For anybody who understands just a minimum of biology, it is obvious that different species thrive on different food. Each species has its own preferences for what is "right". It is genetically programmed, and there is a very fine balance between preference and value: all naturally living creatures want to eat what is good for them. If not, the species would not survive very long! Only when there is a good match between what the individual animal wants to eat, what its gastrointestinal system actually can digest, and what its body needs, will it have a chance of survival.
First step in your due diligence should be to get at least a working understanding of how a dog's stomach works. Just for the record: it is very different from the way a human stomach works! What is good for you is not necessarily good for your dog - and vice versa. You can get a quick overview of the way a dog's stomach works from this article on the dog's stomach (in PDF format - opens in a separate window you simlpy close when done reading it, unless you want to print it or save it for later reference).
Unfortunately, man has made some horrible screw-ups of Nature's balances. Through chemical technology, it is now possible to isolate and up-concentrate the ingredients we crave the most, leaving the rest of the natural food in the garbage.
The classical example is sugar. Naturally, sugar exists primarily in ripe fruit. Ripe fruit happens to also contain some of the largest naturally found concentrations of Vitamin C - a life necessity for humans. The taste of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) in its pure form is not very pleasant, but in small concentrations and mixed with comparatively large concentrations of sugar (which is chemically very closely related to Ascorbic Acid, by the way...), we get a nice fresh, sweet taste most humans are very attracted to.
For the cave man, this was a great survival tool. It made him crave the fresh, ripe fruit he needed so badly for his supply of Vitamin C - and in Nature, these two always go hand in hand: all sweet fruit contains healthy concentrations of Vitamin C. The sugar craving thus ensures a sufficient supply of Vitamin C...
However, for modern people in a society that masters chemistry, this became a curse: Chemists were able to extract the sugar and refine it and generate products from it that were sooooo sweet that they could beat the natural fruit in regards to the attraction they provided for sugar-craving humans...
We all know the devastating effects sugar has on our health when taken in in excess amounts, especially when concentrated, like in candy. By adding an artificial food source we have no natural access to, we now have to manage our cravings - because they no longer guide us to making healthy choices in regards to the food we pick to eat...
For the cave man, this was no problem - his only way of satisfying his quest for sweetness was by picking ripe fruits....
The primary lesson to learn from this is that
All commercial dog food manufacturers produce dog food in order to make a profit. They know that you want to see your dog happy for its meal. This makes it impossible for them to make the food out of ingredients that are not necessarily good for the dog, unless they add some other ingredients that are so attractive to the dog that it will make unhealthy choices - just as children prefer candy over fresh fruit...
The really bad news for you is that there are no legal guidelines in North America for what a pet food manufacturer is allowed to add to pet food, and there is so much evidence of synthetic chemicals being added that it is far beyond a shade of doubt that you cannot rely on commercial "dog food" being biologically adequate at all for your dog! As a matter of fact, there is so much evidence to the very contrary that you will never want to feed your dog any form of kibble or canned food once you get a chemist to explain to you what is actually in the food you can buy for your dog....
One example is grain. Grain is the cheapest energy source we can get. Kibble products generally contain some 70% carbohydrates from grain. Now, for a human, this would be great - but a dog is not genetically programmed to digest grain in large quantities. If you want to know more about this, you can check this article on grain. (It is in PDF format and pops up in a separate window.)
Another example is fat. People in our modern sociaty are programmed to see fat as "bad". Well, the truth is that humans cannot deal very well with too much fat - when is has been heated.... But dogs need fat for their metabolism to a degree that is comparable to a human's need for carbohydrates! Raw fat, that is. You can read more about this in this article on fat. (Also PDF - pops up in same window as the previous article.)
Then we have the whole issue about cooking. All dry or canned dog food has been cooked. Otherwise, it could not keep. But heating raw meat will destroy many nutrients a dog need as much as people need vitamins... This is a tricky issue to understand for a non-chemist, but this article on cooking explains it in layman's terms. (PDF too - same window as before.)
On more example is Vitamin C. As explained already, this vitamin is truly vital for humans. But dogs produce it themselves! They have some specific metabolic processes in their bodies that convert Glucose into Ascorbic Acid (which is Vitamin C) together with a number of other chemicals their bodies need! But if we add Vitamin C to their food, we totally screw up those processes and cause liver and kidney damage! You can learn more about this from this article on Vitamin C.
And Calcium. You learned that Calcium is important for developing healthy bone structures. Well, there is much more to that, but what few people know is that, for a dog, it is vital that Calcium and Phosphorous remain carefully balanced with each other! You can thus very easily give your dog too much Calcium, and the result is a destruction of its bone structure, like osteoperosis! You can learn more about this from this article on Calcium/Phosporous.
And what about those labels on the pre-manufactured food claiming that this food is "completely balanced"? Balanced for what? Not the dog's nutritional needs! If that were the case, there would be no way of making those kibble products contain more than 60% grain when it is well known that dogs do not need grain at all in their diet! If "balanced" were to be taken at par value, it would also mean that the food would naturally contain about 70% water - but no kibble product contains any more than 10% - if not much less....
You have a sad example of commercial misuse of information to make you think their products are good in the way pet food manufacturers label their products.... When you read those labels with all those chemical analyses on, you might get impressed. But the truth is that you most often have very little reason to be impressed, as the information often is misleading - or irrelevant, at best. This article about chemical analyses will tell you a story about how this "science" can and will be used to manipulate your trust...
Want to go on? This is only the tip of the iceberg...
As you noticed also from the articles, Mogens Eliasen has a Ph.D. level degree in Chemistry - and he knows how to explain things so also lay people can understand what is going on. You will be amazed when you listen to him or read his writing about this.... His heart beats for dogs and he has no qualms over offending "the big guys" by revealing what they certainly don't want you to know!
One example is this article about vets - and why they cannot tell you the truth, even if they know it and want to...
Right now, you might feel like a child that just has been told that Santa Claus does not exist... Please do not despair! You are not alone about this. Thousands of others have gone through this - and have taken what it takes to learn the fundamental principles behind a natural feeding. It is not complicated. But it does take that you understand the principles behind the dog's digeative system - which is totally different from the human system! And it takes that you understand the basics of nutrition - and how you put a healthy meal plan together for your dog. Once you have this basic knowledge acquired, the rest is easy. The news is even this good: you do not have to think about balancing every single meal - you can actually do better by not making all meals the same! As long as you get everything included over a few weeks, your dog will be very much OK - and it takes away the burden from you to "micro-manage" the meals.
If you liked Mogens Eliasen's way of explaining things in the articles, you might want to get more support from him. He has made three publicatrions about feeding your dog a natural diet:
VIDEO (VHS format - 1 hour):
You can take a careful look at the dog's anatomy and see how the internal gastrointestinal organs function. The scientifically correct and logic conclusions lead you to a raw, natural diet being the only choice you have... This is Mogens' approach in this video. The video medium is great for the illustrations that otherwise can be hard to grasp. The video is made in one of his student's kitchen, and you get follow exactly what is all put together and served to the dogs.
E-BOOK (download or CD or print):
You can start from the fact that has been proven recently also by genetic studies that dogs are nothing more and nothing less than domesticated wolves. There is no true biological difference, except in the exterior (form, size, color, coat etc.). Everything inside the body remains the same as for the wolf. Again, starting with what a wolf would eat in Nature, you are guided to a practical understanding of how to feed your dog a natural diet... This is the way Mogens explains it in this e-book - and it makes sense...
E-BOOK (download, CD, or print):
This new e-book is a huge expansion of "Canine Choice - by Nature". It contains all the information from the old e-book, but a lot more! The new e-book contains the answers to just about any question you might have about a natural diet, and it includes a comprehensive collection of detailed examples of meals plans. It is truly a reference in the sense that it does not advoacte any specific "school" or "belief system", but it enables you to assess the information you get from everywhere around you and to use that information to make you own diligent decisions.
Both the video and the e-books give you all the details you need to know:
This is all you need to get the confidence to get started right! They supplement each other in many ways, but any one of them will do for getting you started with confidence that you are doing the right thing.
If you like to read, check out more info about the e-book "Canine Choice - by Nature" if you want "just the quick facts" or its "big brother "Raw Food For Dogs - the Ultimate Reference for Dog Owners" if you enjoy getting "answers to just about everything".
If you prefer watching a video, check out more info about the video "Feeding Your Dog - the Natural Way".
Mogens Eliasen's free newsletter "The Peeing Post" is full of solid advice to dog lovers. In the newsletter, he shares his enourmeous experience as a trainer, instructor, and education system developer - in a way that is easy to understand - and entertaining too! He welcomes input from his subscribers and is happy to give them free advice per e-mail about their concerns - if he can publish the results! Be warned, though: his passion for dogs is contageous, and his viewpoints are not "main stream" at all - but they make a lot of sense!
Get more info about"The Peeing Post" here
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