What Should I Feed My Dog?
by Dr Marcus Hayes
This is probably the question we are most frequently asked, and a subject of much myth, confusion and contention. The answer, however, is surprisingly simple. The best quality diet you can feed your pet is RAW MEATY BONES AND HOME COOKING.
There you have it - it's that simple! There are, of course, numerous commercial foods available and yes, I do believe some are better than others. For puppies, especially large breeds, some of the better ones are worth considering. I do use commercial foods for my pets, but when I talk about diets to my clients I always recommend meaty bones and home cooking as the best food you can give. I refer to commercial products as “convenient foods”. As far as commercial foods go, vets reccomend the higher quality brands such as Hills, Eukanuba and Advance. But I tell my clients these are the best commercial foods available, not necessarily the best foods. When you think about it, commercial foods are all highly processed, and we are always being told to minimise processed foods in our own diet.
I liken dry commercial food to the following: imagine if we took all the ingredients that make up our own diets for one week. This would include fresh vegetables, meats, fruits and the grains we have for breakfast. Now, instead of preparing these fresh each day, place the whole lot in a vat, cook them all at 300 degrees celcius for six hours, then dehydrate them under hot lights until all that is left is a large, dry amorphous clump. Now chip off little “kibbles” and eat this for the following week. Is this the best way we can get nutrition from the original ingredients? To me it makes absolutely no sense at all that this can be the healthiest way to feed our pets. Technically speaking we could claim that this dry food has all the necessary nutrients that we need; it's just that their quality has been severely compromised by processing. Basically, commercial food has two advantages: it's cheap and it's convenient.
So, what sort of home cooking and table scraps should we feed?
- Lean meats of any sort are great.
- When we think about dogs in the wild, the first thing they do after killing their prey is eat its stomach, contents and all. This provides the vegetable component that is so vital to a dog's balanced diet. A very good way to supplement your own pet's diet is to add vitamized greens such as spinach and silverbeet. Vitamizing is important as this mimics the crushed herbaceous material that exists in a prey animal's stomach. Dogs' teeth alone aren't able to perform the crushing necessary to release the nutrients contained within the plant material.
- If your pet is a little prone to weight gain, just like us humans, avoid the carbohydrates and fats. The biggest mistake people make is giving their overweight pets rice, pasta, bread and potatoes. These carbs go straight to the waist line. Instead give fibrous type vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, peas, broccoli etc.
- If using commercial foods, ideally use an appropriate life stage food such as puppy, light for overweight individuals, senior etc.
There are lots of myths about feeding supplements such as eggs, yeasts, seaweed etc. All of these things are not necessary in a proper balanced diet, but also aren't going to do any harm.
So the bottom line is keep it simple and logical, and vary the diet. I always feel a little sorry for a pet when someone tells me, “I just feed him dry food because that's all he needs”. I don't personally quite believe what the commercial sales people tell me. Give your pet a varied diet with lots of natural raw meaty bones and table scraps. He'll not only love you for it, but will live a longer, healthier life!
Dr Marcus Hayes
© Feb 1 2012
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