Hi all! I haven’t posted in a while! Life can be busy! I recently read “Feeding Smart” by Linda P Case, and I just had to share some of this very valuable info that is in this book! Highly recommend reading it!! Tons of info, well thought out, easy to understand, gives you lots to think about!
For those that maybe do not have time to read the book, here are some of my opinions/takeaways from the book. I am not a vet. I am not a nutritionist. You should ask your vet their recommendations for dog food!
This first tip is actually not in the book, but is something I feel the need to share. First, when you are looking at dog nutrition labels, ingredients are listed in order of amounts in the food, starting with the most prevelant. Sounds easy, right? Well, yes, but theres a catch! If 2 ingredients have the same amount in the dog food, they can be listed in either order! So, for example, if these are the top 5 ingredients listed on a nutrition label : chicken, ground corn meal, chicken meal, bone meal, peas You would THINK chicken is the first ingredient, but in reality, it could be first or second, in this example, chicken OR ground corn meal.
Onward, back to the book itself. Starts off with interesting info about dogs- they are best classified as omnivores. They can in fact derive nutrition from both plant and animal sources. They can also digest cooked starches.
Next was a look into dog obesity. Obesity is the NUMBER 1 contributor to health issues in our dogs. A recent survey of veterinarians showed 53% of dogs as overweight or obese. Same survery, only 22% of dog owners identified their pets as over weight or obese. Fasciantingly, even after the same group of dog owners was educated on how to identify their dog as over weight or obese, they STILL did not appropriately classify thier dogs body condition! The takeaway is- please talk to your vet and LISTEN if they tell you your dog is overweight!!
Protein quality- yes, it matters, A LOT. Dogs should not be fed plant only or vegetarian dog foods. Just no. Protein content of dog food has increased in recent years. Overfeeding protein can cause issues. Adult dogs need 22-28%protein in a dog food.
There is an increase in copper levels in dogs livers. Theorized from increase use of organs in commercial dog foods. It *could* be contributing to issues, but as of yet, isn’t proven. But something to take note of! Another thing that is not monitored in dog foods- Mercury levels. There is no established upper levels for dogs. There is no mandatory testing of mercury levels for dog foods, even if the food contains a large amount of fish! This is something I am not comfortable with, and so I will not be feeding a fish based dog food. A reputable dog food company should test for mercury and copper, and if you inquire about such, they should be able to provide you with levels in their foods.
Another important thing the book talks about that is important to avoid in food or treats- the thyroid gland which may or may not be present in trachae by-products (ie “gullet”) Thyroid is banned for human consumption, but no laws exist for pet foods. It is high risk for animals as gullets can contain the hormone thyroxine. Neither heat from processing or gastric acids in stomach destroys this hormone, and it is absorbed into the body and remains active. If enough builds up, dog develops thyrotoxicosis (also referred to as hyperthyroidism). Symtoms include weight loss hyperactivity, excessive panting, increased drinking/urinating. So, what can you do? DO NOT FEED any gullet chews or treats. You can also avoid feeding foods that are high in beef products/beef based dog foods. If you want to feed a beef kibble, I suggest asking the company if they test for thyroxine in their products.
The book talks about raw diets- sites various studies done comparing raw to kibble to lightly cooked. In a nutshell, raw DOES have higher risk of bacteria contamination and food borne pathogens to both pets and humans. Raw diet people have a lot of claims that don’t have much merit to back it up. Lightly cooked food actually out performed raw diet in the studies. So, take the raw diet fad with a grain of salt!
Another thing to consider from the book- human grade vs pet grade foods. In the studies, the human grade proteins out performed pet grade. However, human grade is definitely much more expensive, so, it may or may not be an option to feed such depending on your situation.
The book recommends rotating or mixing different brands/types of foods. Reasoning is that no dog food kibble is “perfect.” By mixing or rotating, you’re not only appealing to your dog tastes, you’re also not putting all your eggs in 1 basket, so to speak. I’ve begun to rotate dogs foods vs feeding the same one all the time. And, surprisingly, I have had no digestive upset in our dogs! Obviously, you should double check with your vet or if your dog does not tolerate switching foods, then maybe its not right for your dog.
The one topic I did not agree on in the book was if there is a link to DCM (heart disease) from feeding grain free diets. The author of the book doesn’t think there is enough supporting research to the claim. I disagree, and feel more confident feeding a grain inclusive diet.
Whew, I know that’s a lot! So, what do I recommend feeding your aussie? I still stand by my reasoning that A dog food from a company that has a veterinarian and nutritionist on staff is best. This is the “big 5” Purina, Nutrena, Royal Canin, Iams, Eukanuba. I know that there’s a lot of other brands out there to consider! I would emplore you to reach out to a food company you are considering and ask if they have a vet AND a nutritionist on staff before feeding that food. It just doesn’t make sense to not have that! And SO MANY of the up and coming brands DO NOT. If the company that is formulating dog food doesn’t even have a nutritionist on staff, what else are they possibly missing?
So many other topics in the book that are really important but the ones I wrote about seemed most important to me to share. HIGHLY recommend reading the book yourself and forming your own opinions!!