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I spotted this in a magazine a while back. What in the world? You may know, I carry a fair amount of disdain for commercially made dog kibble; preferring to feed my dogs real, actual food. So, this ad cracked me up and caught my interest enough to visit Purina’s website to try to get at, what on earth are they thinking??

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TripleAMeatI have written before about how I make my dogs’ food from scratch, using whole foods and raw meat. For many years, I’ve been getting the majority of my meat from a small IGA grocery store nearby. Curiously, the meat manager there was known for being willing to order meat in large volumes and offer it at a good price. I’d heard that small restaurants took advantage of this, as well as many homemade pet food feeders, and even someone with an exotic, “big” cat (I think a tiger, but I can’t remember).

The freezer in the store was small. I was always amazed how Jack, the meat manager, was willing to deal with all these odd requests and stacks of boxes of meat sitting on carts, in the way, in this tiny locker space. I would order 100 pounds at a time, quarterly. I’m not sure if it was just exemplary customer service, or whether it was good for the store, moving high volumes of meat quickly with a small markup. Whatever the reason, I was always grateful for his willingness to fill this niche and tried to pick up my order promptly.

But, sadly, this little store closed  few months ago, in anticipation of a Walmart coming to town; they knew they would not be able to compete. At the same time, Jack retired. So, that was the end of my convenient and reasonably-priced main meat source.

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imageNPR featured a recent study that showed that domestic dogs are genetically optimized to digest carbohydrates, unlike their wolf ancestors. This is cool; it seems to fall in line with what many biologists are now thinking- that dogs weren’t intentionally domesticated by people, but rather domesticated themselves by adapting to living near humans, and living off of the human waste stream.

It further explains why dogs can do at least ok, if not thrive, off of kibble, which is largely made up of grain sources. Wolves cannot: when fed dog kibble, they decline in health, and ultimately cannot reproduce. Wolves require a diet high in animal proteins to fuel their big frames and large brains. image

For those of us who make dog food at home, this is helpful new information. Many people have felt compelled to mimic a wolf’s diet, thinking that they should return to what’s biologically appropriate for a dog’s ancestors to best feed the dog. But reproducing the high-meat diet of wolves is expensive and difficult! This gives new credence to the idea that including grain in most dogs’ diets is fine, if not optimal for the typical dog. It’s certainly much more affordable and feasible than doing a mostly-meat diet.

When I was growing up as 4-H kid showing dogs, we learned to scale the tartar off our dogs’ teeth using a tooth scaler, just like the dentist uses. For decades, I’d do this regularly on my dogs, usually before each show. Each time would render huge flakes of built-up tartar, and the scraping would take ten or twenty minutes to get all of the teeth clean.

Nowadays, “experts” recommend brushing your dog’s teeth daily. Good Heavens! Who has time to do that? Most vets also recommend bringing your dog in periodically for sedation and a full teeth cleaning. If all this were true, it makes you wonder how coyotes and wolves survive in the wild without developing crippling dental disease by age three. I’ll share a little secret I’ve found: none of this stuff is necessary in a  healthy dog!

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