With dog owners opting for more natural methods of caring for their beloved companions, it makes good common sense to know what to feed them for their optimal health.
photo by Illona Haus
Natural pet care is increasingly becoming more the choice of care for pet owners. People have become more and more disillusioned with conventional care as a means to prevent illness in their pets. In truth biomedicine was never originally intended to be a means of prevention but rather a means of emergency, acute care. In simpler terms this means that typically veterinarians are not the people we should be looking to for our pets’ nutritional needs. Veterinarians are trained in the treatment and management of disease. Natural care of our pets is obtained by preventing illness in the first place through proper species specific feeding and nutrition which properly supports the immune function. Our canines’ cuisine of choice will be according to their species as the scavenger carnivore.
The biggest interest for pet owners lies with what is appropriate to feed. Due to not only the wide variety of different commercial foods but also the wide ranging opinions and advice from the natural pet health industry, pet owners are often confused and frustrated. Many opt out for the ease of what is comfortable and known to them much to the detriment of their pets’ health.
In this article we are going to focus on those of the canine variety in the hopes of making this a simple and common sense approach for dog owners. First we need to discuss exactly what type of diet is optimal and correct for a canine according to their species. Dogs are what are described as scavenger carnivores which means they will scavenge for food -any kind of food dead or alive or otherwise – in order to survive. However, this also means that given a natural choice or preference they will choose a meat and bone diet for their optimal health to thrive.
In my own recent studies I’ve discovered some discrepancies that will not only confuse any dog owner but can make it very hard to accomplish proper feeding when in reality this is not rocket science. Feeding our dogs should be nothing more than plain common sense. Look at the teeth of our dogs and you’ll find not omnivore teeth with both grinding molars and canines, but you’ll find only teeth designed for ripping, tearing, shredding, and shearing. Chewing does not enter the equation. Knowing this then the simple solution to feeding our dogs a proper diet that they can really thrive on is a raw meat and bone diet.
Often advice is given about feeding all sorts of different vegetables, grains, vegetable oils and other things that dogs would not choose to eat in the wild. We think because they do eat these things since that is what WE feed them, that they have evolved into some sort of omnivore but again that is also not a fact but more of a myth. What bears reminding is that dogs are scavenger carnivores – they are opportunistic, eating what they need to fill their stomachs and survive.
According to Dr. Elson Haas (1992) carnivores rarely eat vegetables and for a specific reason:
True carnivores that eat only meat are hard to find; in the animal kingdom, they include the wolf and cat families, which naturally subsist on the flesh of other animals. These animals are naturally adapted to hunt and consume flesh. Their speed, power, pointed teeth and sharp claws help them a great deal. They have no molars and cannot really chew; they rip the flesh from their prey and swallow it. And their digestive tracts are specifically designed to process the high-protein, sometimes fatty meals. They only eat vegetables, local greens, when they are sick. (p.358)
Dogs are of the wolf family and therefore this statement very much pertains to them. Many people are actually more concerned about their own feelings about eating a meat diet and wrongly transfer that to our carnivore dogs and cats. While we can do very well without a meat diet, dogs and cats cannot and do not – cats even more so as obligate carnivores. Humans are also concerned about bacteria and parasites but again there are easy and natural solutions to combat that concern. First understand that dogs have natural enzymes in their saliva that will kill bacteria, plus they have shorter intestines that move the meat through much quicker than our omnivore bodies leaving no time for bacteria that may have survived their high acid stomachs to gain a foothold. To put ourselves at ease remember that our dogs wild cousins do not sit around cooking their prey prior feeding, they just eat. We can also do things such as freezing the meat for a day or two prior to feeding to kill any possible parasites. Nature also provides us an arsenal of natural parasite and bacteria fighters in the form of herbs, food-grade diatomaceous earth, grapefruit seed extract and so forth.
We can help our dogs overcome and/or prevent many ailments if we’ll feed them properly according to their species. Commercial foods are often laden with grains (which dogs cannot digest properly) that only exacerbate immune system problems leading to allergies, diabetes, kidney and liver disease, and even cancer. We can help them be well long into their golden years by feeding them a basic diet that dogs have eaten for centuries. Commercial foods only came into existence just over a hundred years ago. What did dogs eat before that? You guessed it: meat and bones. A simple formula for a raw feeding diet is to give your dog 2-3% of his total body weight per day in meat and bones in a 1:1 or 1:2 bone to meat ratio.
In conclusion I’ll share with you what my colleague, former veterinarian technician, and natural-rearing breeder of Boston Terriers, Dr. Jeannie Thomason wrote recently to me and is shared with you by permission:
DNA and science have proven that dogs have not evolved at all. The little toy poodle has nearly identical DNA as a wolf does. The tiny poodle has the same type of jaws, teeth, saliva, short intestinal tract, etc as its wolf cousin. So while we have domesticated dogs and changed their outward appearance, nothing has changed internally for them. This is just a fact, no right or wrong, a fact…I feel a lot of people nowadays think of their pets as their children which is fine however, we have to remember they are NOT human beings and omnivores but are carnivores and cannot thrive on the same diet we do. Yes, salad’s and whole, non-modified grains are healthy for us as human beings but, not for our carnivorous companions. To me it is just common sense to feed an animal what it was designed and created to eat in the first place to be and stay healthy. What does a wild wolf, coyote or other wild dog eat? Meat and bones, organs from the prey, some wild seeded grasses, herbs as well as some young green grass (although unless prey is scarce it not the main part of their diet), berries, tree bark, insects and eggs. NOT carrots, broccoli, flax seeds, canola oil or olive oil, wheat, corn, oats, soy beans, kidney beans, potatoes, yams, celery. While these food items won’t kill your dog they will not necessarily thrive on them either. (The Whole Dog )
I’m in total agreement with Dr. Thomason on her statement and have seen proof of every word in the care of my own dogs. Keep it simple using common sense and our dogs can and will have far better quality of lives with longevity.
Note: Before switching your pet to a raw meat and bone diet, especially if if your pet is not in good health or is a senior animal, please set up a consultation with me or seek the advice of an animal naturopath or a qualified natural pet health care consultant.
Haas, E. MD (1992) Staying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet & Nutritional Medicine. Berkeley: Celestial Arts.
Originally published here: http://dogs.suite101.com/article.cfm/canine_cuisine
About the author:
Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Author. This article is for educational purposes only. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader.
Dr. Kim Bloomer is a certified animal naturopath and published author, consulting on canine nutrition and wellness. She hosts the internet radio show, Animal Talk Naturally with colleague Dr. Jeannie Thomason. The two are also the Founders of the American Council of Animal Naturopathy. In addition, Dr. Kim is a proficient blogger and writer on natural pet health, having co-authored the book Whole Health for Happy Dogs and authored the book Animals Taught Me That. Dr. Kim’s articles have been featured in various publications such as Animal Wellness, Natural Horse, Dogs Naturally, NM Breeze, Raw Instincts, and the Pet Connection magazines. Website:www.AspenbloomPetCare.com
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