By Saro Boghozian, Expert Family Dog Trainer
Part one. Say no to kibble.
A dog’s diet dictates the level of his health and well-being. Feed your dog a good diet and you will have a healthy, balanced and well-behaved dog. Unfortunately, this part of a dog’s life is usually overlooked and is not given much importance for many reasons. One of those reasons is basically because dog owners have been misguided.
For many years and still to this day, our diet, our children’s diet, our pet’s diet have not been explained and clarified well due to a few factors; the main one being our present-day “lifestyle”. We expect everything to be done yesterday and don’t concentrate on what happens today or even tomorrow. Not making enough time to relax and make better decisions has caused the diet part of our lives to be rolled in with all other aspects of our lives – fast paced. This creates a different approach to everything we do on a daily basis. Our day-to-day activities are run at fast-speed which ultimately reduces the quality of our lives. We apply the same formula to our pets’ lives, which includes how we approach their diet.
The reality is that there are excellent diets available for both humans and dogs that are beneficial and healthy; we just need to educate ourselves and take action. I am not saying that we need to become a nutritionist but we definitely need to understand the basic facts of our own, as well as, our dog’s diet. There are many ways to educate ourselves but with today’s access to the Information Highway we can become overwhelmed and confused with all the different and conflicting facts that we find about diet.
There is one simple rule that I like to follow when it comes to diet. “If it is fast and easy to get the food in you, it is not healthy”. For example, you can get food from a fast food restaurant within two minutes. Compare it to food in a restaurant that the chef prepares for you which might take 15 minutes. Then there’s the food that you prepare at home which takes about half an hour or more. So which one of these foods is the healthiest? Obviously the food from the restaurant is healthier than the fast food and the food that you cook at home is healthier than restaurant food.
The fast foods and restaurant foods are the worst kinds of foods or diet because there are so many things that are wrong with them.
- Not fresh
- Food quality is usually poor
- Contains few, if any, nutritional ingredients
- Contains corn, flour, processed products as well as hydrogenated vegetable oil, saturated fats, gums, sugar substitutes, etc.
- Made to taste good by the addition of herbs and spices, salt, monosodium glutamate and sugars
- Deep fried
- Contains artificial colours and preservatives as well as some artificial flavourings
The same concept is used in our dog’s diet. Kibble and canned dog foods are the fast food restaurant quality foods. Kibble and canned foods are processed foods that have no nutritional value. They basically fill up the stomach and satisfy the hunger.
For many years the only dog food offered had been just kibble or canned food. The mistake that still prevails today with many dog owners is thinking that’s all there is when it comes to their dogs’ diet.
Kibble and canned food were introduced to the market to fulfill a need about 100 years ago. The need was there because people were getting busy with their lives and wanted an easy and fast form of food that they could feed their dogs. The companies saw an opportunity and today they are multibillion dollar industries that have not changed their format much since they started because they are still profitable. Why fix something that is not broken yet?
Processed foods are the unhealthiest kinds of foods for both humans and for our pets especially if consumed as a main diet. Kibble diet is likened to a fast food diet for dogs. There are cheap fast foods and expensive fast foods but just because they might cost more does not mean they are any more nutritious than the cheaper brand.
Just imagine this; a bag of dog food can stay on the store shelf for almost two years and you unknowingly purchase that bag of food just before the expiry date. You feed your dog the same bag of food today and do not realize that. Don’t you ever wonder what is in the kibble and what it is that keeps it okay for your dog to consume even though it is “not fresh” for so many years?
The reason I say “not fresh” is because obviously the product in the bags are not fresh. They may have been fresh two years ago before being processed, but not now. There is nothing fresh or of any nutritional value in the bag or can of dog food today. They contain chemicals, preservatives and other mysterious, unpronounceable ingredients.
Anything that is not fresh and especially processed is not nutritional and it may also be dangerous. Think of it this way. In order for your dog to stay alive, it needs to eat. The food that your dog eats is the main source of his health which will keep him alive and help him to live a healthy life. Whatever goes in to your dog’s body can determine how your dog is going to feel, how your dog is going to live, how long he is going to live and how his body is going to fight the diseases and the bacteria that are trying to destroy its body.
The main source of your dog’s healthy body comes from the food that he takes in. Basically the saying “you are what you eat” is very true in this instance. If you feed your dog a clean, fresh, balanced food diet, he will thrive, but if you don’t, he will survive but yet decay and age faster with many health issues.
Many dogs that are on kibble or canned food diets have skin problems, irritable bowel syndrome including diarrhea and bad stool quality, ear infections, always scratching, joint problems, food allergies, multiple forms of diseases (new studies are starting to prove that kibble is one of the contributing factors of cancer in dogs) and many more problems. In all my years working with dogs, these have all become common issues in the dogs that I have known and it’s no surprise that they have all been on a kibble diet as well as a few other reasons unrelated to this subject.
Many times the dog owners tell me that their dog doesn’t seem very keen about eating his food or is lacking an appetite. That is because the dogs are not feeling good about what’s being served so they refuse to eat the food that makes them feel bad. Dog owners might think that they should buy a more expensive bag of dog food or may think that their dog is spoiled. But the reality is that the dogs are giving signals and are saying “we don’t feel good eating this processed food” but most dog owners don’t understand and ignore those signals.
There is another sign. If your dog’s stool size is more or the same amount of what he has been fed then that is a good indication that your dog is not getting any nutritional benefit from the food that he is eating. A dog on a healthy diet will have a stool that will be almost one quarter of the amount of food that he ate which means the body has taken all the needed nutrients from the food.
Most major dry food dog food companies have good intentions and follow a strict guideline to produce a high quality kibble product but the end results are not that. The products may be fresh at the time of production, the ingredients may be balanced and wholesome but again the end result, which is the processing, produces a product that is not fresh, balanced and nutritional. The company may add good stuff and/or also claim that the food is natural, holistic, fresh, balanced, grain free with high protein content … but at the end of the day, the product was processed.
So what is kibble good for? It is a good backup for emergencies only. For instance it can be used in a pinch if you run out of food, or are taking a long road trip with your dog, or if you are packing an emergency kit. But remember, you will soon need to quickly resume feeding your dog a wholesome, balanced food to allow his system to recover.
It is time to change the ways we look at dog food and the ways we feed our dog. Watch this video to learn how kibble is made. Basically this short video shows how dog (and cat) kibble is prepared and what is added to it to simulate a palatable taste for your pet. Observe that there is nothing nutritional about the ingredients in kibble and, hopefully, this realization will make you think twice before feeding it to your own dog.
Ever since I took the time to educate myself about my own food intake and diet, I have never felt better about myself internally and externally. I have changed the way I look at diet, food in general, vegetables, fruits, meats and grains. My energy level has increased dramatically and I feel great. My dogs are feeling the same – healthy and energetic – because they are not on a kibble diet but on a homemade, fresh, balanced food diet. Yes, it’s more time consuming than opening a bag of kibble, but my dogs are worth that extra time it takes to keep them healthy.
Your dog should be considered an important family member and there are many healthy, balanced diets available for him. I have chosen to feed both my dogs a homemade, cooked and balanced diet. My dogs are healthy and their vet visits are reduced to just annual checkups which they pass with flying colours.
If you think you are at the point where you want to change the way you feed your dog, contact us and we will be happy to share our knowledge with you.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://www.jonahsark.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/saro-boghozian.jpg[/author_image] [author_info] Saro received his expert dog trainer certification from The College of Canine Behavioural Science and is also a member of the Canadian Association of Professional Pet Dog Trainers and does volunteer behaviour consultation with a number of dog rescue organizations. Saro’s play, praise and reward training classes are always in high demand as are his private one-on-one training sessions. Rather than using treats or gimmicks like shock collars, Saro’s training methods help owners understand how to use a dog’s natural intelligence to achieve success. [/author_info] [/author]