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What is the Best Food for My Dog?

All things aside, “most reputable manufacturers of “super premium” and natural food agree with holistic veterinarians and other experts that the very best diet for your animal companion is one that you make yourself. A homemade diet, carefully balanced nutritionally and using organic foods, is closest to what Mother Nature intended” (Animal Protection Institute, 2004). Before you say you don’t have the time to prepare homemade food for your dog, take a look at the plentiful, excellent recipes available for free on the internet that show you how to prepare a large batch of meals that’ll last at least 3 days. Once every 3 days is not much to ask. Impartial or not, I have to agree with this. As a result, I’m not even going to entertain over processed, nutrient deficient kibbles and canned foods that are packed with additives, preservatives, colourants, fillers, and meat products that really should not be called meat at all. (For some great information on commercial dog food including the standards they have to abide by, their ingredients, and how they’re made, visit the Animal Protection Institute website). So we know we should be feeding all natural or organic homemade meals to our pets, but what should these meals consist of?

There is almost as much contention with this as there is when it comes to humans. There are so many species of dogs now, and mixed breeds keep on appearing. Yet some people still say we should feed dogs like their ancestors. They say that the only biologically appropriate food for dogs is what wolves ate. Obviously the intention here is to push raw diets, but with wolves in the wild, this begins and ends with meat, some berries and grass if they feel unwell. Firstly, there is no evidence as yet to say that dogs come directly from wolves (there is a lot of DNA that does not match) and popular theorist like Darwin have said that it’s just as likely that they came from Jackals and Coyotes. Dogs are not wolves. This is highlighted by the fact that some breeds of dogs get quite unwell when fed good quality raw meats. Dogs, like humans, are incredibly domesticated and interbred, and though this doesn’t mean they should be eating like wolves, it doesn’t mean that they should be eating highly processed, artificial, chemically enhanced rubbish either. Secondly, have you ever heard of a wolf tucking into some broccoli and eggplant? But there are merits to this approach, but only when the supporters of it contradict themselves by saying we should feed our dogs raw fruits and vegetables.

Saying dogs should eat like wolves, is a bit like saying we should be eating like apes. I can’t remember ever seeing an ape go fishing, yet fish, for most people, is incredibly beneficial for health and well being adding important, necessary, elements to our diets. It makes sense that, as with humans, vegetables, fruits, and some whole grains can be really beneficial to dogs. Most dogs are omnivores, and some dogs do better on an all vegetarian diet. Founders of the holistic vet movement, such as Dr. Richard Pitcairn and Juliette DeBairclay-Levy, have always pushed the importance of these food sources. These ingredients have been time-tested for decades. Whole grains (not corn and preferably not wheat), fruits and vegetables are a wonderful addition to a balanced, biologically-appropriate diet. So, it seems that the best food for your dog would be a homemade meal consisting of all natural or organic, biologically appropriate food consisting of a mixture of meat, whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. (Did you see I didn’t say raw? Just be aware, some veggies and meats can be harmful to some breeds if not cooked so as to either kill bacteria and reduce fat content of the meat, and break down some toxins that sit in the hard skins of some veggies – that’s why humans shouldn’t eat raw broccoli either! Knowing that an all natural or organic meal made at home is considered the best, it still doesn’t address the question of balance. Feeding your dog with quality ingredients is a great beginning, but how much of each is right for your pet?

There seems to be little consensus on the general nutritional requirements for dogs. Experts who have spent years and years researching this have come to varying conclusions. Some experts purport that each breed needs to be fed a breed specific diet. This may be a little too specific for some but I think it’s heading in the right direction.

This is the approach that seems most realistic and appropriate to me because it mimics the approach to human nutrition that I follow. Through years of personal training and helping people achieve optimal health and well being, I discovered Metabolic Typing. It is the only nutrition and lifestyle approach that I’ve found that truly treats each person as an individual. One of its best attributes is the process you go through to fine tune diet and lifestyle requirements on a continual basis. There is a lot to learn from this approach. It is person specific, and is current in that you re-test yourself every sixth months to check your requirements at that time. Our lifestyles and environments change, as do our pets, so it makes sense to re asses our dietary intake regularly, and our pets’ to see if they’ve changed. Only in this way can we, as humans, maintain a proper balance. It makes sense for this to be the case with our pets.

Just like human beings, each dog is a unique individual. Yes they’ll have similar characteristics and general dispositions as their dominant breed and the genes they’ve inherited from their parents, but they’ll also have unique characteristics given to them by nature, and their environment. It seems fairly obvious to say then that no pre-made dog food can claim to be THE best, unless it has been tailor made for your pet by a specialist (there are a few people on the web that do this). But…. there are plenty of pet food companies out there which are well within their rights to call their pet food superior. Most of these suggest mixing their all natural or organic food at home with ingredients that are missing from their food, to prepare a fresh home made meal. The ingredient specifics of these and their importance are debated, but on the whole, the less processed the food is the better. Look for ingredients made up of whole foods (foods that haven’t been altered). So how much is enough?

Without getting breed specific, and understanding that I follow those experts who suggest macro nutrient levels to be specific for your breed of dog, here are the generally agreed upon amounts.

• The protein percentage should be about 1/3 or more of the whole meal. Meat is the obvious choice for the bulk of this macronutrient. (Some dogs don’t handle meat well).

• Fat should make up about 1/5 or more, dogs process good fats well. There is a reasonable amount of natural fat in meats, so you shouldn’t need to watch this macronutrient nutrient too closely if feeding meats to your dog.

• That leaves a little under ½ the rest should be veggies, fruits, and whole grains (not corn, and preferably no wheat).

What is the best food for your dog? The simple answer, if your dog’s health is good, vet bills aren’t streaming in and its coat is healthy, then change may not be necessary. Be aware though that a lot of the conditions and diseases that commercial pet foods cause build up over time. If you are suspicious that there is anything at all wrong, or you just want to see if you can give your best friend even more health and vitality, then the time is right to start preparing all natural or organic home made meals from meat, veggies, fruits, and whole grains (minus corn and wheat). Check with a holistic vet near you, and the valuable expert resources on the internet for recipe ideas and do’s and don’ts. Just remember, as with humans, balance is the key. Some raw and some cooked, but all natural and organic, should keep the vet bills at bay, and your pets’ ready for play!

At Your Pet Essentials we are health and well being fanatics whose aim is to educate others about the importance of, and best ways to acheive optimal health and well being for, and a great lifestyle to, their dogs and cats.

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