The debate rages on about whether or not Domestic Dogs are Carnivores or Omnivores. A few fringe voices even declare that dogs do better on a Herbivore diet. At the heart of the matter for the Agility Dog is not the label that their diet wears, but what kinds of nutrition and energy sources do they digest, metabolize, and burn best.
Agility Dogs need the most potent and efficiently processed sources that they can find. The answer might better be found not in Scientific Debate, but by inviting our dogs to share their opinions about what they WANT to eat.
I’ve listened to my 3 dogs. And they’ve told me that given the opportunity to choose between Meat & Fat, Vegetables, Fruit, & Grains, they will choose Meat & Fat every time. Debate Over.
I’ve done plenty of academic research on this matter as well, as I think all dog owners and professionals should. My most significant discovery is that all Wild Dogs, even those that were once domesticated, have a natural, instinctive, and preferential diet that consists of 95% animal sources, and only 5% other sources.
Since our pets are still anatomically, physiologically, and metabolically Wild Dogs, I think we would do well to mimic what I call the “WildDog Diet” as best we can. (I’d like to note at this point that the only way in which domesticated dogs have changed from their feral ancestors is psychologically.
For some reason, they have learned to think highly of humans. On some level, I think this explains their willingness to eat anything we give them.) Whether or not the WildDog Diet is provided through Commercial Products or Home Cooking is irrelevant, except that all essential nutrients must be provided. I find that this goal is more easily met through Commercial Products. What follows, is my take on how to do that.
Achieving that perfect 95% meat / 5% other Ratio is not easy. Few Commercial Products are made with that ratio. And mathematically analyzing what we’re feeding Fido is a daunting and unnecessary task. Food products are what they are.
Calculating the %s of a variety of products that can be coalesced into a perfect WildDog Diet is confusing and complicated. So, as mentioned previously, we should just try to mimic it as best we can with what’s available. The information provided by the manufacturer is sufficient for this. However, A few general guidelines are helpful:
Buy products with as much (highest %) Named Animal Meat based Protein as you can afford.
Buy products with as much (highest %) Named Animal Fat as you can afford.
The more Named Animal Organs & Body Components in the recipe, the better.
Named Animal Meat Meal provides more actual meat than a Named Animal Meat.
A Named Animal (Chicken, Duck) Anything provides a higher quality ingredient than a Categorized Animal (Poultry) Anything.
All the information needed to make intelligent purchasing decisions is located in two places on products, the Guaranteed Analysis and Ingredient List.
These are usually found on the back or side of the package. Some manufacturers provide Meat %, Vegetable %, Grain %, Carbohydrate %, or Other % on the front of the bag. This is VERY helpful information and I laud and applaud those who provide it. But, it also has to be analyzed within the context of the Guaranteed Analysis and Ingredient List.
The Guaranteed Analysis tells what % of the food is made up of Protein, Fat, Fiber, and Moisture. For WildDog Diet purposes, Fiber and Moisture %s run so close to each other across manufacturers and products that they are of little or no consequence.
They’re all about the same. Protein and Fat %s however, are highly influential. They differ greatly. Get as much of these that you can in a product that you consider affordable. Whether or not the Protein and Fat in a product is Meat Based, Vegetable Based, or Grain Based is determined by looking at The Ingredient List.
The Ingredient List. This is the Recipe. This tells what ingredients are added to the mix in descending order by weight. For WildDog Diet purposes, all the ingredients up to, and including, the Named Animal Fat are significant. All ingredients listed after that are of very small quantity and insignificant.
WildDog trusts the manufacturer for their dietary and nutritional impact. The more Named Animal Meats & Meals listed first, the better. The fewer Vegetables & Grains listed at all, the better… none is ideal. If they are present, it is better that they be listed after the Fat.
The Fat should be from a Named Animal Source, not a Vegetable Oil or Grain Oil. However, a Named Fish Oil is acceptable. So, an ideal WildDog Ingredient List would look something like: Named Animal Meat Meal, Named Animal Meat, Named Animal Organ, Named Animal Body Component, Named Animal Fat, everything else.
Though Wild Dogs around the world eat all manners of animals, the Gray Wolf, from which all our domestic dogs descended, prefers Ungulates, or hooved animals. Proteins sourced from Beef, Bison, Venison, Lamb, etc may get your little Wolf closer to its Ancestral Diet.
Protein / Fat Ratio. More active dogs will benefit from a roughly 3/2 PFR. Less active dogs will do nicely with an approximate 2/1 PFR. These are the two most commonly found ratios in dog foods. A few products will have 3/1, others 4/3, and I know of one product that has 5/1. Give your dog what it wants.
Note that in the Guaranteed Analysis, there is no standard for Carbohydrates. Canines have no nutritional or energy requirements for these whatsoever. This is why WildDog deemphasizes Vegetables & Grains.
Putting all primary and secondary considerations together, a more practical, yet pretend, Ingredient List might be: Beef Meal, Bison, Venison Heart, Lamb Blood, Chicken Fat, everything else. However you are more likely to find just Meals, Meats, and Fats in the Ingredient List.
Organs and Body Components are rare. Common PFRs are: Protein 42% Fat 22% (2/1), Protein 38% Fat 18% (2/1), Protein 35% Fat 25% (3/2), Protein 30% Fat 20% (3/2), Protein 24-28% Fat 12-14% (2/1).
I use the following, as they meet WildDog Criteria better than any others. The purposes for which I use them are in parenthesis.
Victor Ultra Professional Dog Food – Dry (Staple)
Native Performance Dog Food – Level 4 – Dry (Staple)
Back-to-Basics Open Range Dog Food – Dry (Staple)
Wysong Epigen 90 Dog Food – Dry (Training Treats)
Nolan’s Chop Haus Shredded Beef – Freeze Dried (Training Treats)
Artemis Lamb & Rice Food Roll – Semi-Moist (Special Dinner Treat)
Wellness Core Dog Food – Wet (Special Dinner Treat)
Merrick Texas Hold ’ems Lamb Lung Fillets – Freeze Dried (Training or Fun Treats)
Merrick Texas Hold ’ems Beef Lung Fillets – Freeze Dried (Training or Fun Treats)
Happy Hips Jerky, Any 100% Meat Version (Glucosamine & Chondroitin)
Colorado Naturals Jerky or American Jerky, Any 100% Meat Version (Fun Treat)
Meat & Fat, It’s What Your Agility Dog Wants!