Food for Fought
Recently in the UK we had a one off hour long TV documentary on “dog food”, this wasn’t promoting one or another but discussing the pros and cons of kibble, raw, vegan and home cooked etc. I watched with interest but by the end they seemed to have contradicted themselves lots and nobody was any the wiser which food is best for their dogs.
In my younger days I was obsessed with my own personal fitness, I was a fitness instructor for a while and read and learnt all I could on nutrition and fitness for humans. What was and is as clear as can be is the correct nutrition generally does play a much bigger part than we think. Ask any bodybuilder and (apart from illegal drugs) they will tell you the correct diet is probably more important than lifting heavy weights. The food we eat can affect our mental health, mental state, energy levels, moods, body shape, strength, motivation, smell, memory, skin condition, teeth, breath, our senses, sleep patterns, behaviour, thoughts, eyesight and probably hundreds of others things that haven’t the science to back them up yet. We generally just think bad diet means I will get fat. Many people have a bad diet and never get fat or overweight at all, doesn’t mean they are healthy or the diet isn’t playing a big role in their life.
When you see members of the same family that all wear glasses due to poor eyesight is it because their poor eyesight is a hereditary disease or is it because they all have a similar diet which is lacking in the correct vitamins that promote great eyesight? (Probably both.)
So if we know that diet is this important for humans surely we can relate this to dogs and all other animals too. I am not relating human diet to canine diet, I am relating that the healthy correct appropriate food will benefit each species.
Pandas live on bamboo yet cannot break down the cellulose very well so need to consume huge amounts of it each day just to get by, they survive on it and have done for thousands of years since they stopped being carnivores, this shows animals can live on inadequate food and allow the species to continue for thousands of years. “It hasn’t done them any harm” !!!!
Personally I feed a raw diet to my dogs and I have done since about 2005 after many years of researching it. It went against everything I had grown up to believe or heard dogs should or shouldn’t eat. Someone convinced me (Tracy Flower) that dogs were meant to eat this way and I gave it a go. One of the best decisions I have ever made.
Competing in dog agility we are constantly looking for that edge, we are breeding the dogs from agility lines and these are getting fitter and faster, we are working on exercises to improve their strength, balance, muscles etc., we are working on handling and training but an area that perhaps lacks science and facts is the correct nutrition. Olympic athletes do not abuse their bodies with fast food or junk food, they have strict regimes that allow their bodies to thrive on the correct vitamins, minerals and anything else their bodies may need to get from the diet.
I think we need some real research into canine nutrition so we can use facts to state this or that is the case. Rather than a vet that has less than a day’s training on canine nutrition given by a rep of some kibble company.
The following are my personal observations or beliefs (some are proven facts) I believe that dog’s suffering with the issues such as stress, obesity, hyperactivity, aggression, skin conditions, bad teeth, (plaque on teeth is related/linked to heart disease) motivation, low/high energy, separation anxiety, fear, sensitivity, depression, anal glands that regularly need help emptying, digestive problems, many cancers, biddability, actually every aspect of the dog’s behaviour may be diet related and I really wish the owners would make that their first thought when their dog does anything they see as inappropriate behaviour. The title I gave this “Food for Fought” is obviously a play on words implying the food can affect aggression and temperament.
I can honestly say my dogs are brilliant examples of health, their teeth obviously, their energy, their behaviour, they have never in all the time of feeding raw had any health issues whatsoever.
I always get told “you are lucky to have such healthy well behaved dogs”. Is it just luck?
An advert on TV states that one in four dogs suffer with periodontal disease and need dental treatment, (I have three dogs with great teeth, I better not get a fourth) they also state that looking after dog’s teeth can add two to five years on their life span.
Shy (top photo) is 12 and her teeth are a bit worn down but still lovely and clean. Bold is ten years old (middle photo) and as you can see they are pretty perfect. Coy is 16 months old. (bottom photo)
A couple of things that may surprise you are a bag of kibble is loaded with salmonella and kibble fed dogs faeces are loaded with salmonella too.
People say that dogs fed bones can choke on them or get them stuck in the gut. Of course this may be possible but I have never known it, I have however known over 30 dogs fed kibble that have had gastric torsion, many of them died.
It is very convenient to dip into a bag of kibble, throw in a bowl, job done, especially when feeding large numbers of dogs. One of the things that people new to raw feeding seem to delight themselves with is taking pleasure in preparing the dog’s dinner. It may be lamb heart one meal, chicken carcasses the next or blended veg with eggs and yoghurt or we may just throw them a mackerel. Shys favourite is chicken wings, Bolds is sardines, and Coys is duck necks.
I know of a small number of dogs that have been moved to a raw diet that haven’t taken to it for whatever reason but most will thrive on it. For convenience sake there are now many pre packed raw food companies to make it easier for us. Here is the one I use. Let’s do the best for our dogs.