Better Food Better Dog

So, I am not a nutritionist nor a vet, but over the years I have studied much more about the quality of dog food. It’s become such a passion, that I am currently taking an advanced program on Canine Nutrition and will complete my certification this fall.

I have long known that better foods mean better health for your dog.     In fact, my dogs probably eat better than I do overall, relatively speaking.   I need to start looking into my own nutrition…..  I have also known for many years, that health and food affect behavior.

I had an opportunity a couple of years ago to meet and hear renowned nutritional expert Wendy Volhard present.  Then as I started seeking knowledge on longevity, health and wellness for pets including aromatherapy & essential oils, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with and learn from some amazing holistic veterinarians.

Here are a few key points I jotted down during Wendy’s presentation a few years ago….

  • Pet Costs are increasing Year over Year  — 25% increase in flea and tick market segment alone, vet costs have increased  10%, and food is up 5%

  • The Minimum Daily Requirement noted on our current dog foods is the LEAST amount of nutrients to keep a beagle alive in a cage for 24 hours.   It does not represent optimal nutrition for breed, age, activity, etc.

  • Unless explicitly added after the cooking preparation process, neither dry nor canned dog foods have the necessary enzymes for dog to properly digest the food.    It is highly recommended to add digestive enzymes to your dog’s diet.   The dog’s body typically does not produce enough enzymes in the stomach to support the break down of processed kibble.   Because the stomach does not produce enough enzymes, the body robs the liver, heart and other organs to move to the stomach for food digestion.

  • ALL older / senior dogs need an enzyme boost to support mental and physical health and activity.

  • Nutrition of the mother AND the father make a difference the overall health of a puppy.   It is very important to begin puppies on good nutrition, especially if the health of their parents is unknown.

  • Giant Breed dogs should eat 4-6 times per day until they are approximately 4 to 6 months old.

  • Kibble stays in the belly approximately 12-14 hours before it is used by the body for energy.    Canned food is processed for energy within approximately 8 hours.     RAW diets are processed within a couple of hours.

  • If you live in a hotter climate, your dog’s appetite may be suppressed, and less caloric intake is necessary.

  • Colder climates mean your dog’s body may have to work harder to stay warm, and he may need more calories.

  • The volume of poop is directly associated with the amount of food being digested and used by the body.   If your dog produces a lot of poop, your food is likely not being well digested.

  • It is not recommended to feed turkey as a long-term protein.  The amino acid profile is high in Tryptophan or serotonin which will have an impact on overall performance of your dog — especially working or performance dogs.

  • Protein deficiencies and food allergies have a direct link to many behavioral and medical issues

    • Skin and Ear Infections

    • Compromised reproduction

    • Epilepsy

    • Skin Cancer

    • Spinning / Tail Chasing

    • Aggression / Reactivity

    • Fear/Timid Behaviors

    • Excessive Shedding

    • Crooked whiskers

    • Smaller brains, nerve issues around spine

  • PICA — eating of inappropriate materials can be linked often to a diet that is not balanced

  • Carb deficiencies affect energy production, formation of stools, thyroid and skin conditions

  • Foods that are too alkaline based — may affect your dogs teeth and result in more frequent need for dental cleanings.    Foods need balanced acidity.

  • Dogs need animal fat

    • Fish oils:    Suggested sardines  1-2 cans per week for a 50# dog

    • Vegetables:  polyunsaturated fats    safflower / sunflower oils

  • Rice is a neutral grain

  • Most dogs will develop hypothyroidism at some point in their lives  — it can be more commonly found in middle-age dogs, spay/neutered dogs.   Fluoride in your drinking water can contribute to the disease.    (Testing should include T4, CBC and Chem screen)

  • Bloat was unknown as an occurrence in Europe until the introduction of processed dry dog food.

  • Foods can create heat or coolness in the body  — these can create behavioral changes, including aggression, anxiety, etc.

Your goals should be to provide a balanced food to your dog at all times.

I’ve begin giving my dogs digestive enzymes.  I’ll continue fish oils and coconut oils as supplements as well.   But I’m now starting to look at adding freeze dried raw food products to my dogs diet on a regular basis.   Feeding RAW for Great Danes is pricey for sure — so I’m going to supplement where I can from Wendy’s product line.  (And no, this isn’t mean to be a commercial for her products — but research with other trainers is telling me the results don’t lie).

I know our vets mean well, and I know this doesn’t apply to them all — but what I have found is that most vets don’t really have a nutritional background.   If they did, I don’t think they would be selling Science Diet in their offices.    It’s long be widely argued that most vets only take an elective course in nutrition in their studies.

So what I know for sure, is that whether it’s behavior, allergies, or other medical issues — I’ll be looking at food and seeking out the expertise of nutritionist and holistic resources in conjunction with more traditional veterinary medicine.

Now, I’m off to reread Wendy’s book  — you should too.

Soon, I’ll share with you some thoughts during her presentation on vaccinations…. and some really cool information from the holistic veterinarians and workshops and programs I have attended.

Dana Brigman