Dave is my 11-year-old rat terrier. Here he is sunbathing on the patio. Yes I have a dog named Dave. Dave is what I like to call “plush.” Dave doesn’t like to go outside (except for sitting on the patio), he’s afraid of noise. Dave might be the only dog on the planet that doesn’t EVER want to go outside. When I attempt to walk him, he runs upstairs and hides under the bed, and I then have to fish him out by crawling under the bed (it’s high up, I can fit under there). It’s not pleasant for either of us, but come on, the dog has to go to the bathroom! And he DOES NOT ever have accidents in the house. Poor Dave. He will hold it forever as long as it means he doesn’t have to go outside. Given Dave’s fear of the great outdoors, getting him enough exercise is challenging. What I find most successful is standing at the top of the stairs and playing ball with him by throwing the ball down the stairs. He fetches (sometimes), and runs back upstairs (sometimes) to bring me the ball. It’s like a Stairmaster for him. Unfortunately he catches on to my ulterior motive pretty quickly and takes his ball over to his bed and chews on it instead.
I have two dogs actually. Dave, and Lily. Meet Lily.
Lily is a Chihuahua/terrier mix. She acts mostly like a Chihuahua based on what I’ve read about the breed. VERY needy. I secretly love it though. It’s nice to be needed! Lily does love to walk and go outside. Lily is more svelte than Dave.
Aside from the exercise component of my doggies lifestyles, I feed them commercial dog food. I have a sneaking suspicion Dave eats most, if not all, of Lily’s food. It’s more than a suspicion. I’ve seen him do it, and again, Dave is “plush.” The proof is more than a little evident, look at Dave! I’ve tried to feed them separately, it doesn’t work. Lily doesn’t eat much. She sort of picks at her bowl throughout the day. Dave eats what’s there, when you put it out. So balancing a feeding plan for these two isn’t easy. And of course I’m working all day and busy so I can’t watch over them all of the time. I know, thankfully I don’t have human kids is probably what you are thinking. I admit I even think that, and so does my mother. Yes she has told me that (thanks mom). And yes I need to do a better job managing their caloric intake, and the quality of their nutrient intake as well. After all, they are dogs and I am the one responsible for their health.
These facts about my dogs combined with my obsession with nutrition, health and wellness of course got me thinking. Here I am, all gung-ho paleo style right? I can’t help but think Dave (and Lily of course too) would be in better shape (not just physically) if they ate foods that more closely resemble what they would eat naturally. Just like us. Not only that, but you have to think that most commercial dog food would be the equivalent to the processed food we are marketed and sold.
My grandma Dorothy always tells me how when she was very young (she’s 95 now), she remembers that my great grandpa Abe brought home a little dog. Grandma remembers feeding it table scraps. So yes, human food, and since we are talking about circa 1920s – 1930s or so, I’m going to say the food was NOT processed. And I know it wasn’t because I know how my great-grandmother used to cook. Back in the day when people went to the butcher for fresh meat, cooked in schmaltz and other animal fat, etc. (my great-grandmother kept a kosher household). So like processed people food, processed dog food is also a newer invention of more modern times.
I hear more and more lately as well about dogs (and cats most likely but I don’t have cats so don’t pay much attention to feline news) having heart disease, and type 2 diabetes! I even have friends whose dogs have serious allergies and they have noticed improvements when they cut wheat and corn out of their furry friends’ diets. Sounds humanly familiar doesn’t it?
I found some interesting information on the topic of canine nutrition.
This link notes that meat based diets are best for dogs. Corn and grain, not so much.
Here you’ll see that dogs need well-balanced nutrition just like we do. Nutrients are important, including protein, carbs and fats.
Number three in this resource scarily reminds me of the recommendations from the “expert” dietary advice we are taught to follow.
Food allergies and even food intolerances are present in dogs as well.
This one suggests that the best diet for dogs is one closest to their natural diet.
What is their natural diet? I’m glad you asked! This link describes just that!
So there you go. Dogs, just like people, benefit from eating real food! No this isn’t rocket science. And no, this isn’t the first I’ve heard of the concept of paleo pets. This is just another example of my inquiring mind wanting to know more about something. That darn hamster in my head just can’t stop running on that little wheel.
Here’s a little caveat however to keep in mind if you plan to switch your furry friends to a more natural diet. A few years ago, there was a doggie digestive issue we dealt with over at the Alliefitfoodie residence. I came home from work one day to, let’s call it a major mess. VERY little grosses me out. This grossed me out. It turned out that both dogs had gotten food poisoning from a can of wet dog food I had fed them. It took a few days to clear up, and in the meantime I started cooking for them. Rice, potatoes, eggs, and whatever meat I was eating. I’d make a little extra protein for them while I was cooking for myself. I mentioned their new feeding regimen to the vet at our next visit and he cautioned me regarding this. There are many nutrients that dogs need he said, that they can’t get from a strictly human diet. There are supplements you can buy to add to the food to make the nutritional content complete for dogs. My vet said that he even uses commercial products for his dogs because he didn’t have the time to properly prepare meals for them that included the appropriate nutrition. So I went back to the commercial stuff. What I do now however is buy the higher end stuff, and the stuff that’s more natural. I read the ingredients, just like I do for myself when I shop for my food. The links above are great resources for what to look for in terms of the ingredients in your best friend’s bowl. The best advice though, check with your vet before you change what you feed your animals.
In a nutshell I’m concluding here that I no longer follow the standard American diet (SAD) and haven’t in a long time, so why should my fur babies follow the standard American dog diet (SADD)? Yes I just made that up, clever huh?