While this may come as a surprise to many, commercial pet food diets simply are not suited to the dog’s and cat’s physical make up and metabolism. In other words, they are not ‘biologically appropriate. Kibble and/or canned commercial pet foods are primarily made up of grain products that are processed at high temperatures to the point there no true nutrition is left from any ingredient.
Why have grains become so “ingrained” in pet feeding? To the best of my knowledge and research, grains were first introduced to pet food by the pet food industry as far back as Jack Sprat. The high carbohydrate content provides CHEAP calories. In addition, grains assist in binding ingredients together.
Dog food manufactures and the people who sell the foods, tell us all day long how dogs, while indeed are descendants of wolves are now – since domesticated, have some how evolved and no longer need to eat raw meat, organs and bones like their wild cousins. Now they need food cooked at extreme high temperatures that consist of grains, vegetables and a little meat (as well as a full range of synthetically derived vitamins and minerals Really? Could this be true? How?
First of all, none of these commercial pet food so called “experts” are unable to tell or show us how or where dogs have evolved from being at the top of food chain, carnivores into omnivores that can now somehow thrive on processed, extruded, grains, vegetables and a little poor quality, diseased meat.
Studies demonstrate that unlike humans/omnivores, dogs (carnivores) do not “carbo-load” – that is, 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 of animals, it has been found that dogs can be more healthfully maintained without carbohydrates, especially when the diet supplies enough raw fat and protein from which the metabolic requirement for their glucose needs are derived.
Dogs, being carnivores, are simply not designed to eat grains. How do we know this? They do not and are not able to 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, to break down the grains/carbohydrates, then places the burden entirely on the pancreas, forcing it to try to produce large amounts of amylase and cellulase that is simply is not well capable of doing to deal with the starch, cellulose, and carbohydrates in grains and plant matter. It is a fact that a carnivore’s pancreas id not designed to secrete the cellulase necessary to split the cellulose into glucose molecules, nor have dogs “evolved” to now produce the enzymes necessary to become efficient at digesting, assimilating and utilizing grains or plant material as a source of high quality protein. This is something Herbivores do.
Canine and Feline Nutrition Case, Carey and Hirakawa Published by Mosby, 1995
Grains are full of carbohydrates which are eventually converted to sugars. Cancer cells feed on sugars, it only makes sense that if a dog (or cat) is not able to digest and use the carbohydrates from the grains and the pancreas is being over taxed that were we to stop feeding them something they are not physiologically designed to digest or utilize that we would greatly be able to decrease the risk of cancer (which is an ever growing problem among modern dogs and cats since the introduction of processed pet foods).
Grains and or grain based foods are also the main cause of yeast infections, such as Candida Albicans in our pets. Symptoms include: chronic ear infections; incessant licking of the genitals or the paws or both; lick granulomas; habitual scratching, usually the ears, sides of the torso and underbelly; rashes, most often on the underbelly; 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; then move to the genital area, on to the ears; then finally to the brain, taking over the entire body. It is insidious. Very often these problems are treated with antibiotics or steroids, which only make matters worse by killing off the friendly flora or bacteria in the body and thus lowering the immune system.
Even if somehow our dogs had evolved physically (and there is NO proof of this), the eating of grains or any food rich in carbohydrates, causes the body to produce more mucus. If the body has more mucus than it actually needs or uses, then absorption of nutrients in the gut is reduced and parasites now have more food (intestinal worms typically eat mucus)to nourish them. Remember, parasites are attracted to weak and often sick animals with a low functioning immune system.
Too much money has already been spent by dog owners, world wide to their veterinarians, to find out the cause of 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. Instead, great amounts of needless money are spent on allergy testing, steroids and prescription diets (which still contain grains and or vegetables) to treat the symptoms of itching, yeast infections and the like. Antibiotics are also routinely prescribed – just in case or because an infection is “suspected”, not to mention all the now frequent vet visits.
The makers of so called premium quality dog foods advertise the use of high-quality, whole grains in their food. They say these provide and “excellent source of protein” for dogs. Large amounts of grain may be an appropriate source of protein for some species… such as humans or other omnivores but NOT so for carnivores whose bodies have not evolved but still are primarily designed to eat meat and bone!
Which brings me to what ‘grains’ in commercial pet food really are. When whole grain is used in dog food, (and cat food), (be it oats, barley, wheat, rice, kumut or corn) it has often been deemed unfit for human consumption due to mold, contaminants, or poor handling practices. Remember the food recalls in 1995, Nature’s Recipe re-called tons of their dog food after dogs became ill from eating it. The food was found to contain vomitoxin, a mycotoxin. In 2005, Diamond Pet Foods had to recall their food due to aflatoxin contamination and in recent years, the largest pet food recall ever! And it continues today, a brand of food here and a brand there…
Many 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 available very economically for the pet food companies!
What about Grain Free dog foods?? To be continued…
Copyright 2011 This article is the sole property of Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog and is for educational purposes only. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.