Dogs are designed to ingest much of their water requirements from food. In fact their natural prey contains 70% water. Kibble contains less than 10% water. Just imagine eating cereal without milk every day for the rest of your life.
Dehydrated food forces the digestive system to compensate by taking moisture from tissues and redirecting to the digestive system. Many dogs will develop a puffy, bloated look associated with this practice. Their cells retain as much water as possible in anticipation of the dehydrating effects of kibble.
The daily stress of dehydration is seen in multiple organ systems especially the kidneys. Urinary tract infections, stones and crystals are common in kibble fed dogs. A natural diet keeps the urinary system flushed.
Other serious considerations, especially for the larger breeds are bloat. When kibble encounters the moisture in the stomach it rapidly expands in size. It is this action that is thought to substantially increase the risk of bloat or gastric torsion. These conditions are considered a medical emergency and can be fatal.
I often get asked to cite the scientific evidence that leads me to state dogs should eat like wolves (a balanced raw diet) rather than processed, commercial kibble. I am inundated with short duration studies that prove that a particular kibble can sustain a dog’s life. It is “valid” because it has been proven scientifically. Yet our companions just keep getting sicker and sicker eating processed food. Now deaths from cancer, diabetes and degenerative conditions are the norm. There are more veterinary clinics than ever before yet dogs continue die prematurely. My natural diet stance is based on long term trials, that is, 15,000 years (possibly more)of domestic dogs eating raw.
Aside from the historical aspect of raw feeding, I have personally witnessed the wonderful healing and restoring powers of a species appropriate diet. Having the privilege of being in the natural dog food industry for well over a decade, I have received thousands of positive reports of dogs returning to good health. It is obvious; many health conditions have roots in the consumption of processed foods.
Most people would agree that cows should be able to freely graze in natural pastures because that is the food its digestive system is designed to process. Cows evolved grazing on plant matter and it is an understood truth that the most beneficial food for a species is what it has evolved eating. The same holds true for our companion animals- keep a dog’s diet as close to its natural food and he will flourish. Therefore, feed your dog a raw, natural diet (wolf diet) and you will be providing a diet supported by evolution.
Since this is a very hard position to argue against, adversaries now question the relationship between the wolf and dog. They even suggest a dog is not a carnivore but an omnivore. If the dog and wolf are not closely related then they don’t require the same diet. This means that we can continue to feed a processed diet full of corn and chemicals.
The relationship between dogs and wolves is well understood. Dogs are a subspecies of wolves; the connection is so close they are interfertile. This means they can breed and produce viable offspring. In other words, the offspring of a wolf and dog can produce offspring themselves. This is an important distinction. The processed food promoters counter this argument by citing the strong genetic relationship that exists between humans and chimpanzees, yet no one would suggest we should eat the same food as a chimp (ironically the chimp diet is probably healthier than the typical North American diet). The difference is dogs and wolves are interfertile. Humans and apes are not interfertile and they are not the same species. The distinction is enormous.
The genetic relationship between dogs and wolves is old news. Originally dogs were classified as Canis familiaris and Canis familiarus domesticus in 1758. Science has come a long way and in 1993, the Smithsonian Institution and the American Society of Mammalogists reclassified dogs as Canis Lupus Familiaris (subspecies of the gray wolf Canis Lupus). In other words, the domestic dog is no longer classified as a separate species, it is a subspecies of the gray wolf and a wolf is a carnivore.
Therefore, since a dog’s internal physiology is the same as a wolf, it is logical that a dog’s nutritional needs are identical to a wolf.
This means dogs need to consume a balance of meat, bones and organs of herbivorous prey. Plant matter in the digestive system of the prey is removed and not consumed.
So, see your pet for what he is- a pack oriented, carnivorous friend. Accept him for the little wolf he is and provide him with a diet to match his genes and it will go a long way towards promoting a long healthy life.