What Should Dogs Eat?
For the next 30 min, can you forget all that you've read and heard that made up your opinion what dogs should eat?
- If your opinion has any validity you will easily pick it up again after 30 min
- And if you figure it has no validity, it was worth leaving it behind 30 min sooner, right?
This is what MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG stands for: real research and thorough evaluation. Because copied gets done too much elsewhere already. And to copy from copiers does not help you either.
What Any Organism Should Eat
As biologist I understand that any organism "should" (namely better would!) eat what the organism developed and thrived on during its evolution for thousands of years.
Because, when you change the evolutionary diet you impair the organism's metabolism. And the more abrupt the change the worse the impact on health and longevity. Indeed an abrupt diet change can even threaten existence and survival of the entire species.
The History Of Dogs And Their Diet
So before anyone talks about what dogs should eat they should first research the history of dogs and their evolutionary diet. The history of dogs is that now for at least 70,000 dog generations dogs developed as scavengers of human food leftovers.
Whether you like it or not, dogs are dogs because they are scavengers of human food leftovers. Dogs' diet never has been that of wolves, their closest ancestor. Like the human diet never has been that of chimpanzees, our closest ancestor.
One of several reasons why humans aren't chimpanzees is because we people never ate like chimpanzees. One of several reasons why dogs aren't wolves is because dogs never ate like wolves.
This is why the first argument of the proponents of a raw food diet for dogs is as false as false can be: "Dogs descend from wolves, and so they should primarily eat what wolves eat, raw meat".
I tend to answer them: "You descend from monkeys, and so should you primarily eat what monkeys eat, raw bananas?"
The Most Critical Component Of A Healthy Diet
You see, the first argument is so weak it doesn't hold an ounce of water. Water is the largest component of all REAL foods. To stay healthy an organism must absorb water from foods in a proportion that maintains the body's water content. A dog's body is an average 60% water.
Fresh REAL foods are at least two thirds water. Celery, cucumber, and lettuce even 95% or more. Indeed even after cooking (steaming, roasting, baking, frying grilling, simmering,...) still all meat is primarily water.
Nutrients in foods bind to the water molecules. This is how an organism absorbs nutrients: the organism absorbs water with the nutrients from foods. Nutrient absorption without the molecular link to water molecules is not possible, and so nutrient absorption from dry matter is wishful thinking.
What Dogs Now Get Forced To Eat
In evolutionary terms, an abrupt diet change is a change within less than a few hundred to a couple of thousand generations. This is what humans have done to canines since only around the 1950ies when some companies at the far end of the human food waste chain had the clever idea to make extra money by giving the waste
- new color
- new smell
- new texture
- new shape
- fancy packaging
- and the smartest marketing the world has seen.
Born was the "pet food" industry. Selling to pet owners the indigestible and the undesirable matter of the human food waste chain as "dog food" and "cat food":
- animal cadavers and carcasses
- rancid retail waste from meat shelves and from piles of produce
- manmade plastics and rubbers from packaging materials, collars, ear tags, etc
- antibiotics, steroids, and other medicaments in farm animals
- toxic pesticides and other chemicals on crops and in animals
The Dietary Impact On Health And Longevity
From due research science knows that in no time in the history of dogs, dogs were so sick, so costly, and of such short life. You may have read the outright opposite from the longer arm of the "pet food" industry: "With the modern advances in pet food and veterinary care dogs live longer and healthier lives".
But don't let anyone confuse you with statistics: One can freely choose the statistics that fit one's purpose best. The longer arm of the "pet food" industry chose to compare the historical longevity of wild dogs (with lives shortened by natural predators) with today's longevity of domesticated dogs (that never even get to see a natural predator).
However, simple common sense is that in the past dogs never received so much and so costly veterinary care. In fact, in former history veterinary care didn't exist, people were glad if they could afford a doctor for their own sickness. And so, dogs never received a physician's care. So shouldn't today's dogs live much longer?
But from historical books we know that even the generally short-lived German Shepherd Dog breed started with a longevity of over 20 years. And from the global dog research database of MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG we know that today the majority of GSDs succumb to sickness before they reach 11 years of age.
The Cause Of Sickness And Shortened Lives
You don't need to be a biologist to understand the cause of the sickness and shortened lives: To survive and thrive, all cells of an organism need REAL food. Food of the kind that made up their evolutionary diet. Food which primarily is water, and thus food that is chock-full of nutrients, which bind to the water molecules.
But today, the vast majority of dogs have to exist on kibble. Often wrongly called "dry food", which is wrong because REAL food never is dry as you've just learned. Indeed, even among the subscribers to the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICAL who can be assumed to be more knowledgable than the average dog owner, 83% of the dogs have to try to live and thrive on kibble.
Kibble Is Dead
Kibble typically has a water content of 5%, the "best" kibble has a maximum of 10%. No organism's cells can survive and thrive on such dry matter. And no nutrients bind to such dry matter.
When kibble is made the incineration eliminates both, water content and nutrients. To pass the unlikely and rare inspections in the "pet food" industry, and to give marketing claims of nutrient content validity, serious producers in the "pet food" industry duefully coat the kibble with a vapor-nutrient deposit during the last stage of production.
Most of this coating rubs off inside the bag during transport and handling. This is what gives kibble the characteristic stench already the first time you open a sealed bag. Most of the remainder of the vapor-laden coating evaporates once you opened the bag.
And so kibble is a dry dead mass. Nothing you would want to live on. Nothing you could live on. But dogs are multiple times more resilient than people. And dogs are scavengers. Scavengers of human food leftovers. Even though today those "leftovers" often are nothing but highly processed derivatives of foods, and snacks.
Raw Food Is En Vogue
Between about the 1950ies when "pet food" reached the masses, and the 1990ies when the internet reached the masses, dog owners were unaware what "pet food" is made of. And so the smartest marketing the world has seen successfully converted dog owners to believe that "dogs need to eat 'dog food', and human food is 'bad' for dogs".
By the time the internet allowed for mass education what "pet food" is made of, dog owners only had to add two and two together, suddenly it all made sense to them:
- my dog frequently has allergies
- my dog easily catches infections
- my dog is scratching all the time
- my dog receives frequent steroid treatments
- my dog receives frequent antibiotic treatments
- my dog already died of cancer, so early!
So now many of those dog owners have started a "raw diet" for their dogs, and quite immediately they notice a marked improvement in dog health. This is how, and why, a "raw diet for dogs" became en vogue.
A Raw Diet Keeps Dogs Healthier and Happier - Than What?
This is the second argument of the proponents of a raw food diet for dogs: "My dog is so much healthier and happier since I started to feed raw meat to my dog!"
I tend to ask then: "Is that a surprise?"
I mean you could feed pretty much anything to dogs, and as long as it's not the dead dry mass that kibble is, your dogs naturally will be healthier and happier. No surprise! Or is it?
But that doesn't mean what dogs should eat is raw meat. It only means: "Great, finally you're feeding your dog some REAL food."
Dogs Never Were On A Raw Diet
The problem with this now en vogue dog diet is what you have learned above: Dogs' evolutionary diet was not raw meat. And so when you feed raw meat you impair the organism's metabolism. You are doing a disservice to the dog's health. This isn't a big deal at all though if you've fed kibble before.
In fact, throughout history meat has been too precious to be left to dogs. Today still, meat is the most expensive component of a dog diet.
The only meat dogs got to eat during their evolution was the bits that human settlers didn't scratch off the bones to eat it themselves. Other than that dogs got to eat the innards that people didn't eat: Leftovers!
For the last 12,000 years human food leftovers held ever more agricultural produce. Only for the recent 50 or so years human food leftovers increasingly are "convenience foods".
Also be aware that throughout the evolution of dogs, dogs' diet was primarily cooked foods: Leftovers! Pretty much the only exception was innards when those innards got separated before cooking the human meal, and when the tribe had no use for them (some innards where utilized even when not eaten).
So then, is "Raw Food for Dogs" the latest folly since the industrial "pet food" revolution? I don't think so. There was at least one folly in between: the "grain-free" fad.
- kibble & co
- "raw food"
have achieved a huge market penetration. And where there is SO MUCH MONEY INVOLVED, many will fight tooth and nail to get their point across. Across to those that can easily be captured with... marketing!
And all three are nothing but marketing, they have nothing to do with the history of dogs. So they have nothing to do with "what dogs should eat".
What do veterinarians say?
Who cares? Veterinarians up and down the country (any country) have all shelves full of toxic industrial "pet food".
They profit from selling crap to dog owners. First, directly from the (huge) margin. And second (and bigger than huge!) from repeat consultations with all the owners of dogs that are sick from the industrial "pet food" they sold... Right?
Okay, but if you insist to know, most veterinarians say:
- "Don't feed raw meat as contaminated meat is zoonotic, infections and so diseases can transmit to your entire family"
- "Don't feed a raw diet as you would need a degree in nutrition to properly balance the dog's diet"
- "I wouldn't recommend you feed raw, look how much work that is, it's so much easier and cheaper to feed kibble"
Are their points valid? As so often, it depends. But personally, I wouldn't care what someone says who wants to sell my dog toxic crap, and then even charge me for that twice, and many times more. All credibility is lost.
What Means Raw Diet Anyway?
Above I said it depends because "raw diet" can mean so many different things. What does raw diet mean to you?
Everyone seems to understand something different when talking about a raw food diet for dogs. ALL OF THESE totally different things that you see in the skyscraper image here, and so much more, are being sold as raw dog diet.
So what means "raw diet for dogs"?
- Raw meat from the butcher? Only raw meat, or sth else as well?
- Just uncooked meat? Because semantically, "raw" means "uncooked and unprocessed"
- Raw meat and raw produce? Thus veggies and fruits too?
- Raw fish? Only raw fish, or raw fish and raw meat?
- Only raw meat, or raw poultry as well?
- Only fresh meat, no processed/packaged meat?
- Kibble made with (or said to be made with) raw meat?
- Kibble made purely of raw meat?
- Kibble made of a mix of raw meat, raw produce, and/or raw fish?
You see raw food for dogs is everything but clear cut (excuse the pun). I often feel sorry for dogs! There are too many clueless dog owners who - unintentionally - misuse their dogs for experiments they picked up from bloggers. We have poor dogs really!
I feel dogs have suffered enough. Why not again let dogs eat what dogs got to eat over the last 33,000 years?
REAL food leftovers.
You may call it "table scraps" if you want. Just make sure that the "table scraps" are REAL foods. Foods with naturally high water content. Not today's highly processed "convenience foods", or even an incinerated dead dry mass...
What Do You Feed Your Dog?
You know I feed this, for the reasons explained in the link.
What do you feed your dog, and why? - Have you thought about why you feed what you feed?
By all means, feel free to share your experience here. I and everyone else is all ears! Feeding our dogs is the most important part of Relationship Building: No one wants to build a relationship with an always sick dog that costs them a fortune, right?