Contrary to popular belief, a recent study has confirmed that dogs do in fact create Amylase in their saliva.
Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down starch during the digestion process. It has long been thought that dogs did not create ANY amylase in their saliva, only in the pancreas. Previous studies failed to detect amylase in canine saliva.
A lack of amylase in canine saliva has been used to support the notion that dogs are carnivores, not omnivores. So what is the relevance of this finding that dogs DO create amylase in their saliva? Does this mean dogs are actually omnivores?
Not so fast...keep in mind that what happens in the dog's mouth is just one small part of the whole digestion process. To understand what a dog's dietary needs are, the entire digestive process should be understood.
Now, even though canine saliva has been studied before, amylase was not detected because it is present at very low levels. It's not found at the same levels as seen in herbivores or omnivores. This is an important clue.
There was a study published in 1907 which showed that the properties of a dog's saliva will change as their diet changes. This finding was repeated in a more recent study from 2016 which showed that the amount of starch intake is linked to the number of copies dogs have for the (Amy2B) gene responsible for creating amylase in the pancreas. This is an adaptation that allows canines to receive some nutrition from carbohydrates/vegetation. Dogs eating higher starch diets had more copies of the gene compared to dogs eating low starch diets. Studies show that wolves have 2 to 8 copies of the Amy2B gene and dogs have between 2 and 20 copies.
This makes me wonder WHY not all dogs have the same numbers of these amylase genes. I would theorize that the number of genes present is not only directly relatable to the amount of carbohydrates that the dog is eating, but also is influenced by the amount of carbs the dog's ancestors ate. If a dog eating a higher carb diet has more Amy2B genes switched on this could be passed on to it's offspring.
With the study of epigenetics we know that diet can affect successive generations. The food that is consumed affects gene expression in the individual AND these changes are also present in their offspring. Read more about epigenetics HERE.
Whether or not dogs have a low level of amylase in their saliva is just one small piece of their entire biology that should be considered when ascertaining what an appropriate diet is for them.
The thing about dogs that seems to cause so much disagreement about what they should be eating comes from their adaptive and scavenging nature. Just because a dog can "survive" eating a starch based diet doesn't mean it's healthy for them in the long run.
There is a big difference between surviving and thriving!
Even conventional literature on the topic of canine nutrition states that dogs have absolutely ZERO requirements for carbohydrates in their diet. Yet processed kibble diets are filled with carbs!
Now if we as the dog's caretaker have to step in and cook or grind up veggies for the dog (because they don't have the ability to digest them well in their natural state) how much sense does that make? All animals have the ability to obtain the food that is appropriate for their species - without human help! In nature, any species that is unable to obtain their required foods will either adapt to the foods that are available or die out.
There is no denying that fruits and vegetables have many health benefits, but do dogs really need them?
Ask yourself - what kinds of foods would a dog eat in nature? what would be available to them and in what form?
Also keep in mind that each dog is an individual with unique requirements based on breed, age, activity level, genetics, epigenetics and environment.
I have had a number of clients that appeared to be doing everything right with how they cared for their dog yet the dog was still suffering with "allergy" symptoms. Simply removing all vegetation from the diet was all it took to get rid of those pesky symptoms. Yet, other dogs seem to do fine with a small amount of vegetation. Could this be reflective of the dogs individual genetic ability to digest carbs? More research is needed before this question can be answered.
When it comes to diet, bears are quite an interesting species to look at. Like dogs, bears are classified as carnivores - although their diets are quite varied among the different species. Black Bears have a diet of mostly grasses, roots, berries and insects along with some fish and other mammals. Polar Bears eat a mostly carnivorous diet, feeding primarily on seals, plus other mammals and berries and plants when their preferred food is unavailable. At the other extreme you have Panda Bears which feed on mostly bamboo plus a very small amount of meat, eggs and other vegetation. Looking only at the teeth of these three species we see differences that assist each type of bear with their specific diet. Panda's have broad and flat molars to aid in grinding up bamboo, Polar Bears have developed carnassial teeth designed to rip and tear flesh and crush bone, while a Black Bears teeth are in between the two extremes - reflective of their omnivorous diet.
To get a picture of any animal's natural diet we really have to look closely at their anatomy and physiology. What kind of foods are they equipped to acquire? Can they run fast and dispatch prey? do they have teeth made for grinding vegetation? Do they have a long and complex digestive system designed to break down and ferment cellulose or a short and highly acidic system ideal for digesting meat? Research these topics and you will get a picture of exactly what is a natural diet. And feeding a natural diet is the only path to good health!
For more details on this interesting topic grab a copy of my book The Inner Carnivore.
We know that good health is dependent upon a healthy gut, both in people and animals. Unfortunately thousands of pets are facing a continual assault on their gastrointestinal system causing nagging symptoms to develop that diminish their quality of life and shorten their lifespan.
There is not a single kibble on the market today that is"healthy" to feed your dog or cat.
No, I haven't evaluated every single kibble out there. But such a task is completely unnecessary in order to state that none of them offer optimal nutrition. It's the way in which kibble is made that is the big problem. Even if you start with the most nutritious ingredients - the kibble that you end up with is not providing the nourishment needed for your pet to thrive.
The first problem is that kibble cannot be made without including a high amount of starch. It won't form into pellets without starch. Of course "grain free" pet foods have become very popular because pet owners realize that their dogs and cats A do not require carbs and B they are being used as cheap fillers so the pet food companies can make more profits. Dogs and cats gain no benefits by eating carbs, quite the contrary actually.
Anyone who has been reading my blog or Facebook page can see that I am an advocate for raising animals naturally. I have reached this standpoint because of many personal experiences and much questioning, research, evaluation and critical thinking. There are certainly many benefits to feeding raw, skipping the antibiotics, chemical flea preventatives and vaccines. But what is so important to understand is WHY these choices make such a difference in the health of our animals.
So what I want to delve into today is how we perceive the means by which our pet's maintain their health and also identify the mechanisms that allow them to regain their health after illness. The truth of the matter is possibly quite different than what you currently believe.
The cost of raw pet food can vary greatly. If you are buying pre-made small packages from a pet food store it will be a higher cost compared to sourcing food from butchers and buying in bulk. The cost you will pay depends a lot on the effort you put forth to locate affordable sources. In many instances raw food can actually cost less than a "premium" kibble.
But to gauge the true cost of a pet's diet there is more to measure than simply the price of the food. For a true picture the impact on the animal's health needs to be assessed and also how the animal's health affects their human family's: time, emotions, and financial resources.
I see many people proclaiming that a raw food diet cured their dog of this or that. But raw food isn't really a miracle cure. It is however a powerful way to strengthen your pet's innate healing abilities.
Nothing outside the body actually has any power to cure. The only cure comes from innate biological processes. Say for instance your dog gets a deep scratch. Chances are that the scratch will heal up on it's own. There doesn't need to be any special creams or sprays applied to the scratch in order for healing to happen. The dog's body undertakes all the needed biological processes to heal the scratch. In simple terms, the cut will first be coagulated, then white blood cells come on the scene to destroy any germs and then cell reproduction begins to replace the damaged skin. These processes are completely automatic and happen without any intervention.
As another example say your pet breaks it's leg. If you do absolutely nothing (I'm not recommending this course of action!) the bone will heal and fuse back together, although likely not straight. If the bone is first set and immobilized into the correct position when the bone begins to fuse back together it will heal straight. There are no special medications required to make bones grow back together. It is a natural and automatic process. This is how all healing takes place.
ALL living creatures are equipped with the capability to heal themselves.
When our pets are living unhealthy lifestyles their vitality will be reduced. If they are not receiving appropriate nutrition then their body will not have the resources to complete these natural healing functions. This results in what I call surviving, not thriving. This is when we start seeing the symptoms of dis-ease. If we make adjustments to the animals lifestyle to be more in line with it's species needs, it is possible to restore the biological functions and have an improvement in health.
Vitality is the key factor in determining health and a species appropriate raw food diet is the foundation of vitality. Anyone who has put a kibble fed pet onto a raw diet will tell you of all the wonderful changes they saw happen in their animal. It is the effect that optimal nutrition has upon the bodily processes that allows the animal to actually heal itself.
To ensure that our animals have vitality we must provide the living conditions that are ideal for their species. Please contact us for guidance on how to raise your animal's vitality!
I'm not telling you anything you probably didn't know already when I say that veterinarians have negligible training in the area of animal nutrition, right? Most veterinary training programs contain a couple of days of nutrition education. Should nutrition counseling even be considered within their scope of practice if they have little training on the subject? Scope of practice is limited to that which the law allows for specific education and experience, and specific demonstrated competency. According to Wikipedia if requirements for practicing a skill or profession satisfy all three of the following requirements then it is within that persons scope of practice.
So I guess the day or two of "nutrition education" (hosted by pet food companies) counts for the education piece in this case. How do you feel about that? Do you think this makes them qualified in animal nutrition?
All living organisms need fuel. Each organism thrives consuming the types of food best suited to it. Dogs, cats, horses, trees and humans attain the highest standard of health when they are provided with the most suitable food for their individual species.
Can a deficient diet be overcome by supplying the specific deficient elements in the form of supplements?
For the record, raw diets do not contain too much protein. Raw animal products contain the ideal amount of protein to nourish our carnivore companions.
According to the USDA nutrient database:
A whole raw broiler chicken is 15.5% protein
Raw chicken liver is 15% protein
A whole raw turkey is 22% protein
A beef shank is 21% protein
Raw beef liver is 20% protein
Raw beef tripe is 12% protein
A whole raw egg is 12% protein
Keep in mind that the USDA nutrient database does not include the nutrients contained within the bone content because humans aren't generally eating bones.
Without a doubt liver is nature’s super-food and an essential part of a healthy raw diet for cats and dogs. You might think about adding into your own diet too.
Native American’s recognized the nutritional value of liver. In times of abundance, muscle meat (that today is highly sought after) would be discarded for scavengers (including dogs ironically), while the organ meats were always consumed by the people.
Author - Jennifer Lee
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