Feeding dogs is quite a controversial subject and it is difficult to work out what is the right way to feed them, or if there is a right way to feed. My personal opinion is that we have been fed an awful amount of lies from the Pet food producers for a long time.
I know since I was quite young the common myth was that dogs had to stay on the same diet and if you wanted to change their food it could be harmful to them. This has kept a nation of dog owners making sure they buy the same brand food and feed it to their dog 2 times a day, all their lives.
Why would a mammal, that has a similar biology to us need to eat the same thing everyday and can it possibly be fulfilling all their nutritional needs as it claims? Just imagine waking up and having cornflakes for breakfast, then for dinner, then for breakfast then for dinner, day in day out every day of your life. I personally could not think of anything worse and I don’t think I would live very long.
I will have to say there’s no way one type of food, no matter what it contains can fulfil the nutritional needs of every dog. The first reason being that every individual has different nutritional needs, mine will be completely different to yours and I certainly know that if we, as humans, ate the same dried food day in, day out, we would not remain well, in fact we’d probably become rather ill. This is because our body needs different nutrition at different times in order to do the various jobs it has to do, like growth and repair, maintain cells or build new ones. Each food contains either protein, carbohydrate or fat, our body uses these foods for energy, cell maintenance and growth, to keep us warm and to protect our organs. They also contain vitamins and minerals that are vital for boosting the immune system, growth and development and help cells and organs to do their job.
It’s becoming apparent that in order to maintain a healthy immune system we need to ensure we feed our gut. The gut is our 2nd brain, it is full of microbes that have different functions and is directly connected to the brain, with millions of nerve endings and produces some hormones including serotonin, that has been linked to depression, if our body does not produce enough.
Dr Tim Spector, discovered that the gut needs a wide range of foods in order to maintain the bio diversity of microbes, he says that a human needs to eat at least 35 plant foods each week to maintain a healthy gut, this includes a variety of fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. He also discovered that fermented food are especially good and recommends food like yoghurt, Kefir, Kombucha, sauerkraut, some raw french cheeses, coffee and decent chocolate for humans. I would not recommend coffee or chocolate for dogs, but I would recommend a variety of food.
When we look at dogs, according to Dr Conor Brady, who spent 10 years researching the dog food industry for his book ‘Feeding Dogs- The Science Behind The Dry Versus Raw Debate’. He states that dogs are carnivores and in the wild when they kill prey, would eat some of each part of the animal to fulfil their nutritional needs, meat, liver, kidney, brain, tongue, gizzards etc, each body part providing the nutrients for the matching part of their body. Dogs intestines are much shorter than a human gut, showing that meat is easier for a dog to digest, as the cells break down quicker than that of plant food. Humans have much longer guts designed for the long digestion process of breaking down plants. It’s not to say that dogs can’t eat any plants, as they enjoy some fruits and vegetables. The question he poses is how good is carbohydrate for dogs? He states that most dry dog food is made up of carbohydrate with a moderately low amount of protein, ranging anywhere between 18 -25%. He goes on to consider if a high carbohydrate diet is linked to dog obesity.
The shape of dogs today is definetly wider than the dogs 50 years ago and I come into contact with lots of little dogs that weigh far more than they should. This will lead to a reduced life expectancy and possibly health problems throughout their life.
If you want your dog to thrive I would think carefully about what you feed them on and try increasing the variety in their diet. We mustn’t mix raw food with dried baked kibble, as the stomach digests the two foods in a different way and can cause tummy problems if mixed. Raw can, however, be mixed with Cold Pressed food, also a dried food, which is cooked at a lower temperature and crumbles rather than swells, so safer than a kibble. You can feed whole eggs, this can be fun to watch how your dog manages to crack it, best served in the garden. My dogs eat a variety of raw meat and fish, cold pressed, fresh cooked veg, yoghurt, eggs, tinned fish, kefir, marrow bones and whole chicken wings, which help to keep the teeth nice and clean. I have to say that Oscar has only visited the vet once in his life, now nearly 9 years old fit and healthy French Mastiff.
Bear in mind that if your dog has a strong immune system they are less likely to get fleas, worms or other parasites. They’ll need less treatments which means less harmful chemicals into their body and less trips to the vet.
Diet is such an important part of your dogs life, its well worth looking at what changes you can make to have a happy, healthy dog. It is worth doing your research and finding out what works best. Feeding raw is much easier than it used to be as there are more providers, it usually comes frozen and some is already mixed with 15 -20 percent fruit and vegetables to ensure a variety of nutrients. Look out for Natural Instinct an Natures Menu, high grade quality meat, ground with bones to ensure the dogs get the fibre they need from the bone, ensuring good gut health.
If you want to find out more for yourself I’d highly recommend Dr. Conor Brady’s book ‘Feeding Dogs’.
I could talk for hours on the effects of diet on health as it is such a vast subject, but it is simple to feed your dog a variety of food, raw, cooked, fresh and convenient for good health. Please give it a try and see the difference.