What is a biologically appropriate diet for my dog?
A biologically appropriate, also known as a species appropriate, diets for your dog is simply what their genetic makeup is designed to digest. Or what their body and mind are made for. Fortunately, my day job, has given me the opportunity to become an expert on the topic. Okay, maybe not an expert, but a good start to becoming one.
So let’s talk about the dog’s basic biology, how it relates to their diet, and how feeding the K9 species the foods their bodies need in a form their brains can understand will improve their quality of life. After all, that is what it is all about, making pooches happier and healthier.
What Species, Nutritionally Speaking, Is a Dog?
It all starts with understanding that dogs are omnivores. They can digest both animal flesh and vegetable matter. They are made to eat both meat and plants. Not just on or the other.
First, dogs have teeth designed for tearing not grinding. If you look at cows they have a mouth full of molars with a rotating jaw to grind their food. That is because their bodies are made to thrive off of grass. So, nature gave them the proper tools (teeth) to eat what they need. Look at your dog’s jaw. It is hinged to move up and down, not side to side, to be able to tear flesh. Natura has given them the tool they need to eat what they thrive off as well, animal flesh.
Dogs also have a much smaller GI track than ours. Their meals stay in their stomachs about 4 hours whereas ours are in there about 8. That decreases the amount of time they have to absorb nutrients from their meals. So they have to eat foods that are packed with nutrients they need (here is the species part of a species-appropriate diet) that are ready to be absorbed by the body (and here is the biologically available piece of a biologically-appropriate diet). That is why dogs need raw meat and living plant matter. Their bodies can recognize the nutrients and digest them in time before their GI track vacates it.
Third, dogs have a higher acid level in stomach than we do. About 10x higher. That is why they are able to eat rotten gross things and not get sick. In fact, some of those gross things are great for them. Like green tripe, the stomach lining of a cow intact with ruminants still there.
And last, my favorite, dogs have an enzyme in their saliva that has lysozymes in it that we do not. These enzymes break down cells and protect them from bacteria like salmonella and even listeria at times. Another tool nature supplied so dogs can get the nutrients they need.
So let’s add this up. Dog’s mouths are made to eat raw meat, their saliva and stomach acid is made to protect them from the bacteria meat might have, their GI track needs to have nutrients available in way that only live raw foods can provide. Looks like a raw meat diet is on the menu for my fuzz butts.
Appropriate Dog Diet Options
Now that I understand my dog’s biology is made for a raw diet how do I feed one? Here are the top 3, in my book.
- B.A.R.F – Biologically Appropriate Raw Food diet also known as Bones And Raw Food created by Ian Billinghurst. It is a mix of raw meats, fruits, vegetables, and dairy. Insider tip. B.A.R.F is a diet as well as a brand of food. So keep that in mind during your research.
- Ancestral Diet – Basically a B.A.R.F diet taken to the next level. Creator Steve Brown has compiled a massive spreadsheet to focus in on what our dog’s need nutritionally and why they should be provided through natural foods. The result The Dog’s Ancestral Diet. Insider tip. Steve Brown did start a company called Steve’s Real Food. He is no longer with that company so it may or may not follow his nutritional guidelines.
- Prey-Model – This diet consists of all meat and bones. Preferably with the hair, eye balls, internal organs, and all that intact. The idea is that it would be exactly what our dogs ate before we domesticated them, therefore be exactly what they need nutritionally.
So there you have it. The what, why, and who of species-appropriate, biologically available, or biologically appropriate diets of the dog world. I sure hope we come up with some simpler terms soon. These proper diet titles are crapping my lazy raw feeding style.
Aimee J. Is crazy dog-mom who works at the dog food factory. -LITERALLY – Luckily it introduced her to raw feeding and the benefits it provides. Her blog, The Lazy Raw Feeder, is a collection of easy tips & tricks to feeding the best diet to your dogs without having it take over your life.