You are what you eat and so is your dog! We believe that and we also believe you can pay for top quality dog food now or you can pay the veterinarian later.
I have been a connoisseur of dog food since we got our first Dalmatian Bugaboo. Bugs had very bad food allergies as a result of a stressed immune system from over vaccinating (that will be another page soon I hope). Thanks to him, I learned a lot about dog food, nutrition, and ingredients including preservatives. Dog food advertisers are great at making you think you are buying a superior product but when you really know how to read the label most dog foods are anything but! In her book Food Pets Die For, Ann Martin explains the "5-Ds" of pet food - dead, dying, diseased, deformed, and drugged animals. Yes, even euthanized pets can end up in pet food! If your dog's food has a non-descript protein and/or fat source (the bag lists "animal" protein or "animal" fat), you can bet the source of the protein or fat comes from the "5-Ds."
Dogs are carnivores...meat eaters. Look at their teeth (#4 below) and there will be no doubt in your mind that they are meant to eat meat. Dogs don't have flat teeth like herbivores meant for grinding grains and vegetables. They have sharp, pointed teeth meant for ripping flesh. See also: Digestion Anatomy of the Canine, by Lew Olson. We do not believe dogs are meant to eat all the grains put in most kibble dog foods. Grains lead to allergies, health problems such as diabetes, and overweight dogs.
This photos shows five skulls including teeth
It has been determined that a dog's digestive tract is no different than a wolf's even after thousands of years of domestication. Like wolves, dogs have a short digestive track and are meant to eat raw meat and bones. A short digestive track along with strong stomach acid allows wolves and dogs to eat raw meat without getting sick. A raw diet is digested in 4 hours! A kibble diet takes 12-14 hours to digest. If you feed your dog twice a day, your dog's digestive track never gets to rest. They are working all the time. I'm a firm believer in feeding a raw diet (also known as the BARF diet - bones and raw food or biologically appropriate raw food). Read Dr. Ian Billinghurst's book Give Your Dog a Bone and you may find you are too. Raw is not for everyone. It requires a lot of research to be done correctly and an investment of time. I wish I could feed our dogs raw but time does not currently allow for it. So we feed what we feel is the best possible kibble. We prefer kibble that is grain free. The majority of grain-free foods are very high in protein and I don't believe any dog needs 42% protein unless they are a true working dog. There are a few grain-free kibbles with under 30% protein and our dogs love them and do very well on them! But if you can't find grain-free, it is best to choose a kibble that the first ingredient (first two ingredients is even better) is meat or meat meal. The first ingredient should NEVER be a by-product. You want to avoid by-products completely. When feeding a Dalmatian the most important consideration in choosing a food is the protein source. Choose lamb or poultry. Never beef. Our Dalmatians also do very well on fish and buffalo but remember some fish is very high in purines.
Following is a list of ingredients of a few foods we feed or have fed. Some foods are better than others. Some foods have way more grains then we would like, but the foods are preservative free and the quality of the ingredients far exceeds other options. You will not find any corn, wheat or soy in any of these food. Nor will you find any by-products. Corn, wheat and soy are the top three (in that order) causes of allergies in dogs.
Meal by definition "is a dried and more concentrated form of the mammal, poultry or fish protein from striated muscle. If you feed a high quality kibble diet with “Chicken Meal” as the first ingredient, you know your pet is getting all of the benefits of this highly digestible protein. It is important to make sure the meal is protein specific (Beef Meal, Lamb Meal, and not generic like Meat Meal or By-Product Meal which by definition can contain any species of animal." Taken from the Ingredient Glossary on the Nature's Variety website.
I tend to compare kibble to breakfast cereal. How healthy do you think you would be if you ate the same cereal for breakfast and dinner every day for days, weeks, months, years? Probably not very. But that is exactly how most people feed their dog. The same kibble is fed for breakfast and dinner every day of their dog's life. Unfortunately the quality of ingredients in most grocery story foods and a number of the high-end foods are very low. Grains should never be the first ingredient of a dog's food. Grains are much less expensive than meat and some grains are higher in protein than others (i.e. corn and soy) so dog food manufacturers use them often. However, dogs are not meant to obtain their protein thru grain sources. Remember the teeth! Following is a list of foods I picked randomly because I hear people talking about them often or I see them advertised on TV. Each food has either corn, wheat, and/or soy in it along with other low quality ingredients. I have linked a number of the low quality ingredients to AAFCO's (Association of American Feed Control Officials) pet food definitions. Take a moment and read thru them. Even the best dog foods are not made from the tasty looking meats and vegetables you see falling from the sky on TV...
We feed different foods and different flavors. It's kibble but at least they get a variety and from different sources. That means better nutrition. We also believe is supplements. Our dogs get a enzyme/probiotic and "green" food.
DogZymes Liquid Dispersible Digestive Enhancer or Fastrack (enzyme and probiotic).
Raw food is full of natural enzymes. But how much raw food does your dog get? An occasional piece of fruit or vegetable maybe? Enzymes aid in the digestion of all foods. They are produced in the pancreas and salivary glands and help to break down the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats needed by the body. As dogs age, the production of these enzymes slows down causing deficiencies. If the food they eat doesn't contain digestive enzymes, they have a deficiency and the beginning of a problem. Research has shown a strong correlation between deficiencies and diseases. Heat kills enzymes. 120 degrees is all it takes to destroy the natural enzymes in food. Kibble is heated to over 250 degrees. If you're feeding a kibble diet to your dog, you need to add enzymes.
Believe it or not most dogs live a very stressful life. In the times of my grand-parents (even my parents) dogs had a much different life than today. They ran and played outside all day long. They weren't left alone all day while we go off to work. They ate better food. There were no commercial dog foods back then. Our dogs ate leftovers or whatever they could scrounge. And they were rarely vaccinated. Now they spend their days alone because their pack is working. They travel all over with us to shows and performance trials and visiting friends and family. They stay in kennels while we go on vacation. They rarely get the amount of exercise a dog should have; let alone a daily walk. They have all sorts of health issues which require antibiotic and steroid therapy. Antibiotics kill good bacteria in the gut as well as bad bacteria. The human pack leads a stressful live and that wears on them too. Stress lowers the beneficial bacterial in the gut thereby upsetting the digestive system and health. Probiotics puts the intestinal flora back to normal.
API (Animal Protection Institute) - What's Really in Pet Food
©Highland Dalmatians and Ibizan Hounds,
January 2001-2012, Last updated April 4, 2013.