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On Oprah, Purebreeds and Carnivores

Yesterday’s Oprah Show Loving Our Dogs got a few things right. The training segment, with Tamar Geller was great. Thank heavens Oprah took the opportunity to support a style different from Cesar Millan’s. And the nanosecond Tori Spelling was on, talking about her rescued dogs, was commendable. And, of course, Oprah clearly loves her dogs and wants the best for them. Here are my two, rather behemoth issues:

  1. What’s with the purebreed thing? I missed about 10 minutes of the show, and I’m hoping that during that time Oprah told the world that she has changed her mind about buying purebreeds only, and that her obsession with the lineage of certain goldens and cocker spaniels has finally been replaced with a desire to give dogs loving homes rather than create dogs for her own amusement. But I’m guessing she didn’t say that, as much of the show was about breeds and specific winners. She even featured a breeder, which was shocking given the number of dogs in need of loving homes, and the number of purebreeds (25%) in shelters. If Oprah were to do a show devoted to celebrities and their rescues, and describe the dire cat and dog overpopulation crisis to the world, that would demonstrate that she truly loves dogs. E-mail the producers to suggest such a show. I did!
  2. In an attempt to alleviate fear and anxiety due to the pet food recall, Oprah’s vet came on to announce "Dogs are carnivores" and "they must eat meat." He proceeded to recommend a diet of raw meat, (limited) whole grains, and veggies.
  • Apparently, Oprah isn’t up for the raw thing, so she gives her dogs the second best meal (according to her vet): cooked meat, grains and carrots. I’ve got a new rule: No one who buys meat, eats meat, wears skins and cooks animals should be allowed to be grossed out by anything involving carcasses.
  • I’m not going to have the "are dogs really carnivores?" debate because it doesn’t matter. Why? Saying dogs need to eat meat (or cats, for that matter), is like saying we need to eat meat, or even vegetables. What we need are the vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, or whatever other nutritional components from the meat or the vegetables. And if we can thrive on a diet without meat, so can dogs and cats (as long as we supplement for the unique needs of dogs and cats–just like we do for ourselves–and that’s easily done).
  • I used to feed my dogs raw food (the BARF, or, Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet). And I’m talking about carcasses. I’d give them chicken backs, necks, and even feet, as well as turkey necks. The dogs were grain-free, and I followed the natural diet of the wolf in the wild and was completely convinced (for a short time) that it was the right thing to do. But the more I thought about it (and read about it), the more I was persuaded to stop and move to a vegan (and low in grain) diet. Here’s why: There’s nothing about a domesticated dog’s life that is remotely like the life of a wolf in the wild. Dogs who live with us have shelter, they’re given food, they don’t roam the neighborhood freely in search of their next meal, they’re given water, and (usually) their hunting instincts are quashed (some greyhounds, including one of mine, didn’t even care about rabbits after a year of livin’ the good life).
  • Dr. Eric Weisman, who created the Evolution Diet for dogs, cats and ferrets (and by the way his diet has been used by the North American Wolf Association for years, and they’ve had virtually no health problems. Isn’t that ironic?) says it best on his FAQ page:

Q.  How Can Dogs, Cats and Ferrets live a full Healthy Life on A Vegetarian Diet?  Aren’t they Meat Eaters in the Wild?

A.  We have observed Dogs, Cats and Ferrets on all Evolution Diet Pet Food Products for almost 17 years.  We have seen Dogs, Cats and Ferrets thrive and live the very longest and healthiest lives on our foods.

It is true that Dogs, Cats and Ferrets eat other animals and fruits and vegetation in the wild, but they do not live nearly as long or in as good a state of health living on a natural diet!  Simply put: DOGS, CATS & FERRETS live longer and healthier in a human home setting on an UNNATURAL DIET!

If you consider that Dogs, Cats and Ferrets live only about 1 to 3 Years in the wild while eating raw animal flesh and that these same animals live anywhere from 7 to 17 Years in an UNNATURAL [setting] . . . it becomes obvious that they can live longer and healthier on an UNNATURAL DIET.

  • So what’s your goal? Do you want to mimic the diet of a creature in the wild whose actual life doesn’t resemble the life of the creature you "own?" Do you want the creature you own to live the healthiest, longest life possible?

It became abundantly clear to me that by feeding carcasses to my greyhounds I wasn’t doing them any favors.  Since I started feeding a vegan diet (and now that it’s full of yummy fruits, veggies, beans, nut butters, whole grains, pumpkin and coconut butter), Violet’s need for insulin has been cut in half and her blood sugar curve moves very little (it used to look like a rollercoaster, and now it’s virtually a flat line). Her allergies are gone. Neither her nor Charles has fleas (probably due to the VegeYeast, which is well-documented for warding off fleas). Their weight is perfect, their coats are magnificent, and believe it or not, their poop is perfect and doesn’t smell. And that, my friends, is a huge difference from the days of raw food or kibble.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Some debate on the issue of vegan food and cats took place here:

    The fundamental issue is that we have a pet population at all. Regarding the way the discussion topic is introduced at Animal Voices, would have preferred avoidance of the euphemistic use of the term ~guardian~.

    Thanks for the update. I appreciate reading these entries and having the chance to comment and read others' responses.

    April 26, 2007

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