It is amazing how much we don’t know about what we feed our pets. As beloved members of our family, many dog owners go to the pet store in search for a food that seems to meet all of the standards of what we want to feed our dogs. Words like; “Healthy”, “Balanced”, “Real Meat” and “Homestyle” have us convinced that we are buying the best for our pet. This is simply not the case.
In an unregulated market, these catch all words are absolutely meaningless and indicate nothing about the kibble’s content. Many first ingredients of dog kibble is ground corn or wheat. These carbs are absolutely useless to dogs and they provide no nutritional value. Being in the business to make money, pet food companies use these fillers because they are cheap and add bulk to their food. When looking at the ingredients of kibble that claims to use “real meat”, you will often find meat “by-product” listed. The by-product of an animal is essentially the leftovers. The leftovers are often the ground up carcasses after the meat and valuable organs have been removed for human consumption. While this is better than grains and contains some nutrients for dogs, it is not nearly enough protein. By-product can also include road-kill or dead animals purchased from farmers. This chart shows some of the bad ingredients found in common dog foods.
So how is my dog surviving off of kibble that is not providing the nutrients they need?
Luckily for us pet owners and the dog food industry, dogs are somehow able to survive with minimal nutrition. Many of the issues common with dogs today, such as; allergies, skin infections, some cancers and obesity (as a form of malnutrition), can be directly linked to a lack of nutrition from a kibble diet.
Now that you know what lies behind the label of dog foods, what can you do to ensure your pet is getting the proper nutrition? The answer is simple, a raw diet. Raw meat is exactly what your dog's body is designed to digest. It provides the proper amount of nutrition and protein that your dog needs to live its best life. Raw food not only makes your backyard poop cleanup much easier, but you will see noticeable differences in your dog's energy level and overall health. Dogs who are fed raw food have much less health issues than those fed kibble. However, throwing a chicken breast into a bowl and calling it your dogs raw meal is not sufficient. It is important to feed a balanced meal within a raw diet. This might include adding things like fish oil, probiotics, coconut oil or eggs to make a full and balanced meal. Where you get your meat is also important, you want to be feeding your dog similar quality meat to what you would eat yourself. There are many raw dog food brands, even locally, which ensure this!
Personally, I began feeding my 10 year old goldendoodle raw after life long issues with skin infections and after beginning to see signs of arthritis in her hips. Not expecting to see immediate results, I was totally shocked with the improvement after only a few months. Not only has she not had a single skin infection since, but her energy is so much higher and we were able to stop giving her arthritis medication and she now shows no signs of stiffness whatsoever. While raw food is no magical treatment, we have seen the amazing effects of just how much it can do for our dogs health and I am sure this is not the only story like this!
If you would like to learn more, the Netflix documentary Pet Fooled is an eye opening exploration into the pet food industry by veterinarians that offers an excellent explanation of the dangers of kibble. If you would like to explore the switch to raw food for your own dog, visit our friends at Paws Evolution in Waterloo. They have great options and expertise on the topic.
Myths About Raw Food
“I shouldn’t let my dog lick me after it eats raw” - Your dog’s natural acidity in its mouth allows it to neutralize the bacteria of the raw meat meaning it poses no threat to you.
“ A dog needs to eat kibble to keep its teeth healthy” - Kibble is not designed to strengthen your dog's teeth and keep them healthy.