How Did It Get So Complicated?

Dog looking at cow

Here’s something I don’t understand.

People love their children, clearly. They bring their newborn babies home from the hospital, they hopefully breastfeed them, then they just start feeding them what mom and dad are eating.

There’s a simple food pyramid with rough guidelines to follow and, theoretically, if you stick to that pyramid, things will be just fine. Surely, you’ve all seen the food pyramid.

While many might not agree with it, it at least gives people a nice visual picture of the approximate percentages of food stuffs that should make up their diet. It’s a nice, uncomplicated idea.

[NOTE] How well do you really know the ingredients in your dog’s food? Find out exactly what your dog is eating with the free DNM Pet Food Analyzer. Click here to download it!

Compare that to bringing a new puppy home…

OK, so instead of a baby, you bring your new puppy home and you wonder what to feed him. Where’s the canine food pyramid?

Ask your vet where you would find a food pyramid for dogs and I bet 9 out of 10 will tell you to pick up a bag of kibble.

Pretend for a second that you’re a brand new puppy owner. Unless you live in a cave or don’t really care for that poor puppy, you’re probably going to Google what you should feed him. So I Googled “what should I feed my puppy” to see what I would find.

I have to admit, I really thought that I’d see a bunch of kibble pushing propaganda. But I was in for a surprise!

One of the first hits I saw was from the Australian RSPCA. I was delighted to see the following:

  • Talk to your veterinarian for advice
  • Feed high quality balanced premium commercial puppy food that is appropriate for the life stage and health status of your puppy. Check that it complies with the Australian Standard: Manufacturing and Marketing Pet Food AS5812:2011
  • You can offer some natural foods to provide some variety
  • Natural foods include fresh human-grade raw meat such as diced up pieces of raw lamb. Avoid feeding too much raw meat off the bone while the pup is growing. This is important to avoid certain nutritional deficiencies during growth.
  • Natural foods also include raw meaty bones
  • Bones must be raw
  • Choose human-grade raw meat and raw meaty bones because some pet meat /pet mince/pet rolls /pet meat and bone products can contain preservatives that can be detrimental to the puppy’s health (e.g. sulphite preservative induced thiamine deficiency which can be fatal). However avoid human-grade sausages, sausage meat and cooked manufactured meats as these may contain sulphites.  

Geez, that’s a pretty enlightened view for a country that still vaccinates yearly. Well done!

A Conflict of Interest

Next, I found a WebMD article called The Importance of Proper Nutrition for Puppies. Although they advocated processed diets, there were some interesting points in there that got my attention:

“It can be very helpful to talk to someone who has experience with raising (and feeding) dogs — such as breeders and trainers. Your veterinarian can be helpful as well, but some vets may be biased toward a specific brand that they happen to be carrying at their practice. The same goes for pet supply store employees.”

Wow. That’s harsh…but true.

So I added the search term “vet” to my google search to see if the vets had the same point of view about what to feed dogs and puppies. Sadly I had to scroll past a few “kibble killed my dog” hits before I found a veterinary site. But here’s what I found on the first site from a UK vet:

“Premium dog biscuits offer the best all-round diet for growing puppies. Premium ranges are developed by veterinary science experts and take into consideration the development of your dog’s body including the immune system and vital organs, skin, and coat health as well as stool formation (feces texture, smell and amount).”

Sigh. No food pyramid there. Nothing except just feed dog food. Next…

“Our hospital can advise you on the most appropriate food and feeding regime for your puppy. An important point – once you have decided on a particular product feed it exclusively. Avoid supplementation with meat, table scraps, mineral and vitamin supplements etc. as this will often create a finicky eater, nutritional imbalances or both. Bones, fat trimmings and grease should not be given to your puppy as these can cause serious stomach and intestinal problems, including perforation and pancreatitis.”

Geez, I never knew bones were so dangerous!

I moved on to the next site. Ooh, there was a fact sheet and one of the questions was, “Can puppies eat home-prepared diets?” The answer:

“It is possible to successfully rear a puppy on a home-prepared diet, but this takes considerable research and work. Veterinary advice should be sought to ensure that all nutritional requirements are being met. A haphazard approach is likely to cause problems, particularly in large or giant breeds that have specific requirements.” 

Next, I found this:

“There are many different ways to properly feed a puppy.  Essentially you will need to feed all the nutrients she requires for growth. Excesses and deficiencies are to be avoided. How do you know that your puppy’s nutrition program is adequate?

The quality and composition of different puppy foods may vary with the amount you should feed your growing dog.  If you overfeed your dog, obesity and growth problems may develop.  In some studies this is true.  Does one feed a smaller amount of a quality food or a larger amount of a less dense food?  Both theories can be correct.  The premium dog foods are manufactured to be denser in their nutritional composition.  This way you feed less and have less to clean up.  A very low quality dog food is to be avoided.”

Uh, thanks – that was helpful.

It seems that vets don’t like to talk much about what you should feed your pet – although they do like to talk a lot about what you shouldn’t.

[NOTE] How well do you really know the ingredients in your dog’s food? Find out exactly what your dog is eating with the free DNM Pet Food Analyzer. Click here to download it!

Why Vets Hate Google

If there’s one thing vets have a disdain for, it’s Google. The one thing we hear repeatedly here at DNM is that pet owners tell their vet they want to feed a raw diet or vaccinate less often and their thoughts are immediately brushed off as trash they learned on the internet.

Well geez, the vets weren’t very helpful on our google search, so guess where pet owners are going to find their information? Non-veterinary sites! Let’s face facts: Google is here to stay and instead of complaining about our Google searches, vets should instead start helping people on Google and actually sharing something other than “choose a good quality kibble.”

But I did find one helpful vet in my search. Here’s what he had to say:

“So what should a puppy eat to achieve maximum optimal nutrition, health, growth and longevity……..a natural, raw, uncooked, unprocessed, unadulterated diet.”

And then the article went on to describe exactly what the puppy should eat and how to prepare it.

So here’s my question for those non-helpful conventional vets; “What’s the big secret? Why can’t you help those of us who don’t want to feed processed pet foods?”

Maybe the answer is, you don’t know how. And that’s OK, because we know that the entirety of your nutritional education in veterinary school was supplied by the large pet food manufacturers. They taught you about dry weight and ash and all sorts of fancy terms that take you farther and farther away from the truth that fresh, whole foods are a healthier choice than processed foods. You don’t even need to Google that to know it’s true…it’s just plain common sense.

The Raw Attack Continues

Mystery meat close-up shot, shaped like a question mark

Rodney Habib forwarded an article from the Vancouver Sun, titled The Evolution of Pet Food. In this article, animal science researcher Kelly Swanson of the University of Illinois shares these insights:

“Anthropomorphism of pets has an increased effect on the dietary aspects of commercial pet foods including ingredient selection and nutritional composition,” 

He said the raw food diet has become increasingly popular in recent years, since some pet owners no longer accept animal byproducts in their pet foods and are insisting on real meat.

This has an impact on sustainability since “pet foods compete now directly with human consumption.”

“Homemade diets and raw feeding is using human foods. A pork chop or steak for your pet is different from a secondary product,” said Swanson

OK, raw feeders – you should stop feeding your dog those $15 steaks now! Seriously…steaks?

I don’t know about you, but my dogs aren’t eating any steaks! In fact, raw feeders are superb sourcers of animal byproducts that would otherwise go straight to rendering. In my own freezer, I have cow lips, pork cheek meat, turkey necks and tails, green tripe, veal and lamb brisket bones, deer legs, lamb pluck (yeah, that means all the stuff that comes from the inside of a lamb), and more otherwise inedible goodies that would have been completely wasted if it weren’t for my dogs. Come on, you’ll have to do better than that if you want to scare people off raw feeding.

“More and more companies are selling products that have more protein and that can lead to obesity” says Swanson.

Huh – that’s a new one. Here’s a completely unscientific idea – if your dog is overweight, feed him less. Actually, it isn’t all that unscientific. The laws of physics state that if calories consumed exceed calories expended, then the dog will get fat.

Moreover, Richard Patton PhD, author of Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack, has this to say on the matter:

“With fat over twice the caloric content of carbohydrate, scientists for decades have been beguiled into assuming obesity was caused by too much fat. In truth, data has been available for over 100 years that far more obesity is caused by excess carbohydrates.”

Here’s the thing – raw food and home prepared foods are here to stay. The kibble manufacturers don’t like it because they can’t make kibble without a certain amount of soluble carbohydrate to hold that kibble together. If they could make kibble without it, they would, because they’d like to cash in on us enlightened pet owners.

Since they can’t, they have two choices: try to break into the fresh food market or malign fresh foods. And the big players choose to malign fresh foods. And when they teach those veterinary students about pet nutrition, guess what? They will malign fresh foods. So those vets will in turn malign fresh foods.

And Now For Some Common Sense

Now if you were expecting to find a food pyramid at the bottom of this article, I’m very sorry, I don’t have one. But I do have this visual to help you if you wish to feed a raw diet:

Anatomy of the chicken with text

Say Hi to Mr Frankenchicken. What’s cool about Mr Frankenchicken is that you can see what he’s made of. You can see the organs he has and how big they are in relation to Mr Frankenchicken.

If you want to feed your dog a raw diet, here’s your food pyramid. Instead of assembling a pyramid of food over a week or a month, your job is to assemble Mr Frankenchicken.

Think of raw feeding as a game: try to find all the parts contained in Mr Frankenchicken, preferably from pastured chickens, and over the course of a week or so, make sure you feed your dog all of those parts, along with his meat and bones in the right proportions. There’s your food pyramid! You can do the same for any animal – cow, lamb, quail, whatever you want!

Want more information? Try our Raw Feeding Primer. Do you need veterinary advice? That’s a great idea! But please find a vet who supports your raw feeding choice so he can help you make good nutrition choices for your dog.

Cooked food is also an excellent option.

But cooked food is a little more complicated because you can’t include Mr Frankenchicken’s bones – unlike raw bones, cooked bones are dangerous yet your dog needs the minerals and nutrients that bones provide. So I would encourage you to talk to a vet who knows nutrition – not the kind taught by the kibble manufacturers – to find out how to home cook for your dog.

There are also great prepared raw, dehydrated and freeze-dried foods for your dog. But the main point is to just get your dog off the processed foods. They aren’t good for you and they aren’t good for your dog either. No matter how loudly the vets protest, we know, in our heart of hearts, that fresh, whole foods are more nutritious than processed, synthetic foods any day.

So you see, feeding your dog isn’t all that complicated after all. And if you arrived at this page through a Google search, don’t worry; we won’t tell your vet!

[NOTE] How well do you really know the ingredients in your dog’s food? Find out exactly what your dog is eating with the free DNM Pet Food Analyzer. Click here to download it!

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