January 4

Doggone It! The Pooch has a Paunch

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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?


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  1. We recently had to put our dog to sleep (liver cancer) but for the longest time we always gave her dry food. When we first got her we got the canned meat dog food but that gave her some indigestion problems. Maybe it was just the fact that those canned foods are not of great quality either, I’m sure. But what was interesting was in the last week or so when we tried to get her to eat anything, the doctor prescribed chicken, rice, chicken broth, etc for her weakened stomach. For us, we were willing to do anything, but in a way, we were thinking “human food?!” To us it was absurd, but your point is definitely valid – what is “human food” is essentially food for all animals; we just all eat different varieties, and dogs mainly eat meat.

    And while the holiday indulgences for me always throw my diet out the door, I do like the fact that Jan. 1st is right around the corner, so a perfect opportunity to get right back on track. Maybe the holidays are kind of like going out with a bang (on one’s old eating habits)!

  2. So sorry to hear about your dog; it’s so hard to lose a pet. Back in the mid 90s, our family dog of 14 years, the venerable Wimp, died with cancer. We, too, had fed him on standard food–half wet, half dry. In his waning days, our vet also prescribed a high calorie mostly meat and fat canned food to provide lots of calories in a small volume of food. He’d probably have been far better off and lived even longer had we just fed him meat and fat all along.

  3. I agree with that. Luckily, our dog was almost 14 years old as well, and the doctor had originally given a life expectancy of 10-15 years, so for all intents and purposes, at least she lived a long life. Looks like yours did, too.

  4. I discovered raw feeding shortly after starting on LC myself. I had adopted a cat that was extremely overweight (18 pounds!) and was searching the internet looking for appropriate ways of feeding him. I commented to a friend that I should put him on LC too….and we both laughed. THEN I found out that the incidence of diabetes, heart disease, cancer have all exploded recently in the companion pet world!

    After much searching, and finding the main ingredient in cat and dog foods was corn, I started looking for a more natural way of feeding them. I also have 2 dogs, which were puppies at this time. Well, let me tell you, it didn’t take very long to decide to switch to raw feeding!

    Unfortunately the cat didn’t accept the change, and died soon after (vet presumed kidney failure…? diabetes?), but my two pups are still fed only raw meat and bones or canned containing meat only. They do get treats, but they are limited. They’re now 3yrs old and look wonderful and still have the energy of puppies (yippee!!).

    I was warned on the faw feeding msg boards to not tell my vet I was raw feeding, and I never did. I only take them when sick (never) and for rabies/heartworm (yearly)….funny thing is the vet keeps telling me I have to brush their teeth or they’re going to have problems….I have never brushed them and the two have the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen! Their weight is perfect, their coats shiny and they are doing fantastic. Oh yea….at the age of 8 months the vet told me to change them to senior food!!!! They weren’t even a year old and I’m supposed to feed them senior food? (obviously low fat senior food)

    I’ve found that many people that raw feed also follow a LC diet for themselves too! Most that I’ve talked to say they questioned their pet’s food after starting LC themselves. Most of my friends and family think I’m nuts….but who cares! I fed my children according to my beliefs, and these are now my children….why wouldn’t I want the best for them?

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