Prejudices and misconceptions in the field of nutrition
Owners of dogs and cats are increasingly paying attention to the condition of their pets: they try to feed them better, but, unfortunately, they are often held captive by prejudice, as modern knowledge refutes the prevailing practice of feeding. For example: “A dog should eat only once a day …” or “Once a week it should be left without a coma …” This is convenient for the owner, but has nothing to do with the dog’s health. Or one more thing: “The dog works better on an empty stomach.” But today it is recognized that under loads requiring endurance (hunting, working in a harness at long distances), the dog should be lightly fed 3-4 hours before they start.
Many categorical statements contain the refusal to use the finished feed, and many owners feel guilty for having to take the easier path.
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“My dog eats the same way I do!”
How many owners confuse products that they eat themselves with those that they feed their animals! This is called anthropomorphism. They do not know, and do not want to know, that the dog is carnivorous by nature. It digests plant proteins worse than proteins of animal origin, in conditions of severe cold and heavy loads, fats can make up more than half the diet of draft dogs (while the threshold of tolerance in humans is from 35% to 40%), that is, about 3/4 of the total calorie content. A dog is tolerant of starch as a source of energy only when the latter is well-cooked, and in the proportion in which it satisfies its physiological costs: a puppy, a dog leading an active lifestyle cannot adapt to a high-carb diet without the risk of side effects, like that: coprophagy, stressful diarrhea …
The needs for minerals and vitamins of a dog are also very different from human needs: a puppy needs much less vitamin D than a child (the difference is more than 400%), and vitamin C is synthesized in an endogenous way, and so on.
“The dog needs variety”
A home-made diet can be balanced, mouth-watering and digestible, but trying to over-diversify its composition, we can make it vulnerable in terms of balance: if horse meat contains more than 60% protein on a dry matter basis, then lamb or poultry carcass will contain less 40%, beef, depending on its origin, provides from 25% to 50% and even more fat, which can more than double its energy value.
Too frequent changes in the feed can lead to digestive upsets, the intestinal microflora of the dog adapts to one type of food, and sudden changes can cause increased production of some poorly tolerated metabolites or toxins. For example, the consumption of indigestible meat enhances the activity of the protolytic flora, which leads to an increase in the alkalinity of the pH, bloating, and more or less serious diarrhea.
Variety, therefore, is good only within a certain range of feeds that are close in their nutritional composition. Therefore, when transferring a dog from one feed to another, a transition period should be observed for several days.
“Crackers contribute to the development of prognathism”
Those who claim this forget that prognathism is a condition in which the upper jaw is longer than the lower, and not the atrophy of the lower jaw. In addition, morphometric studies have shown that the length of the lower jaw is associated with the length of the skull of the individual and that prognathism causes facial atrophy.
“Dry foods help twist the stomach”
Today, it is known that the gas contained in the stomach at the time of its expansion is primarily air inhaled by the dog during unsuccessful attempts to regurgitate, as well as CO2 from the blood. Although this is often said, neither nature nor the quality of nutrition can be associated with this circumstance, and this is shown in a recently published series of dog studies.
“Ready-made feed is not natural, it is crammed with all kinds of additives …”
The most dangerous are the false ideas that arise from a lack of information: they make you believe that any food of industrial origin is necessarily worse than traditional food, because it is less “natural”. Many people are concerned about the potential dangers posed by pesticide residues in their own diets. And in their minds they quickly liken “additives” to all kinds of toxic products. The introduction of additives should satisfy the basic requirements of the buyer:
• sanitary, organoleptic and dietary quality of purchased feed;
• ease of storage and use.
Dry feeds contain many additives. Among those used, we find:
• vitamins and minerals (zinc, copper, selenium), necessary for health, and officially classified as additives;
• antioxidants, the use of which is subject to strict rules that guarantee harmlessness.