Over the last nine years I have shared nutritional advice from Sabine Contreras a pet nutritionist out of Los Angeles CA
Sabine has helped many people on our forum with designing personalized feeding plans and general information.Whether you simply want a good kibble or a detailed specific raw or home cooked diet, she recognizes that every person and every dog is different and a unique case. If you ever need guidance don't hesitate to give her an email [email protected]
I can't speak highly enough of her. She has helped me and others with many of the questions we've had over the years. I bet I have received close to 1,000 emails from her over this time period.
Web Site with Nutritional advice The Dog Food Project - How does your Dog Food Brand compare?
Nutritional consultation site Better Dog Care ? Creating Healthy Lifestyles for Canines
here I asked her about her thoughts on feeding BARF or Prey Model diets as discussed in Jean Dodds article https://drjeandoddspethealthresource...del-barf-diets
" I have seen both ways of feeding bring very good as well as very bad results. How we feed our dogs shouldn't be about our egos, and what we think they "should" be eating from one point of view or another. It should be determined by what works for the individual dog to keep them healthy long term.
Some do great on prey model, I know of breeders who feed this way, who have raised generations of very healthy, fit, long lived dogs. And in my opinion there is really no better proof than not only owning one single dog, but actually having them reproduce and be healthier than your typical kibble fed dogs out there. What would you tell such a person after 30+ years of producing healthy dogs? Don't do it, it's not good for them?
The flip side is when it doesn't work. Why would you continue feeding in any particular way, if your dog doesn't do well? No sane person would, right? Plus, not everybody wants to deal with pieces of whole animal carcasses, or even has access to them. Not all dogs are in a condition to tolerate that much meat and/or fat, and sometimes bone material is also a problem. BARF can work out great, and it's more adaptable in terms of ingredients. It can be fed with or without bone. Things can be included that don't really fit the "prey model" scheme, yet offer good nutrition.
Last but not least, not every dog thrives on raw. I know many extremists, whom I call "raw feeding zealots", who claim that a raw, meat-centric diet is the "magic solution" for every dog out there and we would have no unhealthy dogs if they all ate this way. I know for a fact that that's not true. I have clients whose dogs would be dead if they were fed that way for a few weeks or months, yet one of them for example has been doing well for the past 7 years on a diet that contains a moderate amount of meat and almost no fat. What's left to supply calories? That's right, mostly carbs. She was near death when I started working with her, because she couldn't even tolerate the ultra low fat "prescription" food anymore. The vet was out of ideas.
"In the wild" it's eat or die, no matter if the food keeps you healthy. If a wild canid has some sort of a defect that causes issues with the natural diet their species consumes, they become weakened, and eventually they will die. Survival of the fittest, it's nature getting rid of the ones that aren't strong enough to survive. I don't know of a single dog owner who would be ok with that - we all want our dogs to live long, healthy, happy lives, and the reality is that many puppies out there don't come from breeders who keep healthy breeding stock and breed for the healthiest possible puppies, with good temperaments and correct physical conformation. If they did, we wouldn't have so many dogs that have issues ranging from sensitive stomachs to unhealthy teeth, allergies, and so on. And that's the reality we have to deal with: supporting each dog for their particular problems and challenges."
As a follow up on a question from Karidyne on how can we test if our dogs are getting the proper balanced diet , I asked Sabine about whether blood work would tell us something. ? here is her reply today " No, since the nutrients don't just pass straight through the body, unless it's something water soluble without another storage mechanism (e.g. B vitamins). They are stored and the body draws on them as needed.
The body will always use its mechanisms to compensate as much as possible. For example if the diet is calcium deficient, it will pull calcium from the bones. So the effect isn't a low blood calcium level until the condition is quite far advanced, but depletion in the skeleton would exist before that happens.
On the other hand, if bloodwork does show a low level for a particular nutrient, that doesn't mean that the diet is deficient, but rather that the regulating process in the body is somehow defective. Again calcium as the example, if albumin is low, calcium can show up as low since albumin in the blood binds to and carries calcium throughout the body. A vitamin D deficiency will cause poor calcium absorption, but that doesn't mean the diet is deficient in calcium.
Or, looking at this the other way around, most dogs eating kibble will consume excessive amounts of calcium and phosphorus all their lives, but their blood levels will be normal until the kidneys can't handle things anymore and lose function.
So ,like Sabine, Dr. Jean Dodds and a number of other nutritions recommend that any diets we follow should be designed by a professional . That certainly would go a long way in minimalizing the risks of an unbalanced diet.