VETERINARY SURGEON TANNETJE KONING ABOUT THE NUTRITION OF A DOG...
Give your dog dry food croquettes, nothing can go wrong! This is what you hear nowadays about dog food. But is this correct? Will nothing go wrong? Then why is my dog itching all the time? And why all those allergies, all those tumors, and our dogs dying at very young ages...? Is this due to bad nutrition?
Let’s assume that good nutrition is the foundation of a good health. The food supplies all the necessary nutrients. If the body constantly has to try to keep itself in shape, little or no energy and nutrients are left to also guarantee a good immune system.
What is good nutrition? Experience has taught me that good nutrition is that which resembles the nutrition of a wolf in free nature. So no dry food that contains a lot of cereals and meat meal with added vitamins and all of this highly heated. No, meat, fresh raw meat with bones and mixed vegetables, that’s what a dog will thrive on!
To be able to judge what dry food is, I shall firstly describe how dry food biscuits are made and what’s in them. As I’ve said: cereals. Mostly cereals are the main ingredient of dry food.
Because dogs can’t really digest cereals, the cereals have to be unlocked. Extrusion is a form of unlocking. It is a heating procedure, up to 120°C. The meat is present only in the form of meat meal (and meal of other products). Even now we have to wonder what the quality of that meal is. Let’s just presume that we have indeed good meat meal, and not ground heads and feathers. All this is heated, along with the cereals. Through this heating process, the cereal meal reacts with the amino acids from the meat meal (the so called Maillard reaction). This causes chemical compounds that can’t be digested in the intestines anymore. Among others acrylamides, which can cause cancer for humans, as recently has been discovered. The amino acid taurine disappears almost completely in the process.
A lot of minerals make chemical compounds and become insoluble salts, almost all vitamins disappear and the fats oxidate.
In order to make these croquettes complete again, the vitamins and minerals are added again. However, these are synthetic vitamins and minerals and they are not as easily absorbed in the intestines as the natural products. The intestines are burdened with a lot of inabsorbable remains that slowly but surely poison the body.
Croquettes are ‘dead’ nutrition. All bacteria are destroyed, all enzymes are dead. The advantage is its durability. The disadvantage is that these bacteria and enzymes are very useful! The bacteria are necessary to build a stable and healthy intestinal flora, and the enzymes are necessary in all kinds of processes in the body.
To make this more clear to you, I will compare giving croquettes to eating frozen pizza, complemented with a multivitamin preparation. Every day, over and over again. Indeed, it contains everything you need, but is it healthy...? Good nutrition is more than a calculation of nutritional substances.
Next to the well known vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats and carbohydrates, there are numerous other substances that are also necessary for a good nutrition, and the only way not to neglect these substances is to use natural raw materials: meat, vegetables, bones. Through variation, the body will get a rich variety of substances and the body can choose what it needs or doesn’t need. Just like we humans do it.
There are very little fats in croquettes because they don’t stay fresh for a long time, even if it says Omega 3 and 6 fat acids on the packaging.
Fats, and especially unsaturated fats, oxidate when exposed to light and air. They should be cooled and kept in the dark. You can add as many chemical antioxidants as you like, they will not stay fresh. Let’s not forget that the natural energy sources of a dog are proteins and fats.
This explains why a little sheep fat added to the croquettes mostly shows good results for the coat of a dog. But this only means that the croquettes contained too little fat.
I’ve already mentioned it a few times: meat, vegetables and bones.
Our dog should eat what a wolf eats in real nature. This means: a prey animal and some berries or other fruit he might come across when he’s hungry.
Prey animals are raw meat, organs, bones and bowel contents. Of course, we are not going to feed our dogs bowel contents. It is possible, but very distasteful and it makes your dog less huggable. No, instead we give the dog raw vegetables or boiled vegetables, preferably both, alternated. Some vitamins are lost when the food is boiled, other simply ameliorate, that’s why alternation is good.
All animal meat is suitable, except pork meat. Pork meat can contain a virus that causes Aujeszki disease. Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to this disease than pigs are.
Only use meat that is also suited for human consumption, because after all, you’re touching it as well.
So: chicken, beef, lamb, veal, duck, goat, rabbit, anything you can get your hands on! Eggs are also allowed, cottage cheese, tahoe and fish. Variation is very important. Chicken is cheap and easy to come by, but don’t feed your dog chicken on a daily basis. Try to give him different types of meat at least three times a week. If you feed fish, please feed it completely.
Raw meat is scary because it contains bacteria, and right you are! But a wolf doesn’t cook his meat before eating it! By eating all sorts of bacteria, your dogs becomes much more resistant. The body learns how to deal with different bacteria on the meat. Wolves, and also some dogs, sometimes bury their prey only to eat it several weeks later, and you can be very sure the meat is infested with numerous bacteria! A dog with a stable intestinal flora should be able to do this without any problems.
Dogs that are bothered by a change of nutrition have too little bacteria in their intestines and mostly they have eaten the same food for years, so that their digestive enzymes are set to to this one type of food.
It might be sensible to cook the meat the first few weeks. You should lightly boil the meat and so the stomach and bowels can adjust to the change. In the end, you can feed raw meat.
Always use clean material and wash your hands and cutting board when you are handling raw meat.
Vegetables contain a lot of vitamines and minerals, and also some carbohydrates and some protein. The carbohydrates are partially soluble and they produce fiber, which is the reason of more faeces.
All vegetables are allowed, except for onion and leek. The raw vegetables should be purated finely because full raw vegetables are not digested. Dogs lack the enzymes to diminish vegetable cells. This has to be done for them and you can use a kitchen robot or juicer. You can also add a little fruit.
You can control your dog’s weight with the aid of vegetables. Overweight dogs can be fed a lot of vegetables and a little meat, dogs that need a lot of energy because they are too skinny, can be fed more meat and fats.
A lot of dogs don’t really like veggies. In that case, it should be blended with meat, organ meat, yoghurt or an egg..
When a wolf eats a prey animal, it also eats its organs. They contain a lot of different vitamins and are a very valuable nutritional source. Try to feed as many different organs as you can get your hands on, heart, tripe, kidneys, longs, liver.... and of as many different types of animals as you can.
Especially tripe is very valuable due to the bacteria, vitamins and minerals. Try to get dirty tripe, and let your dog play with in the garden! A dog will find this very satisfying, much more than eating his croquettes.
Bones are a different story altogether! People are always afraid they might splinter. This is possible, but raw bones splinter much less than cooked bones. So always give raw bones.
Bones with a lot of meat on them give less constipation of splinter problems. For example: chicken wings, necks or legs. Also lambs ribs, vertebra or shoulder blades are very suited. A large dog can eat a whole chicken. Legs are very often too hard. The teeth wear out, they can’t eat them or cause constipation. The same goes for bones of large adult animals. Bones of young or small animals are much better.
Dogs love chewing bones when they are bored, and it’s lovely to see them play with them. Chewing a bone is also good for a hungry dog to eat their food at a slower pace. Oversized dogs benefit from eating bones becauses it calms down their feeling of hunger.
Chewing bones is an excellent way to get rid of tartar. Start slowly with dogs that aren’t used to bones, don’t use bones that are too small, your dogs might swallow it at once. Maybe you can hold the bone for your dog so that he can learn to chew on it instead of biting off pieces he might swallow.
Always keep an eye on your dog!
It’s not easy to switch from croquettes to fresh food all at once. Before you do so, you need some more information and experience. You can find a lot of good info on the internet, for example www.barfplaats.nl
This is a forum where people who prepare their own dog food exchange information and experiences to help other people who are starting out.
People who don’t want to make things too complicated and who have a healthy dog without any complaints, can easily feed complete fresh food. There are a number of good varieties on the market at present. If you also feed croquettes half the time, a complete nutrition is not really necessary. Do not mix the dry food with the fresh meat.
For dogs with health problems I would advise you to give fresh food two whole days a week. You will notice that your dog will feel better, its coat will be nicer, he will have more energy, a higher resistance and less flees.
For dogs with skin and intestinal complaints, I can advise to gradually switch to fresh meat nutrition completely. Deep frozen or home made, it doesn’t make much of a difference. About 70 to 80% of all skin and intestinal problems improve considerably when feeding fresh food. Skin problems are also hot spots, ear infections, anal gland problems. Other complaints will also improve when feeding fresh food. Even behavioural problems might improve with fresh food, hyperactive dogs become more composed and lifeless dogs become more energetic.
An entirely different story than ‘just feed croquettes’.... A lot more complicated of course, but experience has taught us that the animals become much more healthy! Less complaints, more resistance, cleaner teeth. If in fact they live longer is unknown up to now, this still has to be proven.