All Raw Meats are NOT Created Equal – Part 1 of 2

I have been working on this Blog for months and I am certain it will raise many questions for people – and to be honest I want it to make you think about what you are actually feeding your dog as well as ask questions of yourselves and of your suppliers so that you become well informed and educated advocates for your “fur kids”.

Feeding raw is not as simple as throwing raw food in a bowl, balancing your bone/muscle/organ mix and adding a few supplements.  If you are truly putting your dogs nutritional well being, for their juvenile through senior years, then educating yourselves and understanding what you feed and why is extremely important.  NOT ALL RAW IS CREATED EQUAL!

This particular Blog may be one that you need to read in parts, process, and come back too or it may be one that you read and reread as you research for yourself.  It will be lengthy but chocked full of information for you to read and learn from.

Why is all raw NOT created equal?   Just because a meat is raw does not mean it is good for our dogs.  When a raw diet has be decided upon for our dogs we have made the conscious decision to feed a species appropriate diet.  This means we understand that our dogs are carnivores.  They need a meat/protein diet.  So feeding raw is a positive thing as long as the raw is not harmful to them.  Meat falls into different categories and depending on which category the meat we are feeding falls into determines if it is a good quality meat to feed or a harmful meat to feed.

What are the categories that raw meats fall into?  Animals (all animals, not just cattle) fall into different categories as defined by the USDA.  When meat is labeled as not fit for human consumption is gets labeled as “3D” or “4D”.  The definition of “3D” and “4D” is as follows:  animals that are labeled as diseased, dying, downed or dead.  The definition of “downed” is non-ambulatory.  Animals that have tested positive for antibiotics, steroids or other drugs will fall into these categories of what is referenced as condemned meats and are not fit for human consumption.  This all happens in a USDA facility so stating that the meat is sourced from a USDA facility means nothing and is used frequently to provide a false sense of security to people feeding it to their pets.  In order for it to mean anything it must be “APPROVED” by the USDA – not just sourced from a USDA facility.

What is the difference between “3D’ and “4D” meats?  “3D” meats are the meats that are labeled as  diseased, dying or downed but the are still alive when they reach the processing facility.  “4D” meats are dead before they reach the processing facility.

Do “3D ” and “4D” meats get processed and leave a USDA processing facility?  The short answer to this is YES!  The more important question is “how”.

How is the “3D” and the “4D” meat kept separate from the Human Grade meat (meat fit for human consumption)?  The USDA requires any meat that is not fit for human consumption be denatured prior to leaving the USDA facility.

What is the definition of “denaturing”?   Chemicals, dyes, charcoals, No. 2 fuel oil, a certain percentage of ground bone and many others OR a mixture of any of the above qualify to conform to the USDA definition of denaturing.   USDA inspectors determine the amount of these “denaturing agents” that are used and the more the better because they want to be certain this meat never enters the human food chain.   Charcoal is the most commonly used agent because it is a 100% single ingredient and can still be labeled as “natural” because charcoal is in it’s natural form.   It is often stated that charcoal can be fed to animals without any detrimental affects.  I will touch on this in another section however the bigger question to me would be “why is it denatured?”.  We already know it is not fit for human consumption if it is denatured by USDA laws/guidelines. What was wrong with this animal that caused it to be removed from the human food chain and put into the “animal food chain”? You must ask yourself why the denatured food is so much less expensive then the human grade meats.  I can’t imagine anyone in the business of raising cattle selling their cattle for cents on the dollar if it was fit for human consumption and they could make much, much more if sold that way.

Is feeding denatured food to your “fur kid” safe?  This is a question that is asked over and over again and the only answer I can give is – I would never feed it to my “fur kids”.  Here is the reason why; there are many things that may be used in the denaturing process.  The most common is activated charcoal for the reasons given above.  Let’s ask ourselves “what is activated charcoal used for?”  Activated charcoal is used in the human world most frequently in hospital emergency rooms when they are presented with a drug overdose, poisonous intake of something, etc.  Activated charcoal is given to the patient because it will absorb whatever the substance is that was consumed and then will cause a regurgitation of the charcoal containing  that toxic ingredient.  It absorbs………So, if we agree that activated charcoal absorbs then lets go back to the food being covered/rinsed/washed with an activated charcoal…….the dog/cat consumes it.  The activated charcoal absorbs the nutrients before the dogs system can and over time you have the potential to end up with a mal-nutritious dog/cat.  There may also be organ issues as a result.  These are the reasons I will not feed denatured food – in my mind, logic dictates it is not safe over time.  This is just referencing the activated charcoal, there are the dye issues and the No. 2 fuel oil, etc.  I will cover these issues in Part 2 of “All Raw Meats are NOT Created Equal” that addresses feeding certain human foods that have dyes in them.  The issue with dyes will cross reference human grade food that has dyes and dyes used in denaturing. But again, is denaturing the bigger problem or the 3D and 4D classification of the meat??

So, in summary we have several issues to consider when feeding denatured food.

  • Is the meat 3D or 4D
  • Why is the meat classified as 3D or 4D and needing to be denatured
  • What was used in the denaturing process
  • How will the denaturing products used or the reason for the 3D or 4D classification affect my dog

Any supplier of raw should be able to answer your questions.  Read, educate yourself, ask questions of your suppliers, demand answers as to the source and health of the food you are feeding. The quality and length of your “fur kids” life is what lies in the balance.

All raw is not created equal. We all want to do what is right for our “fur kids” and sometimes educating ourselves is eye opening to say the least. We would not be feeding raw or contemplating feeding raw if their best interest was not first and foremost in our mind.  Fully educate yourselves so you are feeding raw correctly, fully balanced and with the appropriate type of meats.

Remember, when in doubt ask yourself this question, “What would they do in the wild?”.  I have never seen charcoal covered food or dye/chemical covered food in the wild – that is a man made regulation that has a lasting affect on our dogs/cats.

We do not want raw feeding to get a bad name because of ill dogs that were inappropriatly fed when we know that a raw diet that is species appropriate is the most natural and healthy thing for them.

Ask your Holistic vet about this.  Getting an honest and professional opinion as to if the source, classification and quality of food makes a difference in your pets health is important.

Below are some of the links to the information I used in writing this blog. Start digging for information.  Here is one link I cannot get to allow me to add as a link but you can copy and paste into your browser;

As always, I welcome comments and am always available for questions.

Mama Schrof

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