This month’s newsletter is more of a blog than a single topic newsletter. Somehow, I will magically tie all the above topics together! This will address some old husband’s tales I see often on the internet, along with some helpful tips to help you improve your dog’s diet.
The first topic I will discuss is kibble, also known as dry dog food. On the K9Nutrition Facebook page, I am often asked ‘What is the best kibble for dogs that you can buy?’ I am truly out of the loop as it has been over 30 years since I have fed dry dog food to my dogs. I have learned a few things due to my research on taurine, and I will say do NOT buy dry dog food that has legumes or beans. These are thought to interfere with taurine absorption. Second, flax is a poor choice for dogs, as they can’t convert plant oils to a usable omega 3, so it only causes more inflammation. Third, use kibble with the LEAST amount of ingredients and where the largest amount would be meat, or animal-based protein and fat. And last, NEVER use kibble that uses plant protein instead of animal proteins! The most common one I have seen is Pea Protein! Amino acids are found in proteins, but dogs need animal-based proteins, as they contain amino acids necessary for carnivores. And yes, dogs are carnivores. See this for more information on that:
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Which brings us to the topic of teeth! People often ask me ‘Will hard dry dog food keep their dogs teeth clean? The answer is NO. In fact, dry dog food which is at least 40% carbohydrates (sugars and starches) promote tooth decay and plaque. Dogs, unlike us because they are carnivores, are not meant to chew food. They have no amylase in their saliva, so they can’t break down starches. The end result is terrible staining and decay. And how can dental problems be avoided? The answer, which brings us to the topic of carbs (i.e., carbohydrates) is to feed diets with either non starch sources (which means NOT feeding grains, rice, potatoes, carrots, corn or peas), or to feed a raw diet and feed NO carbs. Kibble needs starches for shelf-life, and frankly, affordability. A bag of meat and fat would never keep in a bag on a shelf in the supermarket. Cooked diets need carbs for fiber for formed stools. But using zucchini, broccoli, dark leafy greens and cauliflower will help prevent plaque. For more on carbs:
And this brings us to the last word, Bones. I have a lot of things to say about bones. First, they must be raw for dogs to safely consume. Cooking makes the fat in the bones hard and brittle. And some bones are much easier for dogs to consume. These are for the most part, poultry bones, and non-weight bearing bones found in herbivores (goats, cows, sheep, deer, elk, bison, etc.). Weight bearing bones are mainly leg bones. So, the good bones? Chicken necks, chicken backs, wings, thighs, and drumsticks. Turkey necks. I cut turkey necks up as some dogs get greedy and try to swallow them whole. Pork neck and breast bones, pig tails and pork ribs. All types of rabbit. Most cow bones are too hard for any dog to consume. And for small dogs, I tend to use more chicken necks and backs and cut them into smaller pieces.
But the sad news is, no, bones do not clean teeth. Not at all. What does keep teeth clean? As I mentioned, the lack of starches and sugars in the diet. This means no grains, no fruit, no potatoes, no carrots, no winter squash and no peas.
And if carbs are used for fiber in cooked diets, why not raw diet? Because the bones act as the fiber and as the NRC (National Research Council) states, (the gold standard for dog nutrition) ‘dogs have no need for carbohydrates, and they provide no nutrition to dogs.’ They DO cause larger stools, gas, stained and decayed teeth, and dogs struggle to digest and process them. Dogs have a short and simple digestive tract that isn’t made to ferment or process much, if any, fiber or carbs. Read more about that in the article above on vegetarian diets for dogs, and here on how the digestive tract of dogs differ from ours:
I hope you had fun with this newsletter! If you have more questions, please come join my K9Nutrition page on Facebook! I also do private consults as well, so please email me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And don’t forget, warmer weather and spring showers cause yeast to grow, and plague our dogs with itchy skin, red ears and foot licking!