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Exactly what one should be doing regarding all of these groups. Yes?

I think what SkepVet really loathes in some of these groups/individuals, is they can sometimes (often times in some cases) use fear mongering to sell their company line. I see the same thing from members of various forums, including this one. Personally I find it offensive, and I believe this is why SkepVet comes across at times as such a hard azz. He personally finds much of this type of "science" to be offensive. I'm not attempting to make excuses for his comments, I'm simply offering an explanation from my viewpoint after reading some of his various comments over the years.
Absolutely - each one of us should be looking at the facts and making our own conclusions - and question any conclusions that don't pass the smell check, from any side.

I agree that's the beef that SkeptVet has with these groups/individuals, but the problem is, he's doing exactly the same thing, from the other side. There are extreme people from both sides that are making this flawed argument:

Because there is no definitive scientific proof for what's really best, you should assume that X is best and Y is bad.

I hope everyone can see why that argument doesn't make sense? :) And, because there is no scientific proof, in order to support any choice, no matter which side you're on, you have to rely on anecdotal evidence and indirect references. So, it would be erroneous to dismiss any side by making the argument of "well, science doesn't support you". Science doesn't support any side, not at this point, so we have to stop using science as an excuse to categorically dismiss any side's validity - because the argument of "science doesn't support you or me, so therefore I'm right and you're wrong" doesn't make any sense.

Kevin
 

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But we must insist that scientific methodologies be applied to finding evidence based answers to the important questions!
 

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Discussion Starter #23
I agree that's the beef that SkeptVet has with these groups/individuals, but the problem is, he's doing exactly the same thing, from the other side.
Yes and no. And while this may seem like I am splitting hairs, as a general rule you won't find SkeptVet using scare tactics to influence people to his side of the debate. Unfortunately that type of behaviour is quite common among the other side. That's where his beef is strongest - that and his colleagues that are crying foul the loudest are often also in line to profit from their "proof". That's where I see the main difference between himself, and the other side. He's not running around shouting to everyone that the sky is falling, he's standing in one spot and saying no, it's not. :)
 

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Coming late to this discussion, although I have been following it with interest. Is part of the problem that so few people do not actually understand scientific methodologies, or even how the process of scientific enquiry and investigation work? Something is either "true" or "false", not "supported by such evidence as we have available"; a personal experience or anecdote from a close friend outweighs any quantity of carefully researched and compiled statistics; if one scientific theory or hypothesis in any field is disproved, it is seen not as another welcome step along the unending path to a better understanding of our world, but as discrediting every other theory and hypothesis. Instead of learning how to recognise and reject Bad Science, "science" itself is labelled "bad", and viewed as inimical to everything that is natural and emotional and spiritual and nice. And if so, where do we begin to address such a pervasive problem?
 

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Hi Catherine, I absolutely agree that scientific studies should be pursued as a top priority, and doing so is critical towards yielding concrete answers. But, before science can strengthen our answers, we still must make decisions for our pets, now, in the absence of abundant science, so the more pressing question is, in the absence of definitive scientific answers, how can we make informed "best guesses". We simply have to make these guesses - life (for us and for our pets) goes on without scientific clarity, and we can't refuse to make, or discredit, all anecdotal and observational conclusions just because they're not "science". We don't have the luxury of halting our pets' biological clock,and only starting that clock after science tells us definitively what to do. Again, I am absolutely NOT saying that we shouldn't pursue scientific inquiries as rigorously as possible - we absolutely should. But, we also need to make decisions based on our best guesses, for now, in the absence of science. Those two things are not mutually exclusive - and of course I'm not saying you're implying they are :)

RD, I believe Skeptvet is doing WAY more than simply saying that the sky is not falling; he is not only saying that the sky is not falling for those who choose to, say, feed big company kibbles, but he's also saying (or at least hinting very strongly) that the sky COULD be falling for those who choose to feed raw. It is clear to me that he's saying both these things: that those who feed big company kibbles are making good decisions, AND those who feed raw are making bad decisions. And that's fine - it's a legitimate guess in the absence of definitive scientific proof. But, just don't pretend that one guess is scientific and the opposing guess is not - neither is.

FJM, are you saying the problem is that people discredit science entirely whereas they should discredit only specific cases of bad scientific practice? If so, yup that makes sense. And I also agree - the whole idea that science ultimately will yield the "right" answers is a bit of a pipe dream. Rather than yielding a simple yes or no, it's more likely that science will provide more data that would strengthen or weaken certain assumptions, but it may not yield definitive answers. This goes back to what I'm saying about recognizing the need to make "best guesses" in the absence of 100% proven "right answers". Frankly. we pretty much have to make these best guesses for the vast majority of important decisions in life; the welfare of our pets is no different.

Kevin
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Hi Kevin, perhaps, but there is no way that one can compare the hinting that something COULD be possible, vs what I have been watching take place from the other side over the past few decades. From where I am standing, the large group of fanatics has always been standing on the opposite side of the fence from me. I do agree with you though, until more scientific facts are supplied, one has to go off of best guesses. I'm ok with that, I'm not ok with people making "information" up as they go along, in an attempt to scare people into a like mindset. I hope that makes sense.
 

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Hi RD, makes perfect sense!

Perhaps the most ironic and downright amusing thing to all this mudslinging between SkeptVet and his chosen adversary, Karen Becker, is this: they actually agree on what's the best food to feed your pets. AND, they agree on what's the worst food to feed your pets. Both of them cite nutritionally balanced home-prepared fresh food as the best food, and nutritionally imbalanced home-prepared food as the worst food. It's amazing that these critical similarities are completely obscured by personalities, egos and turf wars.

Kevin
 

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I am impressed with Dr. Brennen McKenzie. At least he is keeping up with complimentary and alternative veterinary medicine and researching it. I suspect my vet has never heard of Dr.'s Dobbs and Becker. I sent him a question about prophylactic gastropexies and got a thoughtful email with footnotes. I encouraged him to post his response on his blog. If you look on his blog you can see our PF comments are followed:)
 

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What do you all think about buying commercial raw food and cooking it? Many raw supporters, like Karen Becker, indicate that it's totally fine to do so, while certain raw food companies say no, with language like this:

Cooking would render the food biologically inappropriate in a fundamental way. Cooked food loses much nutritional value, including enzymes and biologically active essential fatty acids. The latter, being damaged by heat and oxygen, become slow poisons, doing irreparable damage. Cooking causes complexes to form between proteins and starches, between vitamins and trace minerals, and between minerals. Cooking produces carcinogens and anti-immunogens. Many minerals, essential amino acids and vitamins also become indigestible.

Again, we don't have science to prove or disprove this, so we're left with anecdotal observations and intuition. Thoughts?

Kevin
 

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We-e-e-e-lll - humans have been cooking food for thousands of years. Dogs have evolved along with us. Cooking may reduce some nutrients, but also increases the availability of others, and can reduce the impact of some bacteria etc. In general our dogs are fed far higher amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrate, etc than they actually need, so any small reduction through gentle cooking is unlikely to lead to malnutrition. Is there any evidence for essential nutrients in raw food? And that they are needed in every meal? Seems to me we are in the territory of raw feeding for humans...
 

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Discussion Starter #34
I think that we need to be very careful when utilizing information supplied by those who are set to profit from that information. That includes vets, food manufacturers (including both dry & raw), etc.

I suspect that there are millions of dog owners world-wide, that have raised healthy, thriving, disease & cancer free dogs to ripe old ages, on ALL of these various types and cooking methods. Regardless of what the so called experts will say. What we have learned thus far is that not all dogs can assimilate all foods equally - and that is where a keen eye of observation, anecdotal observations, and intuition come into play.

IMO, and IME, some dogs are far more forgiving than others in this area. So the right answer is - there is no right answer for all dogs.
 

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And there is no one right answer for people either, although there are general requirements that need to be satisfied for all living things. One must consume adequate calories, minimum or above complete protein (all essential amino acids covered), essential vitamins at minimum or better levels (but not wild excesses for fat soluble vitamins) and the like and it is far better to eat all of those things daily rather than erratically. This certainly doesn't mean that the protein has to be chicken vs. beef or even raw vs. cooked however and that is where experience and observation of the individual becomes important.

fjm your observation that domestic dogs are the products of very close associations with humans and have coevolved side by side with us is important to keep in mind in the cooked vs. raw conversation though I think. To me the likely fireside scenario of humans offering food inducements to early proto-dogs is of a person giving a bone from something that was cooked to that animal rather than throwing a valuable hunk of raw meat that the people would have consumed after cooking it themselves. I still maintain that thinking we should feed dogs like wolves is not particularly based on very clear or data driven thinking. That being said for those whose dogs do well on it and who don't have concerns about microbiological hazards in their households I am not going to try to convince you not to feed raw.
 

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I can easily imagine an early human throwing unwanted bits of raw prey beast to a proto dog - the skinny boney bits that are not much wanted by humans. Or the bones and gristle after cooking, or inedible (by humans) bits of fruit and vegetables. And then (horrors) there are human faeces, and as one who has to persuade their dogs away from unpleasant examples of these I am only too aware of how horribly attractive they can be. Seems to me dogs can survive and thrive on a wide range of foods...
 

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RD, I believe Skeptvet is doing WAY more than simply saying that the sky is not falling; he is not only saying that the sky is not falling for those who choose to, say, feed big company kibbles, but he's also saying (or at least hinting very strongly) that the sky COULD be falling for those who choose to feed raw. It is clear to me that he's saying both these things: that those who feed big company kibbles are making good decisions, AND those who feed raw are making bad decisions.

And that's fine - it's a legitimate guess in the absence of definitive scientific proof. But, just don't pretend that one guess is scientific and the opposing guess is not - neither is. Kevin
Yes, it definitely appears that way to me too. Actually in reading Skepvet I am beginning wo wonder if he either owns a commercial dog food company, or has a lot of stock in one or more of them.

In which case, if people are feeding raw human grade meat, fruits, vegetables, etc to their dogs he would not earn one cent. Just something to consider.

Of course, you can probably tell that is exactly what I feed my Spoo. I won't go into the long story, but my spoo almost died on kibble, of all kinds, qualities, etc. He had lost 1/3 of his body weight, was on injected fluids, weak, food either coming up one end or the other. I was concerned he was going to die. I finally told my vets that I didn't care if they didn't support raw feeding, that I had to so something or we would lose him.

Within one day of his eating only raw human grade fresh chicken he was drinking on his own, not throwing up, out of his bed, etc. He is now almost 8 years old, acts like he is 2, and my vets no longer criticize his diet at all. They are quite interested. He eats a wide variety of fresh human grade meats and fish, all organic organs, berries, fruits, etc, He does eat some cooked things, like veggies, sweet potatoes, squash, etc. only because they come out whole the other end if not cooked and he finally refused to eat them at all.

A couple of months ago I was somewhere with no access to meat for him, so used kibble, and he couldn't keep any of it down after the first meal. The next day he refused to eat at all.

So, I realize this is only anecdotal, but is enough proof for me.

It could be that different dogs have different digestive systems too, just like people. I have a friend about 40 who lives on McDonalds and other junk food, and seems fine. On the other hand my sister and I have to follow strict gluten free diets with no processed foods to remain well.

Who knows, maybe the friend eating almost all McDonalds/junk food type diet will live to be a healthy 100 and show us all up!
 

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Discussion Starter #38 (Edited)
I don't own a commercial dog food company, or have ANY stock in one or more of them, yet I find myself agreeing with much of the reasoning behind what Skeptvet says. Not because I feel that feeding raw is wrong, or that feeding kibble is better, but because a large portion of the info being supplied by the raw fanatics as facts, are anything but. That, and just like Skeptvet I find the means of their delivery of baseless facts via fear mongering to be offensive. Dr. Becker would have everyone believing that anyone feeding their dog kibble is ensuring their pets will suffer from GI tract inflammation, a myriad of assorted degenerative diseases, and/or cancer. Grains are bad, your dog will suffer, blah-blah-blah. Yet via the same anecdotal evidence millions of healthy long lived dogs world-wide proves just the opposite.

Not all dogs that die from cancer, or suffer from degenerative disease, are linked to poor nutrition. My guess, with no science to prove otherwise, is most are probably linked to genetics. We see the same in humans. Long distance runner with less than 10% body fat who eats like a monk, dies at age 40 from heart disease. Person down the street who smokes, drinks, and seldom watches what he eats for more than 30 seconds, lives to be 85. There isn't always a reason, for the rhyme. Life isn't that definitive.

Our last poodle lived to be 17, had all his original teeth, and never suffered a day of poor health until his final year. Even then it came fairly swift near the end, when eventually his 17 year old heart gave out. An old dog who ran and played like a pup until he was well past 15 yrs of age. When strangers met him they were always shocked at how old he was. He ate kibble his entire life.

Again, there is no right or wrong here, we are all doing what we personally feel is best for each of our pets. But if we are going to offer up facts, and use science to support them, then we better have more than just a gut feeling or anecdotal evidence when we are promoting that evidence as science, or facts. IMO those that have a DVM behind their name should also be held to a much higher standard when sharing their views with the world. Shame on those that do not, no matter what their personal beliefs are.
 

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Yup, we are all still waiting for scientific proof either way.

It is interesting that the fear mongering can go both ways.
I was at a pet supply show, looking at grooming tools. There were various kibble company sales people there, who definitely tried to put the fear of XXXX into me when I explained why my Spoo is raw fed. One of them literally followed me around trying to tell me I was killing my dog. I had to leave just to get away from him. I never did get my grooming tools.
 

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Yup I definitely feel like the fear mongering goes both ways. Before I started researching into raw food, I got the sense from anti-raw people that feeding raw would be downright dangerous, not only to pets but also to humans around them. Only after much more extensive research did I realize that even anti-raw people admit that this danger is more in theory than in evidence - just like only after much more extensive research did I realize that even pro-raw people admit there is no definitive scientific evidence supporting the pro-raw claims. But, once you strip away the mudslinging, I feel like certain reasonable deductions can yield.

For example, let's look at the fundamental thing that Skeptvet and Karen Becker agree on - that all else being equal, fresh food is at least "probably better than" processed food. This is a guess that both sides are willing to accept. So, if we accept this, then there are two ways that freshly prepared raw food can still be worse than kibbles/processed food:

1) If raw food's bacterial risk turns out to be real and high.
2) If the raw food you're feeding is nutritionally imbalanced.

To me, if you're concerned about #1, you can simply cook the raw food, and #1 goes away (Karen Becker herself does not object to cooking raw food). Then you're left with #2 - nutritional imbalance. For this, if you're talking about commercial raw food and commercial processed food companies, the difference is not raw/fresh vs. processed, but whether individual companies are knowledgeable about creating a balanced nutritional diet, whether it's raw/fresh or processed. Any kibble company can be ignorant and create an imbalanced diet, just as any raw/fresh food company can do the same. So, unless one wants to make the argument that raw/fresh food companies, in generally, know less about nutritional balance than processed/kibble food companies, then the concern over nutritional imbalance cannot be categorically held against raw/fresh food companies. One possible argument would be that big companies, like Hill's, simply have researched pet nutrition longer and more extensively and therefore they "know best" what to feed our pets. If this is the case, then one would have to argue that Eukanuba, Hill's and Purina are better than not only all the raw food companies, but better than all the premium kibbles companies as well - because all the raw food and premium kibbles companies are smaller than Hill's/etc., and therefore they must know less, so the argument goes. In other words, using this argument, I would have to pick Hill's not only over Darwin/Primal (prominent raw food companies), but also over Orijen/Taste of the Wild/ZiwiPeak.

So the question then becomes: are these big companies really the only ones that know what constitutes a nutritionally balanced meal for a dog or cat? I find that really hard to believe, especially considering what's typically considered the bible for nutritional balance, AAFCO standards, isn't exactly a secret recipe. Or, let's push the logic one step further - for the sake of argument, let's say that we agree Hill's has created the absolute best nutritional balance. Even if that were true, wouldn't it be a "better" food to simply copy Hill's nutritional contents (written directly on the Hill's pet food bag itself) and create a fresh version of these contents - basically, Hill's but with fresh ingredients? I'm not sure how one could argue that Hill's fresh food would be worse than Hill's processed food, if the contents of the two are exactly the same and the difference is simply that one is processed and one is fresh? To defeat this argument or at least render it irrelevant, one would have to:

1). Reject the original premise that fresh food is probably better than processed food.
2). Accept that fresh food is probably better, but say the difference is so marginal that it will not have any real impact on the health of the animals; therefore, you'd be paying more money and creating more work for no reason.

Does that pretty much sum up where we are? :)

Kevin
 
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