Rover, Fido, and Fifi are in trouble, or so says a New York Times article by Peter Jaret that got picked up in my local paper this morning. Entitled in our paper’s copy “People food leads to people problem. Obesity,” the article bemoans the growing overweight crisis among our nation’s canines. And the remedy? Our pooches need to (you guessed it) eat less and exercise more. Hmmmm? Where have we heard that before? The less, of course, meaning mainly less fat, but Mr. Jaret’s sources also counsel feeding less people food and less food in general.
The author seems rightly appalled by the designer doggie treats that some folks are feeding their canine companions, such edibles as peanut butter waffle cones topped with carob and organic oatmeal biscuits shaped like fire hydrants. The article goes on to quote a clerk at the Barkery at Canine Ranch (a doggie bakery in Manhattan) as saying
Everything we sell here is all-natural, human quality…The humans actually eat them as well as the dogs. They share.
As Dave Barry would say: I am NOT making this up! Puhleeze!
For crying out loud, dogs are not little furry humans; they’re basically carnivores–meat eaters, not all that far removed from their wild cousins. At no time during the millennia of their evolution did the pressures of natural selection have them feasting on waffle cones and cookies–even organic “all natural” ones. To feed them this kind of junk is not only damaging to their health, it’s patently absurd. (Of course, feeding it to ourselves isn’t all that smart either.) And while it’s easy to poke fun at bow wow bon bons and canine candy, the actual commercial chow that fills the shelves of grocery and pet stores isn’t really much better: a little bit of protein and a whole lotta rice, oats, barley, and soy. Low in fat, high in carb, and scarcely adequate in protein. No wonder dogs are falling victim to obesity and diabetes and congestive heart failure and allergies and asthma. Clearly, dogs don’t do any better on this kind of unnatural diet than we do.
If I had a dog–which I do not–I would feed it meat, good quality fresh, natural, hormone-and-antibiotic-free meat, ground up with some good quality fat trimmings to up the calories. Maybe, like some friends of ours in Nevada, who shepherd a beautiful, healthy pair of the glossiest-coated Schnauzers I’ve ever seen, I’d also throw in a handful of parsley and a clove of garlic. That and some water would be all that crossed my pooch’s chops and I would wager a large sum that he would be a svelte and frisky pup.
Good advice for Lassie; good advice for us all as we recover from holiday excesses and indulgences. Meat and salad, anyone?