A healthy, balanced diet is as important for dogs as it is for human beings, especially if we expect them work for us and perform well – and dry dog food is often hailed as a wholesome, healthy alternative to raw food. In reality, however, kibble/dried dog food is killing our dogs…
The Importance of a Healthy Diet
Living beings require a biologically appropriate diet, which means they require an appropriate mix of carbohydrates, protein, fats and fibre, complete with an abundance of varying minerals and vitamins. The best way to ensure dogs get all the nutrients they need is to feed them a well-balanced variety of whole foods. Yet we feed them kibble/dried dog food for every meal.
Kibble/Dried Dog Food is Killing Our Dogs
Made by cooking ingredients into a nutrient-devoid paste at extremely high temperatures and flattening or extruding this paste into shapes before spraying it with a cocktail of minerals, vitamins and other additives, dry dog food comes complete with added protein (which often comes from highly questionable sources), fats and promises of all kinds of healthy ingredients, from Jerusalem artichokes and blueberries to ‘wild-caught salmon’. Yet even the most expensive varieties have undergone the same nutrient-destroying process as described above.
How do we know this? The image to the right shows a list of ingredients displayed on the packaging of a very popular, well-known dry food. Looking at this list, one has to ask whether all this would really be necessary if the meats, fruits and vegetables on this list were given in the shape of whole foods to begin with?!
Dog food companies will create ‘scientific formulas’ to ensure dogs eating their food will receive adequate nutrition. They do, after all, not want these dogs to drop dead the moment they eat the stuff. The question is, however, whether ‘adequate’ on paper is good enough in real life…
Pea and grain proteins, for example, usually count towards a product’s listed protein content. They are, however, neither complete proteins nor are they always bioavailable to dogs. To make matters worse, grains, peas and soy contain a phytic acid that can interfere with mineral absorption.
Scientific formulations are ultimately about making up a little for the nutrient-robbing manufacturing process and adding a few wonderful sounding bits to make dog owners buy this food. Whether all these additives do make a difference or not in the long run is debatable, especially when considering that the number of dogs developing cancer is continually – and rapidly – rising, as is the number of over-weight dogs and dogs with joint issues; rotting teeth, brittle & dry coats and dry, flaky skin; lethargic dogs with no energy that cannot concentrate…
Dogs and Carbohydrates
Then, of course, there are carbohydrates. The species-appropriate diet for dogs does not include carbs – they simply do not need them. Yet in most dried foods, the largest source of calories consists of carbohydrates. 56 per cent of the grain-free product for which we listed the ingredient list above, for example, is carbs.
Now, there is no problem with giving dogs carbs as such. There’s nothing wrong with feeding your dogs a little cooked oatmeal, and a bit of rice can be good for dogs with stomach upsets. Some breeds also have higher numbers of amylase gene copies (which enable us and many other animals to digest starch) that help them deal better with more carbs than other breeds.
The real problem is that dried dog food contains so many carbs and, worse still, that these carbs are soluble. Soluble carbs are processed by the body in exactly the same way as pure white sugar. Weight gain, inflammations and diabetes are just some of the dangers of this – and that’s just for humans, who are inherently better equipped to deal with them than dogs.
So, dogs, who effectively need zero carbs, are routinely fed food that contains over half their daily calorie requirement in the shape of simple sugars – while the amino acids in the protein they get are incomplete and their food lacks any sign of naturally-occuring enzymes, minerals and vitamins – not to mention the range of contaminants found in these foods.
There is no wonder there are so many fat and ill dogs – these poor animals do not get the kind of diet that is appropriate for canids, which is what they are. Wolves, coyotes, jackals and foxes belong to the same family (Canidae) as dogs – and none of them go around killing wild corn stalks– they all eat raw, whole meat.
Benefits of a Raw Food Diet
Changing dogs’ diets to raw food provides them with all the nutrition they require. This, of course, has a whole range of benefits, which include coats starting to shine, allergies and hot spots disappearing; skin condition improving and weight simply melting away.
Most importantly, however, dogs feel better and are far more energetic and engaged. Often, a switch of diet can even help with smoothing out problem behaviours. No, a raw food diet is not going to instantly cure every behavioural problem or magically generate perfect obedience – but a dog who feels well is going to be far less distracted than a dog who feels unwell.
The Cost of Raw Feeding
Many dog owners shy away from raw food because they worry about the cost in terms of both time and money. As it is, raw feeding can be as easy or complicated/time-consuming and as expensive or inexpensive as you want it to be – i.e. taking the time to source and prepare your raw food yourself will cost less than relying on ‘ready-to-eat’ prepared foods. Either way, the benefits of raw food by far outweigh its cost long-term.
Often, the biggest problem with raw feeding is getting started. If you want raw food done for you, simply Google it to find a myriad of quality raw food providers offering their products at varying prices all over the UK.
If you’re happy to source/prepare raw food yourself, we recommend not opting for the so-called ‘prey model’, which uses whole animals or whole pieces thereof, because bones can often splinter and dogs who are gulpers could choke on such splinters. Ideally, both meat and bone should be ground up.
While a raw food diet can sometimes help with behavioural issues, there are times when switching your dog’s diet simply isn’t enough to stop unwanted behaviours. I have been helping dog owners modify their dogs’ behaviour for many years. If your dog could do with a helping hand, call me on 07776761289 or drop me a line using our contact form today.