Over my past 25 years of being involved in dogs and dog training, I have found a huge lack of knowledge when it comes to pet owners feeding their dogs. It seems that a huge population of dog owners does not take the time to learn about what they're feeding their dogs and merely base their dog's diet on either what their vet recommends or price. When it comes to price I often see a huge contrast, either dog owner’s purchase food that is dirt cheap because they feel all dog food is the same, or they think that if they buy the most expensive food it will be the best food for their dog. In truth both of these philosophies are incorrect. Not all dog foods are the same when we are talking about kibble that comes in bags that you buy at the store; there are some variations in quality. When comparing these foods we look at their ingredients and it’s the first 3 ingredients are the most important because it's usually a majority of what the food is made from. An example would be soda, if you look at a soda ingredients normally the first ingredient is Distilled Water, water is most of what goes into that product to produce soda. So when we are talking about price, if you were to buy two bags of dog food from both ends on the price scale mean a cheap priced food and an expensively priced food, you would most likely see that the first three ingredients are much different. The lesser quality food might say grain or corn, where the high-quality food might say chicken, beef or fish bi-product.
Although I could write an entire book on dog food I am going to keep this short and direct to the point.
First off I am not an expert on dog food nor am I a scientist, but I have been involved with dogs and studied their eating habits for several years. One of the biggest issues I feel we have with dogs health in America is overfeeding and obesity. For some reason, pet owners do not realize that dogs are much like humans where if they overeat and do not burn it off they gain weight. I often use the analogy that in the wild the deer don't just come to the wolf’s den and say “here I am your daily meal”, no the wolf has to go hunt and catch his meal. True are dogs are not wolf's but their bodies and how they process foods are much the same. I find it shocking that people are shocked when they find I do not feed my dog’s kibble (bagged dog food) but instead feed raw meat. The first thing they ask me is it I cook it first and then when I tell them no they ask if that is safe. Although to me it may be a funny question I can see how to those who do not put thought into their dog’s diet would not understand. Another thing I find funny is how dog food companies put vegetables and gains into bagged dog food when in truth dogs do not need either. I find they do this as a selling gimmick to persuade you the customer to buy this product because humans need those things so of course, your dog would. Years ago I can remember an ad for a dog food that said: “$10,000 to somebody who can prove wolfs hunt vegetables”. True the ad was being sarcastic but it brought out a good point and that is that animals like dogs and wolfs do not need raw vegetables.
So why don’t dogs need vegetables? To answer, that question all we need to do is look at the dog’s teeth. If you happen to study your dog’s teeth you notice that all their teeth are pointed, none of the teeth are flat like you would see in a horse’s mouth. Yes, some of the dog's teeth are shaped differently, but this is because some teeth are used for ripping and tarring while others are designed for cutting and breaking down bone. Does this mean that vegetables are bad for dogs? Not in the least, in fact, animals like dogs do get nutrients from some vegetation but they do not receive it directly from the plants themselves but from the animals that eat that vegetation. Animals like cows, sheep, and chickens eat vegetation and adsorb that into their bodies then that transfers to the carnivore that eats them. Of course this is a non-scientific explanation but it is a simple explanation. Now let’s go back to dog food that comes in bags. The reason I started off talking about kibble is that kibble is the most widely used dog food and many time dog owners think that is all they can feed their dog. I find many dog owners are scared to feed their dogs anything but bagged dog food because they just don’t know enough to do otherwise. In my opinion dog, food companies have two goals when making dog food. First, they want to make a product that is inexpensive and two they want to make a product with a long shelf life. The average dog owner for a single dog household buys dog food once a month if the bag of dog food you just bought for $40.00 only lasted a week before spoiling, you most likely would not buy that kind again. To combat this dog food company's put a ton of preservatives in their food in order to give it a longer shelf life. There are many natural preservatives, such as salt, vinegar, and sugar, but most of the preservatives in dog foods are synthetic. Preservatives are toxic and tumor-causing. Most impact the nervous system, changing behavior. Some have an impact on reproductive health or weaken the immune system in both dogs and humans.
Now let’s talk about price when it comes to dog food. It’s sad to say but my experience over the years has taught me that a large majority of dog owners put little thought into what they feed their dog and most of the time what they feed their dog is based on price. With today’s economy we see this even more, where the average food bill has climbed 20% families are trying to save money where ever they can, so when mom is walking down the dog food aisle and see’s one bag of dog food for $40 and another for $20 and it is costing more to feed her family, most likely she will go for the less expensive food. To those who have not put a lot of time into researching dog food often they feel that all dog food is the same. The fact is this is just not the case. When explaining dog food to my clients I like to use the fast food example. When you go to a fast food chain and buy a .99 cent hamburger you are buying a product that was made cheap. If that hamburger only cost you .99 cents then most likely it only cost .30 to make. Life experience has taught most people that if you buy a product at a really cheap price, most likely it was cheaply made therefor the quality is much lower. The same thing applies to your .99 cent hamburger, for the fast-food chain to sell you that hamburger at that price it had to be made cheaply. When food is made cheaply normally fillers and other additives are added in place of a high-grade product. It is very common for fast food companies to add other animal by-products to their beef because pure beer would be too expensive. Common sense also tells us that eat too much fast food is very unhealthy and leads to weight gain, high blood pressure, and other health problems. Along with health problems that arrive from feeding kibble also comes high vet bills. Although dog owners feel they are saving money buying the cheaper dog food, in the end, it's costing them way more in vet bills. A majority of skin issues that come up with dogs can be directly related to their food, whether it be an allergy to grains, corn or some other additives normally a vet will look at the dog's diet first.
To summarize what we have discussed, dogs need protein in the form of animal meat. Their bodies require the fat, calcium and muscle from other animals. Although dogs are domesticated, their bodies are still much the same. Kibble may be easier to feed, cheaper to feed and have a longer shelf life, companies just cannot replicate what mother nature can provide naturally. I would really encourage you to look into the raw diet and even try it out for a couple months, I know you will see your dog feel and look healthier plus you will see your dog’s waste be cut in half because their bodies will be processing the natural food and therefore will produce less waste.