I am often asked about canine nutrition and what is the best diet for dogs. This is a very personal topic to myself and each and every dog owner out there. There are many different approached to feeding your canine companion, but which is the most nourishing?
My journey into canine nutrition started unexpectedly after having recently adopting a very handsome 1 year old Rottweiler from The Lost Dogs' Home in Melbourne back in 2010. Rocky, who we re-named as Tybalt, was picked up wondering the streets of Melbourne and found himself, as many do, un-microchipped, malnourished and homeless.
I had been looking for a dog since moving to Melbourne, and at the time I had just started my studies in canine behaviour. I saw Tybalt and knew instantly that he was the one. He was larger than life and had absolutely no training, which was all part of his appeal. I also have a huge soft spot for Rotties!
At the time Tybalt was my first rescue. If you have ever rescued an adult dog, you'll understand that it is not the same as bringing home a tiny puppy. We were as sure of him as he was of us, but he settled quickly after several days of walks and trust building. The thing that did not settle though was Tybalt's bowels.
Many rescue dogs go through this process as their bodies are bombarded with treatments and surgical procedures before adoption. Worming, inoculations and anaesthetic, added with the stress of being kennelled in the highly stressful environment of a rescue centre can cause absolute havoc on the gut. I was aware of this and had taken the vet's advice to starve Tybalt for 48 hours, then introduce boiled chicken and some rice. After numerous attempts of applying this method to no avail, I was led to delve much further into the world of canine nutrition and what was really going on with Tybalt's gut.
I started looking into the pet food that we were feeding him, and the pet food industry as a whole. I assumed that as I was buying a very expensive brand which had 'scientifically approved' written all over it, I was feeding the right food for my skinny adopted boy. Well, it turns out that this very expensive brand had some rather nasty preservatives in it, and these preservatives can cause an array of digestion problems with many dogs.
So why do these expensive brands put these preservatives into their products? Good question! Simply put, these expensive brands do so to preserve the shelf life of their products, therefore making more profit. That is it. I would strongly advise that you look into the dog food brand that you are using, and pay attention to the ingredients of these products to see for yourself the ethics of the brand you're purchasing, you may be surprised.
After researching even more, I found out that the pet food industry is somewhat corrupt, I was, and still am in shock at what they get away with. You will be told this and that, and the marketing ploys they use are beyond sneaky. Even your own vet will recommend certain brands to feed your dog. Why do they do this? They're endorsed by these products to do so. And sadly the majority of vets out there are simply not fully educated in canine nutrition. This is a long and complex topic that demands a lot of research and understanding, but the information is out there.
What do I feed my dogs? I feed my dogs a mostly raw complete diet. I will feed this as their main evening meal, with an addition of blue berries, banana, broccoli, peas, apple, avocado (avocado is very nutritional for dogs, the pip and skin are toxic) apple, banana or whatever edible fruit I have to hand, coconut oil, cod liver oil and raw chicken necks/pieces. This is complimented with several raw bones per dog, per week. I also add a complete air dried complete dog food with no nasties when needed.
I love the convenience of the complete raw options, they're no more expensive than a complete biscuit. We love and adore our dogs and want the very best for them, so why not ensure that they're getting the best nutrition. I only feed my clients' 100% natural treats, as I know all too well of the nasties that are in the cheaper options.
A dog's diet is a huge part of their longevity, health and happiness, so why not feed the very best.