Food for thought

Actually, I should have rephrased the topic as “Thought for food”, as that is mainly the topic. But I think it would be great to think over the choices each of the dog owners is doing for their dog’s nutrition… well, honestly speaking, it would be a good thing to think over ones own nutrition from time to time, too… 

More or less I’ve covered so far more the exercise part of the Holy Triangle, mostly because that’s what I’ve been mostly asked about. But like I posted in that post, the dog’s health is directly affected by all three main aspects of the triangle: nutrition, exercise and rest.

Lets start from the beginning. A dog has ten thousand times more accurate smell than us humans, but the amount of taste buds in their mouth is only one tenth of what we have. One might ask, why is it so. The answer is simple: the wild dogs and wolves are mainly carcass eaters, the cleaning patrols of the wilds. They can smell the carcasses from afar and trail a wounded or sick animal by the smell. Then, when they reach the spoiled -or even partly rotting- carcass, they don’t have to think about the finer flavours of the feast: the main issue is to get enough energy to last for the next hunt or carcass.

Because of the fact that main portion of the food that wolves and wild dogs eat is not at the prime of it’s shelf time, their digestive system is designed to kill all the harmfull, pathogenic bacteria. Wolves have pH 1 in their stomach, effectively killing all bacteria entering their stomach. However, we humans have slightly damaged our dog’s systems by breeding, because our beloved companions have only pH 2-2.6. This is significantly lower than that of the wolves, so some pathogenic bacteria may survive in these surroundings and yes, can cause a food poisoning to the dog.

But it’s a very, very rare occasion.

The more important aspect of this is the fact that wolves digestive tract is also much more specialized in utilizing meat as it’s main energy source. As a matter of fact, our beloved dogs share the carnivore’s intestines in such a way that they cannot cope with excessive amounts of vegetable based material, anyway. Sure, they can eat food with cereals and vegetables, but their digestive system is much more efficient in using meat and fat as it’s energy source.

The metabolic system of us humans is carbohydrate based one: this means that as an omnivore, capable of eating and utilizing all sorts of food stuffs, our system uses carbohydrates as its main energy source and the system is doing it’s best to utilize it to the fullest. However, due to the direct relation to the carnivore ancestry, the meat eating forefathers have given our dogs a different approach: their metabolic system is fat based. Sure, they can use carbohydrates in their food, but their system is designed to use the meat based fat as it’s main energy source. 

At this point I can hear angry disgreements from here and there, but all this is backed by studies in both biology, veterinary sciences and dog nutrition. It just needs to be put into a right context.

The harder the dog works, the more it consumes energy. This is common sense. But usually people forget that the more the dog works, the more it consumes other nutrients (vitamins, antioxidants and minerals), which may become even more crucial in the long run. In sledge dog studies it has been noticed that the working dogs easily get anemic if their food’s energy levels are increased by only adding fat or carbohydrates to it. They need iron to compensate the loss during the exercise. And what happens to be the best source for bioactive and -attainable iron? 

Meat.

So for a working dog, which a lure-coursing sighthound like Irish Wolfhound is, fatty meat should be the basis of the nutrition during the training and competition season. The other option is clearly to have some high energy kibble to compensate this.

It’s not a question about how much the dog eats, or how often. Because the more the dog uses energy, the more energy it needs. If the food contains too low energy compared to the usage, the dog firstly loses weight and secondly will get some nutritional deficiences. However, only adding energy doesn’t take care of the other nutrients, unless you are lucky enough to find a kibble fulfilling the both requirements. The question in the end is how smart the dog eats in the end.

And that question is ours, the owners and breeders, to solve the best we can.

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