By Dr. Jeannie Thomason
If dogs are carnivores; which they have proven to be just from their teeth and digestive tract… why do we feed them grains in pet food?
While this may come as a surprise to some of you, commercial pet diets are not well-suited to the dog’s and cat’s nutritional needs, physical make up or metabolism. In other words, they simply, are not ‘biologically appropriate.’ They are primarily made up of grains and grain by-products as well as being cooked/processed at high enough temperatures to destroy any true available nutrition.
Contemporary canine nutritionists agree that dogs, being carnivores, are not only unable to process complex carbohydrates (grains & potato products) well but they have no dietary need for them.
Studies demonstrate that unlike humans/omnivores, dogs (carnivores) do not ‘carbo-load,’ that is, they do not store up energy from meals high in complex carbohydrates. While human athletes successfully practice this technique, it results in an accumulation of lactic acid in dogs (which causes the muscular pain experienced after unaccustomed exercise).
Based on research in the dog and with other species it has been found that dogs can be more healthfully maintained without carbohydrates, especially when the diet supplies enough fat and protein from which the metabolic requirement for glucose is derived.
Dogs, being the carnivores they are, are not designed to eat grains and do not produce the necessary amounts of enzymes in their saliva (amylase, for example) to start the break-down of carbohydrates and starches; amylase in saliva is something omnivorous and herbivorous animals possess, but not carnivorous animals. This lack of the necessary enzymes, places the burden entirely on the pancreas, forcing it to try to produce large amounts of amylase and cellulase to deal with the starch, cellulose, and carbohydrates in grains and plant matter. (The carnivore’s pancreas was not designed to secrete cellulase to split the cellulose into glucose molecules), nor have dogs “evolved” to become efficient at digesting and assimilating and utilizing gains or plant material as a source of high quality protein. Herbivores do those sorts of things. Read Canine and Feline Nutrition Case, Carey and Hirakawa Published by Mosby, 1995
Grains are full of carbohydrates which once eaten, easily convert to sugars. Cancer cells feed on sugars, and it is believed that by decreasing the amount of carbohydrate in the diet, we may greatly reduce the risk of our pets getting cancer (which is a growing problem among modern dogs and cats).
Grains and or grain based foods are also, the main cause of yeast infections, such as Candida Albicans in our pets. Symptoms of yeast over-growth or infections include:
habitual scratching, usually the ears, sides of the torso and underbelly
chronic ear infections
incessant licking of the genitals or the paws or both
rashes, most often on the underbelly
blackening and rough skin patches
Allergies (so called)
And when the yeast begins to move into the head; loss of hearing; loss of eyesight; loss of intelligence, memory and comprehension.
Yeast infections always start somewhere in the digestive system; but then as the multiply, they move to the genital area and/or on to the ears; then finally to the brain, taking over the entire body. It is insidious. In allopathic/conventional medicine, these symptoms are treated with antibiotics or steroids; which only serve to make matters worse by killing off the friendly flora or bacteria in the body and thus lowering the immune system.
For more information on Yeast Infections click HERE
The multi-billion dollar pet food industry (yes they even make so called “prescription dog foods”), advertise their use of high-quality, whole grains in their food. They say these provide an “excellent source of protein” for our dogs and cats.
When you see a pet food being recalled it is usually due to being tainted with moldy grains – Mycotoxins
Mycotoxin contamination in pet food poses a serious health threat to pets. Cereal grains and nuts are used as ingredients in commercial pet food for companion animals such as cats, dogs, birds, fish and rodents. Cereal by-products may be diverted to animal feed even though they can contain mycotoxins at concentrations greater than raw cereals due to processing (Moss, 1996; Brera et al., 2006)
Large amounts of grain may be an appropriate source of protein for omnivore species…but NOT so for our cats and dogs that are primarily designed to eat meat as their protein!
This brings me to what ‘grains’ in commercial pet food really are. When whole grain is used in dog food, (and even cat food), (be it oats, barley, wheat, rice, kumut or corn – GMO or not) it has often most often been deemed unfit for human consumption due to mold, contaminants, or poor handling practices. Some brands reportedly contain damaged, spilled, and spoiled grain known as “the tail of the mill.” This can include the hulls, chaff, straw, dust, dirt, and sand swept from the mill floor at the end of each week, which are totally unnatural nutritional ingredients! Most of these ingredients, such as peanut hulls, are used strictly for “filler” and have no nutritional value at all! They are also economical for the pet food companies to use!
Imagine AAFCO approving ‘the tail of the mill’ as acceptable grains in your pet’s diet! Unbelievable? Sorry, but this is true!
GRAINS – Could this be why your pet scratches constantly?
Yes, grains are one of the most common causes of “allergies” in pets. Other symptoms brought on by feeding grains and the over-growth of yeast (as mentioned above) may be as broad ranging but serious as: Mal-absorption of food nutrients, joint problems, arthritis, diabetes, colitis and kidney or bladder infections.
Too much money has already been spent by American pet owners to their veterinarians, to “treat” the above-mentioned symptoms. It’s a shame that most veterinarians do not take their patient’s diet into consideration FIRST, when in fact, most of these symptoms are directly related to what the pet is eating. Sadly the feeding of cooked Â meats and/or grain laden foods help keep your veterinarian in a thriving business by charging you great amounts of needless money on lab work, steroid pills, creams, shampoo and antibiotics to treat the symptoms of itching as well as keeping you coming back for frequent vet visits when the symptoms return as soon as the medications run out…
Not all Carbohydrates in Pet Food are Grains
With the word out on grains not being digestible and causing allergic reactions in our dogs, the latest trend in pet foods is the elimination of most grains or even all and the addition of potatoes – whether regular white or orange sweet potoatoes to help bind the processed product together and be a source of carbohydrates.
In theory it all sounds great right? Never mind that potatoes are still not digestible to dogs and cats but they also contain a carcinogen- *acrylamide. As a daily maintenance food, potatoes are not a good thing! They may actually be a part of the cancer epidemic in our pets! The August 14, 2002 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, reported presence of high levels of acrylamide in carbohydrate rich foods like potatoes.
*Acrylamide induces gene mutations and has been found in animal tests to cause malignant stomach tumors. It is also known to cause damage to the central and peripheral nervous system.
Tapioca is often used instead of potatoes in processed pet food as a binder. Tapioca is almost pure carbohydrate and on top of this fact, it is often chemically modified before formulation in food products and as such, presents a threat to health by binding essential minerals that play key roles in many critical enzyme systems, and also producing the disease, parakeratosis.
Furthermore, natural tapioca contains cyanogenic glycosides (specifically linamarin and lotaustralin) which yield hydrocyanic acid upon hydrolysis (as occurs in the stomach). Hydrocyanic acid (hydrogen cyanide) is highly toxic to humans and animals. The toxicity is dose dependent and therefore animals or humans fed a steady diet of any food that yields hydrogen cyanide are at risk with accumulation over time.
Genetically Modified (GM) Products
I will not get too deep into the controversy over GMOs in foods here but I do want to point out that the FDA does not require pet food (or human food for that matter) labels to inform consumers if a product contains a GM grain or meat source.
So, as I see it, if our pets were never designed to eat grains or carbohydrates in the first place and they have no access to them in the wild, why on earth would we want to feed them at all? Would you feed a horse or a rabbit a juicy steak? Why not? Â Because horses are not carnivores. Â Well guess what? Â Dogs are not omnivores contrary to what the pet food and veterinary industry would like you to think – they are carnivores. So why would you feed your pets a cooked diet that contained grains or other carbohydrates for that matter?
Dr Jeannie and The Whole Dog recommends an all raw S.A.R.F. (Species Appropriate Raw Foods) diet of raw meat, bones and organs.
A consultation is highly recommended before transitioning your pet to a raw diet.
The information and material provided in this article and on this site by Dr. Jeannie Thomason is intended to provide general guidance and education only. Nothing on the web site, in this article or during a regular consultation constitutes traditional allopathic veterinary advice. Consultations are designed to share and suggest additional options to think about, and other areas to explore, based on your individual dogâ€™s condition. The articles on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
Copyright 2003 -2014 This article is the sole property of Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog and is for educational purposes. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author. Updated July 27, 2015