Heather Zorn, P.A.S

A friend of mine that runs a wonderful non-profit dog rescue, Almost Home NM, told me today that she has seen an increase in dogs with food allergies and thyroid issues. She then made the mistake of asking me why I thought that was…

Plain and simple, I say. Improper nutrition and breeding of these compromised dogs.
Much as we have created a generation filled with childhood obesity and diabetes, complete with children who are not statistically inclined to outlive their parents, we have done the same to our four legged companions.

First and most important is that commercial dog food was NOT created with your dog’s best health in mind. It was created for YOU, the consumer, who needs an easy fix to satisfy your dog’s appetite. Just the same as McDonalds was created for YOU, complete with drive thru windows, to get yourself and you children fed, both in the least amount of time and effort (and usually money).

A few scientific facts:

-Saliva is in your mouth to begin the breakdown process of everything you eat by releasing specific enzymes to begin the breakdown.
-Dogs do not have the enzyme in their saliva to break down carbohydrates. It’s a fact. What does that tell you? Dogs are not designed to eat carbohydrates!
-Cats do not have the carbohydrate enzyme either. Cats are not designed to eat carbohydrates!
-Commercial kibble is comprised of 40-90% carbohydrates, from sources such as wheat, corn, rice, and barley. If commercial dog food was created with your dog’s best health in mind, why is it primarily made of things they don’t naturally eat, nor have a good capacity for digesting and utilizing?

In the wild, dogs do not regularly consume carbohydrates or grain sources. The main source of grains and carbohydrates are derived from the intestines of herbivore animals. This source of grains is already partially if not thoroughly into the digestion process, which explains why the wild dogs can consume them. (For the record- cats go so far to avoid carbohydrates that they do not eat the intestines of their prey, unless it is small prey like a bird, that is eaten whole.)
SO, why is it that dog food companies use 40-90% carbohydrates if the digestion of the dog does not need them? The answer is because there is fierce competition for your business, and they need to keep prices low. Carbohydrates are a cheap ingredient, and adding more allows for low prices. The commercial dog food market already has fooled you into thinking that they are looking out for your pet’s best interest, and your pet needs nothing more than their specific brand of kibble. Think about the commercials; spend a moment looking at the advertising campaigns; check out the pictures of vegetables and fruits on the bags (which by the way, rarely include any or none of these fruit and vegetable sources!) We all want the easy way out- food in a bag to feed Fido. Simple, no mess, and cheap. If you fed yourself by those standards, trust me, you’d have some serious health issues to manage, just as more and more dogs are being affected with food allergies and other health issues.

We know from scientific research that dog saliva includes the enzymes to break down protein and fat. Well, there it is! Dogs were designed to eat protein and fat. It actually makes perfect sense when you consider that the diet of a wild dog is meat, organs and fat of their prey. Occasionally, wild dogs will consume ripe berries in certain seasons, indicating a preference for sweet treats, but for the most part are primarily carnivores.

What a dog will eat when starving or no other options are available is a far cry from what they will eat in the wild. Given the choice, a dog will always consume meat and organs before ever touching commercial kibble. Go ahead, try your own experiment and let your dog tell you what he/she needs to eat!

You must not blame your veterinarian for the lack of nutrition information available to you, the consumer. Veterinarians spend the majority of their time learning about new diseases and proper treatment and due to time constraints, rely on dog food companies to educate them about the latest nutrition information. However, this information is completely biased toward whichever company is giving the lecture. You may have had a recommendation that a specific Science Diet is the only "cure" for whatever ailment your dog has been diagnosed. Veterinarians make this recommendation because they have been educated this way. Consider evaluating the ingredients listed in these specialty diets. The main ingredients are starches like corn, wheat and rice. If dogs cannot efficiently digest starches and carbohydrates, and these are the best commercial diets for your dog, why do they have such a large starch composition? Take a proactive stance on your dog's nutrition and do your own research concerning his/her best health.

Animal Nutrition Solutions Equine and Canine Consulting Services is a company committed to consumer education and improving the health of your dogs and horses. Our blog is here to provide you with quick access to nutritional information, and our products were created in the interest your dog and horse’s best health. Our supplements are designed to provide the nutrition lacking in a proper diet, without the unnecessary additives, chemicals, and by-products found in most other supplementation products.