Dogs are animals whose diet, evolutionarily, has been composed of a high amount of protein. Descendants of the wolf, they are adapted to be fed mainly on animal protein sources, coming from hunting animals in the wild.
While this is true, some observations can be made.
On the one hand, the fact that they fed mainly on animals does not mean that dogs are prepared to base their diet solely on meat. In fact, when a wolf hunts in the wild, the first thing it ingests from its prey is the viscera, those internal organs including the stomach, which contains everything that prey has eaten. That is, if a wolf hunts a rabbit, the first thing it will eat is all the plants that the rabbit was digesting in its stomach.
On the other hand, it cannot be ignored that these animals have changed over time, and their way of feeding has changed along.
Dogs have had a biological evolution separate from the wolf for more than 15,000 years, because of their domestic life with people, in which they have adapted to other forms of food.
Many things have changed. Now all most dogs just walk over to their bowl and eat some dry food. Diet greatly influences the life expectancy of modern dogs. To choose a food that adapts to the current needs of domestic dogs, we must not forget where they come from, but other factors must be taken into consideration as well.
A natural diet is healthier, tastier, and safer. Ingredient lists are the best indicator of what you’re really eating.
Not natural diets include ingredients such as artificial flavorings, colors, or preservatives that make the food look appealing and taste great, yet harm their long-term health. Giving your dog a highly processed food with these types of additives would be like taking them to eat every day at a fast-food restaurant, instead of giving them homemade food.
For a good canine diet, it is advisable to avoid by-products, whether animal or vegetable, and artificial additives.
For proper nutrition, all nutrients: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water must be ingested in the correct amount. This is essential for normal organ development and function, proper reproductive function, tissue repair, and fighting disease.
Despite their adaptation to domestic life, we must not forget the origins of dogs. Their bodies are adapted to eating a high percentage of meat, so a good diet will have meat or fish as the first ingredient. We must also ensure that the main source of protein in the food is of animal origin, since vegetable protein concentrates have a lower biological value than animal protein, and the body of dogs does not synthesize them in the same way.
As already mentioned, dogs not only tolerate, but also need other types of nutrients in addition to protein to make their diet complete. Giving them only meat or fish would lead to long-term nutritional deficiencies.
Ways of cooking
Although the closest thing to what dogs would eat in the wild is raw meat, safety should not be overlooked. Eating uncooked meat, even if it has been previously frozen, carries health risks for dogs such as contamination by bacteria, in addition to the transmission of zoonotic parasites that are only destroyed by correct cooking. Therefore, it is not recommended to give them raw meat or fish.
A good alternative is steamed or low-temperature food, as this way of cooking eliminates the health risks of raw meat, while maintaining the nutritional properties of the food to the maximum. Consuming minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants directly from food improves the immune system of dogs.
Hydration is very important. When it is steamed, part of the water in the ingredients can be kept, which contributes to a better hydration of the dog, since its kidneys and liver do not have to withstand the same pressure as when eating dry food or croquettes. If your dog eats kibble, this is not a cause for alarm, if a bowl of clean, fresh water is always available.
Feeding the gut microbiota
The intestines play a crucial role in the health of dogs. The intestinal tract contains a complex community of microbes, an ecosystem that influences functions such as the absorption of nutrients from food.
Imbalances in the microbiota can lead to numerous health problems such as diarrhea, being overweight or allergies.
The nutritional composition and quality of the food you give your dog directly influence its microbiota. A good meal, in addition to including an adequate source of all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals, will be enriched with prebiotics. These will help keep the microbiota in perfect condition. Numerous reports have shown that prebiotics and probiotics improve the immune system of dogs, potentially protecting them from contracting infectious diseases.
Amino acid supply
Amino acids are vital for dogs, some of them being essential, that is, the body cannot produce them on its own and they must be included in the diet.
The most important thing of all this is that the food you choose for your dog provides the right amount of essential amino acids, bearing in mind that most of them are provided by proteins of animal origin.
In the case of dogs, the antioxidants that must be provided by the diet are Arginine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Tryptophan, Threonine and Valine.
In short, an ideal diet will provide a high amount of highly digestible protein, which will be processed as little as possible, what is necessary to avoid possible bacterial contamination of raw meat. It will be made up of natural foods, of good quality, whose nutrients can be better used, and it will be enriched with prebiotics and probiotics that will help improve digestion, reducing gases and odors. By eliminating chemical additives and processing, health problems will be reduced. It will have an adequate balance of nutrients for the animals, providing each one in the necessary proportion, as well as the essential amino acids for the dog.
All this will result in a happier, healthier dog that will live better and longer.