A dog’s ancestral diet looked very different from the diet that has been made popular by pet-food manufacturers.
The composition of a Dog’s Ancestral Diet looked like this…
- 56% Protein
- 25% to 30% Fat
- 14% Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are NOT nutritionally necessary in a dog’s diet. Protein and fat ARE essential components for a healthy canine diet.
Carbohydrates are NOT bad for dogs – in fact, when provided in appropriate quantity and from an appropriate source carbs can provide a useful source of energy and nutrients.
Grains are, however NOT an appropriate source of carbohydrates for multiple reasons as you will see further below.
Why Are Grains Included in Processed Dog and Cat ‘Food’?
In the 1950’s pet food manufacturers began a love affair with carbohydrates because carbs are:
- Easily obtainable;
- Have a long shelf-life;
- Enable the formation of hard/compact kibble;
- Are cheap to buy compared to the cost of good-source protein.
The inclusion of grains in dog and cat food is not for the benefit of a dog’s and cat’s health.
Highly processed grains are a good way for the manufacturer to bulk-up food but the resulting product provides poor quality nutrition and is species inappropriate. A very bad situation if you consider that the major ingredient in a lot of dog kibble is grain or grain by-products of one sort or another. For example:
- Barley (pearled barley etc.);
- Brewers rice;
- Cereal food fines (leftovers from human grade cereal production)
- Corn, Corn Bran, Corn Gluten Meal, Corn Germ Meal;
- Corn Middlings;
- Grain fermentation soluble;
- Oats or Oatmeal;
- Oat Hulls;
- Soy, Soy Flour or Soy (Soybean) Meal;
- Wheat Flour, Meal or Middlings (wheat mill run)
Negative Impacts on Your Dog’s and Cat’s Health
I will cover some of the impacts on your dog‘s, cat’s health just below. The negative impacts of grains in your dog’s and cat’s diet are many, some are complicated. I will not cover all impacts here but will cover enough for you to see just how serious this issue is.
Unwanted Weight Gain and Obesity
Many of the grains used in commercially manufactured dog kibble are processed grain (cereal) carbohydrates. These are highly digestible, low nutrient, high bulk ingredients which the dog’s digestive system quickly converts to sugar, which in-turn spikes the amount of insulin in the dog’s and cat’s system – over working the pancreas and resulting in a feeling of constant hunger.
As the dog (cat) is constantly hungry (due to high-insulin levels) the dog’s and cat’s human may continue to feed the dog (cat) more of the grain-heavy food which then results in excessive weight gain – a condition on its own that can cause massive health issues…stress on joints, diabetes, inflammation leading to cancer, etc. Unfortunately all too often a veterinarian will then recommend a low calorie high fibre kibble (invariably grain based but expensive i.e. Royal Canine or Hill’s Science Diet) which further exacerbates the problem.
Carcinogens and Toxins in Grain and Grain By-Products
The Proof is In The Numbers
Statistics recorded by veterinary organizations from the 1950’s up to present day are very telling.
- The life-span of a companion dog in North America is now half of what it was in the 1950’s;
- In the 1950’s the average life-span of a golden retriever was 15 to 16 years, today the average is in the range of 8 to12 years;
- In 2005, 50% of older dogs dies from cancer, and the number is on the rise.
The cereal by products used in the manufacturing of many dog foods are derived from the leftovers of human food processing. It is important to understand that these are remaindered end of the line substances and as such, they can be full of chemicals.
If the grains/grain derivatives are not from human grade sources they are very likely to contain aflatoxins. Aflatoxins cause liver cancer.
Aflatoxins grow mainly on grains but they also grow on legumes – like peanuts, walnuts and pecans. This is one reason why you will hear some people say do not give your dogs peanuts. Actually it is fine to give your dog peanuts or natural peanut butter – as long as you are using human grade product. Other nuts such as walnuts and pecans are toxic to dogs, regardless of whether they are human or animal grade.
Aflatoxins can also be found in cottonseed oil, fish meal and peanut oil. Human grade foods are monitored closely for aflatoxins – if present the raw product (i.e. grain) is not allowed to be used in human grade food production. There are no such regulations for animal grade foods so most commercially manufactured animal food (dog, cat, bird, etc.) will contain aflatoxins. While the body can usually detoxify small amounts, constant ingestion of aflatoxins is not manageable and therefore causes toxic loading.
The majority of corn and soy grown in North America are from Genetically Modified Round-up Ready seeds. GM corn has now been proven to cause the growth of massive tumours, organ damage and death. All of the long-term effects of eating GM food is not known. In addition, large factory farms in North America use a method to process soy that creates very high levels of photoestrogens and phytates in the resulting product.
- Photoestrogens have been proven to interfere with reproduction and thyroid function;
- Phytates prevent mineral absorption (further exacerbation of poor nutrient intake);
- Phytates interfere with the normal function of enzymes required to digest protein.
Herbicides and pesticides – another thing to keep in mind , the grains used in many pet foods are purchased for their low cost not for their quality. Crops for this market sector are grown based on high yield and that is usually accomplished with the profuse use of pesticides and herbicides – resulting in more toxins and carcinogens ingested by your dog.
Grain is the harvested seeds of grasses. Large amounts of grains are not part of a dog’s ancestral diet. Yes our dog’s ancestors did eat small amounts of grasses – as do present day domesticated dogs; but they (our dog’s ancestors) did not consume large amounts of the seed of the grass – the grain.
The number of dogs today developing and living with gluten hypersensitivity is epidemic. One of the ailments of gluten hypersensitivity is Candida (overgrowth of bad bacteria in the GI Tract). Overgrowth of bad bacteria is an assault on the dog’s immune system and is a common cause of yeast-based ear infections – that can become chronic and debilitating; yeast-based skin infections located at the paws; leaky gut syndrome, chronic diarrhea and more.
Lack of Nutrients
High grain content is used when making processed pet food – to create volume at the lowest possible cost to the manufacturer, which serves profit while creating serious gaps in a dog’s nutrient intake. Compound this with the many other ‘indiscretions’ (i.e. fish meal, low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, poor source protein) adopted by pet food manufacturers in the production of dog food and your dog’s health is in serious trouble. Did you know that 10 of the top 10 reasons for a veterinarian visit can be directly related to inappropriate diet and exposure to ingested, inhaled and topically absorbed toxins – plenty of which are found in commercially manufactured dog and cat foods and treats.
What Are Appropriate Sources Of Carbohydrates For Dogs?
- Legumes such as
- Chick Peas, and;
- Sweet Potatoes;
- Fruits and vegetables can also be a great source of carbohydrates;For a comprehensive list of fruits and veggies that are good for your dog you can read more here.
If you would like to try making a homemade dog food that is rich in nutrients you can read more here.
If your dog or cat is suffering from renal issues you need to avoid phosphorous in his/her diet, so no legumes (as legumes are high in phosphorous), use squash and sweet potato for carbs.
If you require additional support and guidance I would be pleased to assist you via my In-Person or On-Line Services…
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