It’s been a year since I began researching dry dog food to find out for myself exactly how this type of food works within the digestive systems of working dogs (Rottweilers and German Shepherds, to be specific).
Well, although I am not a canine food science ‘expert’, I am an expert at what works and certainly very good at observing the obvious as regards my own animals. Here are the results of one year of observation regarding dry dog food:
1. The kcals per kg and kcals per cup are vital to the viable nutrition of the canine. Using this page from a vet supply web site gave me the initial information necessary to begin research and determine how many kcals were needed for active working dogs.
2. Ingredients alone do not determine the caloric content and usable food value of dry kibble. In October of 2010, I had five underweight dogs in my kennel, despite being fed ample amounts of a supposed ‘high performance’ dog food, with chicken as the first ingredient. Since switching to a calorie-dense food with a less fashionable first ingredient (chicken by product meal), every one of those dogs has gained back weight, using the same or lower amounts of kibble per day. So, it really does not matter how much ‘deboned chicken’ or ‘wild salmon’ is thrown into some of these foods, the bottom line is that all of that mush has to result in a calorie dense food that the dog can convert into usable fuel for growth, maintenance and viability. My rule of thumb is that the food must contain at least 400 kcals per cup to do the job.
3. Calorie dense foods are vital to canine reproductive systems and milk production. Prior to switching foods, the loss of newborn pups from mothers fed a lower calorie food was at or around 35% per litter without exception. Unsuccessful breedings were commonplace. Lack of adequate colostrum and milk may also have resulted in lowered immune systems and more difficulty with puppy growth, but these are not provable with the data to hand. The bottom line is that since switching to a calorie dense food, the newborn loss has reduced to 0%-20% per litter.
4. Calorie dense foods are vital to new puppy growth at weaning. I have observed that pups fed a high calorie diet develop stronger immune systems and experience more stable growth than those feeding on lower calorie diets. Weaning pups on high calorie puppy food had zero ramp up time. This means that before, it would take three or four days for pups to start eating the ‘high performance, all life stages’ kibble. Now, they begin eating immediately, first day, and never look back. Wormings and other preventative meds also appear to work more completely than before. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I don’t think so.
Well, that about wraps it up. If you are a dog owner who is simply status conscious, you will continue to feed your dog low calorie, high cost salmon and bison free range organic kibble, since that is what your vet or the sales rep at the local pet store told you to feed. If you are a cheap dog owner, you may continue to feed your dog Field Trial or whatever corn based stuff you can buy at the local carry out. Maybe those foods work for you, and that’s fine. I’m not here to revolutionize the dog food industry.
However, if you have a dog that is not doing well on his kibble, for any reason, including, but not limited to:
not gaining or maintaining weight,
having skin or coat issues,
immune system issues,
recurring soft tissue injuries,
lack of energy,
constantly hungry resulting in overfeeding, resulting in loose stools and a host of other issues,
then maybe you might consider looking into what’s really in your dog’s food. I hope this has helped.