The Power to Devour - Absolutes
Your still hanging in there! That’s awesome, glad your back!
This week we will look at some absolutes, we will look at some undeniably important facts about the food which we feed our canine compatriots. Now that we understand what each diet actually is and what is good and bad about them, we will examine what our dogs actually need.
First things first….how much food does your dog need and how do they eat and digest this food? After all, there have to be some differences compared to human’s right? Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this now.
How much is enough?
There is a great deal of conjecture about how much food your dog needs. For us its relatively straight forward, we pick our ideal (and practical) weight according to the dog in question, in kg, and; according to the University of Maryland Medical Center; you multiply that by 6.4 for a somewhat active male and 5 for a somewhat active female… you can then adjust your intake based on the fact that Fat contains 9Calories per gram and Protein and Carbohydrates contain 4Calories per gram…
Straight forward? Read on…
Yes, it can be much simpler than that! Here are some hard and fast rules:
For puppies: Feed them 5% of their current body weight
For adolescent and older dogs: Feed them 2% of their current bodyweight
How is this 2% to be made up?
If I feed an adult dog 2% of their bodyweight cooked rice…they won’t exactly be fulfilled or nourished right? Right!
Dr. Ian Billinghurst gives the advice that 60% raw meaty bones and 40% table scraps are fine. Which they are, however, buying leg bones from the butcher is not the same as a raw meaty bone necessarily and feeding the dog cooked bones is a major disaster waiting to happen.
What we are after in reality is a proportion of good food in that 2%.
The best way to do that is to buy off cuts of meat, look in the supermarkets for lamb offcuts for example and you will see real meat and fat attached to bone, this is what you want! Ideally you’re looking at 8-10% protein; up to around 18% for breeding dogs and lactating dams.
The dog also requires a solid amount of fat. Even lard will suffice! Fat is a mainstay of their source of calories.
Also, you will want to give the dog a holistic diet as far as nutrients is concerned, offering a meal plan including offal such as liver, kidney, heart, lung and brains will go a long way.
Here is something that you can add also: Fruit and Vegetables (these are all carbohydrates). Note though that these need to be either cooked or blended and served in small amounts. Think of how large a rabbit’s stomach is, that is what a dog would receive. This is a little contentious, some breeders I know see their dogs not eat the contents at all.
Now be careful in understanding the following:
Do you count the amount of food you eat?
No you don’t! The next strategy is to look up pictures of your dogs breed (or dominant breed in the case of mixes) and gather an idea of what that body shape is supposed to look like. If you’re noticing that your whippet is starting to take the shape of a Labrador…look at what you’re feeding your dog, it is either too much food, or has too many calories per gram particular to your dog.
You will notice that much like ourselves, some dogs have hollow legs and other will look at food and gain weight…and that’s without ice cream and chips!
The 2% value is purely a starting point. Once you have an idea of how your dog is handling that much food – putting on weight, remaining stable or losing weight, you can make changes from there.
Note also that when feeding raw foods it is advisable to add in a no feed day once per week. This allows the dog to fully digest all of the stored foods and maintain a healthy metabolic rate.
Sounds like a lot of information doesn’t it, with a great many variables such as breed, body type, activity level, entire or neutered etc. But once you get a handle on simple meaty food sources you will realise how easy and quickly meals can be prepared for your dog.
As far as Commercial food is concerned:
I recommend feeding as per the guidelines on the packaging. Again, adjust from there, they have done the prep work for you already. Keeping in mind the pros and cons from last week we can see that this is in fact a quick and easy method of feeding the dog.
What about after?
Something that you will notice with dried food is that it absorbs a great deal of water. Leave a piece of kibble in a glass of water for a couple of hours and you will see what I mean. As it increases in volume sucking up water into it, it is supposed to act like fibre and allow the dog to easily pass the kibble through its body and out the other end.
An interesting factoid for you: Kibble produces in the order of 80% waste, compared to a raw meaty diet that produces around 7% waste. What is that waste? Poo. Less poo means more food used and that’s a good thing.
The reason for this is how the stomach of the dog works. You see our stomach is essentially an acid bag that dissolves food for later processing (rudimentary but stick with me) a dog’s stomach is vastly different. A dog’s stomach relies on having contact with the food to break down and digest the parts of the food it can come into contact with.
This might be a bit abstract, but as an example:
For a human stomach put an ice cube into a glass and allow the cube to melt, this is what the stomach is doing. The melted ice is then ready to pour into the remaining digestive tract.
For a dogs stomach put the ice cube in a sponge, the sponge will soak up all the melted ice and start assimilating the goods.
Again it’s rudimentary but it serves to visualise the differences in the digestive systems of the two species without too much biology.
It is important to note that dogs also digest carbohydrates very differently to humans. Unlike new age diets that pertain to report that the human is still just a carnivore trapped in a modern body and that we shouldn’t eat carbs the dog is indeed an age old carnivore that digests carbs inefficiently. We start breaking down carbs in our mouth, the dog cannot, we have a long intestinal tract and the dog has a short one. This leads to the dog not being well served for carbs. This is why we prepare the carbs they are to eat. Either buy precooking or blending the fruit and veg first. This simulates stomach contents of a prey animal. Importantly this prior breakdown allows the dog to enjoy the benefits of the carbs.
I hope that this has helped guide you in choosing a food for your dogs.
Next week we will be looking at foods used for treats and as distasteful as it may seem, we will also look at foods used as baits.