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Nutrition Advice
Thriving Dogs

A Couple of simple questions  No 1: “Would you like your Dog to live longer? And No 2: “Do you know the difference between Surviving and Thriving”. Yes! The answers are very predictable, we would all like our Pets to be here with us for as long as possible. The difficulty is in the quantification of our expectations. Likewise, the answer to surviving or thriving is somewhat subjective, or is it.? We are or we should be great observers of our mates’ mental as well as physical well-being and thus be able to recognize when things are not quite what they should be. Domesticated animals, particularly canines and felines are very poorly researched in most areas as they are not the decision-makers who finance their lifestyle. You and I do that, and believe me we are very well researched by the massive industry that is supported globally by the carers of Cats and Dogs who are completely well-intentioned but very often not provided with the full information profile of what is the “best” way to provide nutrition for their four-legged family members.

A growing amount of irrefutable evidence is now out there that points directly to the fact that massive numbers of Dogs estimated at approximately 70% are dying before they should. Unfortunately, as they have very little control over what they eat, where they live, or how their activity is planned or implemented the collective “we” are responsible for this reality. There have been attempts to research this over the past decades most of which were done to satisfy a hypothesis supported by vested interest or groups thereof. It would seem that the “Best Guess” is that on average Dogs are dying 1.7 to 2.5 years before they should.  Why?  Although not as bad our Cat fraternity does suffer in similar ways. Ironically, the companion species that are most loved and valued within our society are subjected to a falsified “normal” created to satisfy alternate options directly in opposition to the relationship ethics of those of us that wield the means to control.   

There was a study done in 2002 which run over 14 years but on a very small sample of 48 paired dogs. it showed that when the food intake was restricted by 25% the median life span of the lean dogs was significantly longer. The Dogs were Labrador Retrievers. At age ten seven of the “heavy” dogs had died compared to three of the lean. At age 12 only one “heavy” dog survived compared to eleven of the lean. By 2009 we had become more serious about trying to understand what was going on and we researched nearly 60,000 Dogs over a 20-year period, that concluded in 2019. This study looked at “normal” and “overweight” dogs. Pedants may argue with some of the methodologies It covered 12 different breeds of varying sizes and was based on Body Condition Score (BSC) and Vet graded to fit “Normal” or “Overweight”. The “overweight” dogs lived up to 2.5 years less than their “normal” counterparts

There is a close affinity between the anatomy of a human and the anatomy of a canine with one important difference the Canine has a much shorter intestine and as consequence, most digestion occurs in the stomach whereas in Humans it occurs primarily in the large intestine. As our Canine mates were growing in body size and suffering accordingly so were we. This heralded a much-needed revue of what we were eating and what we needed to do about it! No doubt “testing” was carried out on many levels and canines would not have been precluded from that. The massive weight of “expert” opinion was universal, “we must lower our emphasis on processed food and reduce it markedly in our diet”. It was at this point that divergence occurred the solution to the Human condition was not seen to be applicable to the Canine condition. For two reasons, Firstly, not enough was done to recognize that there was a problem, and secondly the rule of Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) was in vogue in a non-publicized mode and it still is.

Caring for companion animals falls into the same category as caring for Family however it is not supported in a similar manner. The Hippocratic oath although much maligned in recent times underpins our medical society and assists with the provision of rules, mores, and ethics that as a society we maintain to provide an adequate care structure for all of us. Not so with our companion animals. Companion animals are seen first and foremost as a harvestable resource by association. In a global sense, the relationship between a companion animal and its carer is manipulated and exploited like no other. It runs rampant like a bushfire with very little review of it and its procedures. In fact, with Canines, it has framed an operating environment that is designed and implemented under the “Complete and Balanced” banner. It is clothed in a pseudo authoritarian manner that attributes to it the same respect that is provided by the medical establishment with its centuries of heritage, tradition, and active public scrutiny. It is a vague and ill-defined environment where the carers have in many instances become secondary players to an institutionalized protectorate that creates, produces, and experiments on the subjects of their care with only one evident and all-consuming passionate objective to meet financial goals. Fortunately, in recent times, there have been positive developments that have fostered the alternatives for out mates to receive and enjoy a lifestyle that is nourished with their best interests to the fore.

There are many processed food products on the market for Dogs that are above 45% carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are not needed by a Canine to thrive. However, they are needed by a processor to hit financial targets and provide a gluey substance to hold the extrusion process together. In a general sense, you can find out what is in the product that you purchase with several caveats. The amount of carbohydrates is very important as is the quality of the Carbohydrate. In recent times we have seen a purging of Grain as a filler as a result of impurities in accessing. Instead of describing it for what it was a failure to meet quality control standards, it was lauded as a wonderful change into the “No Grain” future for your mates. Nowhere am I able to find where the replacement products are described in their entirety and the education for the carers explained in detail. The problem with Carbohydrates in Canine food is that they are very swiftly converted into sugars and move into the Dogs system as an insulin trigger. This starts an on again off again spiking of insulin levels which nurtures inflammation and leads to tumor development., some of which may be cancerous. Carbohydrates with a high GI index convert quicker than those lower. What was the rating for the products that replaced the Grain?  Well, I will leave that up to you.

On the American Kennel Club Website, there is a good explanatory paragraph on the importance or lack of impotence of Carbohydrates in a Dogs diet.

“Normally, cells convert carbohydrates into glucose, which is then either used immediately for energy or stored in the liver as glycogen. But if you remove most carbs from the diet, the body will use up its stored glycogen within a few days and will have no more fuel. The body is then said to enter a state of ketosis, in which it basically runs on ketones from fat instead of glucose from carbs.

Ketosis has been shown to suppress appetite, decrease insulin levels, and increase fat burning, which is why the keto diet is successful as a long-term weight-loss diet. The high protein maintains muscle, unlike a fasting diet would do.

Keto diets aren’t new. Back in the 1920s and ’30s, they were used to treat epilepsy in people with some success, but when better anti-epileptic drugs emerged the diets faded from popularity. Now they’ve experienced renewed interest not only in managing intractable epilepsy, but in slowing dementia and, especially, cancer. Cancer cells have altered metabolism and can’t use fat for energy. If they can’t get glucose from carbs, or glutamine from protein, their growth and reproduction slows. Mice on ketogenic diets have significantly slower tumor growth, according to some studies”

Striving for longevity and thriving should be the objective of every carer. We cannot allow incorrect or minimized information under whatever guise to make it difficult for carers to source the best possible nutritional base for their dogs neither can we support the regimes that seek to overfeed and thus lower their time with their mates. Achieving optimum nutrition for a thriving Dog entails more than guesswork. You need to observe measure and observe measure every waking moment. It is not pure science and you need to commit to a couple of things. You need to research and decide just what your dogs’ ideal weight should be and how they should look. Most of the material on the internet is just a rerun of very old material and yes a lot of the information is good and adds to the general knowledge base BUT it is a little more complicated. You then need to record just how your dog responds to your feeding regime and maintain it in such a way that you can adjust as you need to. Once you have decided on your regime and know what your nutrition levels are then the rest is quantity and when and how.  


Tucker Tub

We've been crafting dog food using fresh ingredients from local farms in country Victoria since our inception over 25 years ago. As one of the pioneers of natural dog food in Australia, we understand what's best for different breeds - including those with food sensitivities and allergies.

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