Animal Naturopathy is a big part of our lives at Highland Glenn. With this series of posts I will introduce you to the naturopathic Eight Laws of Health.
A handy acronym to remember the Eight Laws is NEWSTART. They are: nutrition, exercise, water, sunshine, temperance, air, rest, and trust. Nature’s laws are not optional; one cannot break them without certain consequences following. I’ve never been more keenly aware of the importance of each as I have become since moving to the country.
Nutrition – Law One
I will refer to canine carnivores, but this information applies to all animals. They all need a diet appropriate for their species. Dogs are “facultative carnivores” meaning they are largely carnivorous, but have the ability to digest small amounts of plant matter. In order to thrive and not simply survive, they need primarily meat, organs, and bones. The Smithsonian Institute categorizes dogs as Canus lupus familiaris. DNA testing confirms that dogs are more closely related to the Grey Wolf, Canus lupus, than previously realized.
The canine digestive system cannot truly digest grains such as corn, rice, and wheat since they do not produce the enzyme Amylase in their saliva which is specific to the digestion of carbohydrates. Along with putrefaction, an overabundance of yeast can establish itself in a dog's digestive tract due to these products causing bloating and discomfort, but also contributes to disease as well as a “friendly” environment for both internal and external parasites. Commercial dog food manufacturers use grain as fillers to help the dog feel full. These grains are less expensive than high quality protein sources thus keeping their production costs down. Eating foods high in fillers means more to be eliminated as unused waste. All of this translates into many stinky piles in the yard to clean up!
Take a close look at your dog's teeth. Their teeth and jaws were designed for ripping and tearing, not chewing and grinding like the flat molars of humans, although their molars are suited to some grinding action. The teeth are all pointed and/or jagged to shear, cut through, and nibble-off meat; and their jaws are hinged to crunch through bone and swallow large pieces of meat. Although some do feed their dogs ground meat, we don't feel it's quite biologically appropriate. We feed whole pieces, with bone in. This is where it comes into play that they are benefited mentally. To see the look of contentment on your dog’s face as he truly enjoys his food, perhaps for the first time in his life, is a beautiful thing!
Feeding a raw diet takes only a bit more time and forethought. By feeding your dog only natural foods that are biologically active and species appropriate, his internal and external body condition is increased. The likelihood of him developing disease is greatly reduced. Visits to the veterinarian due to problems are all but eliminated; in fact, 'wellness visits' will be the norm instead!
When you choose to feed a raw diet, your dog will be healthier and happier!