Guest Post from Rob Haddix - Some things you may not know about the dog food industry.

Feeding your dog does not have to be science, but it certainly should not be part of an industry's profit plans either!  With nothing but your own knowledge to protect you and your dog from commercial exploitation.

What you feed your dog is the most important base for its health.  I assume that your dog’s health is a very high priority for you.  Also much higher than your own emotional reactions to certain things that might appear offensive to your own taste buds!    For this reason, this chapter will discuss what is good for your dog, and I will honestly not care about it stimulating your appetite or not…  that is simply not the point.    Likewise, I will not discuss things like whether or not this feeding is convenient, easy, affordable, or anything like that, referring to traditional consumer demands.  Such issues should not be determining for what you feed your dog, if your choices make a difference for his/her health.    I do not mean to be offensive with this, but I do feel an obligation to make it clear. This does not mean that you cannot also do many things to accommodate your own personal preferences – but just not if such choices make the dog pay a price with his/her health.

The domestication process of our dogs has changed their exterior quite dramatically, but their gastrointestinal system is still like that of their forefather, the wolf.  Recent genetic studies even lead to the conclusion that wolf and dog are one and the same species!

The wolf is a carnivore; therefore, the dog is a carnivore.    The Gage Canadian Dictionary defines “carnivore” this way: “Any of an order (Carnivora) of mammals that feed chiefly on flesh or other animal matter rather than plants.  Cats, dogs, weasels, raccoons, bears, seals, etc. are carnivores.” Please note the word “chiefly”-it does not say “exclusively”….  Bears, for instance, eat a considerable amount of vegetables and are sometimes classified “omnivores” for that reason, although they still biologically belong to Carnivora.  Carnivores prefer to eat raw meat as their primary source of nutrition. They do not thrive without it, and they certainly do not cook it! Most carnivores do eat vegetables too, such as fruit, berries, vegetables, crops etc., as a supplement to their diet, yet their primary source of vegetables is the contents of the stomachs of their prey.  Although wolves/dogs can survive for some time on a purely vegetarian diet (if that is all they have access to), they do not maintain their body functions and their health very well without some serious contribution of raw meat.   It is scientifically well documented that raw meat contains at least 30 known proteins that are as essential for dogs as vitamins are for humans (and that's only what has been discovered so far), yet all those proteins get destroyed when heated.2Regardless of the efforts and the funding, all scientific research will only give limited information.  No scientist can provide answers to questions that have not been asked.  Through analysis, we can only find what we look for.  We cannot find what we don't know exists - except in very rare situations when new discoveries are made.  Such discoveries are very expensive to pursue and the work involved goes far beyond standard analysis.  The consequence of this is that no human will know exactly what your dog needs, in terms of nutrition.  Any dog food manufacturer who claims, "This food contains EVERYTHING your dog needs" is going beyond honesty.  There is no way of knowing that for any human being. This leaves us with only one relevant guide for what to feed and what not: what Mother Nature would feed a wolf in the wild. Getting as close as practically possible to that standard is the only responsible way of approaching the task of feeding your dog a healthy diet.  Fortunately, quite a lot is known about this, so we do have a strong basis for making good decisions.  One note of caution: Many people like to believe that because dogs have been domesticated for such a long time now (probably about 10-20,000 years), they have become adjusted to the kind of food we feed them.    Here are some strong reasons for classifying this as an outrageous postulate that simply cannot be right:   It is only in the last few hundred years the domestication has been serious and deliberately manipulative.  Before then, it was more a "co-habitant" relationship with no systematic attempts from man's side to change the dog's nature.