“In the early 2000s I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to raise sound, healthy dogs I needed to understand nutrition. As a result, I decided to earn an advanced diploma in canine nutrition and fitness through what was then called Cynology College, now known as Companion Animal Science Institute. Delivering the proper nutrition to your dog can prevent minor and major medical problems and save a dog owner hundreds if not thousands of dollars in vet bills during their dog’s life.
Nutrition is an issue not very well understood by most dog owners. Additionally, veterinarians generally only take one class in nutrition. However, nutritional deficiencies can be the source of a plethora of problems in our canine companions. Such deficiencies can often be the result of diets containing proteins with poor biological values. This can lead to poor digestion, feeding one protein source to an animal for too long, diets that obtain most of their protein from plant sources as opposed to meat sources or a number of other factors.
The main part of any canine diet should be protein; meat protein. Proteins consist of chains of amino acids. There are 22 amino acids and10 of these are essential. That means they cannot be synthesized by the body and therefore must be provided through nutrition. If the body does not receive the amino acids it needs, the result will be nutritional deficiencies. These nutritional deficiencies can lead to food intolerance, diabetes, depression and a host of other problems.
While there are certainly other good proteins, meat is the protein of choice for dogs. A simple glance at their physiological make up indicates that they are meat-eating mammals. Their teeth are sharp and jagged for tearing, instead of flat for grinding. A “C” shaped mandibular fossa that does not allow movement from side to side is perfect for tearing at flesh. Dogs possess a short digestive tract that helps them to easily digest animal flesh and fat. A dog’s food spends a much longer time in the stomach than food does for herbivores and omnivores and their stomachs have a much higher amount of hydrochloric acid for break down of animal proteins.
Dogs do not have the ability to break down cellulose, so plant materials are not digested well, if at all. They can live without eating any vegetation, but can also do fine with small amounts. While this would suggest that such ingredients should be minimized in dog food diets, unfortunately, most commercial dog foods are filled with carbohydrates from grains and vegetables. Of course, some of this has to do with cost and unless you have unlimited resources to spend on dog food, this has to be taken into consideration.
This incongruity between many commercial diets and canine anatomical design leads to less than optimal digestion. Immediately and over time, poor digestion manifests itself through things as innocuous as large stool volumes to things as serious as food intolerances and diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Dry dog food diets are convenient and economical for many pet owners. As a dog owner, only you can decide how much you are able to spend on your dog’s food. Know this however: some “higher priced” dog foods contain much better ingredients than their lower priced competitors, while the higher price of other dog foods is put into the fancy bag, television commercials and other marketing techniques.
I have tried my share of commercial diets over the last 30 years. As the founder and president of a non-profit that breeds, trains and donates Labrador retrievers to children with special needs, I am continually on the lookout for ways to reduce costs. I spend a good deal of time researching quality, meat-based dry dog food diets.
Not too long ago, my research led me to a company called Victor dog food. A family owned company, Victor dog food has been in business for over 50 years. They have 14 dog food diets. All of their diets obtain the majority (68% to 83%) of their protein from meat sources. All of their diets are free from corn, wheat and soy. They also offer
a number of grain-free diets. Grains are considered “hot” ingredients and elimination of such ingredients from the diets of large breed dogs that have tendencies toward bone and joint problems can be beneficial to the dog’s health.
What I like best about the Victor family of foods is that you can choose a diet that offers three to four meat protein sources all in one formula or chose a diet that is based on one meat protein source. Such diets are great if you are providing your dog with the benefits of rotational feeding.
The one drawback I see is availability of the foods. Victor’s distribution philosophy is to sell their products through individually owned pet stores and feed stores as opposed to the big box stores. While I like this strategy, it doesn’t seem to be working too well in the Charlotte, North Carolina region where there is a complete void of retailers that offer the food. The nutrient list of the diets along with several proprietary nutritional additives relative to the product’s price point should make retailers desirable of carrying the Victor line of products.
Quality nutrition from birth is a key component to the long-term health of the dogs we place. There are a number of good dry dog foods out there. For right now we are going to entrust the nutrition of our pups and dogs to Victor. You might want to also check out their diets at www.victordogfood.com. While at their site, make sure to check that there is a retailer carrying the food within a reasonable distance from your home.”