By The Science of Pet Nutrition

Previously you spoke about going into depth with my dog’s diet. I don’t track my own diet, why should I do it with my dogs?

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Previously you spoke about going into depth with my dog’s diet. I don’t track my own diet, why should I do it with my dogs?

This is commonly tossed around the internet, but we definitely see it a lot in the RFN group when new or long time raw feeders come over to the land of the nerds. Let’s face it, we ARE nerds. In RFN, as the NAME IMPLIES, Raw Fed and NERDY, we like to go more into detail than others might. While you may not want to go AS far in depth as some of us nerds, I still think it’s immensely important to at least just see where you are. What does it really hurt? Some common phrases that people use to rebuttal this question are below, along with some explanations as to why they really don’t make any sense.

For starters, “Wolves don’t have calculators, so my dog doesn’t need to have me do this either,” … Yes, while it is true, wolves do NOT have calculators and they do not go into depth on what they eat, they eat what they eat when they can. However, this rebuttal really has no validity. Wolves live on average, like maybe 5 years if they are lucky. They are often riddled with diseases and live short, unhealthy lives. They don’t have someone watching over what they eat and thus eat what they can find until they pass away. Sometimes they don’t get to eat at all and suffer immensely from this. This, again, doesn’t relate to our companions because, first of all, they are not wild. They are not expected to survive on poor dietary choices or suffer from the lacking ability to find food. PLEASE do not make your dog fast for a day or more just because wolves do… Wolves are NOT healthy. Your companion that lives with you and relies on you to provide them a healthy, balanced diet where they actually get to eat daily is why they are not the same. Your 2 lb Chihuahua is not and never will be a wolf, it a Chihuahua. They may have descended from them, but they are NOT wolves. So please just stop using this excuse, it doesn’t even relate. 😉

“Well, I don’t look at my own nutrients, I sure am not going to do it for my dog!” That’s your choice, but please bare this in mind. IT is YOUR choice NOT to do that for yourself, it is not their choice. Also, without going too much into detail, Americans are some of the unhealthiest people in the world. We struggle with health issue after health issue because its just the “new common thing.” Regardless, another reason “you” and your dog are not the same is this.  A human will live on average 70-100 years. What it takes a human 25 years to mature, it takes a mere 2-3 years for a dog whose average lifespan is maybe 10-15 years.  Now let’s think about this for a moment. The FIRST YEAR especially, in a dog’s life, is the most critical. That dog is growing at a rapid rate to reach maturity in just a couple years’ time. Their bones, their tissues, muscles, organs, etc all grow at rapid rates to reach maturity. The effects of a badly prepared diet during their critical growth stages, especially the “rapid growth” stages (around 3-5 months of age) are critical to have proper nutrition at its finest. This is why, in RFN, the admins are so adamant about the diet being formulated by an NRC/Precision Raw feeding Nutritionist.

There may not be anything wrong right now. Your dog may be looking amazing and doing great, but I am telling you, IT CAN and most likely WILL end up in devastation down the road (ESPECIALLY FOR PUPPIES) if you do not at least attempt to provide a formulated diet.  This is why dogs survive and do fine on kibble diets, because at least there is a STANDARD in which the food has to be up to. Sure, there is A LOT of riff raff on kibble and some foods…YIKES… I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. But the higher quality kibbles AND some of the Raw commercial products which are AAFCO formulated (or FEDIAF) are made to meet the dog’s nutritional requirements and, if you do not want to dive in deeper to formulating a diet, a quality commercial diet would be optimal for your companion.  I WILL REPEAT THIS: A GOOD QUALITY KIBBLE/COMMERCIAL RAW IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN A BADLY PREPARED DIY RAW DIET. Not everyone will agree with me, but this is factual.

“I never hear of dogs having health issues, and mine are fine and have been fine for years and years and years. I’ve fed this way for the past 40 years and ive never had any issues…” While you may have been the exception to the rule or perhaps you’re just super lucky and your past dogs have not experienced any issues; alternatively, perhaps you just maybe never noticed them and they were mild- it matters not. They happen, and they happen every day. Maybe not to your dog or dogs around you per say, but to dogs around the world, it happens. I think this is important to also mention: MOST PEOPLE TEND NOT PUBLICALLY ADMIT THAT THEIR DOG HAS HEALTH RELATED ISSUES FROM a DIY RAW FEEDING MISHAP. I am not sure why, entirely, that people do this. I assume that perhaps they are ashamed, or afraid of backlash. Admitting you fed a dog wrong and forced them into a diseases that was preventable is not an easy pill to swallow or easy to admit. Nor is it easy to hear people attack you when you already feel bad enough. I do feel for those of you who have followed the advice of “pop culture raw feeders,” where you were only trying to do what was best for your dog, and ultimately ended up with irreparable health effects resulting. My heart is truly with you and I for one will not shame you. You love your dog, and you wanted what was best for them and I am truly sorry that something bad happened, but you can learn from this mistake and make the lives of your future dogs better. Don’t let this lesson be in vein.

Perhaps the “fear” or “attacks” hide you from sharing it publically and this is probably why so many people can say that they haven’t heard of or seen any raw related issues come up. But just because you don’t see them, doesn’t mean they are not there! But I am going to tell you right now, A LOT OF DOGS HAVE SUFFERED FROM A BADLY FORMULATED RAW DIET, not just yours. Growth issues, eye issues, bone/hip issues, joint issues, stomach issues, diseases, etc have ALL been PROVEN to be a direct effect of lacking proper nutrition. Maybe not always solely on nutrition but it definitely affects it. So, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take my warnings on this to heart. Be better safe than sorry. Due to the importance of a properly prepared diet, I recommend that you either hire a professional, study while learning in depth canine nutrition to do it yourself, OR choose a high quality commercial product which is pre formulated with AAFCO/FEDIAF. A raw or high quality kibble diet that is commercially prepared will be better than your “balance over time,” “throw it together and feed” theory diet, any day.

I’m interested in buying some books and other reading materials, to further get educated on Canine Nutrition. Which one(s) would you recommend?

For beginners, I actually very much enjoyed the book “K9 Kitchen” by Monica Segal. This was the first nutrition book I read and I have to say, it was very well written and easy to understand. A great “in the door” book for beginners.

For those who have read the prior, or who have a minor introduction to canine nutrition, I am in love with the books “Canine and Feline Nutrition” and “Dog Food Logic,” both by Linda P Case (The Science Dog). These books go into such great depth about nutrition and are so educational on many different levels. You cannot go wrong with these books, they are WELL WORTH the investment!

For the advanced reader, who really wants a deep understanding of nutrient requirements for dogs and cats, the expensive (roughing around $150-$300)  but very very informative book “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats” by the NRC (National Research Council) would be a highly recommended book as well.

Part 5 —— Part 7