Feeding Dogs with a Grain of Common Sense
Dr. Bob Encinosa
There is an amazing variety of dog foods on the market today, many geared more toward appealing to dog owners than to the dogs themselves. Terms such as “all natural”, “organic”, “no by-products” and “corn free”, have become part of our everyday vocabulary. Unfortunately, they mean very little to a dog’s health.
Since dog foods are designed to be complete diets, what’s important is the nutrients, not the ingredients. For instance, the amino acid and protein components of corn are very complimentary to the proteins of meats and in many cases are the exact same proteins. The fact is that plant proteins are just as nutritious as meat proteins. The advantage is that they are less expensive and, for those of you deeply concerned about the environment, they are “greener”, being much more efficient from a carbon footprint perspective.
As for “all natural”, what do wolves and wild canids eat? When coyotes kill a rabbit, not only do they eat the meat and bones but also the heart, lungs, liver and contents of that rabbit’s stomach; in other words “by-products” and vegetation. When wolves kill an elk, not only do they eat the “by-products” but they consume the contents of the rumen, largely grasses and grains.
And speaking of grain, a hot topic in dog food news these days, there are extremely strong indications that there is a link between “grain-free” diets and a serious heart disease in dogs, known as cardiomyopathy. Not only does cardiomyopathy appear to be occurring at a much higher rate in dogs fed grain-free diets but it is also happening in smaller breeds of dogs not historically noted for getting cardiomyopathy.
So when feeding your dogs, keep is simple. There are plenty of non-trendy diets that have been on the market for decades and have healthfully grown and sustained millions of dogs. There is no need to spend $105.00 on a 20 pound bag of dog food (saw that in a pet store a few days ago!). Barring the rare medical condition that requires prescription diets and precise ingredients, the good old standards of dog food brands are your best bet. And any veterinarian will tell you that the most common food caused ailment, by far, is feeding dogs too much !!