"The Peeing Post"
Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature
Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen
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Feeding Your Domesticated Wolf
I am back. It's Mogens. Did you enjoy the pictures of Bettemuir working her wolf-brain? If you missed it, then here is the URL again: http://k9joy.com/dogtraining/treatbox.html.
I hope they inspire you to do something similar... I also hoped you did check out the additional information you can get at http://k9joy.com/education/trainyourdog.php - there is actually a very favorable offer to you at the bottom of that page....
Being the Pack Leader, you have many duties. One of them is to select the prey the pack must hunt. If you don't like elk, the pack hunts deer or moose. If you don't like moose, you choose elk or deer. Wolves actually do that. The learn to focus their hunting energy on some very specific game and then they stick to that! Studies have been done of this in south-eastern British Columbia, and the result demonstrated that there two kinds of wolf packs: "deer wolves" and "elk wolves". The "deer wolves" never hunted elk, only deer. The "elk wolves" hunted nothing but elk. This is obviously "culture" - something the puppies learn when they grow up - traditions being past on through generations.
But humans are amazing hunters! They never miss coming home with bunches of food, every single time they go hunting in the grocery store! It would be exiting for any dog to be able to join such a hunt!
At least you share, so the dog doesn't blame you for not taking it hunting... (You do pay a price for this, though: you will have to find other ways of stimulating your dog's hunting behaviors, otherwise, you get a very frustrated dog that most likely will show you this through some very annoying behaviors you won't like...)
So, what do you feed your dog? Dog Food?
Of course! Real dog food: Nice and juicy raw meat; some fresh, yucky bones with some gooey marrow; some raw guts with semi-digested vegetables still inside. Wooowwww... that's a meal for a canine!
You thought I was kidding? You've got to be kidding!
Those bags with labels on saying "Premium dog food" or something like that? Come on - that's not dog food. I am serious. Just read the labels and see for yourself. Do you know any wolf that would choose a prey that contains 70-80% carbohydrate and maximum 5% water? What about those chemicals that are added to keep the stuff from perishing - have you ever heard of a kill that would not perish?
Actually, if you reverse the numbers and make it maximum 5% carbohydrate and 70-80% water, then you would be quite close to what a natural prey's body would contain! And also, just for the record: those "preservatives" that are used in commercial dog food are all poisonous - no exception! The most common ones are even outright prohibited from being added to human food because they are know to cause cancer!!!! But it is legal to add them to dog food...
No wonder why dogs fed a natural raw diet in average live 30% longer...
Think of this: 30% - of a life time you would think should be 12-14 years. What about making it 16-19 years instead, simply by feeding your dog a natural diet?
Do you know of any horse people who would consider feeding their horses a diet of 65% ground beef, if the price of beef were only half the price of grain? Why then are dog owners feeding their carnivore companions commercial diets that contain at least 65% grain?
One more effect of feeding exclusively natural food was documented by an Australian study among kennels. The total costs of veterinarian services were compared. Those kennels that fed natural enjoyed almost never seeing their vets! Their average costs of veterinarian services was down at 12-15% of the average level for kennels that fed the top brand of commercial dog food! So not only can you help your dog live many years longer - you will also have it live a much healthier life on a natural diet... The study even included some kennels who shifted from kibble to natural food and others that shifted the other way. Those that shifted "the other way" (from natural back to kibble) quickly shifted back to natural when they saw their vet bills climb again....
You did say you loved your dog, right? And I assume you meant it...?
Okay - here is help then. Knowing what to do and what not to do takes a bit more than what I can cover completely in this newsletter. But it is no science, just common sense, once you comprehend the principles.
There are two ways to get a good understanding of how you manage feeding your dog "Biologically Adequate Raw Food" ("BARF"). You can study the dog's natural prey and its hunting behavior or you can study the dog's physiology and body chemistry. Either one will lead you to the same conclusions and the same fundamental recipe for what "dog food" should be, also in your household. I used the first approach in my e-book "Canine Choice - by Nature" and the second one in my video "Feeding Your Dog - the Natural Way". In a way, they supplement each other, but either one of them will suffice to get you going in a responsible way shifting to natural feeding.
Although "Canine Choice - by Nature" does give you the basics for getting started, I made a major expansion of it in July 2003. The bigger cousin got named "Raw Food For Dogs - the Ultimate Reference for Dog Owners", as suggested by an overwhelming majority of Peeing Post subscribers. You can get a lot more information about it from http://k9joy.com/RawFoodForDogs where you will also be able to check some chunky excerpts from it.
You can get more information about "Canine Choice - by Nature" from
Please be aware that there is not information in "Canine Choice - by Nature" that is not also included in "Raw Food For Dogs - the Ultimate Reference for Dog Owners", so there is no point in buying them both...
There is more to feeding. When and how much is strongly integrated with the dog's age (puppies need food far more often than adult dogs), and with the food itself. Please check the video or the e-book for all that information - it takes more than a few paragraphs to explain that.
If this stuff about natural food is chocking you or it appears to you to be unbelievable, then I suggest you check out some hard facts. I made a collection of them at http://k9joy.com/education/feedyourdog.php where you will also find a bunch of links to public articles relating to some serious features of the dog's anatomy and physiology that are ignored by both veterinarians and pet food manufacturers. But I warn you: it is not fun stuff to read...
But how you feed is important regardless how long a life you plan for your dog...
First of all: there is no such thing as "free lunch". Not for you, not for your dog. Conclusion: never feed your dog without first making it work for its food! A few obedience exercises are fine - it does not have to be much - but don't just give the dog food without asking something for it first! It is part of your leadership, so you have no excuse for making exceptions. One consequence of this you probably figured out by yourself is that there is no way you will ever allow your dog any "free feeding" by letting food be out all the time. Have you ever heard of a wolf that had constant access to deer?
Next: there is no such thing as "meals on time" for a carnivore. Hunting starts when the opportunity pops up and the leader decides to go for it. It does not happen at any pre-set time, and it does not happen as part of any steady ritual. This means that you will feed your dog when it pleases you to have it do some work, so you can reward it with the meal. It could be 6 PM. It could be 11 AM. It could be midnight. Who knows what you want? Certainly not your dog!
Finally: it should go without saying that your meals have absolutely nothing to do with the dog getting any food whatsoever. Although you can use many ingredients from your own fridge to feed also to the dog, then please make sure that the dog has no idea of any connection between your meals and dog food. If you happen to prepare the dog's food in conjunction with your own meal, then just let the dog food sit in its disk on the counter or in the fridge till the dog has forgotten all about it.
Please note that you are not depriving the dog from the food it needs. It is the same as with the play: it goes on your initiative, not when the dog asks for it... But you are a responsible pack leader, so you will not forget to take good care of your canine family member - you just do it in accordance with "canine law" so your dog can enjoy having a competent pack leader. Remember, the dog's need for leadership is greater than its need for food!
Cheers and woof,
If you have any suggestions to contributions or contents of The Peeing Post, or some comments or questions pertaining to this issue or in to dogs in general, I will be happy to know about them. If I can find an answer for you, I will!
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PS. I often get questions asked about veterinarians. Why do they promote this commercial "dog food" when it is that bad? Why are they not telling everybody that this kibble is not good for dogs? After all, they are supposed to be the dogs' advocates and take care of our dogs' health!
Unfortunately, you are outright wrong on the last statement. The governments in both Canada and the US (and all other countries I know of) do not educate veterinarians in order to qualify somebody to take care of our pets. The government educates veterinarians to protect our food! Since we don't eat dog meat, there is no reason to educate veterinarians-to-be on how to maintain good health for dogs. As you will notice, all the farm animals we eat are herbivores. Not a single carnivore. Veterinarians thus don't learn much about carnivore nutrition, simply because it is not relevant for their curriculum!
The very unpleasant conclusion of this is that the main source for any veterinarian to learn about dog food is from the pet food industry's sales reps and commercial advertising.... You might be lucky that your vet has done some additional studying on his/her own - but the DVM title gives you no guarantees that this is the case.
Further, any practicing veterinarian must have a permit to practice veterinarian medicine. The administration of this is generally delegated from the government to the veterinarian associations - which basically are trade unions for their members. Their main purpose is not to keep our dogs healthy - but to keep their members' finances healthy. A veterinarian that does not want to follow their guidelines will have his permit to practice pulled - and he will have lost his livelihood.... I know of several examples of this happening...
From here, you need to draw your own conclusions, but please do not be upset with your vet. He is most likely doing what he believes is the best - based on the information and knowledge he has. Nobody can do any better, but when you know the background, you can also better make your own decisions.