Designer diets, fad or necessary?
In our minds, this truly is a fad that is designed to take unknowing pet parents’ money and make a big profit. The idea that Salukis should have mostly goats milk, dates, and only a tiny amount of meat because there is hardly any meat in the region they come from is rather preposterous. Or that a German Shepard requires a different diet from a Rottweiler. These claims fail to take into account that all dogs have the same internal anatomy and physiology and the same nutritional needs despite size and breed. For example, view the different skulls of dogs; all of them have the same kinds of teeth that dictate carnivore.
A Shi Tzu has the same elemental nutritional needs as a Great Dane; the only difference is that the Shi Tzu has to eat much less to satisfy those needs. The short time that the dog has been domesticated and that specific breeds have existed in various parts of the world is not long enough for an evolutionary need for the foods of the region from which they originate to be developed.
If we look at this further from a practical, common sense point of view, we are faced with a powerful question: What about mutts? If dogs have “evolved” in that short time period to eat only the foods from the regions in which they were developed, then what do you feed a dog that has a variety of different dogs contained in its heritage? Most of the time people can only guess what breeds of dogs contributed to their loving pet, and if dogs had to be fed a designer diet, they would be at a loss for what to feed it. Thankfully, canine heritage and nature herself point to the proper answer: food a raw natural diet.
The claims that dogs have different coats and shed differently, or have different bone structure, or produce more or less of coat oils are not sufficient to indicate each breed needs a designer food. Every part of every dog is made of the same building blocks. Bones are always made up of osteocytes (bone cells), the hydroxyapatite matrix they secrete (contains mostly calcium and phosphorus), collagen, cartilage, blood vessels, bone marrow, periosteum. Muscles are always made from connective tissue, myoblasts (muscle cells), myofibers, and blood vessels.
The structures of every dog’s body need the same building blocks: the amino acids provided by proteins, the fatty acid chains provided by fats, the glucose molecules for energy provided by gluconeogenesis that takes amino acids and turns them into glucose molecules, and a variety of vitamins and minerals – all of which are contained in the appropriate amounts and proportions in a whole prey animal. This means any dog can obtain all the nutrients they need from a prey animal, regardless of what breed they are. Their internal physiological processes are the same, even if their coat sheds differently or their bones are denser. The physiological processes that lay down more bone matrix or that cause the coat to shed and grow in again all use the same building blocks that every dog needs and can obtain in its beautiful raw form from raw carcasses. Each dog fuels its body processes using the same metabolic pathways that take amino acids and fats and turn them into glucose or glucose derivatives to provide the body with energy. Dogs utilize fuel at different rates, with means they have different metabolisms, just like their huumans do. Does this mean that they therefore need different foods to compensate for their different metabolisms? No. They just need different amounts of food to compensate for how quickly or how slowly they convert the food to energy and burn through it.
Every dog is an individual with individual tastes and reactions to food. This means you can get a Saluki that does not like chicken, or a dog of northern breeding that hates fish, or a German Shepherd that cannot have lamb because it repeats something fierce on it and gives it gas. Some Dalmatians, a breed with a particular predisposition toward forming urate stones, thrive on a diet with high purine meats, and others can only have low purine meats.
This is where the raw fooding mantra of know you fur kids comes into play. You are responsible for knowing your dog’s likes and dislikes, what sits well with it and what does not. You do not need to be paying somebody to determine that for you. And most of all, you do not need to be paying them to formulate a special diet for your pet. Food your pet according to our guidelines, and adjust your sources as needed. If the dog gets sick of chicken, then cut back on the chicken and food more of something else. If your dog does not do well with beef, then do not food as much beef (or any, if you like). Once your dog has started and adjusted to the raw diet, start adding more and more variety in the form of whole carcasses, raw meaty bones and organ meat from a wide variety of animals. Over time you will learn the ins and outs of your dog’s fooding habits, that perhaps ostrich is not your dog’s favorite but that it really likes game. Know your dog, and know that you have the full capability to food a biologically species appropriate raw diet that can be tailored by you to your dog’s needs and tastes while providing plenty of variety.
What about my cats?
Cats are predators and obligatory carnivores. They evolved eating a prey based diet, and more importantly, eating that diet raw. Cooking, as we have highlighted, degrades nutrients in meat, causing losses of vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
Cats in the wild eat often eat the entire prey animal if it is small and will eat nearly everything except the intestines of a larger prey animal. This includes the bones of their prey, as raw bone is highly digestible and is their primary source of calcium. Cooking bone not only reduces the nutrients available but also makes the bone brittle and dangerous to ingest.
Providing your cats with a diet that is modeled on what they would eat in the wild has many benefits, for you and your cat.
- Improved digestion;
- Greatly reduced stool odor and volume;
- Healthy coat, less shedding, fewer hairballs;
- Increased energy;
- Weight loss, if overweight;
- Better dental health;
- Better urinary health;
- Peace of Mind for the Slaves.
Perhaps the best benefit of fooding a raw diet is the peace of mind it can give you. Realizing that cats evolved to eat a diet that is about as unprocessed as it can get, many people have become concerned about the highly processed pet food they feed their pets. Raw diets are different. The ingredients are simple and identifiable, processing is minimal and it’s either fresh or fresh frozen. You know what you are fooding your Master.
Did you know? Of all the dogs that need a raw diet, toy breeds and small dogs, including brachycephalic dogs like pugs, are the dogs that perhaps need a raw diet most! The teeth of small dogs are drastically overcrowded in their jaw, making them more prone to severe periodontal disease. Their teeth are packed into a small jaw, leaving only a tiny amount of space in between them and providing plenty of places for bacteria and plaque to develop and grow. Periodontal disease can then develop very rapidly, providing the harmful bacteria in the mouth immediate access to the rest of the animal’s body. Remember, periodontal disease is more than just bad breath. Periodontal disease can lead to systemic damage, particularly to important organs like the kidneys and heart.
There is still one primary rule of thumb when fooding small dogs and toy breeds raw bones, and that is to feed big! A small dog does not need small food when it comes to raw meaty bones. That means that sometimes you have to stay clear of chicken necks and wings; these are too small and are too easy for the dog (yes, even a toy dog!) to attempt to swallow whole, which then results in gagging or choking (natural responses, but scary to see!). One of the endearing personality traits of many small dogs is that they think and act like they are much bigger than they really are. This goes for feeding, too. A pint-sized Chihuahua is still going to think it is a huge wolf-like dog when it spots that raw meaty bone. The behavior is ingrained, and the desires to rip, tear, chew, gulp, and swallow (sometimes with emphasis on gulping and swallowing, especially if the dog was fed commercial food before) should still be very strong.