Kymythy Schultze

The pet-food advocate

May 29, 2007

Kymythy Schultze is a certified animal-health instructor, clinical nutritionist, and the author of two pet-nutrition books: Natural Nutrition for Cats and Dogs and The Natural Nutrition No-Cook Book. A leading proponent of species-appropriate diets, including a raw diet for cats and dogs, Schultze teaches animal-nutrition classes across the country.

Have you been inundated with queries about the recent pet-food recall?
Yes, it just makes me so sad. And my heart goes out to all the dogs and cats that have died, and to all the people who are suffering because of this.

Do you think there will be any positive long-term changes within the pet-food industry as a result?
I hate to sound cynical, but we’re talking about a multibillion-dollar business that pays a whole lot to publicity firms, and I think that they’ll smooth things over as quickly as possible. I mean, they already are blaming everything on this Chinese company for tainted wheat gluten. They’re basically saying, “Well, we just won’t buy from them any more, and everything will be okay.”

Schultze with a canine pal.

The most ironic thing about wheat gluten is that dogs and cats shouldn’t be eating it, period. Whether it’s contaminated or not, it’s not good for them.

What do you think of vets who discourage homemade or raw diets for pets?
I want to, and often do, ask these vets who are so against homemade and raw pet food, “What do you think your great-grandparents did?” Well, I’ll tell you what they did: They fed real food to their dogs and cats, because that’s all they had.

So, yes, I find it highly insulting that so many vets think that we’re not intelligent enough to do the same.

Let’s see, we’ve had domesticated animals for over 10,000 years. So that means that we’ve been feeding cats and dogs for thousands of years before bags and cans were even invented.

Why are so many vets critical of pet food beyond kibble?
Well, for one, pet-food companies have a very good deal with veterinary schools. Millions of dollars every year are pumped into veterinary schools via the industry. And that’s not some hidden truth; I mean, that’s just good business sense.

Also, students in veterinary school — and I know, because I spent time at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine — don’t get lessons in actual food. They get more, “Well, if this animal has this problem, you can recommend this sort of prescription diet, or these are the basic vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that animals need.” But they’re not necessarily taught about correct foods.

But most importantly, let’s face it, vets have a lot going on, and it’s a lot easier for them to say, “Feed this food that we sell in the office, or buy this food at the store.” It’s a lot easier than them having to take time out of their busy schedules to actually learn nutrition.

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What’s your take on the raw-meat diet for pets?
It’s what I’ve fed my animals for 20 years, and it’s what I’ve taught for just under 20 years. Now, of course, I’m talking about a well-prepared diet that includes raw meat. I think it would be very bad for your animal if you just tossed raw meat in a bowl every night and left it at that.

But a well-prepared meal that has raw meat along with other ingredients is very natural and extremely nutritious for our animal friends. This food, at least, is deemed fit for human consumption, which right away puts it a cut above the questionable parts that go into the vast majority of bagged and canned cat and dog foods.

It’s really not that hard to get your brain around; it’s just real food. And the reason why raw is better is because dogs and cats are naturally suited to this diet.

How did you discover the raw diet for your pets?
That’s easy — I discovered how to eat better for myself. Basically, I spent the first half of my life going to doctors for a myriad of health problems, but there just wasn’t very much they were willing to do. Right before giving up entirely, I went to see a doctor who at the time was a real pioneer in nutrition.

He taught me how to eat the way my body needed to eat: get rid of the processed foods and eat real, fresh foods, foods that my body would thrive on. It wasn’t a diet; it was just the right way to eat, and immediately I was on the road to recovery.

So, of course, I thought, “Well, my gosh, if eating a better diet can do this to me, what could eating a better diet do for my dogs and cats?”

Did you ever feed your pets commercial kibble?
At that time, they were eating all the best premium dog and cat foods that money could buy —supplemented by all the best things that would actually make them eat it.

I had a background in wild-animal nutrition already, because I’d worked for the federal government as a wildlife rehabilitator. So, in that regard, I had to learn about wild diets for animals released back into the wild. I just extended that knowledge base to include wild canids and felids.

What do you think we should learn from the pet-food recall?
I think that a lot of times the universe does open up a good door when something tragic happens. Just like there’s more awareness of what we put in our own mouths, I think that it can be a new awareness of what we’re putting into our dogs’ or cats’ mouths.

It shouldn’t come out of a bag or a can; it should come from nature. It should come from the same places we get our food. Most importantly it should be whole, fresh, real food.

Just real food, that’s all — nothing magical, nothing fancy.

Liz Crain is a writer based in Portland, Oregon.

There are 5 comments on this item
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1. by Lee Cullens on Sep 27, 2008 at 7:58 PM PDT

I think it’s great that you promote information like simple foods and avoiding industrial chemicals in our food. I’m even for the more wholesome organic whole grains you promoted, despite the fact that grains are not part of my own diet. I also especially appreciate your support of the family farm.

If you read my comment to the “Going to the dogs” piece though, you might understand that the unbiased science doesn’t support Kymythy Schultze’s position. It’s easy to condemn the pet food companies, but straying from anthropomorphism might affect her line of business. Take the statement:

“But a well-prepared meal that has raw meat along with other ingredients is very natural and extremely nutritious for our animal friends. This food, at least, is deemed fit for human consumption,...”

The phrases “very natural” and “extremely nutritious” are, to me, misleading word play to justify a position. And the term “raw meat” is misleading because the very extensive unbiased science shows that all parts of the prey animal, except the stomach contents, are necessary for proper nutrition of a carnivore. If she learned about wild-animal nutrition, she must surely be aware of the works of Dr. L. David Mech (considered the world’s leading wolf biologist).

The article wasn’t long on what “other ingredients” are, but they certainly conjure up plant matter.

Actually, a very simple metabolic principal helps clarify the issue of mixing starches (low moisture carbohydrates) and proteins. Gastric pH needs to be acidic (low pH) to facilitate protein enzymes necessary to digest protein, and needs to be alkaline (high pH) to facilitate starch enzymes necessary to digest starches. Gastric juices can not be both at the same time. If starches and proteins are eaten together, neither one will be fully digested. The sugars will ferment and the proteins will putrefy, decay, and rot as they travel through the digestive tract. Indigestion leads to a buildup of toxins and poisons in the body and creates/aggravates health problems. A carnivore’s digestive system is by its very nature highly acidic in a healthy animal. (Could this be why the pet food industry has worked so hard to instill the belief that dogs are omnivores?) Even with us “omnivores,” eating proteins and starches together reduces nutrient uptake, and we reduce the available nutrients further with cooking, so many end up overeating.

My best to you and yours,
Lee C

2. by Liz Crain on Sep 29, 2008 at 9:25 AM PDT

Thanks for your comments Lee. I’ll answer a couple of your points --

You write -- The phrases “very natural” and “extremely nutritious” are, to me, misleading word play to justify a position. And the term “raw meat” is misleading because the very extensive unbiased science shows that all parts of the prey animal, except the stomach contents, are necessary for proper nutrition of a carnivore.

My response -- I have used Schultze’s diet with my cat for almost two years (a diet which not only includes raw muscle meat but also raw bone , raw organs, a small amount of vegetable matter, and supplements -- vitamin C, kelp and alfalfa meal, cod and flax oil -- in order to simulate the prey animals that she would eat were she not domesticated.)Our cat is extremely healthy and this shows through everything from her coat to her weight. She looks better, and has more energy, than when we fed her premium kibble and so our vet has given our cat and the diet that we feed her her good health seal of approval. Our vet generally recommends kibble with supplements.

Schultze’s diet is balanced and she has many years of research and field work behind it. There is only so much we can include in these interviews but I urge you to pick up her book Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats if you’d like to learn more.

3. by Lee Cullens on Sep 29, 2008 at 12:20 PM PDT

Thank you for the reply and your clarification of the word “raw meat” as meaning muscle meat, raw bone , and raw organs.

I also agree with adding omega 3 as it is sorely deficient in industrial ag meats. If one is able to source wild prey or grass-fed free-ranging meat though, there is a proper proportion of omega 3 to omega 6.

However, I haven’t found any documented unbiased scientific evidence of gray wolves with scurvy, whereas humans can easily have such due to lack of Vitamin C. Such is not an essential vitamin for wolves (i.e. our pet carnivores) because they synthesize it themselves.

As for any plant matter, my article “Ol’ Shep’s Plight: Diet” covers the science there.

I’m happy to hear that your cat seems very healthy, as the quality of life of our animals is my only reward, but I wouldn’t take that as evidence that the plant matter contributes to such. Cats, especially, are obligate carnivores.

Actually, I’ve read many such books as you note and have gone through a long learning curve. To me they are all anthropomorphized variations on the BARF concept, and lacking, relative to plant matter, in solid unbiased scientific evidence. What it comes down to for me is that nature is the ultimate laboratory. I would in turn urge anyone to pick up Dr. L. David Mech’s 2003 book “Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation” (a compilation of 350 collective years of research, experiments, and careful field observations) as a starting point to understanding what we’ve learned in nature’s laboratory.

My best to you and yours,
Lee C

4. by Liz Crain on Sep 29, 2008 at 1:28 PM PDT

I would like to read that book, or at least parts of it, at some point -- thanks for the recommendation. I’ve also wanted to visit Oregon’s White Wolf Sanctuary ( for some time now -- maybe this fall/winter -- but the trip wouldn’t be focused on their diet. Although that obviously interests me I want to learn more about the sanctuary’s mission and of course see the animals.

The minimal amount of plant matter in my cat’s diet that Schultze recommends btw is there to simulate the digested/partially digested matter that would be in the intestines and stomach of the prey animals that my cat would consume were she in the wild.

Thanks for sharing your information.

5. by Lee C on Jun 27, 2009 at 12:37 PM PDT

Just a further note to say that the articles I mentioned have been superseded by a book, which is much more comprehensive, and more thoroughly researched, referenced, and reviewed. In keeping with the site, it’s also strictly noncommercial :o)

The author Euan Fingal has offered up a free ebook (pdf) to try to help us understand how we might improve our well-being and that of our domestic animals in general, but especially that of our canine companions. The book brings together ample unbiased natural sciences evidence, and the experiences of many naturally oriented caregivers, to clear a convincing swath through the propaganda surrounding well-being, and the misguided understandings it fosters.

To learn more about the book, and to download it, see the journal entry:
“Ol’ Shep’s Well-being: A Natural Perspective”

What the book basically establishes relative to diet (among other aspects of well-being) is that: What it all comes down to is that to deny that a natural species appropriate diet is a necessary component for natural, optimal well-being, is to deny nature—i.e. the evolution of a species, and its optimal, natural diet the.

My best to you and yours,
Lee C

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