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How to best feed dogs?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I've spent a lot of the six years since I got pregnant learning about my culture's food industry and examining how I eat. I feel really good about how we eat now.  We don't raise too much ourselves, but as much as possible comes from close by, is mostly plant-based, and raised in ways friendly to this planet.

 

Our dog is a large dog, nearly 16.  I don't want to rock her boat because she's just so old and has done so well for a big old dog.  We always fed her Hill's Science Diet, and now I wonder if it wasn't just luck that she has been so healthy.  Maybe it's the hybrid vigor. Seems like dogs, if they truly evolved alongside us eating our garbage, would be perfectly suited to eating (healthy) human leftovers and maybe a little animal-based snack, like a mouse or an egg, now an then.  I'd like to learn more before we find our next dog.

 

Do any of you know of any sources of good information about dog nutrition?  Books, that kind of thing?

post #2 of 10
I have come to the conclusion that raw food is best. I buy Natures's Variety, one protein source for each day of the week.
post #3 of 10

I am trying to recall what I read, but there are vets like Robert and Martin Goldtein and Nancy Scanlon who have approached the topic of holistic feeding and care for dogs and cats. I believe they have written books as well.

post #4 of 10

Dogs, regardless of breed and size, are still essentially wolves, they share 99.98% of their mitochondrial DNA, so that makes them opportunistic carnivores. I feed my (big) dog, a two year old purebred English Mastiff, a raw meat diet (prey model) and have since we got him as a 9 1/2 week old puppy. If you want to learn about feeding raw, here are some links to get you started:

 

Raw Fed Dogs

Raw Fed Dogs - Natural Prey Model Rawfeeding Diet

The Many Myths of Raw Feeding

Welcome to the Raw Dog Ranch

 

As for books, I recommend the two books by vet Tom Lonsdale, Raw Meaty Bones and Work Wonders.

 

I am afraid to say Hill's Science Diet is probably one of the worst of the kibbles that you can feed your dog and its expensive. Feeding raw can certainly be cheaper.

post #5 of 10

We started feeding our chocolate lab a raw food diet based on the recommendation of our vet.  It's definitely cheaper than very high-quality (no-grain) kibble, which is what we resort to on occasion if circumstances make it too challenging to prepare the raw food.  Honestly, the worst part about it is the preparation - you can buy commercial raw food which is a lot easier, but it's too expensive for us.

 

We also feed the cat the same food only we run it through the meat grinder attachment we have for our KitchenAid, and he gets proportionately more whole little fish.

 

Generally for a week or so of food I do: 1 kilo of chicken backs & necks, a whole pink salmon, about 2 lbs of beef heart, a small package of beef liver, and 2 packages of frozen smelts.  The dog gets about an 8 oz portion for each meal (2 per day) the smelts whole and the rest chunked up, with a raw egg and some carrot chunks (equivalent to a medium carrot - so 2 if they're small or 1/2 if they're huge).  The cat gets the ground mixture, usually mixed with some warm water because he barfs if he eats cold food too quickly (he's a bit of a gulper).  He also gets some Orijen kibble if he starts yowling when it's not actually breakfast or dinner time. (A bag of kibble lasts about a month).

 

Both our pets are extremely healthy.  The dog is nearly 10 now and has been on a raw food diet for 6 years; she is one of the few labs her age who is at a healthy weight and not exhibiting any signs of age beyond a bit of grey in her muzzle - no lumps, no stiffness.  She is still occasionally mistaken for a puppy, because she's on the small side for labs.  She had a bit of a rough spot last year when she broke a tooth (we think on a rock embedded in a rotted stick at the beach) which we didn't notice until she just stopped eating.  She recovered quickly though - we ground her food for a while too until her gum healed where the tooth was extracted.

 

We never would have gone this route (it IS a bit of work, preparing the food - about an hour a week) if our vet hadn't suggested it, but we're glad we did.  And I'm glad we have a vet who is more appreciative of science than kickbacks from pet food companies :-)

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks all.  That's a good start.

post #7 of 10

Just want to point out that humans share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos... I wouldnt say that dogs are still essentially wolves.

post #8 of 10

Dogs can still interbreed with wolves so by some definitions they are still the same species.  We can't interbreed with chimps. 

 

However your point is somewhat valid - dogs evolved alongside us, eating our scraps - which have usually contained some vegetable matter.  My dog loves carrots, cabbage, turnips, zucchini - most vegetables, actually.  My cat, a pure carnivore, won't touch them.  However, our vet says that while dogs like raw vegetables generally, they don't get a lot of nutrition from them, they tend to pass straight through.  Carrots and other crunchy veg are good for helping keep their teeth clean, but I can definitely say that the carrots are still very much identifiable when it comes time to clean up on walkies!!!

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by starrlamia View Post

Just want to point out that humans share 99% of our DNA with chimpanzees and bonobos... I wouldnt say that dogs are still essentially wolves.

As the PP point out, dogs and wolves can inter breed which makes them much more closely related than chimps or bonobos to humans. The fact that their mitochondrial DNA only differs by .02% makes the species extremely close.It is well established that the domestic dog evolved around 15,000 years ago from the grey wolf. In evolutionary terms, 15,000 years is nothing, their teeth and digestive systems are identical. Yes, dogs can eat scraps, as can wolves, but it does not make them omnivores. My dog enjoys the odd carrot, green bean, piece of apple etc, but these foods provide little if any nutritional value, as the PP also pointed out they pass right through. My dog would also happily chow down on some pizza if he could get his paws on some.

 

I forgot to add you are incorrect about chimps and humans sharing 99% DNA, is is 96%.

post #10 of 10

Dogs are generally classified as canis lupis familiaris, a subspecies of grey wolf. Not even a separate species. I've heard some taxonomists want to change it to canis familiaris, but even then dogs would still be in the same genus as wolves. There aren't any surviving species that are in the same genus as humans.

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