Guest post written by: Amy Marshall
It’s your family’s customary night out for dinner at your average chain restaurant. It’s a special occasion because your favorite uncle was able to make it, but your heart sinks with each labored step he makes toward your table. It wasn’t that long ago that you learned he has Type 2 Diabetes and it doesn’t appear his weight or health is improving.
As you navigate your trusted Paleo Dining Out Guide, you watch in horror at what he chooses to fuel his body with. Ultimately, you realize that you can’t force others to change and some people just don’t take as much of an interest in their health.
The next few days go by and you’re coming home feeling satisfied after a killer workout. You make your protein shake and prepare the most awesome Paleo dinner you’ve made in a while. Before you sit down to relish in your ultimate feat of healthiness you realize your dog has been scratching at his empty food bowl.
You reach into the closet and scoop out a heaping serving of kibble just as the image of your sick, overweight, and generally unhealthy uncle pops into your head. Uh ohh. It finally dawns on you… your dog isn’t’ all that different from your diabetic uncle after all.
In fact, the average dog today shares the same fate as the rest of our unhealthy westernized society.
Over half of the dogs in the US, at 55.6% or 43 million, are overweight according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Of those numbers, 20% or 16 million are considered obese. Yes, OBESE DOGS. These days it’s as unlikely to find a well-muscled and trim dog as it to find a six-packed individual. The average family dog has a midsection that looks more like a sausage instead of a deep strong chest that tapers off to a slim waistline.
The canine health crisis doesn’t end there. The modern canine diet is at the root of the degenerative diseases they share with their two legged friends: diabetes, cancer, liver disease, heart disease, digestive troubles, reoccurring infections, and much more.
Why Isn’t Dog Food Ideal?
Too many reasons to be able to reasonably discuss in this blog post. But, it can be summed up with these three main points: it’s processed, it’s in the wrong form, and quality is poor.
To start, pet food isn’t real; it’s a processed food. It’s the king of processed meals. It’s comparable to you eating McDonalds every day – if that McDonalds was dried, ground up, put into pellet form, and was served to you every day for a month from an open cardboard bag.
It’s also cooked. Can you think of any animals in the wild that cook their food? Especially carnivores? Carnivores eat muscle meat, bones, organs and other raw offal and they have the digestive systems equipped to handle it – despite what your veterinarian may have said to scare you. While real food is superior to kibble, the form of the food is also important. Cooked food destroys the precious vitamins, minerals and enzymes that existed beforehand and reduces the nutritional value.
More importantly, pet food contains the wrong type of food for your dog – food that is not biologically appropriate. As followers of the Paleo Diet, this is something you will understand and relate to. Even more so than humans, dogs were not built to consume or digest grains. As descendants of carnivores, they weren’t built to consume plant matter either. Do you know of any true carnivore in the animal kingdom that needs plant matter in their diet? This is because carnivores get their energy needs from fat, not carbs.
That leads me to my last point. The quality of your average bag of dog food is less than ideal. The majority of pet food is not made from organic, antibiotic, hormone free, or grass fed meats. While some brands source meat from more credible sources, most commercial pet food is made from substances created in inedible rendering processes. These rendering facilities were developed for the profitable utilization of our country’s food waste – food not fit for human consumption. It’s often compromised of diseased, dead, or euthanized animals from farms or your local vet’s office. These “leftovers” are whisked off and turned into an ingredient used in pet food. Yum…
How Did Our Dogs Get Here?
People in general (pet owners are no different) have a habit of trusting conventional wisdom and believing what “authorities” tell them without much thought or question.
How many of you believed in the FDA’s food pyramid and the recommended 6-11 servings of bread, cereal and pasta every day? It wasn’t until you became educated, that you learned massive businesses like grain and diary are multi billion dollar industries. These industries have a lot to gain when they convince the public that their product is required for maintaining a proper diet and good health.
The pet industry is no different. It’s a 21 billion dollar industry that decided to follow suit, utilizing clever marketing ploys to sell their products to pet owners. Pet food originated around the time of the Great Depression and was originally marketed as a cheaper and more affordable way to feed your pet during the tough times.
Over time, these marketing messages evolved and pet food became necessary for your dog to maintain optimal health. Now, these messages support the industry’s best practices of feeding food that isn’t biologically appropriate since utilizing leftovers from our food supply is highly profitable.
Today, dog owners are plagued with mixed messages labeling our dogs as omnivores despite the fact that they differ from their carnivorous relative, the wolf, by at most 0.2%.
But you’re all smart enough to know that our dogs digestive tracts didn’t evolve to one of an omnivore in just 154 years – the time commercial dog food has been in existence.
154 years for the dogs’ entire digestive tract to evolve to that of an omnivore? Please. My dog takes approximately that long to spin in circles, find a comfy spot at the foot of my bed, and fall asleep let alone perform a complete biological makeover.
Why Your Dog Should be Eating an Ancestral Diet
It’s no surprise that animals should eat a diet based on their genetics. Why do you purchase grass fed beef for you or your family? Because animals that consume their natural diet are superior, nutritionally. Well, it’s the same principle for your dog.
Nutrition is the foundation of health and if you want your furry friend to live a long and healthy life (one free from frequent trips to the vet and costly medical bills), diet is of utmost importance. Without a proper diet, your dog can develop nutritional deficiencies over time leading to a general weakening of the immune system, making room for disease and chronic infections to creep in.
Animals aren’t meant to consume food formulated in a lab or from an industrial manufacturing facility. They’re meant to lead an authentic primal lifestyle, one where they eat real food.
An ancestral diet is the only diet that will work with your dog’s genetics to keep your pooch lean, strong, energetic and in optimal health.
Do The Right Thing By Your Dog
Although you may not be able to take the French fries out of your uncle’s mouth, you can certainly control what you put in your dog’s bowl.
Imagine feeding your dog by the principles you live by. What better way to share your passion for a healthy lifestyle with the people or animals you love by following your true ancestral diets together?
Sure, it may seem scary at first and there may be some bumps along the way. But, you didn’t get through your transition to a Paleo Diet all alone, did you? You most likely leaned on the support of friends, family, and the Paleo community. You too can get the same level of support when switching your dog to a raw diet. There are plenty of people out there committed to helping other dog owners provide a healthier lifestyle for their dogs.
One resource to consider is Primal Pooch, a site to learn about raw diets, holistic health and exercise and activity ideas for your dog. I know because I founded it with the mission of bringing health back to the loyal animals we share our lives with – the only animals that are genetically programmed to be in sync with us, to work with us, and who evolved with us.
So the next time you’re focusing all of your time and energy on perfecting your health, remember your loyal friend looking up at you with his big brown eyes, pouty face, and the thump of his tail. Help him to be the healthiest version of himself. That’s what this is all about after all.