Raw Meaty Bones Chapter 7 Pt 1
Raw Meaty Bones Chapter 7
Some consequences of artificial pet foods are more insidious than others — Foul-mouth AIDS comes close to the top of the list. As with HIV AIDS in humans, pets suffering Foul-mouth AIDS are vulnerable to a range of cancers and infections. Our pet carnivores and our finances have felt these consequences for a long time, but it was only by luck that I recognised the condition and gave it a name. Naming things is often the first step on the road to coherent discussion and resolution of problems — once HIV AIDS was named medical researchers could focus on and deal with the threat. By contrast veterinary authorities have either ignored or sought to suppress information on Foul-mouth AIDS.
The August 1991 Waltham Symposium, Clinical Nutrition in Practice, triggered my thoughts (see Chapter 1). I noted that the pet food company speakers and their veterinary audience shared a belief in grain-based, factory-made products. Proponents of natural feeding, from the opposition camp, appeared to suffer problems of New Age mystification.1 When discussing the needs of pet carnivores they spoke of pureed vegetables and porridge oats processed in the kitchen mixer. Raw bones — raw meaty bones — needed putting back into the debate, supported, if possible, by hard numerical evidence.
Five days after the Waltham Symposium, providence smiled when the opportunity arose to conduct a small experiment. Mr and Mrs Zubrycki visited the veterinary hospital with their terriers Blossom and Tuffy. The Zubryckis doted on their pets. Only the best was good enough — regular worming, vaccinations and a diet based on My Dog, the most expensive canned food from Uncle Ben’s. Unfortunately, despite the owners’ commitment and extensive veterinary attention the dogs often suffered vague illness, lethargy and dermatitis. Tuffy was prone to bouts of neurotic scurrying as if fleeing some unknown threat. Over the years my associates and I had been asked for diagnosis and treatment but always without success. On this occasion the dogs were presented for routine vaccination — the owners no longer sought advice regarding vague ailments which they had come to accept as normal.
Despite past disappointments the Zubryckis listened as I explained a plan to perform thorough dental treatment on both dogs, following which there would be a committed change to a diet of raw meaty bones — previous attempts had been rather half-hearted. While I hoped for a demonstrable improvement in the general health of the pets, I was also keen to conduct tests to measure the numbers of blood cells before and after dental treatment. This was to be the hard numerical evidence.
In the event things went almost too well. The treatment under anaesthetic — each animal had several tooth extractions — and blood tests were performed and the patients returned home to convalesce. By the time of the immediate post-surgery checkup Tuffy’s scurrying attacks had disappeared. Over subsequent months a contentment settled on the dogs and their coats developed a new lustre, such that the owners could see no reason to return for blood tests. Luckily I ran into Mrs Zubrycki while out shopping. Brimming with enthusiasm, she told me of the almost magical change in the dogs. I was keen to see for myself and also to perform the follow-up blood tests. ‘Perhaps there will be some changes in the blood which reflect this newfound health’ I said.
Next day the Zubryckis brought their pets for blood testing. One millilitre samples were taken from each dog and dispatched to the laboratory by courier. By morning we had our answer, exactly in line with predictions. There in black and white the faxed results revealed that Tuffy’s white blood cell count had risen by 67 percent and Blossom’s count had risen 58 percent. Just as one swallow does not make a summer, two blood tests do not prove a hypothesis. However, if these results could be repeated the implications for pet health, veterinary practice and the artificial pet food industry would be overwhelming. I rushed into print under the heading ‘Raw meaty bones promote health’.2
In the article I mentioned how a range of chronic ailments disappeared and were replaced by signs of vitality and apparent good health. I postulated that poisons flowing from the mouth provided the likely explanation for the initial depression in blood cell numbers. In fact there are probably a number of factors which contribute, but at that time the predominant belief among veterinarians was that a deficient immune system allowed periodontal disease to develop. My article, instead of blaming a faulty immune system, reinterpreted the evidence to say the reverse: that periodontal disease depressed the immune system. Such contradictions of orthodox opinion often produce spirited rebuttals from the establishment. No such thing occurred, which I suspect was due to recognition of the validity of the findings.
One response to the article confirmed that members of the veterinary establishment were watching — ‘Raw Meaty Bone Lobby’ became their term of disparagement for veterinarians who promoted health through feeding. Those of us in the so-called lobby are not disparaged but wear the label with honour. Mrs Zubrycki, while delighted with her pets’ progress, was angry with the makers of My Dog. She penned a letter of complaint to Uncle Ben’s of Australia. Walter Swanson, Customer Relations Manager, replied:
We are sorry to learn that your dogs have experienced trouble with their teeth, necessitating several trips to the veterinarian at great expense to yourself. It is always distressing to see our canine companions suffering… Uncle Ben’s also has complete scientific research support from the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition in the United Kingdom which is recognised as the world authority on pet care and nutrition… It would appear that, although complete consensus has not been reached, the majority of veterinarians would recommend that dogs are fed raw meaty marrowbones once or twice a week. Uncle Ben’s of Australia is in complete agreement with this recommendation.
Whether Uncle Ben’s was previously aware of the immune compromise resulting from consumption of its products I cannot be sure. However, it was not long before I noted the appointment of Professor Neil Gorman, Britain’s foremost veterinary immunologist, as Head of Research at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.
Further investigation was needed but the way forward appeared uninviting. Clinical experiments are costly, time consuming and often fraught with frustration. Besides, writing a scientific paper and gaining publication in a journal would, I thought, be nigh on impossible. But these negative thoughts were themselves a cause for concern. They needed to be dispelled and I resolved to make a start. In the first instance I called on the generosity of Drs Bruce Duff and David Snow at the local pathology laboratory. Without hesitation they agreed to provide free laboratory blood testing for those animals undergoing investigation. Clients were similarly understanding and cooperated in the research.
I kept the research tasks simple: first assess the connection between immune deficiency, periodontal disease and diet; then assess the ability of the immune system to recover once periodontal and dietary insults were removed. With owner consent the pets, both cats and dogs, undergoing dental surgery for a foul mouth were blood-tested. The animals recording a low blood count at the time of dentistry were rebooked for testing some weeks later. Owners participating in the investigation undertook to change their pets’ diet to raw meaty bones and a few table scraps.
Blossom and Tuffy and six other patients were included in the survey. All made a good recovery and demonstrated subjective good health. During the investigation Tess, a twelve-year-old Maltese, became a TV star. She was filmed undergoing dental surgery and then three months later, on a celebrity talk show, she leapt off the presenter’s lap
to attack raw chicken wings on the studio floor. Despite her age, mammary cancer, heart condition, liver problems and few teeth she gained a 20 percent increase in weight on a raw chicken wing diet. Tess’s white cell count rose 105 percent and the average increase for all patients was 77.7 percent.
Four of the cases, including the Zubrycki terriers, deserve mention because their owners did not attend the veterinary surgery for perceived problems. In fact they considered their pets to be healthy or normal — only in need of vaccination and a checkup. This group showed an average 55 percent increase in white cells after dentistry and diet change.
Care needs to be exercised in the interpretation of any experimental results. In this survey the animals were in a clinical setting and there could be no standardisation of the investigation. Equally there was only a small number of participating animals and follow-up testing was performed once only after a non-standard interval.
Increased white cell counts can also signal problems. Upward variation from an animal’s base reading may indicate the presence of inflammation, infection or dead tissues. Attaching too much importance to the numerical values can be a trap in itself. After all it is the health of the white cells, not just their number, which determines their value to the body — military analysts do not count troops as the sole means of assessing a country’s defences.
In science, as in life, we are called upon to make judgments about isolated events or general trends in the absence of complete information. For this reason much of modern science is conducted via statistical analysis. When working with small numbers of cases, changes, which at first sight appear significant, may not be supported by statistical theory. I needed advice and consulted two colleagues well versed in medical statistics. Both were of the opinion that, statistically speaking, the blood cell changes were either ‘significant’ or ‘highly significant’.
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