Is A More Natural Diet Better For Your Dog?
Homemade dog food is becoming a popular option, although hardly a new one, for many dog owners. Every dog alive today can be traced back to dogs who were raised on homemade natural diets. The dog food industry, in comparison to dogs themselves, is young – maybe 50 to 60 years – although canned meat was sold as dog food at the turn of the twentieth century. Originally, the commercial foods were meant to supplement homemade food.
With few exceptions, commercially made dry food is primarily cereal based with the major portion of the protein coming from grains and a dash of animal protein in the ingredients. An amazing number of dogs have been able to exist and adapt to these diets, which have made the dog into a partial herbivore instead of a carnivore. Canned diets, which usually contain more animal protein with a dash of cereal, are also popular, especially among toy breeds. Some people successfully combine these two.
Many dogs cannot thrive on commercially prepared rations. However, they exhibit disease states, often mistaken for allergies, which are deficiency diseases caused by cereal-based foods. Dogs in a natural state would eat meat. Their teeth are formed to tear flesh from the bone, and they would share a carcass with a pack of other dogs.
The carcass would be that of a grass-eating animal – an herbivore. Along with the internal organs dogs would eat the predigested grasses and plants of the carcass. Those grasses and plants would consist of no more than 20 to 25 percent of the dogs’ total diet. They would raid nests from ground-breeding birds and eat the eggs, and they would catch the occasional insect. These dogs might forage on certain weeds and grasses.
In formulating a more natural diet we have stayed within these boundaries – with the exception of the insects. A natural diet follows as closely as possible what the dog would eat if still in the wild state. It takes into account the limitations of the dog’s short digestive tract, strong stomach acid and the enzymes the canine system produces to break down food. It consists of two meats: One is a cereal meal plus supplements, which makes up 25 percent of the total diet, and the other is a raw meat meal plus supplements, which is 75 percent of the total diet.
The advantages of a natural diet are many. Health and longevity are increased, there is resistance to disease and the diet can be tailored to individual needs. This is crucial for some breeds of dogs, especially imported dogs or relatives of imported dogs, who have difficulty in digesting corn, which is in the majority of prepared commercial diets. The diet allows individual ingredients to be substituted.