For anybody who understands just a minimum of biology, it is obvious that different species thrive on different food. Each species has its own preferences for what is "right". It is genetically programmed, and there is a very fine balance between preference and value: all naturally living creatures want to eat what is good for them. If not, the species would not survive very long! Only when there is a good match between what the individual animal wants to eat, what its gastrointestinal system actually can digest, and what its body needs, will it have a chance of survival.
You dog is a domesticated wolf, not a four-legged monkey!
First step in your due diligence should be to get at least a working understanding of how a dog's stomach works. Just for the record: it is very different from the way a human stomach works! What is good for you is not necessarily good for your dog - and vice versa. You can get a quick overview of the way a dog's stomach works from this article on the dog's stomach (in PDF format - opens in a separate window you simply close when done reading it, unless you want to print it or save it for later reference).
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How we betray Nature - and ourselves...
Unfortunately, man has made some horrible screw-ups of Nature's balances. Through chemical technology, it is now possible to isolate and up-concentrate the ingredients we crave the most, leaving the rest of the natural food in the garbage.
The classical example is sugar. Naturally, sugar exists primarily in ripe fruit. Ripe fruit happens to also contain some of the largest naturally found concentrations of Vitamin C - a life necessity for humans. The taste of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) in its pure form is not very pleasant, but in small concentrations and mixed with comparatively large concentrations of sugar (which is chemically very closely related to Ascorbic Acid, by the way...), we get a nice fresh, sweet taste most humans are very attracted to.
For the cave man, this was a great survival tool. It made him crave the fresh, ripe fruit he needed so badly for his supply of Vitamin C - and in Nature, these two always go hand in hand: all sweet fruit contains healthy concentrations of Vitamin C. The sugar craving thus ensures a sufficient supply of Vitamin C...
However, for modern people in a society that masters chemistry, this became a curse: Chemists were able to extract the sugar and refine it and generate products from it that were sooooo sweet that they could beat the natural fruit in regards to the attraction they provided for sugar-craving humans...
We all know the devastating effects sugar has on our health when taken in excess amounts, especially when concentrated, like in candy. By adding an artificial food source we have no natural access to, we now have to manage our cravings - because they no longer guide us to making healthy choices in regards to the food we pick to eat...
For the cave man, this was no problem - his only way of satisfying his quest for sweetness was by picking ripe fruits....
The primary lesson to learn from this is that
to feed your dog what it craves the most,
if you offer it artificially manufactured foods
- or any kind of food that has artificial ingredients added to it....
The commercial reality
All commercial dog food manufacturers produce dog food in order to make a profit. They know that you want to see your dog happy for its meal. This makes it impossible for them to make the food out of ingredients that are not necessarily good for the dog, unless they add some other ingredients that are so attractive to the dog that it will make unhealthy choices - just as children prefer candy over fresh fruit...
The really bad news for you is that there are no legal guidelines in North America for what a pet food manufacturer is allowed to add to pet food, and there is so much evidence of synthetic chemicals being added that it is far beyond a shade of doubt that you cannot rely on commercial "dog food" being biologically adequate at all for your dog! As a matter of fact, there is so much evidence to the very contrary that you will never want to feed your dog any form of kibble or canned food once you get a chemist to explain to you what is actually in the food you can buy for your dog....
One example is grain. Grain is the cheapest energy source we can get. Kibble products generally contain some 70% carbohydrates from grain. Now, for a human, this would be great - but a dog is not genetically programmed to digest grain in large quantities. If you want to know more about this, you can check this article on grain. (It is in PDF format and pops up in a separate window.)
Another example is fat. People in our modern society are programmed to see fat as "bad". Well, the truth is that humans cannot deal very well with too much fat - when is has been heated.... But dogs need fat for their metabolism to a degree that is comparable to a human's need for carbohydrates! Raw fat, that is. You can read more about this in this article on fat. (Also PDF - pops up in same window as the previous article.)
Then we have the whole issue about cooking. All dry or canned dog food has been cooked. Otherwise, it could not keep. But heating raw meat will destroy many nutrients a dog need as much as people need vitamins... This is a tricky issue to understand for a non-chemist, but this article on cooking explains it in layman's terms. (PDF too - same window as before.)
On more example is Vitamin C. As explained already, this vitamin is truly vital for humans. But dogs produce it themselves! They have some specific metabolic processes in their bodies that convert Glucose into Ascorbic Acid (which is Vitamin C) together with a number of other chemicals their bodies need! But if we add Vitamin C to their food, we totally screw up those processes and cause liver and kidney damage! You can learn more about this from this article on Vitamin C.
And Calcium. You learned that Calcium is important for developing healthy bone structures. Well, there is much more to that, but what few people know is that, for a dog, it is vital that Calcium and Phosphorous remain carefully balanced with each other! You can thus very easily give your dog too much Calcium, and the result is a destruction of its bone structure, like osteoporosis! You can learn more about this from this article on Calcium/Phosphorous.
And what about those labels on the pre-manufactured food claiming that this food is "completely balanced"? Balanced for what? Not the dog's nutritional needs! If that were the case, there would be no way of making those kibble products contain more than 60% grain when it is well known that dogs do not need grain at all in their diet! If "balanced" were to be taken at par value, it would also mean that the food would naturally contain about 70% water - but no kibble product contains any more than 10% - if not much less....
You have a sad example of commercial misuse of information to make you think their products are good in the way pet food manufacturers label their products.... When you read those labels with all those chemical analyses on, you might get impressed. But the truth is that you most often have very little reason to be impressed, as the information often is misleading - or irrelevant, at best. This article about chemical analyses will tell you a story about how this "science" can and will be used to manipulate your trust...
The "raw food danger"
Maybe you heard that raw food is dangerous because it contains bacteria or nasty parasites? Well, for a carnivore, that is just "extra protein"... Except in some extremely rare cases, those parasites simply get killed in the stomach.
Dogs do not get sick from eating food that is perished n a natural way. Their immune system handles that just excellently. Besides, the whole scaremonger about the danger of bacteria in food, like salmonella and E. Coli is just that: scaremonger. You can see some proof in this article about Salmonella, based on US government statistics.
Or you heard that raw meat makes dogs blood-thirsty and aggressive?
Well, the problem with giving a kibble-fed dog some raw meat is that it most likely will value this precious food so much that it might show some protective behaviors around it until it gets accustomed to being fed real food and will start to relax. That might take a few weeks. If you had only a bicycle for transportation, wouldn't you be protective of your new car? This stupid blaming aggressive/protective behavior on the raw food is actually outright false: it is the constant feeding of kibble that creates the aggressive behavior!
Why vets are not telling the truth...
Want to go on? This is only the tip of the iceberg...
As you noticed also from the articles, Mogens Eliasen has a Ph.D. level degree in Chemistry - and he knows how to explain things so also lay people can understand what is going on. You will be amazed when you listen to him or read his writing about this.... His heart beats for dogs and he has no qualms over offending "the big guys" by revealing what they certainly don't want you to know!
One example is this article about vets - and why they cannot tell you the truth, even if they know it and want to...
We know of many examples of vets who have been fined thousands of dollars by their veterinary association or had their licenses to practice revoked because they linked to honest information like ours, or accepted ads for "alternative health practitioners" in their newsletter, or published an opinion that wasn't approved by the association, or told their clients that dogs do not need all the carbohydrates in kibble. The thing is that veterinary associations are trade unions, and they have no other mandate than ensuring maximum financial benefits to their members, and they do not tolerate anything that can cause their members' income to drop, like people feeding their dog a healthy diet so they no longer need their veterinarian's services.
Right now, you might feel like a child that just has been told that Santa Claus does not exist... Please do not despair! You are not alone about this. Thousands of others have gone through this - and have taken what it takes to learn the fundamental principles behind a natural feeding.
Feeding a raw natural diet is not complicated. But it does take that you understand the principles behind the dog's digestive system - which is totally different from the human system! And it takes that you understand the basics of nutrition - and how you put a healthy meal plan together for your dog. Once you have this basic knowledge acquired, the rest is easy. The news is even this good: you do not have to think about balancing every single meal - you can actually do better by not making all meals the same! As long as you get everything included over a few weeks, your dog will be very much OK - and it takes away the burden from you to "micro-manage" the meals.
See it this way: although there might be many pieces to this puzzle, the picture you get from those pieces is very simple.
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The difference between propaganda and facts...
It is almost an insult to tell you that commercial information, by nature, cannot be trusted as "facts". all marketing, promotion, and advertising has only one purpose: to make sales. Commercial information does not aim at giving you any more knowledge than what the business behind it believes is what you need in order to be persuaded to buy their product. It is a biased as anything can be. Even when a veterinarian, or a scientist put his/her name behind it! Those people are paid for doing this! The pet food manufacturing companies generate over 50 billion dollars in yearly revenue. Don't you think that they could afford to pay a few scientists to make some nice statements in public? Don't you think they can afford to hire a very skilled staff to take care of this for them?
And worse yet: the whole concept behind pet food manufacturing is based on a "recipe" that dogs are OK with 2/3 of their diet consisting of grains and grain products - which are 90-95% carbohydrates! mind you, the wolf's natural diet contain no carbohydrates at all....
And the remaining 1/3 is typically made up of all kinds of waste products, all them cooked to death. Wolves never cook their food....
The best example you can get of the whole falseness of the pet food industry is from the melanin scandal in March-April 2007. Melanin is a natural poison that is generated by some micro-organisms that naturally live in wheat gluten. So, when feeding wheat gluten we can expect this to happen from time to time, right?
But we can actually expect a similar thing from any un-natural food ingredient!
The reason is that dogs have never had a chance, through evolution, to develop any defense mechanisms against possible poisons in wheat gluten - because they never ate that stuff!
Same thing can be said about any other un-natural ingredient in "pet food".
The only protection you have against this kind of "commercial oops" is feeding only natural foods!
The reason is obvious: dogs are adjusted, through millions of eats of evolution, to handle the problems in those foods very well! And those, who did not, are not the forefathers of our modern dogs...
If you want to dig deeper into this, then please read this article on the melanin scandal where it is explained in more detail.
Educating yourself to make informed decisions
If you liked Mogens Eliasen's way of explaining things in the articles, you might want to get more support from him. He has made four publications about feeding your dog a natural diet:
If you want a quick introduction to how you should feed a dog and why, this video gives you what it takes to get convinced - and get started.
If you prefer to see things in writing, then this easy-to-use e-book will give you the hard facts and the specific guidelines you need. Nice and simple, but not oversimplified or glorified. "Just the facts, Ma'am".
If you want the in-depth explanation of everything, then you will appreciate "Raw Food for dogs - the Ultimate Reference for Dog Owners", which truly is everything you will ever need to know about raw feeding, including how you deal with a vet that does not approve of it!
Finally, if you want "scientific proof" of a raw diet being the superior and only responsible choice, then you can get it from "The Wolf's Natural Diet - e Feeding Guide for Your Dog?", where the logic is all explained, by using several scientific disciplines, as the answer is too complex to possibly cover in a single standard study.
But maybe you just want to have a few simple questions answered, and then you can do this, all on your own?
Maybe. Most likely not, though. Although feeding a raw natural diet does not have to be a science, the fact of the matter unfortunately is that humans and dogs are so different that you inevitably will make a lot of very wrong conclusions by using human standards for what is good for your dog.
It makes things much worse that very few people know much of relevance about what is healthy for themselves to eat! Our buying decisions is so much influenced by the media, by smart marketing, and by cold-blooded chemists and corporate management that you are very likely to make some very bad choices by eating what you "feel like". As far as your dog's food goes, it is even worse, because you deprive it of its own ability to make its own natural choices! You have to - you can't just let it roam for food in the neighborhood...
Learning from on-line newsgroups
Yes, please join some of them. And be prepared for the harsh reality: Some of them are dominated by very narrow-minded people; you can choose "their way or the highway?" - not much in conformity with Nature's variety....
Other newsgroups are just "free-for-all", meaning everyone can express his/her opinion - and do! For a seasoned raw-feeder, this is not bad. But for some new at it, it can be extremely depressing. "Information overload" - with no way of telling which information is relevant and which parts should be discarded as the garbage it is.
You will find many helpful people also in those newsgroups. But please be aware that the active people in most newsgroups are the those who were new just a few weeks or months ago. They sure have some strong personal experience that is worth listening to. But they do not have the overall outlook on things that helps you get started if your situation is a bit different from theirs. And most dogs are different from "average". The variety is even bigger than among people.
The unfortunate result is often confusion. "Too many trees for you to see the forest".
Please take the time to educate yourself. A minimum of two books should be required for you to digest before you can feel comfortable making your own choices, to the benefit of your dog's health. Here is a list of additional reading we can recommend.
Take your time to educate yourself. It is the only way for you to be able to feed your dog responsibly.
"Real dogs don't eat kibble
Mogens Eliasen's free newsletter "The Peeing Post" is full of solid advice to dog lovers. In the newsletter, he shares his enormous experience as a trainer, instructor, and education system developer - in a way that is easy to understand - and entertaining too! He welcomes input from his subscribers and is happy to give them free advice per e-mail about their concerns - if he can publish the results! Be warned, though: his passion for dogs is contagious, and his viewpoints are not "main stream" at all - but they make a lot of sense!
Get more info about "The Peeing Post" here.
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