The Dog's Dinner - by Ann Ridyard

Raw feeding for dogs

         To veg or not to veg.........That is the question!!

 

And it is a question which often splits raw feeders into two different camps, we have the 'Born again Barfers' and we have the Prey Model sort - the barfers think that fruit and vegetables are a vital inclusion in a dog's diet, whereas the prey model feeders do not.

I am one of those people who now believe that they are not a vital inclusion, although a while back, I did include them as a small part of the diet. 

I will admit to sitting on the fence a little with this one, as I do think that they could play a useful part, if say for example a dog's diet was lacking in nutrients or variety, or if a dog had a specific need for them, or as a filler?

I have discovered my own dogs like a bit of fruit and veg now and then, they love seasonal berries and they will graze whilst out on a walk, but not always and I have noticed that they are quite seasonal and picky with their grass eating habits - I believe that they just like the taste of certain items, which doesn't make them an essential inclusion - more of a healthy treat.

 

So why do some believe you should include them and some believe they are not necessary?

 

 The arguement against :-  

This whole raw diet concept is supposed to be imitating the natural diet of a wild carnivore. 

If we look at the studies of David Mech, who is the world's leading wolf biologist, it becomes very apparent that the stomach contents of prey animals are not eaten by the wolves, instead they spill out as the stomach is punctured and whilst the stomach lining and intestine may be consumed, their contents become strewn about the kill site and are of no interest to the wolves.

I compare this to my dogs shaking a piece of fresh, unwashed tripe before eating it - I have seen several of them do this and used to joke that they were making sure it was dead before they ate it - But were they?  Or were they trying to relieve it of some of the vegetable matter?  Who knows?

What I do know is that in David's book about wolves, which was a compilation of 350 years of observations, experiments, research and field studies, he is very clear on this:-   

 

David Mech  “Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation”

Section from Chapter 4 - “The Wolf as a Carnivore.”

“Wolves usually tear into the body cavity of large prey and...consume the larger internal organs, such as lungs, heart, and liver. The large rumen is usually punctured during removal and its contents spilled. The vegetation in the intestinal tract is of no interest to the wolves, but the stomach lining and intestinal wall are consumed, and their contents further strewn about the kill site”

“To grow and maintain their own bodies, wolves need to ingest all the major parts of their herbivorous prey, except the plants in the digestive system”

“The wolf's diet consists mostly of muscle meat and fatty tissue from various animals. Heart, lung, liver, and other internal organs are eaten. Bones are crushed to get at the marrow, and bone fragments are eaten as well. Even hair and skin are sometimes consumed. The only part consistently ignored is the stomach and its contents. Although some vegetable matter is taken separately, particularly berries, Canis lupus doesn't seem to digest them very well”

 

The domesticated dog can now be classed as a sub-species of the wolf, because DNA evidence revealed in 1993 that the dog is genetically identical to the Gray wolf to within 0.2%  This also changed their scientific classification and the domestic dog is now know as Canis Lupus Familiaris (domesticated wolf)  

Prey model feeders therefore feel that it is neither natural or required to include fruit and vegetables in their dog's diet

If you decide that you would like to include fruit and veg in your dog's diet then there are a few things you need to be aware of.

Dogs are most definitely carnivores, not omnivores, they therefore do not have the internal equipment needed to process and digest vegetable matter - so even if you do decide to include it, unless you help the dog by preparing the veg to a state he can digest it, you are basically wasting your time............or are you??

The GSD above is one of mine and she loves a raw unprocessed carrot, she likes apple and berries, she also likes the odd bit of left over veg. 

The fact that she likes them and in the grand scheme of things they are not actually harmful to her, leads me to feed such items now and then JUST because she likes them.

But it is extremely doubtful that she will gain any nutritional benefits from eating that carrot - this is evident just by looking at her stools containing undigested carrot bits.

If I had been feeding the carrot to supplement her diet based on its nutritional value, then I would have had to make it possible for her to digest it - this requires breaking down the cells of the carrot and turning it into to a pulp - as only then can she benefit from it.

Animals who are designed to consume vegetable matter have the internal equipment needed to carry this out - your dog doesn't and this is why I don't feed a lot of raw unprocessed vegetables, as I don't want my dogs to have food stuffs constantly passing through their system that they can't digest - my whole point of switching to raw in the first place!!

But a little of what they fancy now and then is not going to hurt them and they do love their seasonal blackberries !!

If I felt my dog's diet was lacking in nutrients or variety, then I may be tempted to make up for this using prepared veg - ie pulped through a food processor to breakdown the cells and render it to a similar state the partly digested stomach contents of a prey animal would contain.

But since we have proved that wild carnivores ignore the stomach contents then I have to question the 'naturalness' of doing this on a regular basis   And here I am .... back on that fence !!  Ouch !

I think I will just stick with adding green tripe, the ocassional carrots and berries etc (for enjoyment) and the odd bit of left over veg - this method has served my dogs well for a number of years now and I see no reason to change it.