Dr. Marty Goldstein’s Nature’s Feast Raw Diet: A Look at the Infomercial

A client recently asked one of my colleagues for an opinion on an infomercial by Dr. Marty Goldstein for his new commercial raw cat food, Nature’s Feast. There was little new or surprising in this video, but since Dr. Goldstein has a lot of prominence in the media, cat owners may run across this video and be inclined to believe the claims made in it, so I felt it worthwhile to provide some context.

Who is Dr. Marty Goldstein?
I have written a bit about him before as a contributor to the propaganda film The Truth About Pet Cancer, which I havepreviously critiqued in detail

Dr. Goldstein is another celebrity participant, a veterinarian to the stars. He is also a strong advocate of the bait-and-switch known as “integrative medicine.” This means he will sometimes use science-based treatments, but then often gives the credit for any improvement to homeopathy, acupuncture, raw diets, herbs, and other alternative treatments he also employs.

Dr. Goldstein, much like Jean Dodds, is one of those alternative practitioners who is so nice and caring and respected (at least by celebrity clients and alternative medicine advocates) that it is considered almost taboo to point out that much of what he sells is unproven at best and, in some cases, complete nonsense. His use of homeopathy clearly demonstrates his lack of concern for a science-based approach to medicine, and most of the claims he makes about nutrition are unproven at best or clearly wrong at worst.

He justifies his claims almost entirely with personal anecdotes and beliefs, not with any objective scientific evidence. I have discussed the unreliability of anecdotes many times, as well as many of the flimsy arguments he uses in this infomercial, such as the Appeal to Nature Fallacy, so I will only address them briefly here. Dr. Goldstein is clearly convinced that his personal experience and beliefs are sufficient evidence for rejecting the conclusions of scientific research and nutrition experts, and that alone makes any claim he makes suspect.

The most egregious story he tells is about a dog named Kaiser. Dr. Goldstein convinced this dog’s owners to switch form a commercial to a homemade diet. For a couple of weeks after that, supposedly anybody who touched the dog developed a skin rash, and then the dog’s hair all fell out. Rather than seeing this as a problem or a sign of serious illness, Dr. Goldstein interpreted it as a sign the dog was “detoxing,” releasing harmful chemicals through its skin due to the diet change. Such a dangerously bizarre interpretation of potentially serious symptoms does not suggest a rational or reliable medical judgment.

As for the specific claims he makes in his infomercial, here are a few of the most important.

Grains are Bad for Cats
Grains are popular villains in alternative narratives about nutrition these days. The ratio of the three macronutrients—carbohydrates, fat, and protein— are a key element in the formulation of pet diets. None of these are inherently “good” or “bad,” and while the precise balance among them does have health implications, especially in pets with specific medical conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, the idea that commercial diets generally contain “too much sugar” or other carbohydrates and that this causes disease is simply not consistent with the evidence. 

Unlike humans, dogs and cats can live with little or no carbohydrate in their diet. However, they can also use this class of macronutrient perfectly well as a source of calories. Some non-digestible carbohydrates (often known as “fiber”) can have beneficial effects on the microbes that live in our pets’ guts, which can influence health, as well as on weight, stool consistency, and other aspects of health. Demonizing an entire class of nutrient is not rational or justified.

As far as the claims that dietary carbohydrates of grains lead to cancer or other disease in pets, these are pure speculation. There are only a few studies looking at diet and cancer risk in dogs and cats, and most of these rely owner recollections for data about diet, which has proven a very unreliable approach in people. There are no studies at all showing restricting dietary carbohydrates reduces the risk of developing cancer in dogs and cats.

There are lab animal studies and epidemiologic research in humans which suggest possible relationships between carbohydrates in the diet and cancer. There are interesting features of the metabolism of cancer cells that suggest diet might have some influence on cancer progression and response to treatment. But there is no real-world, clinical trial evidence that supports the claim that dietary carbohydrates cause cancer in pets or that lower carbs will prevent or help treat cancer. 

Carbohydrates are often seen as particularly dangerous to cats, who are truly obligate carnivores and so would naturally eat a high-fat/high-protein diet with few carbohydrates or grains in it, other than those found in the digestive system of herbivorous prey animals. However, research has demonstrated that cats can make use of carbohydrates in food as an energy source, and that these are not a significant risk factor for diabetes or other diseases often blamed on too much carbohydrate in commercial cat food. 

Perhaps the pet food ingredients most reviled in criticism of commercial pet foods are corn and wheat. The obsession in popular human nutrition lore about gluten has certainly contributed to this. However, many of the fears about gluten, in human and animal health, are unfounded.  People with celiac disease can have negative health effects associated with eating gluten, and there are documented genetic cases of gluten sensitivity in a couple of dog breeds.

However, just as most people are not harmed by eating gluten, there is no evidence that this is a risk factor for disease in dogs and cats. Abandoning wheat as a macronutrient source because of such fears simply leads to the substitution of other sources, and there is no guarantee these are safer or healthier. There is even some evidence that avoiding gluten can cause problems in people who do not have celiac disease. 

I have also heard advocates of alternative diets talk about “the menacing power of corn” as if it were inherently poisonous. This is simply silly, and it ignores decades of nutrition research showing the contrary. Like every other food ingredient, corn is not inherently good or bad. It can contribute calories, protein, and essential fats to the diet, and it can be a safe ingredient in a balanced diet for both dogs and cats. It is obviously not appropriate as the sole food source for our pets, but no one is suggesting we use it that way, and claims that pet foods are “mostly corn” are demonstrably untrue.

Artificial Preservatives
This is a claim I have addressed repeatedly in previous articles. A variety of synthetic antioxidants have been used in pet foods over the years to prevent spoilage, and the risk of food poisoning that goes with it. These substances are sometimes feared as potential causes of cancer based on studies in rats or mice where enormous quantities are fed to the animals to evaluate potential risks. However, extensive research on these substances as they are actually used as preservatives in human and pet foods has failed to find such risks in the real world. This is another example of the dangers in putting too much stock in the predictive value of laboratory studies. 

Some companies have moved to using “natural” preservatives, such as Vitamin E, and this is what Dr. Goldstein recommends. These may be less effective, and there is no clear evidence that they are safer, but the pet food industry is often forced to respond to the fears of consumers, stoked by claims from proponents of alternative diets, regardless of the evidence for or against the concerns. 

Raw Food is Healthier than Cooked Food
This is another claim I have responded to many, many times, and there is still no evidence to support it and plenty of evidence against it. As with most alternative health practices, there are a variety of theories and specific beliefs behind raw feeding, but there are several consistent themes that most proponents of the approach adhere to and use in promoting it.

The first is the claim that commercial diets are nutritionally inappropriate and unhealthy. All of the criticisms of conventional diets I have addressed elsewhere on the blog (e.g. 12) and in detail in my book, are put to the service of convincing people raw diets are a better choice. While commercial pet foods are not perfect or without risks, the evidence clearly shows they are healthy and nutritionally appropriate for the vast majority of dogs and cats, and millions of pets live long and healthy lives eating these foods. 

The other main theoretical argument for raw diets is our old friend the Appeal to Nature Fallacy. The argument runs something like this: Cats are carnivores and they, or their ancestors, ate whole prey in the wild. Evolution has adapted carnivores to this diet, so it is the optimal diet for them. Our pet cats are essentially the same in their nutritional needs as their wild cousins or ancestors, so a diet as much like raw, whole prey as possible is the healthiest diet for them.

Cats have generally been altered far less by their association with humans than dogs. While dogs are most properly classified as omnivores, or facultative carnivores, cats are true carnivores in terms of their anatomy and physiology. Domestic cats do likely have nutritional needs very similar to wild felines. So does this mean they are better off if fed a raw diet?

Well, the Appeal to Nature Fallacy is a fallacy precisely because what happens in nature doesn’t predict what is good or bad in terms of health. The diet wild animals eat is not the perfect diet designed for their long-term health and happiness, it is simply the diet that is available to them. Evolution works by an impersonal process in which animals do their best to meet their physical needs with what is available in their environment and then reproduce. The individuals who are best at meeting these needs leave more offspring and genes behind, and over time the population comes to be more like the more successful individuals because their genes become more common. Species and their environments are always interacting and changing, and there is never an ideal moment in which a species is optimally suited for its environment and every individual is perfectly happy and healthy.

Animals typically live longer, healthier lives in captivity compared to their wild relatives. Wild carnivores frequently suffer from malnutrition, often starving when they can’t catch sufficient prey to meet their calorie and other needs. They also suffer from parasites, infectious diseases, and injuries from catching and consuming whole prey, and they endure this either suffering or die from it. This is not a perfect, blissful state of nature our pets should aspire to, it is simply the way things are in nature. 

Humans no longer live like our stone age ancestors, and we have altered our homes, our clothes, and our diets significantly from that “natural” state. As a result, we suffer less and live longer, healthier lives because of “artificial” practices such as washing and cooking and refrigerating our feed and providing ourselves with nutrients that were once hard to come by. The reduction of scurvy and rickets in modern children compared to those of our ancestors is a good thing, and similarly the reduction in parasites and malnutrition in our pets thanks to “artificial” feeding practices is a positive change. 

Raw feeding is often associated with other alternative medicine beliefs and practices. Surveys show that pet owners who feed raw diets are less likely to trust nutrition advice from veterinarians and are also less likely to adhere to other recommendations, such vaccination and parasite prevention, than owners who feed traditional commercial diets. Veterinarians who promote raw feeding and condemn conventional diets are also often suspicious of vaccines and other science-based medical therapies and frequently advocate alternative medical practices. It is not surprising, then, that theories and beliefs which underlie other alternative practices are also found in arguments for raw diets. 

None of these theoretical justifications for a raw diet, that commercial diets are unhealthy, that our pets are essentially identical to wild carnivores, that a diet as close as possible to that they would eat in nature is best for their health, or that raw food contains some intangible but essential spiritual nutrient lacking in cooked food, hold up very well to logical scrutiny. So is there any actual evidence that raw diets have health benefits?

A few small and short-term studies have been done in which dogs and cats have been fed raw foods. These show some interesting changes in the bacteria living in the guts of these subjects, in stool, and in metabolism and other variables. However, these studies simply show that some small things change when the diet is changed, not that raw diets have meaningful health effects or that whatever effects are seen are due primarily to the lack of cooking. One study has suggested some possible benefits for dental health in dogs fed a raw diet, but another study identified dental disease and broken teeth caused by such diets.

Overall, there is no convincing research evidence to support the theories and claims for why raw diets should be better for our pets than cooked homemade or conventional commercial diets. 

Unlike the benefits of raw diets, which are theoretical and unproven, the risks are well documented. Commercial raw diets which meet industry standards are likely to be nutritionally complete, but many raw advocates feed home-prepared diets, and just like other homemade foods, these diets are frequently nutritionally unbalanced and incomplete. There is even one report of a whole-prey diet (whole ground rabbit) which was studied in cats as a representative of a “natural” diet but which turned out to generate severe heart disease due to taurine deficiency in the cats eating it. So much for “natural” meaning “healthy!” 

The most significant risk of raw diets is from food-borne infectious disease. Numerous studies have shown raw diets to be frequently contaminated with potentially dangerous bacteria. While such pathogens can contaminate cooked diets as well, the risk is significantly higher for raw foods. Other studies have shown that animals eating these diets often shed these dangerous organisms in their feces, which exposes humans and other animals to the risk of infection.

Most importantly, serious illness and death in cats and dogs, and in their owners, have been caused by pathogens found in raw pet diets. While the number of confirmed cases of pets and humans suffering or dying from food-borne illness caused by raw diets is small, this is a very serious health hazard. While healthy adult pets may be able to resist these organisms to some extent, there is no absolute immunity in dogs and cats to food-borne illness. Very young, old, and sick animals, and their human caregivers, are at even higher risk. 

Dr. Goldstein claims that the freeze-drying of his pet food “completely eliminates” this risk, but that is just his opinion based on anecdote, and this is disputed by both veterinary nutritionists and veterinary infectious disease specialists

He also claims that cooking destroys nutrients in food, including taurine, which is essential for normal heart health in cats. He claims that the vitamin supplementation done to compensate for this is not effective, but there is ample evidence this is untrue and that supplementation prevents any micronutrient deficiencies in commercial diets. In fact, his claim that cardiomyopathy, or heart muscle disease, is common due to taurine deficiency is completely false. Taurine deficiency can case a disease called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in cats, but this disease has almost completely disappeared since commercial diets are supplemented with taurine (unlike the cats eating whole rabbit carcasses, who did develop it in one study). Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is an entirely different heart disease, which is still fairly common, but this is not associated with taurine deficiency, and Dr. Goldstein appears to be mistakenly conflating the two conditions in his ad.

Euthanized Pets in Commercial Pet Food
This is perhaps the most extreme example of efforts to frighten pet owners about commercial diets. Promoters of this story take a few facts and weave them into an unlikely, but shocking narrative. Most countries have pretty strict regulations about the ingredients that can go into commercial pet foods, and these broad rules cover the use of euthanized animals as a food ingredient even if this is not explicitly mentioned in the law. Industry groups, as well as regulators, also have policies prohibiting this practice. Even apart from such rules and policies, though, the claim makes little sense for other reasons.

Food animals, such as cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry, are the most common and economical source of animal ingredients for pet foods. These are mostly produced in large operations intended to produce food for humans. Apart from being an ethically terrible and unhealthy ingredient for pet foods, euthanized dogs and cats, presumably harvested from animal shelters or picked up by the roadside, would be an unreliable and expensive raw material compared to the ingredients produced by the food animal industry. And, of course, any company caught using dead pets in their pet food would be destroyed by public outrage and likely run out of business. What motivation these companies might have, then, for using such an ingredient is hard to fathom.

There have been several attempts to investigate commercial pet foods and look for evidence of dog or cat DNA, which might suggest there is some truth to this claim. So far, however, none of these investigations have found evidence that cats and dogs have been used as components of pet foods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, found no evidence of dog or cat DNA in pet foods it tested in 2002. While this can’t definitively prove this practice never happens, it is yet another piece of evidence against it.

So how did this idea get started? It’s impossible to know for certain, but the evidence often cited in support of the claim that euthanized pets are used in pet food tends to be open to interpretation, and those inclined to be suspicious of commercial diets and the companies that produce them seem to take the darkest possible view of this evidence. 

For example, most of the laws and regulations that would prohibit using euthanized pets in pet food don’t actually address that issue directly. The law doesn’t explicitly prohibit the practice precisely because there’s little evidence it is actually occurring. Instead, the laws prohibit unsanitary and unsafe ingredients, potentially dangerous chemicals such as euthanasia drugs, and other general types of ingredients which would naturally include euthanized dogs and cats. Critics of commercial pet foods tend to claim that because the practice isn’t named in the regulations it must actually be happening, which is not a particularly convincing claim.

Animals euthanized at shelters or killed by cars and not claimed are sometimes disposed of at rendering plants, where the bodies are broken down at high temperature into basic components, such as fats and simple proteins. These components are used in a variety of ways, from fats used as industrial lubricants to proteins being used in shrimp and fish farming. This is considered a more environmentally acceptable means of disposal than burning or burying the remains, but it is understandably disturbing to think about. 

Because the parts of food animals not eaten by people are also rendered and are sometimes used in pet foods, there have been concerns that rendering products from euthanized dogs and cats might make their way into pet diets. This is prohibited, again by both regulations and industry policies, and there has not yet been any conclusive evidence that it occurs, but this may be one source of the belief that deceased pets are used as pet food ingredients.

Another, and very serious issue is that the drug pentobarbital, an anesthetic originally used for surgery but now most often used for euthanasia, does sometimes turn up as a contaminate in pet foods. In most of these instances, the amount has been too low to be considered a hazard, but there have been rare cases in which dogs have been sickened and even killed but pentobarbital in canned foods. Investigations into the source of this contamination have typically traced it to the accidental inclusion of euthanized cattle or horses in rendering products intended as pet food ingredients. Once again, no evidence has yet been found showing that euthanized dogs and cats have been the source of pentobarbital contamination of pet foods, but again this may be one source of the belief that this is happening. 

Ultimately, like so many of the concerns raised by critics of science-based medicine and conventional nutrition, it is not possible to conclusively prove that the concern is never true under any circumstances. However, the consistent failure to find evidence for the claim despite repeated investigations over decades certainly makes it an unlikely occurrence and not a reason to fear commercial diets or choose untested alternatives with far less evidence for their safety and nutritional value.

Miscellaneous Claims
Dr. Goldstein uses fear to promote his claims. He tells a sad story about the death of one of his cats from urinary tract obstruction, and claims that commercial cat food caused this, but there is little evidence to support such a claim. He also claims that “more cats are getting sick than ever before,” which is the same kind of mythologizing of the “good old days” that alternative vets often peddle to make people fear the health effects of modern life. I have addressed this claim before in regards to cancer in pets, and there is no evidence to support it and some to suggest that our pets, like us, are healthier than in the past.

Dr. Goldstein also argues that cats should be fed organ meats high in Vitamin D partly because they may become deficient from living indoors or in cold climates due to inadequate sun exposure. This is an idea translated directly from human physiology that simply doesn’t apply to cats. While humans make a lot of our Vitamin D in our skin under the influence of sunlight, cats do not, and they always need to get this from dietary sources regardless of lifestyle (e.g. 34). As I have already mentioned, there is plenty of evidence that cooked commercial diets meet this need effectively.

Bottom Line
Dr. Goldstein is basically trying to sell both a product and the ideology behind it in this infomercial. While I have no doubt he is sincere, there is plenty of reason to doubt he is correct. His claims are based on faulty reasoning and anecdote and often contradicted by established scientific knowledge. There are clear risks to raw diets such as Nature’s Feast, and there is yet no real evidence for any of their purported benefits. Advocates of these diets would better serve the pet population by supporting legitimate, rigorous research to show definitively whether their claims are true or not than by inventing and selling products based on gut feelings and anecdotes and ignoring the science and the real nutrition experts.

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89 Responses to Dr. Marty Goldstein’s Nature’s Feast Raw Diet: A Look at the Infomercial

  1. Joan says:

    Could you talk about dry vs canned food for cats, particularly neutered cats? Also, could you address the frequency of weight gain from switching to dry? My vet switched my two male cats to ZD and EN, respectively, (they won’t eat the canned versions) and they put on a lot of weight. I don’t over feed them and I don’t give them treats.

  2. skeptvet says:

    Here’s a post on canned vs dry foods for cats. Dry food is more calorie dense (canned food is ~70% water), so you do have to feed less to maintain the same intake and body condition.

  3. Erica Freeman says:

    @Gordon Davy “Some time back I did some on-line research and found a couple of companies that discuss their practices – Open Farm (on their web site) and I & Love & You (I had to ask).”

    Would you mind sharing some of the company names and associated pet food brands that state they do humane farming?

  4. L says:

    @ Erica Freeman

    Check out the PETA website, they may have the information you are looking for.

  5. Here is what I know. My Julius , a Chow chow now 8 years old has suffered horribly with allergies which causes him to pull out his fur. He has created several hot spots and chewed most fur off his tail twice in 2 years. Last year 2020, he woke me in middle of the night rolling on his back groaning because the itching was so intense. I called emergency vet and they gave him a steriod shot for quick relief. He has been on Apoquel several times which has helped, then Cytopoint shots for a few months. Took him to a dermatologist, they wanted $2000 for full allergy test. I came across Dr. Marty’s Propower plus powder which Julius has been on for almost a year now. No more drugs! He is now a happy dog and no more hot spots!

  6. skeptvet says:

    Glad to hear it. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why doing something and seeing improvement doesn’t mean that what you did is responsible. If it did, we could just give up doing science because we wouldn’t need it!

    Why Anecdotes Can’t be Trusted

  7. Kathy Roberts says:

    Hello Skeptvet!

    I recently ordered Dr. Marty’s raw diet, I am in the second day of feeding, and my cats are resistant. I have been adopted by 13 felines ranging from 6 months to 6 years. They have been on canned and dry premiums diets, too many to name including a prescription diet from Hill’s call Gastro Intestinal Biome, the wet food was shipped rancid beginning last July & I sent it back only to received the same, Then the websites all say temporarily out of stock. This helped with a severe diarrhea Tritrichomonas with 3 of my adopted feral cats. Now I can not order it, even from the vet due something? If you have any direction for me, should I continue to try to force this new diet on them, will it help. A few of my cats are overweight due to food availability. Any direction would be greatly appreciated. Kindest regards, Kathy

  8. skeptvet says:

    If you are having chronic diarrhea in feral or recently homed cats and you have that many cats, there is likely a problem unrelated to diet (parasitism, infectious disease, etc.). You need to work with your vet to figure that out. Chasing the “right” diet, isn’t the answer, and absolutely raw food isn’t the answer, so I wouldn’t “force” that (our any diet) on them.

    Good luck!

  9. Lorelei says:

    What do you recommend for cat food?

  10. skeptvet says:

    I don’t have a loyalty to a specific brand, if that’s what you are asking,. I recommend a cooked commercial diet, ideally formulated by a company with veterinary nutritionists on staff and a track record of producing reliable diets. I think it is reasonable to prefer canned over dry food, though the evidence for hypothetical health benefits is weak.

  11. Kei says:

    “As far as the claims that dietary carbohydrates of grains lead to cancer or other disease in pets, these are pure speculation. There are only a few studies looking at diet and cancer risk in dogs and cats, and most of these rely owner recollections for data about diet, which has proven a very unreliable approach in people. There are no studies at all showing restricting dietary carbohydrates reduces the risk of developing cancer in dogs and cats.

    There are lab animal studies and epidemiologic research in humans which suggest possible relationships between carbohydrates in the diet and cancer. There are interesting features of the metabolism of cancer cells that suggest diet might have some influence on cancer progression and response to treatment. But there is no real-world, clinical trial evidence that supports the claim that dietary carbohydrates cause cancer in pets or that lower carbs will prevent or help treat cancer.”

    This part right here bothers me. You say that Dr. Goldstein is a fraud because he did experiments with 3 animals instead of 100, yet say there is little to no SCIENCE to actually prove him wrong?
    I’ve gotta say, even if 3… 30… 300, or perhaps 3000 happier healthier pets isn’t enough testing to be considered ‘science’ it’s a hell of a lot better than “no testing at all therefore it’s fine”
    I don’t need a doctor to tell me I’m lactose intolerant. If I drink milk, it bothers me.
    I don’t need a vet to tell me that kibble with grain isn’t good for my cats. I switched my 5 cats to raw feeding/grain free kibble and they are happier, healthier, and have had no vet visits save one cat who needed antibiotics for an infection. Before them we had a tom cat who lived to be 17, and was spry, sassy, and full of life. On the other hand we had a cat who refused to eat anything but kibble (and at the time we were new to cat health) our cat had health problems, and died of a traumatic heart attack at only 9. Gotta say all these experiences are more confusing than your empty accusations.

  12. skeptvet says:

    You’ve missed the point of my post. I didn’t say Dr. Goldstein was “a fraud.” I said he is making claims that are speculation and based on unreliable anecdotes, not science. There are no “studies” of 3 animals or 3,000, only his personal observations, which are as unreliable as any other anecdote. The burden of proof is on him to support his claims, not on everyone else to run clinical studies to disprove them. If only you were as upset by unsupported health claims as by my criticism of them….

    Anecdotes are deeply unreliable. If it were this simple, we would have cured every disease centuries ago. We need controlled scientific evidence to know what works and what doesn’t, and relying on anecdotes like this sustains ineffective therapies. Here is some more information on this issue:

    Why Anecdotes Can’t be Trusted


  13. mo fowler says:

    I have had, and have now at least five to fifteen rescued cats at any one time. A few years ago i put them on ROYAL CANIN 32, this dry food is always available to them 24/7, as of course cats like to “graze feed” and come and go from their meals. Once a day, after play and in the evenings, they get a choice of fresh chicken breast and prime minced beef ( the same exactly as myself and my family eat) and sometimes prime steak, being rump steak that i cut up for them. This diet has been thus far ( 10 years now) fantastic, they are incredibly shiny, affectionate, strong, good poo consistency,. good dental health, good weight in all but one because piekinpoo is a bit of a greedy boy!……people think that royal canin is expensive, it is not. I am on a pension/superannuation (old peoples gov. income) with a high rent, and the thing is, when i did the really serious research, royal canin and the fresh meat and chicken diet worked out CHEAPER THAN ANY STORE BOUGHT CAT FOOD. I do however buy the chicken in bulk when its on special and keep it in the freezer as i do the meat. royal canin is in my opinion FANTASTIC FOOD FOR YOUR CATS. I really noticed their coats get shinier after i started them on it. But no cat should have dry food only……no matter how good the quality. When i had to get my cats vet checked in order to drive them 3000 kilometres to our then new home, the uk vet at the border said they were all in” fantastic condition” and asked me what i fed them, of course i told him “royal canin with fresh meat and poultry evening treat” and he said “well, thats why they are so fit”. And thats enough for me, and my current 7 moggies, who are: Piekinpoo, Alexander the great, Eddypeepo, Greygirl, Botty, Kibullywibully, And latest addition who was already named…..”Pete”………God please greatly bless all those humans who care for and love your wonderful creations. Mo Fowler, New Zealand.

  14. mo fowler says:

    when i started all my cats on royal canin, i thought the amount they recommended was far too little!…….so seemingly opposite to what i read here regarding manufacterers suggested amounts. Thats reassured me somehow, not that i needed it, royal canin dry food with other meals of fresh human grade steak and chicken ( always given chopped and raw) is keeping them really shiny and fit. Thank you for this site, very good to read that we ALL did exactly the same thing…..saw the ad, watched the whole thing, prepared to order, then double checked!! At least i was there with the raw food already, and nobody could put me ( or them) off royal canin, its just so damned good all round.

  15. Kay says:

    No offense, but Royal Canin (dry) costs a small fortune. I only buy it because the Gastrointestinal formula helps my cat’s irritable bowel syndrome. It’s $63 for an 8 lb bag at Petsmart. Fortunately, my vet sells it for approximately $45. RC hairball chicken flavor, while effective completely constipates my cat – same with most of their dry formulas. I mix the GI with the hairball formula and it’s tolerable for her.

  16. Laraine says:

    Personally I have been feeding my two felines 50% canned(Merrick) and 50% Dr Marty’s Natural Feast. At first my cats didn’t like it. So we chop the freeze dried in little pieces, add lukewarm water and stir it with the canned. Wait 3 minutes before serving it and now they scarf it up. I have been feeding my cats this diet since the beginning of March 2021. And I have noticed that my 12-year-old Ragdoll rescue has increased energy, more playful, and overall a happier more lovable cat. He just feels good. My cat had some dental problems back in December and we took him into the vet to get his teeth cleaned and some teeth needed to be pulled because they were inflamed. The same with my female black cat, had her teeth cleaned in March with some extractions and is also exhibiting healthier behavior. I would like to say that both the cleaning, and the raw food diet or a contributing factor to their healthier behaviors.

  17. skeptvet says:

    Glad your cats are well, but observations like this are notoriously inconsistent and unreliable. Figuring out the effects of a diet change or medical treatment is actually more complicated than just trying it and seeing what happens. Here is more information, and some humor, illustrating why:
    Lots of reasons why anecdotes like this aren’t reliable and don’t actually tell us if therapies work or not:

    Why Anecdotes Can’t be Trusted


  18. Martha Mooney Waltien says:

    Hi, I would like to address your concern about pathogens found in raw food diet. Since 2014, we have been making a 100% raw, never cooked, homemade diet for up to 14 cats. (Now 10 cats, as the older ones have passed away.) We never buy freeze dried raw or commercially made raw. It’s totally from scratch and supplemented. Never once, in 7+ years now, have we had a problem with contamination or pathogens. Our cats, when we transitioned, developed muscles in the hind upper legs that we had not seen before, and their coats became thicker and more glossy. Our 2 CKD cats do extremely well on raw!
    (We use powdered egg shells for bone and eliminate egg yolks for those 2 cats so as to keep phosphates very low. Their blood work shows very low phosphorus. They don’t have wasting of muscles.) Everything we feed them comes from local mainstream supermarkets. For years, I was afraid to buy it in these big chain supermarkets and feed it. Now, we have no such fear. We also use raw eggs yolks. We use the recipe, almost identical, found in Feline-nutrition.org and catinfo.org. Over the years, we have had vets tell us how young our cats look and how good their appearance.

  19. skeptvet says:

    The problem, of course, is that all is just anecdote. I can find stories of people who smoked their entire lives and still lived to over 100, but that doesn’t mean smoking isn’t harmful or is even good for you. The evidence is clear that raw meat has more bacteria than cooked meat and presents a greater risk of infectious disease. Just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean it isn’t a real problem.

    Here’s a bit more detail on why stories like this don’t prove or disprove anything and why we need objective data instead:

    Why Anecdotes Can’t be Trusted


  20. Loraine says:

    That’s EXACTLY what I feed my 2 moggies every evening. Fresh free range chicken and fresh human topside mince. They then get several little “treats” throughout the day of Royal Canin Oral Health and they’re healthy, happy and content pussycats.

  21. Jennifer Dunn says:

    I started my 2 cats on Dr.Marty’s food 4 months ago. I feed them half canned food and half Dr Marty’s. My 17 year old male was sleeping around the clock and getting up just for eating and toileting mostly. He now is up all day long. On my lap purring 4x per day and following me to the bathroom. His eyes are bright and alert. I stopped it for one week and he slept all day for that week. I will never again stop the food.

  22. Janine says:

    Sorry Jennifer! Unless your cats experienced a health improvement in a secret sterile underground testing facility alongside 10,000 other animals under constant observation by ?N?e?s?t?l?é? ?C?o?l?g?a?t?e?-?P?a?l?m?o?l?i?v?e? J?.?M?.? ?S?m?u?c?k?e?r? professionals – your cats good health is just a silly little anecdote! Please refer to the very scientific memes in skeptvet’s previous comments so you can start giving your cats a ?c?o?r?p?o?r?a?t?e?-?a?p?p?r?o?v?e?d? good diet!

  23. Summer says:

    Janine! You are my new favorite person on the interwebs. Delightfully amusing and accurate observation of the comment thread. Pet owners who articulate their individual experiences, while not viewed as irrefutable, empirical, scientific data on an Excel spreadsheet, should not be summarily dismissed. We have courtroom judges who instruct jurors to make choices on someone’s fate based on terms like circumstantial evidence, preponderance of evidence and knowing beyond reasonable doubt. Sounds like we all have the burden of making our own decisions after reading the information presented by everyone. Isn’t freedom of speech amazing?! Also, humor. That’s good stuff, too. Doc: You gotta keep your memes funky fresh and not so preach-a-licious. ?

  24. I watched Dr. Marty’s infomercial knowing that it follows the perfect formula for using fear to sell product and make money. All infomercials hook you in with lots of claims and by using fear and doubt (about what you are doing or not doing) to keep you watching. It is 100% predictable that the “simple at home method” will rely on the product he is selling and the formula for selling subscription services with an opt-out is well known and the data for how this works to generate profits is well documented. My friend, who has made millions producing these types of infomercials has explained how well this is produced and that the formula has predictable pay off. Make no doubt, Dr. Marty has done a great job of casting doubts and even accusing pet food manufacturers of creating unhealthy, disease and death producing foods. It is interesting that the manufacturers have not responded to these wild claims. My 14 year old terrier is energetic and still entertaining us and just got a perfect exam from his vet who has taken care of him since he was 11 weeks old. Now, my experience with some well-known commercial dry dog food is surely anecdotal, but listening to Dr. Marty’s claims 13 years ago might have convinced me that my beloved terrier would have had died of cancer by now, be lethargic, have allergies or any of the list of terrible things that Dr. Goldstein claims are caused by commercial dog food. His claims are driven by one thing only: MONEY. Infomercials are designed to sell stuff and that’s all, not to provide any reliable or proven science. That includes the thousands of infomercials that run on TV and the web every minute promising viewers wrinkle free skin, freedom from chronic pain, looking younger each day, growing hair on bald heads and on and on and on. The old claim “a sucker is born every minute” is the the truth that infomercials are built on!

  25. art malernee dvm says:

    anyone think dr marty and dr oz are a lot alike?

  26. L says:

    Celebrity Docs are all alike, lol
    The minute I saw Dr, Oz promoting those phony baloney weight loss supplements, I was done. Never took him seriously again after that. Although, I have heard he is a very gifted cardiac surgeon.

  27. Amy says:

    I always like your content.
    My dog struggled for the 1st 18months of his life. Constant digestive upset. We tried every kind of specialist kibble to no avail. Eventually a comprehensive allergy screen sent to Germany revealed he was allergic to corn, wheat, potato and millet. I reluctantly moved him to a commercially mixed raw diet. Under the guidance of my specialist vet. She does not “condemn” commercial kibble but she was open minded enough to recognize that for my individual dog it was not working. I now have a completely different dog. Robust stomach, less anxious, and a picture of health.
    I am 100% aware this is an anecdote so please don’t repeat share the meme of the Rottweiler and the mailman again. I am not presenting this as scientific fact, merely my experience which might help someone look further If they are struggling with their own pets health.

    Of course large commercial companies have more studies behind them. They fund the studies. They also fund most of the studies against fresh food diets. This does not mean their studies show the full picture.

    And of course the emerging market has less studies, studies require funding which a smaller market does not yet have as much access to. This of course doesn’t mean that all study results will defacto come out in favour of this type of diet.

    I asked myself this question a lot: what is more dangerous to me? A lot of curated/biased evidence or limited/no evidence? I don’t fully know the answer to that. I’m just happy to have a very knowledgeable, highly qualified vet to help me do my best for my individual dog.
    Because he’s not a stat.

  28. skeptvet says:

    I completely understand why your experience is convincing to you. And, as I always point out, anecdotes aren’t automatically wrong, they are just unreliable because they often don’t mean what they so obviously appear to mean. I also recognize that nothing will ever convince someone that their own experience doesn’t mean what it looks like it means, and that’s fine. Unfortunately, all we can honestly say is that your dog is doing better, and it might be due to some aspect of the diet (raw, ingredients, other, who knows?) or it might be something else we aren’t aware of and so can’t give the credit to. It’s not wrong for you to feed this diet in this situation, but it would be wrong for anyone to draw general conclusions about the various types of diets out there from this one experience.

    The only place I would really disagree with you is here:

    “They also fund most of the studies against fresh food diets. This does not mean their studies show the full picture.”

    Companies do fund studies of nutrition in general. Sometimes they fund studies of their own products, but actually most diets aren’t specifically studied in clinical trials, unfortunately, so the evidence is more about the general nutritional needs of dogs and the adequacy of broad categories of diet and ingredients to met these, not about specific diets.

    Studies of unconventional diets, when they are done at all, are usually funded by people promoting and selling those diets. Many of these funders are commercial pt food companies, just like the ones selling kibble. And these companies and their studies have the same kind of potential for bias as studies by conventional food producers. There is no real “independent” source of funding, such as a government agency, to support most veterinary nutrition research (other than a couple of nonprofits, like Morris Animal Foundation), so we have to make the best of the research we have. While bias is always possible with commercial funding, there are ways to minimize this through methodology (blinding, pre-registration of study endpoints, outside statistical analysis, etc.), so the answer is not simply to ignore any studies funded by industry (which is usually don only when the study disagrees with our existing views), but to work towards the best evidence possible under the circumstances.

    I mention this simply to remind everyone that fresh food is not lacking in evidence because of some conspiracy among kibble makers but because there is little funding for nutrition research in pets and what there is nearly always has some potential for bias one way or the other. The fresh food makers and advocates are no different and no better than Purina, Hills, etc.

    If someone wants to make a claim, they need to provide the evidence, ideally from good scientific studies. Asking companies selling raw or fresh food to do this before claiming their food is better than kibble or something else isn’t unfair. They make money selling foods just like the kibble makers do, so they should have to meet at least the same standards (and ideally a higher standard since the kibble makers don’t do nearly enough as it is).

  29. Margaret Kennedy says:

    I’ve been following this stream but still don’t know what is the best food that I can feed my 12 year old, sweet, rescue?

  30. skeptvet says:

    The short answer is there is no one “best” food. The dilemma is a false one. Any food that meets the core nutritional needs and that is well-accepted by the dog is likely to be a good choice. Kibble, canned, fresh, homemade (with nutritionist guidance), etc… Avoid raw diets and those with no quality control or scientific testing (meaning most of the random recipes you find on the internet) and your dog will be fine!

  31. Cassie says:

    I have two mini aussies that are 3 years old. They are picky eaters. I have never owned dogs before. My partner had these two dogs before I got together with him. I feed them Lucy dry food. I also give them Dr. Marty’s Natures Blend, Essential Wellness as a wet food for them. The dogs like the food and usually eat it first and let the kibble sit there and will finally eat it in the evening. I feed them at 8 AM and 4:30 PM daily. My problem is Dr. Marty’s food is very expensive and with two dogs eating it, I have to buy 6 bags a month at $26 a bag. If I run out, I feed them canned and they don’t eat it. My question is what is a good wet dog food? Should I cut out Dr. Marty’s food and only give them kibble, even if they refuse to eat it for a couple of days because they are stubborn? They won’t even eat Lucy wet food!

  32. skeptvet says:

    My general advice to clients is that there is no convincing evidence that one brand or type of food is overall healthier than another, so long as basic standards for safety (e.g. not raw) and nutrition (e.g. AAFCO standards) are met. Some foods might be better for some individuals, but until we have scientific evidence showing this, I see no point in tying ourselves up in knots trying to find the “right” food for our pets. A good quality commercial diet and a dog who is a healthy weight with goo coat and stool quality is probably fine, and that leaves a lot of options for what to feed. Certainly, cost is not clearly associated with health effects, so more expensive foods are not necessarily any better for your dog than cheaper brands.

    Even if your dogs like this diet, that doesn’t mean it is good for them or better than another food (dogs eat everything from socks to their own feces, so their tastes are not a reliable indicator of nutritional quality). If you feel that this food is too expensive, there is no compelling reason tot think your dogs will be better off if you keep feeding it than if you change diets.

    As for canned versus dry, there is not general difference in health effects for most dogs between these forms, and the nutritional value isn’t really related to whether the food comes in wet or dry forms. Dry food does typically have more calories per bite, so if your dogs are overweight, it might be easier to feed mainly canned or fresh diets. Dogs also often (though not always) prefer canned or fresh to kibble, so if you have trouble getting them to eat enough to maintain a healthy weight, using some of this to tempt them can be helpful. Any change should, ideally, be gradual, so rather than “starving them out,” you might want to gradually cut back on the food you decide to eliminate over a couple of weeks and let them adjust to the new routine.

    Good Luck!

  33. Donna says:

    I believed the commercials about Marty’s food and fed it to my 10 month old kittens. They were reluctant but I offered them only a little of the kibble that they prefer. After one 12 oz bag one of them started vomiting. Both of them were more perky and slept less but I am now offering more canned and wet foods. Wish there was some good solid information about this topic.

  34. Cat Exotica says:

    The blog gives important bits of knowledge about Dr. Marty Goldstein’s crude eating regimen, revealing insight into its cases and likely dangers. Value the exhaustive investigation and instructive methodology taken by the creator.

  35. CAWS says:

    While I agree that Marty’s dog & cat food is unaffordable for most and I do cook real meat for my dog [14 year old healthy JR terrier] ; I find it interesting that you completely reject subjective evidence of efficacy for raw diet [which was many many more than his 3 dogs] and then go on to site the FDA [which has no controls over pet food]testing negative for dog & cat DNA in pet food ONE time back in 2002! Not only that but making the leap that those who basically don’t trust the dog food industry will be more likely to reject vaccines is insulting. Knowing for a fact that doctors and vets receive little to no nutrition education and their schools are sponsored & supported by the drug industries makes a thinking person question why in the USA we have the unhealthiest people & pets in all first world countries. 70 years ago when I was a kid we and our pets got 2-3 vaccines period and there was only one fat kid, one asthma kid, one diabetic [type one] and no autistic kids in the whole school [K-8]. Now every year these poor animals get multiple shots which titer testing has shown is unnecessary and no one is looking at the toxic ingredients in them. They have also never been tested [ human vaccines either] as to the safety of combining them or for mutagenicity, carcigenicity or fetal harm. It says so on the product package insert & the CDC.gov. A vet friend of mine was hair follicle testing the dogs & cats he was vaccinating all the time for levels of aluminum in them and it was not pretty. He died before the study was finished. How do you explain the huge increase in pets with kidney disease, epilepsy, cancer, diabetes,obesity, anxiety,digestive issues etc? I believe [same as humans ] it is crappy air, food, city water [fluoride & chloramines] and over medication.

  36. skeptvet says:

    the FDA [which has no controls over pet food]

    Actually, the FDA does regulate pet food, so clearly you are not very familiar with this subject.

    testing negative for dog & cat DNA in pet food ONE time back in 2002

    This has nothing to do with raw diets but with the claim that euthanized pets are used to make pet foods, so no idea what you think the second half of this sentence has to do with the first.

    those who basically don’t trust the dog food industry will be more likely to reject vaccines is insulting

    Proponents of raw foods say this all the time! For example, here’s Conor Brady, who wrote Feeding Dogs: The Science Behind The Dry Versus Raw Debate

    “Cancer will play a role in nearly half of canine deaths today with older dogs more likely to get it. This is somewhat as you would expect following a life of high carbohydrate, ultra-processed food products, not to mention the copious amounts of chemical parasite control and annual boosters

    Or Jean Dodds-
    ““Vaccines clearly can contribute to cancer….If an animal’s immune system is depressed or dysfunctional, right, you’re giving them all these antigens with adjuvants, if they’re killed. You’ve got mercury, aluminum, whatever. You’ve got fetal calf serum. You have all these growth-promoting factors in there.””

    Or Sharon Doolittle-
    “I say, ‘Say it with me.’ I make them say it with me ‘No more vaccines.’ So, we repeat that chant, ‘No more vaccines.’””

    Or Marty Goldstein-
    ““Through his book, The Nature of Animal Healing, Dr Marty provides advice on a wide range of practical topics central to a pet’s health including why we shouldn’t feed our animals commercial pet food or why vaccines can actually do more harm than good.”

    70 years ago when I was a kid we and our pets got 2-3 vaccines period and there was only one fat kid, one asthma kid, one diabetic [type one] and no autistic kids in the whole school [K-8].

    Oh, well if you remember this, then it must be true. Of course, maybe the lack of vaccines isn’t why some diseases are more common (e.g. asthma) or diagnosed more often (e.g. autism, which has arguably not gotten more common but is just better recognized). Could anything else have changed since 1950 to explain that? And maybe you’ve forgotten all the kids who got sick and died from diseases that we can now prevent with vaccines?

    How do you explain the huge increase in pets with kidney disease, epilepsy, cancer, diabetes,obesity, anxiety,digestive issues etc?

    1. We don’t know how much more common these things are because no one kept statistics on disease prevalence in pets until recently, and even those are limited.
    2. We diagnose and treat more diseases now because people feel differently about their pets than they did 70 years ago.
    3. Our pets appear to be living longer and so are getting more age-related diseases instead of dying young from trauma nd infections like they used (just like people)

  37. Lola Marie Estrada says:

    I am so glad I found your site through doing my own research on Dr Marty. I was very skeptical because his infomercial was on my fb page I began to see some
    red flags after that, While this ad was specific to dogs there were only two types of food wellness and sensitive. I have a 10 yr old Chihuahua & a 5 month old Schnauzer and there was no mention of puppies or seniors in the suggested servings and only 1 size bag that I could not see a weight on either.it
    Finally the discounted prize , the subscription service along with free shipping if purchasing more than 1 bag. Then after trying to get to the website shown below fb to be able to confirm
    the business which is listed as dogfoodrevealed.com and it couldn’t be found. However,I continued my search and found you (so grateful) my suspicion confirmed.
    I asked myself this why would this vet to the stars have to sell his raw pet food on fb and Amazon. I mean if he’s naming Oprah as his client and she thinks it’s so good for dog, why wouldn’t she be backing him to brings his raw pet food to the masses in retail chains like Petco & Petsmart?
    Or at least audition for Shark Tank..
    Why? Because it’s as you’ve stated it’s based only on his beliefs, his experience as a Vet.
    Ellen Degeneres owns Halo she didn’t make statements based on her experience with certain dog foods. Halo is on the shelves of all the retail pet stores.
    I feed my Chihuahua small dog fresh pet chicken and have stayed with it because of its real chicken & vegetables and cranberries.
    She is a rescue and was rescued from a puppy mill, she has lost half of her teeth in the 1st 2 yrs after I got her. I buy it weekly and she loves it and has good health.
    With my puppy I took my time to in finding
    a puppy food, that was definitely not made by Purina.
    I found that Blue Buffalo puppy had the best ingredients that is healthy and affordable.
    I also use pumpkin puree as a topper and add cranberries & shredded carrots.
    They get baby carrots as treats midday.
    Thanks to you & your blog for the real education.
    I appreciate & believe in science based facts & studies. Not others opinions or anecdotes
    made up with inflated egos that rely on scare tactics to scare people to make a buck.

  38. Chuck Batson says:

    Thank you for this article and your perspective. I’m a software engineer, science-minded, and appreciate evidence-guided decisions. Since my 21 year old cat was diagnosed hyperthyroid and chronic kidney disease, I’ve spent many hours reading relevant published research papers: pathology, prognosis, biomarkers, drug trials & pharmacokinetics, diet & nutrition, etc. What I’ve found is that, by and large, while great progress has been made over the years — and it’s amazing that there are so many passionate and talented individuals working diligently to improve the lives and understanding of our beloved companion animals — there is simply a dearth of needed research.

    Thus, in my opinion, “there is no evidence to support X” is not a particularly strong or convincing statement. Sadly, there’s a good chance the reason there’s no evidence is simply because it hasn’t been studied, or hasn’t been studied well / well enough. “There is evidence against X or contraindicating X” would be much stronger footing (which you do offer at times).

    In some cases, said lack of research puts me in the unfortunate dilemma of having to include anecdotal information in my decision-making. So, while I understand the limitations of doing so, in the practical role of caregiver I may still find anecdotes useful when evidence is nonexistent, insufficient, or inconclusive. At the end of the day, I need to make informed choices for the care of my pet, and in the absence of statistically significant findings, anecdotes are — perhaps — better guidance than guessing or choosing randomly? I do wish there was more research to fill the gaps in knowledge.

    Respectfully yours,

    Chuck Batson
    San Francisco, CA

  39. skeptvet says:

    The levels of evidence don include anecdote, of course, but it is only barely better than guessing randomly, and anecdotes can be found to support any and all claims ever made, from those that turned out to be tru to this that are clearly false. When we have nothing bette,r we may be forced to rely on them, but we are well-advised to hold any views supported by such evidence with a VERY low degree of confidence.

    In pointing out that “there is no evidence for X,” I am not making the claim that X is false. I am pointing out that there is no justification for the claims made for it and for the confidence with which those claims are being made. IN a case like this, strong claims of health benefits are being made with the intention of selling a product on the basis of evidence no better than that supporting homeopathy, healing prayer, and alien abduction. This should be reason for some concern, and scientific professionals should know, and do, better. If someone wants to sell a product with health benefits, they should be expected to provide some evidence better than this. The burden of proof is always properly on the person making the claim, and so much more so when they are also making money.

    I will also point out that the case Dr. Marty makes is weaker than just one based on anecdotes. He uses a lot of fallacious reasoning (e.g. “natural” is a meaningful description that indicates the healthful qualities of something) and claims that have failed to prove true despite actual attempts to do so (such as for the health benefits of raw foods). He also ignores the proven risks of raw diets. SO in this particular case, the problem is greater than just relying on anecdotes; it is relying on poor logic and ignoring the evidence that does exist.

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