Friday, September 26, 2008

The food that made the dog

This one I came up with by quoting Steve Brown from his “See Spot live longer”. He basically came up with this interesting thought. I furthermore include passages I found in Landry & Van Kruningen’s “Food habits of feral carnivores: A review of stomach content analysis” and Lorna & Ray Coppinger’s “Dogs: A startling new understanding of canine origin, behavior & evolution”.
“Bones, pieces of carcass, rotten greens and fruit, fish guts, discarded seed and grains, animal guts and heads, some uneaten human food and wastes…”
“The staple diet of carnivores living in a natural setting includes other animals, carrion and occasionally fruits and grasses.”
“What a successful species dogs have been. Dogs evolved from wolves, probably about 14,000 years ago. The prevailing opinion among scientists worldwide is that the wolf is the principal, if not the only ancestor of the dog and has existed for more than 5 million years. Continually adapting to human societies, often living on discarded waste products of humans, dogs have thrived, The fittest dogs, those best able to find food and utilize the nutrients in their diets, reproduced, For almost 14,000 years, the dogs’ bodies, brains, dental structure and digestive system structure evolved to best utilize their ancestral diet. Anatomically, the digestive system of the domestic dog is still very similar to those of feral carnivores.
There is very little debate about this. At one of International Nutrition Symposiums of a major American pet food manufacturer in the mid 90’s a Mississippi State University professor stated: Comparative studies have revealed a close relationship between intestinal characteristics, the evolutionary diet and requirements of energy and nutrients. His paper considered how “intestinal characteristics reflect patterns of gene expression that are related to each species evolutionary diet.” He proceeded to say, “during a species evolution intestinal characteristics adapt to match the natural diet.”
Steve: “Dogs have eaten their natural diet for 14,000 to 5,000,000 years, depending upon how one defines the difference between dogs and wolves. Dogs have eaten mass produced commercial dry foods for less than 100 years. This type of food was first introduced in 1860, but did not become popular until one major US manufacturer developed the extrusion process in 1957. For 99,995 to 99.999% of the canine species existence, dogs have eaten their natural, ancestral diet. For only 0.005% of their history they have eaten mass produced commercial dry food.”
In addition, the Coppingers make mention that “throughout the world there are still millions of non domesticated dogs eating for the most part, discarded human foods and carrion.” The couple also shows that many of our purebred dogs are just a few generations away from the non domesticated village and sheep dogs that thrived on their natural diet.
All together I find this an interesting perspective and thought process. What I would like to add is: How comes, while only for 0.005% of canine species existence being fed mass produced commercial dry food, a vast majority of in certain cases up to 60 to 70% of our dogs is suffering from diseases and specific health problems like allergies, IBD, kidney diseases, urinal tract problems, digestive problems and on and on up to cancer? Something doesn’t quite add up here, or maybe adds up too clearly?

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