Most of us have been conditioned to believe that “dry dog food” is the diet our dogs were meant to eat. We see our friends feed dry kibble to their dogs, our neighbors feed their dogs the same thing, and we watch commercials where it seems like every dog gets fed some sort of dry kibbled dog food. Thus we are conditioned to think that dry dog food “is just what dogs were designed to eat.” What we don’t stop to consider is the sum and substance of Chapter 1: the fact that dogs are carnivores that were designed to kill and eat raw whole animals. With this light turned on, anyone who truly understands dogs recognizes the fact that the commercial dog food industry isn’t about “canine nutrition” at all, what this industry is about is human convenience and profiting from ignorance. These companies create products “cheap enough” so humans will buy them and “nutritious enough” so that the dogs won’t die being fed it (at least not right away), but the truth is many dogs do die eventually from being fed some of the lower-grade products, over time, or even immediately (as many of these recent “dog food recalls” have proven).
Anyway, the scientific truth is raw flesh, organ meats, bones, and fats are in fact what our dogs should be eating, if they are to be ingesting a truly optimal diet for their species. Therefore, let me state from the outset that I am against feeding kibble at all, and my real belief is in feeding dogs raw. Still, I also realize that these kinds of ingredients are more complicated to obtain for the average person, so I will write this article to help kibble-feeders do a better job with their choices. The fact is, most dogmen just go to the feed store to buy some over-processed low-grade feed, without really having the slightest clue about nutrition. Unfortunately, when most dogmen go to a feed store to buy 10 bags of cheap corn-based feed to throw at their yard of dogs, they fail to realize how virtually all such feeds are something their dogs were not biologically-designed to process. This article should help to steer folks in the right direction, if you “have” to feed kibble.
I mean, what do you think happens to a group of animals when they are fed a diet they were not intended to eat, day-after-day, month-after-month, and year-after-year? Do you think such animals will live longer or live shorter? Do you think these animals will perform better or perform worse when fed something they weren’t designed to process and utilize to begin with? In short, can any animal reach his full potential … when fed over-processed ingredients they weren’t designed to eat … or are such animals going to be limited to achieve a level much less than what they could have achieved being fed optimally?
What we feed our dogs, if we really get right down to it, basically defines what they have the potential to become—just about as surely as do the dogs’ God-given genetics. Yet when most people shop for dog food, the last thing on their mind is, “Is this the best I can do for my dog, to help him reach his full potential?” Instead, what is usually on an owner’s mind when he is shopping for pet food is “How can I spend as little as possible to keep my dogs alive?” That’s right, skimping on the nutrition of his prize dogs, in an effort to save a buck, is the motivating force behind most so-called dogmen when they shop for dogfood.
By contrast, good dogmen think of themselves as managers of their stable of canine athletes, because this is the correct perspective on things. As such, good dogmen immediately realize that skimping on nutrition is not solid practice—feeding cheap feed to world class canine athletes diminishes their potential and is terrible practice. In the same fashion, no top world class race car driver is going to “skimp” by putting cheap 87 octane gas in his finely-tuned high-performance racing vehicles. You can bet on that.
The truth is, in order for any machine to perform its best it needs to be fed the optimal fuel it was designed to run on. So why do so many dogmen take their performance athletes and basically give them mediocre “fuel” to run on? These are questions that really deserve careful thought. Because, while less expensive in the short term, feeding cheap inappropriate feed actually hurts our goals in the long run. Problems like lack of fertility in both males and bitches, diminished litter sizes, physical ailments in adults as they grow older, shortened lifespans, etc.—all of these are “costs” that we fail to consider and add to the price of buying cheap feed for our stock, over time.
I know this first hand, because I watched the gradual falling apart of my first key dogs, who themselves stopped producing and died way too early in their lives because I was myself feeding cheap feed when I got started. You see, I was like most dog owners, I wasn’t thinking about “optimal nutrition,” I was trying to get inexpensive feed “for $16.00 a bag” as my main priority in providing nourishment for my athletes. I simply did not know any better. I fed my dogs Diamond dog food, and they looked great—for a few years they looked great. But that was only because they were young and the effects of my ignorance hadn’t caught up with them yet. However, as their initial years wore on to middle age, my dogs suddenly stopped looking so great. Their coats got shabby, the hair began to fall from their faces, and my stud dogs started shooting blanks. And of course, with Poncho, he slowly succumbed to cancer, way before a natural lifespan should have come to its end. (Sure, all dogs have to die at some age, and in fact most dogs do die of cancer. The difference is whether this inevitable fate needs to be premature or not. Feeding well simply extends the lifespan, and the quality of life while alive, while feeding lousy shortens the lifespan, and diminishes the quality of life while alive. So the choice is yours.)
Green = Good / Red = Bad
The only “good” thing that resulted from my watching Poncho fall apart prematurely was that it made me analyze what happened to him and why? And at every angle I analyzed his demise I reached the same conclusion what I was feeding him and the rest of my dogs was killing them. Toward the end of his life, Poncho got to the point he could no longer take ANY form of kibble. I mean I tried all kinds of “special blends.” I tried kangaroo, venison, I mean some really expensive “food allergy” diets and kibbled concoctions, but none of them worked. Poncho would always vomit, he continued to have mucus-laden stools, and he would itch and scratch himself like crazy, regardless of the kind of kibbled food I tried to put him on. The only product that finally worked was whole ground raw beef patties. That was it. But by then it was too late. All I was able to do was prolong his life, but he never became fully healthy again nor did he regain the ability to produce. It was a tough lesson for me to learn, but the reality of what I had been feeding my dogs finally came home to me—the kibble I was using was slowly poisoning my dogs.
None of us is born knowing a thing about canine nutrition. We feed what everyone else feeds: dry kibbled dogfood. Some of us are so clueless we will buy brands like “Old Roy” (which actually has received Class Action Lawsuits against it for being unsuitable for dogs), because we just do not know any better. We think, “Dogfood is dogfood, right?” Well, I am here to tell you this is WRONG!
After you read this article, it is my hope that you will take the job of feeding your dog much more seriously. It is my hope that you will realize that what you feed your dogs is just about as important as what dogs you are feeding. The two are inextricably linked. The best race car is useless without the right fuel, and the best dogs are useless without top-quality nutrition. If you are a professional breeder and you get two more $800 puppies a year, out of each of your 10 bitches, because you are feeding better, that is $8000 a year in extra income. Was it really worth saving $150 a month ($1800 a year) in buying cheap dog food to have less healthy dogs, smaller litters, and to have a year’s worth of slow poison in your yard of dogs—as opposed to spending an extra $150 a month on a year’s worth of top nutrition to get $8,000 back and healthier dogs at the end? Was losing your dog’s fertility at an early age worth it too, when he or she might still be siring or whelping litters on into their 12th year, had you fed healthier feed as a matter of daily practice?
Do some of you cheapskates add all that up and factor this into your “monthly feed bill?” When you begin to look at feeding your yard this way, you begin to think of dog food not as an “expense,” but as an investment. You begin to realize that you “have” to spend some kind of money on feed anyway, if you want your dogs to live, and so therefore, rather than wasting your money on cheap feed (which compromises your dogs’ current and future health), you begin to have a desire to invest your money in top quality feeds (which maximizes every potential in your animals).
Looking at it in this way, you will set yourself up to receive positive dividends paid back to you from your investments by improved results in the future. Dividends like (1) better vitality in each dog every day of its life; (2) less vet bills through less breakdown and improved overall health and fitness; (3) improved fertility in your brood animals, which translates to better conception rates and litter sizes; and (4) animals that live longer and allow you to benefit from them for a much greater amount of time, with less problems along the way, and more positive results every step of the way. So now that you have a clearer perspective on feeding, let’s get into the heart of the matter and find out just exactly what we are feeding our dogs—as opposed to just exactly what we should be feeding them.
If You Have to Feed Kibble
Although somewhat of an omnivore, it must always be kept in mind that our dogs are primarily carnivores, and as such they have NO nutritional need for carbohydrates. Our dogs “can” utilize carbohydrates to a small degree, if the carbs are properly broken down (cooked) first, but in point of fact dogs thrive much better getting their energy sources from animal fats and oils, not carbs. So right out of the gate, any food that is primarily of carbohydrate origin (corn, wheat, soy, glutens, rice, bran, etc.) is thus primarily concocted of material that your dog doesn’t need. Since feeding your dogs is probably the single most important daily management practice of your yard of athletes, to feed your dogs something that they don’t require (or that is outright harmful to them) is ridiculous. Worse, doing so for prolonged periods of time can and will ruin their health and eventually kill them. I know, my main stud dog was useless at 7 yeas of age and was dead by 9—and yet his inbred son lived to be 13 years old because I learned to feed better.
In order meet the nutritional requirements of your dogs, you need to understand what constitutes “a complete and balanced diet,” so that you can either buy this proper diet for your dogs or attempt to make it at home. Whether or not you are meeting your dogs’ nutritional requirements already with your chosen commercial feed (or home-made concoction) is what we are going to examine from the womb to the tomb. There are a multitude of concepts to be learned through critical reading about canine nutrition, but these four concepts really stand out:
1. Dogs require protein and energy of high biological value in order to thrive, which means their nutrition sources should always come from primarily MEAT and FAT (oil) for optimal results, and the meats should be raw. Plant source proteins will ruin a dog.
2. Although a dog “can” utilize carbohydrates for energy, if cooked properly, a dog actually has no (or little) nutritional need for them.
3. At extreme levels of stress, most authorities recommend not only increasing the percent fuel from fat, but also from protein, while minimizing any contribution of carbohydrates at all. Again, we need to utilize critical diet applications to get the most out of our canine athletes, which means we have busted the myth of “carb loading.” We find that carb loading is actually the opposite way in which you should feed the extreme distance performance canine athlete.
4. Just because a feed product has a “listed” protein value rating on its bag, does not mean that said “value” actually represents what your dog is really getting. The Biological Value (digestibility and usability) of the feed is the most critical aspect of its true value—which can only be known by a laboratory analysis.
The “biological value” of a protein source is the most important consideration to a dog’s diet. For example, if a dog food label says its feed contains “26% protein” but the source of this protein content comes from corn gluten, then really your dog is getting very little protein out of eating this feed, because he can’t digest the protein source very well. By contrast, if you are feeding your dog raw or soft-boiled eggs, your dog is utilizing almost every bit of what he is eating. This is called “biological availability” or “value,” and it is a key concept to master as you decide what you are going to feed your dogs. Here is breakdown of the biological value of various protein sources we commonly see in dog feeds:
|Eggs (whole) = 100||White Rice = 56|
|Eggs (whites) = 88||Peanuts = 55|
|Chicken / Turkey = 79||Peas = 55|
|Fish = 70||Soy beans = 47|
|Beef = 69||Whole-grain Wheat = 44|
|Cow’s Milk = 60||Corn = 36|
|Unpolished Rice = 59||Dry Beans = 34|
|Brown Rice = 57||White Potato = 34|
These values can be further altered, for better or worse, depending on whether these items are served raw or not. Meats are rendered less usable through cooking, while grain sources need to be cooked in order to be used at all. For instance, a dog will get much more biological value from eating raw chicken than he will from eating “what’s left” of the chicken after the ultra-cooking and kibbling process of making dog food. By contrast, if a dog ate raw corn it would come out looking the same as it went in, as a dog simply can’t digest raw corn at all. Yet although “cooking” the corn may make it “more usable” to the dog, corn still remains at best a very poor source of nutrition for him, with little biological value. Yet, in mixing corns (rice, etc.) with the meat, and then cooking them all together, dog food kibbling companies cook the bejesus out of their feeds to make the corn “more usable” (which the dog doesn’t even need), but at the same time this very process destroys all of the food value of the meats, which is what the dog does need. The entire kibbling process itself is flawed.
Thus reading dog food labels becomes more confusing that what it seems at first blush. Not only are you trying to sift through the ingredients profiles of the various feeding manufacturers, in order to come to a conclusion about “what would be best for your dog,” but then you also have to figure-in the degradation to the feed that the kibbling process itself causes …
– CA Jack