Dogs Unlimited Rescue Toronto
What They're Not Designed To Eat
Why are 90% of animal caretakers feeding their carnivore companions a dry kibble diet consisting of at least 60% carbohydrate, very little moisture and minimal, low quality protein?
Much of the protein in commercial kibble diets is also plant based. Expecting our pets to graze on this type of diet all day long, and be satisfied both physically and nutritionally, does not make sense.
Without going into too much detail on the history of dry kibble diets, the short end of the story is that it was introduced in response to the high cost of meat during the Great Depression and was heavily promoted at the end of WWII when it gained popularity for its convenience, ease of distribution and low cost.
If our pets have managed to survive off this cheap, convenient, low quality protein source for the last 80 some years, why should we be concerned about it?
Even though our pets may be surviving off commercial kibble, can we really say that they are thriving on it?
The answer is pretty clear …
Chronic degenerative diseases, auto-immune diseases, allergies, kidney, pancreatic and liver disease are all rampant within our pet populations and cancer rates continue to rise.
What Dogs Are Designed To EAT
Historically, cooked foods have never been a part of the canine and feline diet, rather they have subsisted and thrived off live prey, fermented carrion, and they foraged for any scraps they could obtain. They have only been introduced to cooked and processed foods within the last 80 years.
Looking back at the historical diets of dogs and their wolf ancestors, it is clearly evident that they are carnivores. Their teeth, gut and digestive physiology strongly support this.
Dogs have hinged, powerful jaws along with canines and triangular shaped carnassial teeth for the ripping and tearing of flesh and crushing of bone.
They don’t have the typical molars for the grinding of plant material or a four chamber stomach for the slow digestion and fermentation of complex carbohydrates (starches from plants and grains).
They have a large stomach, short digestive tract and very small cecum, indicative of consuming large amounts of high protein food in a short time period and for fast digestion and rapid adsorption of nutrients. In the wild, these canines could typically go many days between their meals
Taking Care of Your Dogs Oral Health
Even young dogs who have had poor care often have gum disease, broken or missing teeth, and other oral problems. Your adopted dog may come to you needing dental care. At the very least, he could probably benefit from a professional teeth cleaning by your vet.
If he has other problems that need attention, they could be addressed at the same time. Although relatively expensive, regular professional dental care will make your dog feel better and keep his breath more pleasant for you to be near. Most important, good dental hygiene may prolong your dog’s life, because infected gums release bacteria into the bloodstream that can attack organs throughout the body.
Teeth cleaning is done under general anesthesia to give your vet free access to your dog’s mouth. Your vet, or her assistant, will remove tartar and plaque, and then polish your dog’s teeth. She will check for loose or damaged teeth, which may need to be removed or repaired, and for other signs of trouble. Different dogs need their teeth cleaned with varying frequencies, so be sure to talk to your vet about this.
There’s more to doggy dental care than vet visits. Between professional cleanings, bacteria cluster along your dog’s gum line. The bacteria form plaque, which hardens into tartar (calculus) if it’s not removed.
Tartar irritates the gums, causing gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease characterized by abscesses, infections, and tooth and bone loss. To prevent or slow this destructive process, you need to brush your dog’s teeth.
Ideally, you should brush them every day, but every two or three days will go a long way toward preventing gum disease. Use toothpaste made for dogs — toothpaste for people can make your dog sick if he swallows it — and apply it with a brush designed for dogs, or a finger brush, or a small disposable dental sponge, whichever you find easiest.
Keep an eye out for signs of oral problems, including red, puffy gums; sudden or prolonged and copious drooling; swelling or lumps; ulcers and sores on the lips, gums, tongue, or other oral tissues; tenderness around the mouth; damaged teeth or tissues; inability to eat, or obvious discomfort when doing so; and foul breath. The sooner you catch a problem and bring it to your vet’s attention, the better for your dog and, probably, your wallet.
In addition to a good dental care regimen, you can help keep your dog’s mouth and teeth healthy by feeding him high-quality food, and by providing him with safe chew toys that help clean his teeth and gums.
The more you can do to remove plaque and tartar from your dog’s teeth between veterinary visits, the less frequently your dog will need to undergo a veterinary dental treatment. Since the procedure involves anesthesia — which is never without some risk — and can be costly, it’s in your and your dog’s best interests to follow a regular dental health regime at home.