Discussion in 'Free Thoughts' started by Saint, Sep 19, 2012.
Why do some dog food indicate that they are grain free?
Why is grain free good?
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Grain-free for dogs with allergies, I think.
I had to switch one of my dogs to a grain-free diet. He was having seizures and now they have stopped.
But I make my own food for him. Raw ground turkey and canned vegetables. It's much cheaper than buying a specialty-brand of grain-free commercial dog food.
Bear in mind that wolves are predators, and unlike other species of genus Canis, such as the coyote and the jackal, wolves prefer to be carnivores and hunt their food. They will only scavenge if they're desperate. So it was quite a change in diet for those first wolves who domesticated themselves and came to live the easy life in our settlements, eating our garbage.
In the past twelve thousand years dogs have evolved just enough to be classified as a distinct subspecies of wolf, Canis lupus familiaris. Much of this evolution was specifically an adaptation to their new diet: they have smaller brains to survive on the lower-protein diet of a scavenger, they have slightly different-shaped teeth that are less suited for tearing apart a wildebeest and more for chewing carrots, and they are comfortable in much larger packs than wolves, who must avoid overtaxing their hunting grounds.
Yet they still have the basic digestive tract of the wolf. It's very short, one of the shortest in the animal kingdom. Food doesn't spend very long in there, so they have to eat the intestines of their prey in order to ingest their bacterial culture, which helps them digest their food. (Domestic dogs often simply eat feces for the same purpose. If you give them yogurt they may not feel the need for this unpopular behavior.)
A dog's digestive system is developed to eat meat, and nothing but meat. So when we feed them plant tissue, the results are unpredictable. Leaves and stems and roots and tubers seem to be okay for them, but grains (which are the seeds of certain plants) are not always.
Many humans have allergies to certain grains too. I confess that I don't understand how this can be. They cannot have inherited it from their ancestors, because for a couple of thousand years most humans subsisted almost exclusively on grains. Anybody who could not digest it would have died before reaching puberty and his genes would have died off.
It is supposed to make a dog digest its food better, and also decrease food allergies. If you have ever bought a really cheap bag of dog food, you may have noticed the first ingredient is usually corn. This will have your dog, using the bathroom constantly, and the stool will be like ice cream.
If you ever want to stir shit up in a pet food forum, start threads along the lines of "grain free dog foods are bullshit".
This is roughly akin to posting pictures of a Hitler-Jesus-Mohammed threesome, while denying that global warming exists and touting 9-11 conspiracy theories.
That's about the sensitivity of the topic.
My other dog gets along just fine on Dogswell Vitality, which is full of rice. But my baby was having seizures and they stopped after I put him on a grain-free diet.
The seizures were happening every couple of weeks, lasting for more than an hour, and were so serious that he couldn't walk or stand up. No veterinarian I talked to had ever heard of anything like that. To them a "long" seizure is five minutes. Finally I was concerned about his quality of life so I let them put him on phenobarbital. The seizures stopped in a few weeks, but he was a happy, bouncy little dog and he became less cheerful and energetic.
Then one evening I got home from work and he had a fever of 106F/41C. I had to race him to the emergency room. They got his fever down before it did any permanent damage, but the reason for the fever was a low white blood count. This is usually a symptom of lymphoma: cancer of the lymph glands. I was devastated--not to mention having just written a $1500 check for 24 hours of emergency care.
But as we were walking out of the ER dejectedly, the doctor came dashing out and said she'd just been doing her homework and discovered that phenobarbital has been known to impair the production of white cells. My friend's sister is an M.D. and she said she wished she had been around when this happened, because that would have been any human doctor's first diagnosis.
I took him off the pheno, within a week his white cell count was back to normal, and so was his attitude and behavior. But of course a month later the seizures also returned.
Mrs. Fraggle, who is very skeptical of modern medicine (she's had experiences with medications that fully entitle her to that attitude) suggested taking grains out of his diet. The seizures slowly became shorter and less frequent. He's been on this diet for a year now. His last seizure was five months ago, only lasted a few minutes, and was so mild that he could still stagger around the house and demand dinner.
I don't buy grain-free dog food. Just too expensive. I mix canned vegetables (including red ones like carrots and pumpkin) 2:1 with raw ground turkey. I make up a 3-week supply and freeze it in individual baggies for each meal. I also give him vitamin D, calcium, yogurt and glucosamine. (He came close to tearing an ACL when he was younger so I had to shorten the legs on my bed.)
I've heard stories about this before, and I kind of wonder if some dogs have a gluten allergy or something. I mean, I have a rat terrier (he lives with my parents now) who's never eaten anything but Science Diet, which grain free Bolsheviks seem to detest. He's like 15 and pretty healthy today (still runs and jumps, still is active, just a bit cranky when you wake him up early). Growing up we always fed our dogs Purina that came in a big yellow bag, and all of our dogs lived relatively healthy lives until the 13-15 range.
The problem with all of this is that there's only these type of anecdotal stories to go on. There's not really any science behind any of this. And any attempts to inject rationality into the debate are met with fierce resistance. Religious zealotry is everywhere, and people are always outrightly hostile to science when it butts against their preconceived notions (example: people who refuse to accept the scientific studies that show little or no evidence that organic foods have any health benefits). When I pointed this out to the particular dog food forum I was posting in, I was nearly banned.
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