Why?

Why do we feed most animals in our care something that is natural to them, but not our dogs?

It’s an interesting question, when you stop to think about it. Picture a horse eating. Did you see him grazing in a pasture, munching on hay in his stall, or perhaps from a bucket of oats? How about a rabbit — feasting on some clover, or raiding your garden? Have a friend with a snake or lizard? Perhaps it grossed you out, but I bet you that friend got their reptile insects or mice to eat.

Now picture your dog, waiting for you to fill his bowl. What’s in the bowl?

This is what 96% of the American population feeds their dog.

Yes, most people feed those brown nuggets called kibble. But tell me, where in nature does kibble grow? Where in nature are other animals that eat anything remotely similar? Of course, the answer to these questions is nowhere. But here is the most important question to think about. If kibble is a good way to feed an animal, why don’t we just feed them all kibble? Why don’t we have “Human Chow” for that matter?

Humans can create the most amazing things, from art and music to medical science and technology. We’ve gone to the depths of the ocean, and the reaches of space. We’ve crushed atoms, and built skyscrapers. Yet there is one lesson we can’t seem to keep in mind.

There is always a consequence and a price when we humans try to improve upon or go against nature. And while we, with our genius, can sometimes come close to nature, we always fall short. So, we try other ways to improve upon our approximation of the natural thing. Take the margarine from the commercial above. To make it taste like butter, synthetic and chemical flavors are added. To keep it soft even in the fridge, more chemicals. And the color? Yes, artificial coloring agents. What is the consequence of these things going in our bodies? And, when a chef cooks or bakes, will she compromise on taste or ingredient performance by using the cheaper, unnatural margarine?

It’s the same with kibble. Common sense biology tells us dogs evolved to eat a meaty diet. From the shape of their teeth to the lack of enzymes in their saliva to the functions of all the parts of their digestive tract, the dog is primarily a meat eater. Yet we humans in our never-ending desire to “one-up” Mother Nature have created kibble, to be convenient, to use waste from the human food industry, and to use as many cheaper, non-meat ingredients as possible. Then we make up the difference with synthetic or manufactured nutrients. We even have companies putting out vegan and vegetarian foods, completely depriving dogs of proteins they are biologically designed to eat.

As the margarine commercial points out, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” There are consequences and a price to be paid for feeding a dog contrary to his biology. We have an ever escalating rate of cancer in dogs today. Allergies, skin, and ear infections top the list of reasons dogs are taken to the vet. Cruciate ligament injuries are frighteningly common today, as are hypothyroidism and adrenal diseases.

So why are we not feeding dogs the ingredients Mother Nature would? Why are our eyes open to the biological needs of horses and cows, reptiles and rabbits, but not dogs? I believe it is largely because the pet food industry has shifted our cultural belief of what pets should eat, while also honing their focus in one ever expanding profit, rather than ever expanding health. And that brings me to my final question – is that a price you are willing to let your dog pay?

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