industry would crumble, hundreds of veterinarians would find themselves jobless, and society would no longer have an 'acceptable' outlet for disposing of its dead, dying, and diseased meat, its grain waste, and the some 40% of euthanized pets that find their way into rendering plants and kibble, barbituates and all (Lonsdale, T. 2001. Raw Meaty Bones.; Martin, A. Foods Pets Die For.). All of this is what they have to lose if the results of a raw diet study reflect unfavorably on commercial foods. Can one see the incentive in never performing or publishing a proper study that objectively looks at raw diets and their effects on the overall health of the dog? Note: if you are a pet owner, veterinarian, or veterinary student who feels wronged by the pet food companies or their close ties to veterinary universities, please visit the Raw Meaty Bones website to get information on your legal options (click on the "Legal Remedies" link). Additionally, in the UK an organization known as UKRMB has helped spearhead an Early Day Motion against the alliance between pet food companies and the veterinary profession. To read about it, please click here.
This is not the only consideration when it comes to raw food research. To perform an adequate study that would satisfy all the critics, hundreds of dogs would need to suffer needlessly on improperly prepared raw diets, because in the name of 'science' all the major variations of the diets would be tested. That means dogs will be fed all meat diets, all chicken-back and neck diets, veggie glop and some meat and mostly bone diets, all beef-heart diets, etc. when all the researchers need to do is look to nature, who got it right a million years ago. It is just needless suffering. Next time someone bemoans the lack of scientific studies about raw, ask them if they would like to volunteer their dog for the study.
Instead of pushing for, funding, and advocating an unbiased study (which is a good thing in the sense it spares animals from unnecessary suffering in the name of science), vets and other "scientifically minded" people point out the lack of studies and retreat behind that facade in an effort to save face while ignoring a million years' worth of scientific studies performed in nature's laboratory. But there are some cruelty-free studies that could be performed; for example, researchers could start looking at the incidence of periodontal disease in raw-fed and commercially-fed pets. However, even something this simple-sounding can be a difficult thing to do correctly, as there are many variables that must either be minimized/weaned out of the study or that will have to be included. Plus, it requires a large sample size and great collaboration among pet owners, the vets, and the researchers. Once again, though, we come to the main impetus behind the study: who will pay for it, and why?
Reference credit: Rawfed.com