The Self-Imposed Restriction of Fresh Food Feeding Pet Parents...
We are currently seeing these awesome big shifts towards fresh food feeding vs processed kibble but the one really interesting thing that we see is a Pet Parents' self-imposed restriction of only feeding what they believe Wolves ate.
Now, why is this a problem? Seems like a good idea right?
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
In the fresh food feeding world that can often be as intense as religion and politics, there are 2 main feeding models, 1 being PREY. The Prey model is feeding a diet typically in 1 of 2 different ways:
Feed Whole Prey to the dog to mimic what Wolves ate or
Feed a formula of 80% Muscle Meat, 10% Offal & 10% Edible Bone
The 2nd type of fresh food feeding model commonly seen in called B.A.R.F, a funny name in some parts of the world as it means Vomit but the acronym stands for Biological Appropriate Raw Food - now, in this model, pet parents feed plant matter as well, whilst there are different ratios of what to feed of each aspect i.e. 75% Meat, Offal, Bones & 25% Plant matter, Pet Parents feeding this model generally acknowledge that Wolves actually also ate plant matter so they include it in their model.
Both Models can somewhat restrict parents on what to feed, especially those who strictly follow the PREY model.
OOPS, THERE'S A MISSING LINK
Back in 2014, a study (1) was released that found a bit of a hiccup in our beliefs. The study found that different types of Wolves were related to each other and different types of dogs were related to each other but they weren't able to find a clear link between Wolves and Dogs in their genetic material - now, before you freak out, it may actually be because there is another line of Wolf that we don't know about just like there are missing links in humans evolution. So, basing a diet specifically on what a specific Wolf ate may not be the most scientific thing we could do.
WHY DO WE RESTRICT OURSELVES?
As caring Pet Parents who want to do the best thing possible for our dogs, we turn to science to help us understand what their nutritional needs are, we learn about their digestive systems and what they are made to digest - this leads us to bio-available, species-appropriate diets i.e. Fresh Foods vs Processed Kibbles which is awesome BUT when we become strict about these feeding models, we restrict our dogs access to potential and proven beneficial foods.
HERE ARE SOME FACTS
The type of food that was available to our dog's ancestors (whomever they were) are mostly not around anymore. Research outlines to us what the figures would have been in terms of a nutritional analysis of what they ate (largely a guessing game based on archaeological finds and data of the plants and other food sources around at the time), i.e. how much calcium, how much Vit D, how much Protein, how much Fat etc. - Let's for the sake of labeling it something, call this the 'Ancestral Diet' and we can actually formulate our own modern-day diets to these stats with different ingredients that are still healthy and species-appropriate.
Then we have Nutritional Guidelines that are formed from modern-day studies, there are a few different models here and they range from 'minimum nutritional' guidelines (keeps your dog alive) to 'recommended' guidelines to maximum guideline lines (safe limits of different nutrients). You'll most likely be familiar with AAFCO who provide the stats for Kibble Companies to follow, they typically meet these nutritional guidelines with synthetic vitamin mixes as the processing of the food to make it into kibble degrades its natural source of nutrients.
Now, there is nothing stopping you as a Pet Parent from feeding healthy bio-available nutrition to your dog that wasn't specifically part of your dog's ancestral diet for example:
Fruit, Veg, Grasses, Seeds, etc that your dog's ancestors didn't have access to but provide your dogs with anti-oxidants and cancer-fighting properties to name but a few.
Pro-biotics from sources such as Kefir, Fermented Veggies, and seeds help bring good bacteria into your dog's digestive system to benefit their entire body.
Pre-biotics that feed the Pro-biotics to keep them healthy & happy, largely come from Plant Sources.
Using a blender to help break down plant matter into more bioavailable sources.
Knowing not all grains are evil, there are some beneficial grains such as rolled oats that when soaked for 12 hours or well-cooked can be beneficial for upset tummies.
Making Bone Broth with a Slow/Pressure Cooker to help sensitivities tummies and provide nutrition to sick or old dogs who don't want to eat their regular diet.
There are many beneficial foods out there that for your dog that Wolves did not eat because they were not available at the time and they didn't have human guardians to put them together for them.
Please don't restrict yourself with the "But Wolves ate..." Scenarios but please continue to feed a fresh food balanced diet to your dog.