A well published and much respected Scottish Terrier breeder, Betty Penn-Bull, once said "a Scottie is 50% bred and 50% made". I believe that the 50% made refers, not only, to training and grooming, but also to feeding and good nutrition!
What your Scottie eats is the single most important factor in their lives. What they eat is what they are! It determines their health, wellbeing and vitality throughout their lives.....so don't sell them short!
Seems there are lots of very different ideas and beliefs about the perfect doggy diet!
There are various raw feeders, BARF feeders, cooked feeders, dry food feeders, tinned food feeders, human food feeders, people who cook up mince veg and rice feeders! There are grain diets, grain-free diets, fish based diets, poultry based diets…… the list goes on and on!
I guess when it all boils down to it, we all give our dogs the very best diet we can, based on our own individual knowledge and beliefs. So I hope that I can help out by increasing your knowledge and perhaps change your beliefs about how we are shortening our dogs lives by the very diets we serve up to them.
I have personally spoken to vets that have promoted a 100% dry kibble diet, espousing that the kibble is a scientifically balanced diet containing 100% of a dogs daily requirement for vitamins and minerals.
I have left the veterinary surgery armed with some very expensive bags of wonderful dry dog food that was going to make my life much easier and at the same time provide my very special four legged friends with the very best nutrition available.
I suggest that perhaps the general facts about the dry dog food diet have been cleverly masked by manufacturers protecting their billion dollar industries.
I believe that veterinarians receive very little training in the area of nutrition and this, combined with the very clever marketing strategies by commercial dog food producers, has resulted in misinformation, cleverly designed to make us feel, that by feeding our dogs a commercial diet, we are actually doing the best we possibly can for them! (Turns out this is rubbish!)
About 10 years ago, I fed a commercial kibble diet to my Scotties for a period of about 12 months. I asked my vet about diet and he was only to happy to promote the virtues of a premium kibble with its well balanced nutrition for my dogs. It was great, easy to store, easy to feed, easy to monitor weight gain, just all together easy!
But I did notice signs of poor skin condition and declining dental hygiene and bad breath. The skin went on to become flaky and very itchy. My male dog began, what I can only describe as, dry huffing at each mealtime. Recognising the negative changes I tried different brands of dry kibble. My gut was telling me that this was not right! Could a vet possibly be wrong?
Around this time I was reading a lot of information about my breed, the Scottish Terrier. I was also talking to other Scottish Terrier breeders and I began to discover some alarming trends. I am not able to support my claims with statistical evidence as I am not aware of any studies been conducted, however the life span of our Scotties seems to be getting shorter.
Our Scotties seem to be experiencing epidemic proportions of various cancers that are cutting their lifespans short. Now this is an otherwise healthy and vigorous breed. Healthy Scotties rarely need to visit the vet at all. Many human studies have linked the incidence of cancer with some environmental conditions as well as various dietary factors. So I began asking "would a return to a more natural diet help our Scotties reclaim their former health and vitality, strengthening their immune systems and saying 'NO' to cancer?".
Anyway I decided to experiment with my dog’s diets and see what I would see. I studied different ideas about feeding canines. I also studied human diet and nutrition. I also researched our digestive systems. Now I know that a canine is not strictly a carnivore. It has a digestive tract that operates differently from our own but basically, we all need to process foods that support a healthy digestive system in order that we can take the necessary nutrients from our food to support all of our other body systems to function effectively and lead long healthy lives.
I ask: " was it a good notion to take a bunch of meat meal, grain and veg, add synthetic vitamins and minerals, dry them out with extreme heat and press them into a meat flavored pellets, feed it to our dogs and call it a balanced diet?" Well for the manufacturers and retailers the answer is yes, they make lots of money!
I am passionate about my family's diet! So why wouldn't I be passionate about my Scottie's diet as well? I strongly believe that our diet is the most important factor influencing the health and well being of our bodies. Like an engine purrs along without missing a beat when we put clean appropriate fuel and oil in, so to, our bodies should purr along without missing a beat with the correct nutrition. Try running your car on the wrong fuel and it will miss, cough, splutter and eventually stop!
I researched many articles on the effects of different diets on our canine buddies and then began my own experiment with my own dogs. I also conferred with some of my more experienced and learned Scottish Terrier breeder colleagues to arrive at a feeding program I have faith in.
Since leaving dry dog food on the shelf I have noticed positive changes. I don't have to worry about them putting on too much weight as they seem to process a natural diet much more efficiently than dry dog food, which must be very fattening! I don't need to clean my dog's teeth any more as chomping on raw bones keeps them in good health.
My dogs don't have stinky breath! Their coats are shiny, their skin is healthy and they have energy to burn. Their poo isn't as stinky either and quickly becomes white, dried out and disintegrates. I would like to believe that good nutrition and natural feeding practices can bring our breed back to healthy natural breeding performance.
I believe that cooking any food removes many of its nutrients. Besides, who was around in the wild to cook everything for dogs. So raw feeding is the order of the day. GO WILD! Remember that in nature dogs are hunters and relied traditionally on the prey that they killed. So meats, fish, bone and eggs should only be given raw. Processed vegetables can be given with meals, processed because the only vegetables consumed by carnivores are the ones already digested by their prey. Dog's short digestive systems are not designed to process whole raw vegetables. Although they do benefit from digesting up to 10% of their diet as vegetable matter and a little fruit, so pop it in the food processor so that it is partially digested already. This makes the availability of the nutrients more accessible during its short journey through your Scottie's gut.
Stop with the cheese! Again no statistical studies but the word is some links have been established between cheese and some cancers in dogs. At this stage my opinion is, if there has been a link between cheese rich diet and cancer in canines even suggested, then lets avoid it till we know for sure! Dogs should not have dairy anyway they are not cows.