The Power to Devour - Pros and Cons
Welcome back to the second installment of this Barefoot Paws series on how to best feed your dog.
This episode will see us comparing the pros and cons of each of the three diets introduced in the last episode. Throughout this series we will look at where you can source the foods from, how much these diets can cost and how these diets affect your dog.
Commercially available dog foods
These foods are readily available from most any retailer that sells food. From independent general store right through to the supermarkets.
There is a plethora of choices of brands and flavours and you can buy these in packages from many kilos down to a few grams.
The food lasts a long time. Indeed canned food can last a very long time before spoiling.
The prices vary greatly from $1.10 to $20 per kilo. From specialty retailers the prices can be sky high.
There is so much available that your dog could literally eat something new every day and never eat the same thing twice.
Regulations are in place to maintain a minimum quality standard of ingredients with respect to nutritional value.
These foods where initially designed in the 1850s and made of cereals and meat meal. This allowed dog owners to keep food longer without spoiling so quickly. Moving forward 150years the end result is todays Kibble. Kibble contains around 10% water and many of the nutritious benefits have been processed out of the foods, in part to stop them from spoiling.
Kibble is made up in greater part of carbohydrate rich foods. These cannot be readily digested by the dog’s digestive system as compared to a human, however, clever marketing shows that if such foods appeal to the dog owner, more units will be sold. Rice, potato and vegetables are often touted on the labels as nutritious and tasty additions to a dog’s diet.
In the 1920s canned food started to become available. Leaping forward 100years and we have today’s canned food produce, which contains around 80% water. They have the longest shelf life of dog foods.
Fat has been reduced in favour of Carbohydrates which the dog’s digestive system cannot adequately use. The opposite can occur and a carbohydrate rich diet can have a negative health impact. Growth problems, skin diseases, diabetes, pancreatitis and reproductive problems are attributable to a poor nutritional balance.
Processed foods undergo treatment that actively reduces the nutritional content of the food. To combat this vitamins and minerals are added to the food. There is little regulation that stipulates a healthy maximal level of such supplements, but there is legislation that determines a minimum value. For example too much calcium can lead to skeletal problems.
Raw or BARF
This diet is as readily available as commercial food these days. Since this diet is comprised of simple foods that can be found in the fresh produce section it is very easy to buy these.
You can buy both human grade and food not destined for human consumption from your supermarket or your butcher. Large bags of meaty bones are readily obtainable from either retailer. You can also buy non-human grade food (food that has not undergone a complete process to be ready to sell for human dietary needs) such as Cat mince.
The food quality is better than the commercial diet. The food has undergone much less processing than the commercial foods. As such it retains a great deal of nutrients.
You can customise the diet of your dog to your dog’s needs. In the case of allergies, age or sickness you can tweak the diet with a great degree of certainty. Assuming you have a good grasp of the fundamentals.
Your dog is saved from the toxic levels of some non-essential nutrients that can build up over time to cause toxic effect. Too much calcium can cause skeletal issues such as arthritis for example.
Prices vary but generally speaking you can buy good products at less than $4 per kilo.
It would appear that everyone has an opinion. This bro-science has in some cases lead to undernourished and even sick dogs. Choose your advice carefully and look at the reputation of the person giving said advice.
It is easy to feed a dog meaning well, but do it poorly and see the results months later.
The food can get a little messy and sometimes even smelly. You might not like to get your fingers dirty, though your dog will love it!
There are so many retailers hedging income on this that it is difficult to decide where to go. Retail packages can indeed be very expensive compared to commercial foods. Worse still they can be lacking in some nutrition. It is important to have an understanding about what you are feeding your dog.
There is not a great deal of support for this type of diet on the whole. Due in large to the unregulated diet that dogs are given. But then the human diet made of fresh produces suffers the same con doesn’t it?
By giving entire pieces of meat on the bone or carcasses your dog is able to utilise all of its teeth as they have developed. This in turn allows the dog to take their time eating and reduces heart rate and increases the level of good hormones in the brain.
Less time involved in preparing food.
Entire carcasses of small game and poultry are available in independent retailers and supermarkets.
Kitchen waste is reduced as entire unused items can be given to the dog as is.
Food portions, generally, are entire multi-vitamin and multi-mineral packages. By feeding servings complete with bone, skin, fat and even fur, feather or scale the dog is given everything that they require without supplementation.
This is the way the dog has been created to eat. It is the most primal method of feeding a domestic dog.
Prices vary from which carcass is going to be fed, but Chicken carcasses can be bought for $2 each in some butchers. Rabbit can be bought pre packed in the supermarket for around $20 per kilo.
There is no data that can inform you of what amount of micro and macro nutrients are being served.
Some small game can be expensive due to the popularity brought on through the cooking shows on our TV.
Freezer space can be limited depending on the size of the dog you are feeding.
Whole carcass feeding may seem distasteful to some owners.
That wraps up our Pros and Cons comparison for the diets. Next installment we will delve into the actual dietary requirements of our dogs. Don’t worry, it won’t get all bogged down in the techie stuff, it will continue to be Barefoot Paws – aimed for you, kept simple, for your dog.