It’s true that the health and vigor of dogs and cats fed raw diets “shine” in all respects. Commercial raw diets generally have less ingredients, less additives compared to kibbles, more organic ingredients, and more responsibly sourced meat proteins. Raw food absorbability is also greater and it is less processed.
It has also been postulated that raw diets cure food sensitivities such as itching and irritable bowel disorders. So if a veterinary colleague of mine suggests a raw diet and your companion animal improves, your pet could have had a reaction to specific proteins, kibble processing or kibble additives/preservatives. This method is similar to a food elimination trial and leads to the quagmire of trying to figure out which one was causing the assault on your pet’s system.
In our new book, Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health, Diana Laverdure and I state:
Raw food may also pose much less risk of allergic reaction than its cooked counterparts. In saliva studies of allergic people, researchers found that there was a five times greater allergenic reaction to the exact same food when eaten processed versus in its raw, unaltered form. This makes sense, since cooking food breaks down its cellular integrity and exposes neo-antigens (new antigens) that were not there in the original raw form.
If we extrapolate these findings to our canine companions, we can surmise that commercially prepared kibble or canned foods—both of which are cooked at high temperatures—may also be exposing neo-antigens created through the heating process. While still nutritious, these foods could pose a higher risk of a dietary intolerance or immune reaction, especially for animals with already compromised immune systems.
Note: I emphasize the words “may” and “process”. So, it is not the protein itself but may be how the protein is processed.
Let’s compare this to pizza that you may eat. You may have deduced that one brand of frozen hamburger pizza makes you queasy but another brand of frozen hamburger pizza does not do this. Why does it make you queasy?
• Is it the additives or preservatives added?
• Is it the ingredient(s) – tomato sauce, crust, hamburger, or cheese?
• Is it from what the meat source was fed – soy, grass, corn?
• Is it from the processing?
• Is it a little bit of everything?
You are not too sure, but this is what you recognize so you avoid the first brand altogether. Unfortunately, your dog or cat cannot tell you this off the bat and it may take a few days to realize a reaction is occurring, but to what? That’s the stumper.
Identifying the Protein
Hemopet’s food sensitivity and intolerance test, Nutriscan, measures IgA and IgM antibodies in a dog or a cat’s saliva. By detecting high IgA and IgM antibody levels, NutriScan is able to identify changes in the dog or cat’s gene expression when faced with the reactive food, enabling the test to clearly identify the specific protein(s) causing the problem – from a purified, less processed, unadulterated form to cooked form.
In essence, NutriScan would precisely tell you what ingredients of the pizza your pet cannot have: crust, meat(s), feed fed to the meat source, or cheese. However, we DO NOT suggest you feed your pet pizza. This analogy is just so you can relate personally to what your pet might be going through.
We can go on and on about this subject, but believe that a client says it best.
I had the NutriScan test done after recommendations from my awesome vet in Michigan, Nicole Leveque. We have a now 4 ½ yr old rescue, part Brittany, Pekinese, Yorkie mix. He was itching and biting himself, from his paws to his flanks. I knew it was food “allergies” from the reading I did, but trying unusual species like goat, venison, rabbit, and kangaroo proved to be a crap shoot. I read one doctor’s advice that said if a dog has not been exposed to the food before, they will not exhibit allergy symptoms….not true at all!! I also tried 100% raw diet, as another vet claimed if the dog was fed raw would not exhibit allergies…not true!! Thank GOD we found you and did the saliva food test, and also the blood environmental. Our beloved Shai was so allergic, Dr. Leveque said most she had ever seen! Shai was allergic to EVERY grass possible, including pollen and ragweed. In addition, he was (is) highly allergic to all poultry, venison, rabbit, and fish with the exception of salmon. Shai can safely have lamb, beef, peanut butter, salmon, and eggs. We are eternally grateful to you and your team for restoring Shai’s health and welfare!
Dodds, Jean, DVM, and Diana Laverdure, MS. Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health. Wenatchee: Dogwise, 2015. Print.