Yeah I have done A TON of research on raw vs kibble trying to find whats best for my dog and the anti-raw article said it best near the end, if kibble was THAT bad for your dogs and all of these health problems were linked directly to kibble there would be hundreds of thousands of millions of lawsuits against the pet food companies and they would be forced to either a) shut down or b) change their recipe to address these issues so the fact that they have been around so long should be some kind of testament to how kibble has changed over the years and the relative health benefits.
I think in order for either side to make a valid point, emotion needs to be removed and a double blind study needs to be done. Another thing that was noted in one article I read, people are SO CONVINCED raw is the miracle cure that they don't see obvious things right in front of them (one mentioned a HUGE increase in kidney disease from raw diets, documented studies showing this condition, yet raw feeders ignore this fact).
I tried raw to help Franklin's stool, after 3 weeks his stool is better but he has developed symptoms that seem like allergies (itchiness and CONSTANTLY licking/chewing his hind end), I never had issues like this before and don't know if its due to the raw diet or the "de-toxing" raw feeders say occur. Also, its interesting to note that THERE IS NO PROOF that a dog's digestive system is built to tolerate raw. I have decided to stick to kibble until I can read studies that are science driven and not emotion driven to prove one vs the other.
I also read a lengthy article from a pro-raw group that had A TON of information from somebody claiming to be a raw food expert, etc and then when I went find her credentials she was a human psychologist....I'm sorry but if you don't have ANY formal education on wildlife, nutrition, or anything animal related I have a hard time believing you are some kind of expert. I want to find all this information written by an unbiased source who has done the research, preferrably an animal biologist of some kind and somebody who is not developing their own line of raw or kibble diets (i.e. a majority of the vets I find who promote raw are those that "created" the BARF or RMB diets and are making a pretty good chunk of change by promoting these diets)
Yep, I want science too. Feeding studies are neither all that difficult to run nor all that expensive.
I can go online and read all sorts of research on feeding horses different types of hay and pasture, but very little about feeding dogs. One would think that some people with a little money would get together and finance a feeding study?
I have a feeling is that the reason is that livestock are less sentimental for people and more big business. Even with horses they're kind of considered more working animals since they don't... you know.. sleep on your bed and sit under you while you eat on the couch and give you those adowabull googoo eyes. I remember reading things like that in The Progressive Rancher all the time (a bathroom staple at my grandma's house, lol).
A feeding study in livestock is a feed=efficiency=profit kind of deal. A feeding study in dogs might be a little more difficult. Would people self report? Would they keep dogs in a facility during the study? How long would you have to follow the dogs?
The feeding studies on horses are generally done at stud and/or performance farms. People are incredibly attached to their horses (I remember watching a grown man, the son of the owner, bawling uncontrollably on-camera when the filly Go For Wand broke down in the Breeders' Cup, many years ago). However, they are not kept, as you said, in your house where it's oh-so-tempting to give them a little bit of your leftover steak.
The farm manager knows what everyone eats, and if the owner stops by and feeds an apple, the farm manager will dutifully record it if they are keeping a feeding log.
With dogs, you would need to do more of the population studies that they do for human diets, rather than a double-blind controlled diet. They do double-blind controlled studies, but they are typically done by pet-food companies, sometimes in conjunction with veterinary schools.
maybe this is a task for people with breeding operations.
Oh, and I didn't at all mean that people aren't attached to their horses and other livestock. I have been good friends with a few old cows that I bottle fed once upon a time. I just meant that livestock are usually kept more uhm.. strictly, like you say. Feeding and condition are very important and tracked.
The only dog enviroment where things could be tracked like this that I can imagine would be breeders and sport hound kennels.
Maybe it's the paranoid socialist in me (I am Canadian after all) but I suspect some of it has to do with the fact that kibble companies are happy producing what they're producing, and probably not very interested in altering that, depending on what actual health research discovers is a good diet.
Why bother when you've got a good thing going? Plus, I don’t really think the average person thinks about or cares much about the nutrition of their dog (let alone their own nutrition) so there’s probably not much of a push for that type of research.
The big companies (the ones that many posting on message boards would consider not-so-good, like the Iam's company and Purina) actually do feeding studies regularly. It was the Iam's company, I believe, that discovered the link between DHA and brain development in puppies (or actually took from research in humans) and started adding fish oil to puppy food.
Controlled feeding studies have ethical issues, though, as they involve keeping dogs in a controlled environment (a lab) and strictly controlling for other factors like exercise, treats, vaccines, etc.
Animal rights groups give a hard time to companies that do lab-controlled feeding studies. The big companies are now, from what I can tell, focusing more on home-based research, but of course then the control over what goes into the animal is greatly reduced. Even a dog with a compliant owner can regularly find and eat stuff if allowed to simply walk through grassy areas, for instance (mine eat worms off the sidewalk after a rain).
I personally am not trusting of studies funded or developed by individuals, groups or organizations that have a financial stake in the outcome. I would be immediately suspect of any study results produced by a dog food company (or any company, for that matter).
While I'm sure animal rights groups do a little song and dance regarding lab-controlled feeding studies, I'm confident that if it was in the best interest of the company, they would do the studies regardless.
Carla, in one sense I understand what you are saying. Certainly if Company A funds a study that shows that their food is better than the food of their competitor, I would look carefully at the methodology before drawing any conclusions.
But have you considered that perhaps not trusting any study where anyone who might profit is involved takes things to an extreme?
Take the DHA study. A quick Google search under "DHA baby development" yields several hundred thousand hits, the first group being studies funded by reputable human health organizations showing that DHA is critical to the development of human infants.
We have a reputable dog food company who then funds a carefully controlled study to capture any impact of DHA on puppy development. What do they have to gain by this study? Their own food did not, at that time, have DHA.
The study shows clear difference in learning ability between the high DHA group and the low and medium DHA groups. Ok, well, DHA is not a proprietary ingredient. It's in fish oil. ANY food company can take this study and add DHA to their puppy food if they so desire. Any person can skip the DHA in the feed and add fish oil directly to their dogs' food.
So we have a food-company backed study that
a) Shows benefit of a non-proprietary ingredient, meaning this study can be used by any food company or owner without buying this company's food, and
b) Closely mirrors the results shown in human developmental studies.
I suppose I can be very cynical and say "Eh, if a good company paid for the study, I won't trust it." But in the case of this study, there is really no reason for me to do that.
If you don't want any studies by anyone with financial stake, then you will have to rely on government-funded studies and the kindness of rich benefactors.
As for your comment about "they would do the studies regardless", again the companies are going to great lengths to switch most of their research to home-based studies.
I really radically changed my view on pet-food companies when I was reading a book on dog behavior by a behaviorist at Tufts. He had an idea about protein levels and aggression, he got some funding and called Pedigree and they created three special formulas of food to use just for this study. The study did not yield quite the results the behaviorist (vet) expected, but still, I had read one too many internet stories bashing food companies and this particular story did not really match the money-grubbing image of food companies that many on-line "sources" would want you to believe.
Well, if I'm being honest, I'm not really trusting of most studies, regardless of who funds them. If there's one thing working in both academia and government research, and recently completing a graduate degree, has taught me, it's that intellectual integrity takes a back seat to either: a) money; b) convenience; or c) incompetence.
I am passionate about research, but it is increasingly apparent to me that most research, good intentions or not, is conducted poorly, whether in design, implementation or analysis.