It seems crazy to me now, but I was brought up with the idea that feeding dogs was a simple matter requiring a bag of kibble and a bowl. They really have us fooled. I mean how could I believe it made sense that people require such a wide variety of foods & nutrients while dogs need only highly processed piles of kibble? I’ve learned a lot since then and I feel it’s really important to get the word out there about canine nutrition. Because it seems the vets aren’t doing this job. So I was pretty happy last week when I got to speak with Alla Keogh, a small animal nutritionist who has started producing a healthier canine food. (By the way, my picky Pluto sampled her new cuisine yesterday and loved it!) This article on canine nutrition is contributed by Alla.
Is there such a thing as the perfect dog food?
As loving pet parents, we all want to feed our pooches as well as we possibly can. For many of us, that means feeding them as closely as possible to their natural, ancestral or species-appropriate diet. However even the most committed of us admit that there are challenges in doing so. Cost, insufficient freezer space, concerns about nutritional imbalances in badly designed homemade diets, or difficulties in finding appropriate ingredients and lack of accessible pre-prepared raw meals are driving pet owners to look for more practical, convenient options.
Walk into any pet superstore, supermarket or vet clinic, and you will see shelves filled with bags ranging in sizes from 2 to 50kg, with ingredients as familiar as “chicken and rice” and as exotic as “bison and garbanzo”. But those of us who have delved into the subject to any level of detail know that whilst commercially available “super premium” kibbles and canned foods may offer convenience, veterinary endorsements, value for money, and carry the AAFCO tick of approval, they may not in fact be the best thing for our beloved pets. There are three key reasons for this:
There has been a significant shift in the pet food market towards “human-grade” and “grain-free” kibbles. Is this the answer pet owners have been looking for? I’m afraid not. And this is why.
Firstly, we know that healthy, natural, whole foods are “live” foods. They spoil easily if their conditions are not ideal. But highly processed foods, such as kibble, maintain their taste, texture and appearance even once the bag is opened. Often for months. Sometimes for years.
Secondly, their lack of moisture means that they lack an essential property for healthy metabolic balance. By examining the canine ancestral diet, we can clearly see that our dogs are designed to consume and digest foods containing high levels of moisture. Raw foods and living prey contain about 70% moisture. A lack of moisture in foods forces our dogs’ bodies to work extra hard to provide sufficient moisture to reconstitute the food in the digestive tract.
Whilst it may appear that a dog is thriving on a kibble diet, over their lifetime, health issues will start to emerge. These are generally not immediately linked back to poor diet, but research (not to mention common sense) suggests that the top reasons pets visit the vet – such as chronic ear infections, hotspots and skin problems, dental issues and digestive/gut problems – are all diet related.
So, if you want to give your furry friend the very best diet, your options (in order of goodness) are:
At the end of the day, there is no one perfect food for your pet. By choosing a natural diet of human-grade, high quality meats, organs, vegetables and fruits complemented by raw meaty bones, low-lactose dairy products such as yoghurt, kefir or cheese and foods high in Omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids such as chia seeds, sardines and salmon, you will ensure your furry friend has a long, happy and healthy life free of the lifestyle issues associated with consuming heavily processed, mass-produced pet food.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Fuelled by a passion for great food and a keen desire to offer pets and their parents the very best choices when it comes to their diet and health, Small Animal Nutritionist Alla Koegh formulated a new line of high-quality, human grade, natural, grain and preservative free pet meals. FoodiePooch‘s product line consists of dehydrated meals for dogs and cats. All ingredients are Australian grown, and products are manufactured locally in Prime Safe licensed premises in Melbourne’s inner South-East.
Ph: 1300 1 POOCH or (03) 9571 7501