Dogs are descendants of wolves, as proven by science and DNA. They are not descendants of Jackals or coyotes like some assumed for a long time. When we look at the diet of the wolf, we find that they mostly eat fresh kills. If prey is scarce they will keep coming back to the same kill until almost everything is gone. If prey is plentiful they may leave the kill and find new prey when they need more food. When wolves are starving, their digestive systems are equipped to process berries, grasses and some twigs and bark. This is for SURVIVAL.
Where we have gone wrong is assuming they need this kind of diet all the time- little meat, mostly veggies and fruits and fillers (non-nutritional) with the largest part of the diet being carbs/starch. Carbohydrates aren't even found in their natural, non-starvation diet!! Yet we seem to think they get benefits from eating a diet skewed towards high carbs. This couldn't be farther from the truth.
This is why we see dogs with greasy, rough, dandruff coated fur. It's why we see middle aged dogs with hazy, blue pupils and deep red tear stains. It's why we think fat dogs are "normal and cute." It's why we see dogs with terrible arthritis, acl injuries, awful breath, tartar caked-decaying teeth and crazy behaviors. How do we not connect the dots??
Wolves will literally eat as much as they can in one sitting because they do not know when the next meal is coming. It's where the phrase "wolfing down food" came from. So somehow we perceive that giving them a few morsels of food in the morning and at night is enough, because the bag says it's enough. It has enough calories yes, but does it have enough bulk? Enough water? Enough nutrients to truly support a healthy, amazing, sustainable energy that wolves get from their prey? Heck no. Here's the problem with grain free kibble.... They still have to use carbs to make the kibble stick together and expand into the bits we feed, so instead of grain they use potatoes or tapioca or pea protein/starch. Most people have heard white potatoes really aren't all that healthy for us. They will fill our bellies and give us carbs we need when working hard, physical jobs, but most people do not do hard, physical jobs now and neither do our dogs. Sweet potatoes are better, but really, not needed in the diet, especially in such high amount. So really, getting away from corn and wheat is great, but potatoes are not part of a natural diet either. The other issue is the protein is way higher than a natural diet. If you check out the protein content of grain free kibbles, they are upwards of 30-50%. A chicken has a crude protein value of 18.33%. High protein is not what we want either. We want balance.
People think dogs have been domesticated and don't need real food anymore because their bodies have adjusted to the food we give them. Ummm... again, NO. Dog food has only been around for about 100 years. Have we adjusted to the boxed, highly processed, nutrient void stuff with added synthetic vitamins we call "food?" NO. I would say as a nation, we have become fat, disease ridden, lethargic, cancer filled, obese, poor examples of what we could be. And that is putting it lightly. I'm not trying to be offensive and I'm not picking on anyone in particular. It's a fact. Americans on the whole are so unhealthy, it's not even a question anymore. It's an epidemic. And our animals are following suit in all the same diseases. Hypothyriodism. Cancer. Diabetes. Obesity. Arthritis. Seizures. ADD. IBD. Starting to get the picture?
It's not a pretty one. And I decided to stop what I was doing and question everything. Everything I ever knew, was ever taught, ever did and ever thought I would do. Because my dog kept telling me it wasn't working! I worked as a vet tech for two years and noticed a lot of issues and things that raised questions for me (like the overwhelming amount of sick animals). I even went to school, got my Bachelor's and was going to go to vet school so I could "help" animals. But something stopped me in my tracks. And when I started questioning animal care as it is practiced and taught today, I saw the similarities in human care as well.
It's not good enough. It's not even addressing the root of the issues. It's actually masking them with drugs, surgeries, further highly processed foods and so forth. If an animal has cancer, they cut it out. They don't question all those terrible ingredients known to cause cancer. They don't suggest a better diet or even a truly healthy diet. They suggest pills to suppress the issue and even less healthy dry kibble. Dust it under the rug. Just suppress the issue until the animal's body can't take it anymore and breaks down. Our culture has taught us to put it down, ignore the true cause of the disease and go get another one that has been set up for failure by breeding bad genetics, bringing it up on terrible nutrition and insulting it's immune system with poisons to get rid of the parasites that are there because of poor health. Or dump a bunch of money into the animal trying to fix the outward issue without ever addressing the cause. Both ways still get you to the same spot. A very sick dog or worse. Please know I am not completely against vets. They have a purpose and can help in a lot of situations. However, there are very few vets with the experience, knowledge and mindset to steer owners away from the "normal" things prescribed or suggested to "fix" issues and truly address the root of the problem.
As you can tell if you are still reading, this is an extremely sensitive topic for me. My animals are my babies and I want them with me for as long as possible, but I want them to be healthy and happy their entire life. I see people that brag that their dog lived to be 17 on Ol' Roy. My question is, "What was it's quality of life?" Did he run hills, bounce around, enjoy long runs, swims, the dog park until that age or did it lay on a pillow in the living room the last 7 years of it's life doing nothing but eating, going outside to go to the bathroom and occasionally getting up to stretch and lay down again? There is a HUGE difference. Please. Let's be honest with ourselves. Do you want to live to be 90 but stuck in a wheel chair or bed barely coherent of what is going on around you for the last 20 years forced to take 16 pills a day to keep your heart beating? Or do you want to live to 70 and be able to still get around, work in the yard, enjoy having lunch with friends and going on vacations? The answer is perfectly clear to me. Quality vs Quantity.
I didn't know any better until I did, and when I did, I did everything I could to change my dog's diet drastically. When I got him I did everything the vet said, everything the pet stores suggested and tried to get the best dog food and it was a disaster. Of course, if I would have kept pursuing the suggestions, I'm sure in time his body would have stopped reacting to it with different meds or shots and gone into a state of survival like most I see. Eating sticks, dirt and feces to get any nutrition they possibly can because the diet is junk and their gut is screaming for help. But I didn't want that. I questioned why they weren't digging deeper into what was causing the issue. I questioned the ingredients. I questioned their true knowledge about the diet and what was best for the animal and I questioned their motives. Guess what? I found something better.
I hope you can find this too. Would you question everything you think you know for the sake of your dog or even your family or yourself? Would you step outside the bag to see? For me, it was worth it and always will be because I can see the difference and so can others. Best of all, my animals are healthy and happy. Truly healthy. And for that I would do anything- including looking like a crazy person because I refuse to follow what most would just accept.