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Why feed your dogs raw meat, bones and organs? Seems silly? Well, lets step back and take a look at what a dog really is and what they're really designed to eat.
The closest living relative that the dog has is the grey wolf, Canis lupis. In fact they are so closely related that the domestic dog, Canis lupis familiaris, is just a subspecies of the grey wolf. Even though we have done lots of selective breeding in the last few hundred years to create all the different breeds there are today, their basic physiological and nutritional needs have gone unchanged. DNA research and breeding studies have seen that the domestic dog and the wolf can interbreed with each other with no decrease in fertility or communication. The same studies were duplicated with dogs and coyotes, but there was a marked decrease in fertility as well as an increase in genetic disorders within just a few generations (1). These results tell us that the domestic dog is most closely related to the grey wolf.
Looking at dentition from the dog to the wolf alone is enough to see the similarities. Of course some of the breeds like the Bulldog and Boston Terrier have much different dentition than a wolf, but their physiology are the same because of their heritage.
The skull and dentition of the grey wolf:
The skull and dentition of the domestic dog (German Shepherd): 1. Lindblad-Toh, K; Wade, CM; Mikkelsen, TS; Karlsson, EK; Jaffe, DB; Kamal, M; Clamp, M; Chang, JL et al. (December 2005). "Genome sequence, comparative analysis and haplotype structure of the domestic dog" (PDF). Nature 438 (7069): 803. doi:10.1038/nature04338. ISSN0028-0836. PMID16341006.
Looking at the teeth of an animal is good place to start when figuring out their natural diet. Here is some quoted text from a general anatomy text book:
“Teeth are highly specialized and are structured specifically for the diet the animal eats, and the difference between a bear’s teeth and a dog’s teeth (both species are in Order Carnivora) demonstrates how this can be” (Feldhamer, G.A. 1999. Mammology: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. McGraw-Hill. pgs 260.).“Dogs (and cats) are equipped with powerful jaw muscles and neck muscles that assist in pulling down prey and chewing meat, bone, and hide. Their jaws hinge open widely, allowing them to gulp large chunks of meat and bone. Their skulls are heavy, and are shaped to prevent lateral movement of the lower jaw when captured prey struggles (the mandibular fossa is deep and C-shaped); this shape permits only an up-and-down crushing motion, whereas herbivores and omnivores have flatter mandibular fossa that allows for the lateral motion necessary to grind plant matter”. (Feldhamer, G.A. 1999. Mammology: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. McGraw-Hill. pgs 258-259.).
Looking further into depth at the anatomy of our dogs, the digestive tract is that of a carnivore. The overall length is very short and is lacking complexity. Meats and bone are relatively easy to digest, because animal cells are not contained in a protective cell wall, like plant cells. Herbivores, or more specifically ungulates, have very complex and long digestive tracts. The plant matter that they consume is very hard to digest, and must ferment for long periods of time, hence the longer length to their digestive tract. These animals also have specialized, symbiotic relationships with bacteria and other microbes to aid in the digestion of plant material. Even with the aid of these microbes, these animals don't get a lot of nutrition from their diet, so they have to consume great amounts of plants to sustain their livelihood.
A dog's digestive tract is very efficient at digesting meat and bone. There is very little waste after digestion has been completed with a 95% digestive rate of raw meats, within 2-3 hours. Stomach acid is very strong and works immediately on the proteins and fats of prey items ingested. There is no need for a long and complicated digestive system when only digesting animal nutrients.
“Dogs have a highly elastic stomach designed to hold large quantities of meat, bone, organs, and hide. Their stomachs are simple, with an undeveloped caecum” (Feldhamer, G.A. 1999. Mammology: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology. McGraw-Hill. pg 260.).
Since dogs do not possess the digestive system of an omnivore or herbivore, why feed them a plant based diet of processed kibble? The fact that dogs lack the enzyme amylase, which is used to break down carbohydrates, is reason enough to feed them a species appropriate diet, one that lacks carbohydrates. When dogs are fed omnivore based diets, kibble that is primarily corn, rice, soy, potato, or other starchy ingredients, it reaks havoc on their entire system. These foods are a lot harder for dogs to digest, putting added stress on all the organs in the body. The constant added stress on the body, can lead to organ failure prematurely, meaning that the organs work too hard for too long and lose function.
Starchy food ingredients are bad for dental hygiene. Tartar buildup leads to dental disease, sometimes and often severe enough to cause abscessed roots and extracted teeth. These infections in the mouth can cause huge problems down the system line. Secondary bacterial infections can show up in the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, etc causes limited function. Dogs get a good teeth cleaning every time they crunch down on bones. The chewing action naturally scrapes plague and removes tarter.
As we have gone through the anatomy of dogs, it is continuously shown that dogs are carnivores and are meant to eat a carnivorous diet. This means that dogs must be fed a species appropriate diet, which is one consisting of raw meats, bones and organs. We need to stop feeding inappropriate foods that are made out of convenience that someone else benefits from other than your pet.
Although a diet of whole raw foods based on Nature's prey model is the most natural, healthy way for our carnivorous companion animals to eat, it is not a cure-all for any or all ailments, nor should it be considered as such. If your pet is ill you are advised to seek out the services of a professional pet health care provider. The material contained on this website is the author's opinion and is shared for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing written herein is intended or should be considered as veterinary advice, and the author assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse by the reader of this information.