Have you ever had the same meal two days in a row? For a week?
Okay, so we may need a little longer with meal prepping being so popular...
But how about grilled chicken, brown rice and broccoli for a 6 months straight?? Too far?
Yet, this is what many of us do to our dogs.
Imagine being fed the same meal day after day, month after month, year after year. It would get pretty boring, right? It also wouldn’t be very healthy, inevitably leading to imbalances and deficiences.
If you take a step back and look at the ways dogs would naturally eat, they are natural predators and sometimes scavengers so this inevitably leads to a really diverse range of foods. In the wild, they don't just return to the same 'supermarket shelf' every day - they shop around!
This natural tendency leads to good balance due to variety, and nature has it that it also helps ensure they are receiving the nutrients they require.
I bet you're sitting there knowing, or may have even checked your bag of dry dog food (if that's what you choose to feed), and you're delighted that it's labelled as 'balanced' and 'nutritionally complete'.
That's exactly the idea then... for it to be everything your dog needs every day, right??
Fortunately, we're starting to be interested and learn about what dogs really need to be healthy and live happy, long lives.
What Science Says:
One of the most important reasons to feed a range of different foods is increasingly coming to light through scientific research: the gut microbiome.
Microbiome: the collective name for all the microorganisms responsible for hormonal, immunological and metabolic balance such as bacteria, protists, archaea and fungi.
While we're starting to understand the importance gut health has on our health, it's only recently that the gut's crucial role in the health of our pups has been acknowledged and researched.
Ask many raw feed proponents and they can absolutely claim to have been ahead of the curve on this one. It's really exciting to have some facts to back it up though!
Only last year, Li et al (2017) found that dogs fed a High Protein, Low Carbohydrate (HPLC) were less likely to be overweight or obese than their counterparts on a Low Protein, High Carbohydrate diet.
More importantly, an HPLC diet was also found to have a beneficial effect on gut microbiomes.
This is crazy I know... but essentially what they found was that a high protein diet, which would be akin to what canines eat in the wild is better for them?
Another bunch, Sandri et al (2017) successfully proved the benefits of raw feeding on the microbial systems of our dogs. Raw feeding was shown to promote better bacterial balance and gut function.
Again, this information is not revolutionary but it indicates the growing acceptance of the scientific community that feeding raw is not to be feared. It doesn’t cause illness - in fact, healthy microbes protect against pathogens and ‘starve’ out harmful bacteria such as Salmonella.
These friendly bacteria assist our dogs in extracting the maximum nutritional value from the food they eat. And it turns out, that exposing them to a variety of protein sources and veggies is the best way of ensuring that their levels of good bacteria are maintained!
So, take a HPLC diet, make it raw and varied, and all of a sudden you're making your dog healthier from the inside out? Now this is starting to get exciting!
So how do you do it?
Most people focus on chicken as the only base protein in their dog's diet. While chicken is a great, lean protein source, full of essential amino acids and glucosamine, feeding it exclusively means your pup will be missing out on the benefits of other protein sources. It can in fact lead to some pretty alarming deficiencies as fed as the sole source of protein! That's a whole other post though.
Each meat has a different amino acid profile and each brings different vitamins and minerals to the table:
- Beef contains higher levels of iron, zinc and Vitamin B12 than chicken
- Kangaroo is high in protein, low in fat and contains the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. It’s also a great source of Conjugated Linoleic Acids (CLAs), shown to have anti-carcinogenic properties for dogs (Baek, McEntee & Legendre, 2009).
- Duck is high in iron and is one of the most-easily digested - perfect for sensitive tummies.
- Similarly, lamb is great for dogs with food sensitivities and is a great red meat alternative to beef
- Fish is a fantastic source of Omega-3 fatty acids and plays a critical role in balancing levels of Omega-6, thereby helping prevent inflammation
How you actually play this into your dog's diet is completely up to you!
It’s important to remember that food allergies are often caused by over-exposure to the same protein on a continual basis.
Whether you cycle through proteins on weekly basis, or interchange it daily we recommend have at least 3 proteins in your dog's diet at any point in time (for example, chicken, fish and kangaroo).
Within each protein group, our ranges include Digestion Support, Proactive Health and Mobility Care. Each have a different profile of ingredients and feeding a variety will ensure your dog has access to all the vitamins and minerals they require to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.
So taking from William Cowper's old poem, "Variety is the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor". While science is highlighting this importance, we reckon one of the best parts is how excited your dog's will be with varied and exciting tastes with mealtimes!