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Balanced Pet Nutrition

"100% complete & balanced nutrition"

The concept of balance in our pet foods is one that seriously needs to be addressed. This idea is one that was designed and continues to be perpetuated by the pet food companies: "Dogs need complete and balanced nutrition in every meal." This is nothing but propaganda designed to make people buy into commercial pet food. This is NOT how the canine body (or any other body for that matter) operates! Look at your own diet, for example. Do you eat a complete and balanced meal every time you eat? No, I think not!

The statement "complete and balanced" on a package or can of pet food supposedly indicates that the product contains all the nutrients presently thought to be required by an omnivorous animal and that they are balanced to the energy density of the diet. Even if this was a true statement, it would NOT mean it's balanced for a dog's individual needs. Feeding trials must substantiate the "complete and balanced" claims, or the food must contain at least the minimum amount of each nutrient recommended according to present guidelines for the words "complete and balanced" to be on the package. That doesn't mean that it actually contains every nutrient your dog needs to thrive. It merely means the food contains those nutrients that will keep a dog alive. Big difference if you ask me!

Imagine going to the grocery store to shop for your family and every shelf contains bags of what is labeled as "100% "complete and balanced" processed human food, guaranteed to meet the nutritional needs of all humans... you have no idea what's in the package. Imagine not ever eating any fresh foods or raw fruits (never getting live enzymes and naturally occurring nutrients, ever. Imagine having to eat this food day after day for your entire life.

There are currently, several breakfast foods on the market that are advertised as being 100 percent complete balanced nutrition. Now, if that claim were truthful, then we could assume that if you ate only that cereal or bar, and never anything else, you would be healthy. Right? What do you think?

Do you believe that? Does that make sense to you?

Do you understand that the actual base ingredients in that food is NOT what is balanced and actually nutritious? The ingredients/contents of that product have been processed to the point that is totally void of any live,essential nutrients necessary for true nutrition. What is, as they say, "complete and balanced" is the synthetic vitamins and minerals they add to the finished, processed ingredients!

If you are health conscious at all, you eat a variety of foods over a period of days in week or month however, rarely if ever do you eat all the fruits, vegetables, legumes, etc. at every meal, every day, and yet your body generally does very well and exhibits no signs of nutritional deficiencies. The same holds true for dogs and if anything, it holds MORE true... They do not need "complete and balanced" nutrition at every meal. If they did, then any time they did not receive that complete and balanced nutrition in that one day, their bodies would get out of whack and health problems would suddenly develop. This is not how it works. This is where we need to see the concept of "balance over time" developing.

This is the principle that I believe is adequate to explain how all living things obtain the proper nutrition. Nutritional needs are met over a period of time, and balance is achieved through time as the animal eats what it needs at the time it gets what it needs or whenever it can get it. The nutrients the body MUST have and cannot synthesize for itself are supplied in sufficient amounts in the food the animal eats in its natural state.

Nutrients are stored within the body when they are eaten and are not needed, but when the need arises, they are essentially pulled out of storage and used. This is what allows animals (and humans!) to safely fast for sufficient periods of time without starving or dying. We and our dogs not only have fat reserves and protein reserves in our muscles, but stored up nutrients and vitamins in our tissues (fat soluble vitamins, for example, like A, D, Specialists continue to argue about appropriate 'balanced' diets, which only further illustrates the truth that we do not know what balance truly is!

AFCO or Food Standards
The standards for balanced pet food are approximated (and incorrect, I might add, since the so called standards are based on the myth that a dog is an omnivore AND then, vitamins and minerals are added at the end of processing (in excess by the way) to compensate for the decreased bio availability of these nutrients in these over cooked/processed foods.

Dogs are then fed what the pet food industry calls "balanced" proportions of fats, proteins, and the carbohydrates that they have no need for whatsoever. Come on now, have you really ever heard of an essential carbohydrate? There are essential fats, essential amino acids (obtained from protein), but no essential carbohydrates.

Yes, an animal's body needs glucose to function, but glucose is easily made naturally from amino acids via Gluconeogenesis. Gluconegenesis is a metabolic process that manufactures glucose, a simple sugar that provides the body with energy from non-carbohydrate sources. These sources are typically amino acids, which are compounds that occur naturally in the tissues of animals that have eaten plants. Amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein and they play a vital role in metabolic functions. The energy produced from this breakdown of amino acids is the only energy used in the brain, testes, erythrocytes and kidney medulla. So, carbohydrates in the form of grains or vegetables are not necessary for our carnivorous pets, they are not naturally equipped with the enzymes necessary to digest grains or vegetables! And yet, they are listed as part of a 'balanced' diet on the label of the pet food.

We can go even one step further with this concept of balance. Let's face it, no one, except the creator, God who created us and the animals; conclusively knows exactly what is needed and in what proportions. So why don't we look to nature? Years of "evolution" should be sufficient enough to show any naysayer that the diet nature provides for the creatures is precisely what they need to function, thrive, and survive. No one but God and His creation/nature knows exactly what the animal can actually use and absorb. We, can only guess.

Our dogs as a species are carnivores and designed to eat a RAW diet.

In the wild, wolves, coyotes and wild dogs are not always able to make a kill every day and sometimes go without for days. When they do find and are able to kill their meal, it maybe a rabbit one day and a deer the next. If the pack is large, there may not be enough of every part of the animal to go around so one wolf might be able to feast on the intestines and vital organs while the others might only get a little muscle meat and bone. They derive their nutrition over time, over the days and weeks, rarely if ever all in one meal/kill.

So, for all of you already saying "But an all-meat diet is not balanced for my pet. You are right in this sense: You cannot feed a diet of just meat, think wild - think about what a wolf or wild dog eats - your dog needs bones and organ meat as well to obtain the proper nutrients. This means feeding a prey-model diet based on a whole prey animal. Remember that your dog is not an omnivore and has no needs for vegetables, and that most of the nutrients in vegetables, even pre-processed ones are unavailable to your dog. The alternative? Feed according to the prey model and provide variety (chicken one day, beef the next, fish, rabbit, duck, etc). If you are feeding whole animals or a variety of raw meaty bones and organ meats, THEN the diet will be balanced. Raw prey model diets contain the exact proportions of fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes a dog needs.

Let's forget the idea of "complete balance" of any kind when it comes to feeding our pet carnivores. Think wild, think "carcass". "Carcass" is what sufficiently sustains wolves, dogs, wild cats, and ferrets, and that is what nature has perfectly provided for them.

"Not only is feeding the same processed food day in and day out a formula for disease, it is cruelty to not feed them what they were designed to eat. It is one thing for us to have domesticated them and take them from their interesting and active wild setting and confine them, but then, to not even offer them interesting natural meal variety is really quite inexcusable when you really think about it. The answer, like everything else good in life, is a just good old common sense.

Recap: "Balance" is nothing but an insufficient human term, a vague concept that pet food companies employ to make people buy processed foods for their pets.

A consultation is highly recommended if you are interested in switching your dog to a raw diet or before any preventative program is started. A consultation includes a personalized diet and holistic program suggestions that are custom-tailored to your own dog's individual and personal needs.

Dogs Are Carnivores
Grains in Commercial Pet Food
Kibble Is Kibble Is Still Kibble
Raw Feeding Myths

Copyright 2003 -2012 This article is the sole property of Dr Jeanette (Jeannie) Thomason and The Whole Dog and is for educational purposes. It cannot be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the expressed written consent of the author.

All the articles at The Whole Dog.org. and Whole Dog News.com have been researched and reviewed for accuracy. However, they are not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a holistic veterinarian or other qualified canine health professional. The Whole Dog, Whole Dog News, and Dr Jeannie Thomason does not assume any legal responsibility for misuse of this article intended to be educational only.