WHY THERE ARE SO MANY OVERWEIGHT DOGS & WHY ‘LOW FAT’ DOG FOODS DON’T WORK!
“A 2015 study conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention discovered that 54 percent of U.S. dogs were overweight or obese.”
The fact that 54% of all dogs are “overweight or obese” is a clear indicator that there is something VERY wrong with what we are feeding our dogs.
To answer the question, “Why are there so many overweight dogs” let’s ask another question, “Why are there NO overweight Wolves, Dingoes, Jackals or Coyotes in their natural habitat”?
Black Backed Jackal
In an article posted on August 9, 2016 in psychologytoday.com titled “A Wolf Is a Dog Is a Coyote Is a Jackal Is a Dingo” “New genetic studies show the closeness of Canids”, Mark Derr, author of “A Wolf Is a Dog Is a Coyote Is a Jackal”, makes the observation that “Dogs, wolves, and other canids are closer genetically than some populations of people and should, by rights be considered one species. That means the configuration that says a wolf is a dog is a coyote is a dingo is the correct one.”
Nuclear DNA determines things like personality, size, and physical attributes in a dog, and can be altered through selective breeding to get a 5,000 year old gray Wolf to eventually look like a Boxer, a Beagle, a Black Lab, or Golden Retriever.
Mitochondrial DNA, is responsible for transforming food into enzymes and special molecules that build and repair the body and produce the cellular energy that powers it on every level, as explained in more scientific terms by Mecofe Meha, BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado Denver in the following quote from Quora at https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-mitochondrial-DNA-function
“Mitochondrial DNA contains 37 genes, all of which are essential for normal mitochondrial function. Thirteen of these genes provide instructions for making enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation. The remaining genes provide instructions for making molecules called transfer RNAs (tRNAs) and ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs), which are chemical cousins of DNA. These types of RNA help assemble protein building blocks (amino acids) into functioning proteins”.
Changes in Nuclear DNA, however dramatic, do not alter the Mitochondrial DNA. The Mitochondrial DNA of a 5,000 year old gray wolf is 99.8% identical to that of the present day domesticated dog. Your dog may have the personality and physical characteristics of a Black Lab, a Boxer, or a Pug but its got the nutritional needs of a 5,000 year old gray wolf. It’s not how long the dog has been domesticated by people that determines what food the dogs system is designed to use, it’s the Mitochondrial DNA, plain, simple, and incontrovertible.
Mitochondrial DNA, unlike Nuclear DNA, has remained essentially constant for thousands and thousands of years and it determines how energy is processed and what your dog should eat. Your dog may look very different than its gray wolf ancestor but its energy needs are the same. The personalities may be different but the nutritional needs are the same.
So how is the diet we feed our domesticated dogs different from the diet of wild dogs?
We feed our domesticated dogs certain things that wild dogs don’t eat which include the following:
A) Refined Carbs from Grains (corn, rice, wheat, barley, bread, etc.)
B) High Glycemic Carbs from baked White Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
C) Sugar in any form (Molasses, honey, corn syrup)
The dog food industries standard response for overweight dogs is to recommend a “Low Fat” dog food. If reducing fat intake is the solution, then it would be logical to conclude that eating too much fat is the problem. But if this were true then many of the Wolves, Dingoes, and Coyotes would be overweight since their diet is almost completely protein and fat – but it’s hard to find a fat wolf.
Nature designed dogs to eat fat and protein. There are no overweight Wolves, Dingos, Jackals or Coyotes and their diet is almost entirely fat and protein. The problem seems to stem from whatever is in commercial dog food that isn’t protein or fat – not the other way around!
At this point I think it is reasonable to conclude that the overweight problem (among others) is that we’re feeding dogs food that is inappropriate for them as carnivores. I’ll go into detail to convince you that dogs are carnivores by design in a future blog article but for now how about giving me the benefit of the doubt based on the 99.8% identical Mitochondrial DNA thing I mentioned previously?
In fact, we’re feeding dogs the same highly processed carbs, potatoes, grain, sweet potatoes, etc. that much of America is eating that has at least 66% of us overweight. and we wonder why they’re overweight.
Does it seem logical or reasonable to assume that all these overweight domestic dogs got that way by eating high quality, nutritionally balanced, healthy, species appropriate dog food? Probably not.
If it were just a simple matter of a dog’s tendency to overeat then why wouldn’t wild dogs gorge until they became overweight? Probably because eating fat chemically triggers a feeling of being satiated or full, but eating processed or high glycemic carbs has the opposite effect and chemically triggers the desire to eat more.
Dogs are NOT designed to handle the high glycemic carbs that are so plentiful in most dog foods. These carbs cause a huge spike in the dogs blood sugar levels and the dog’s system reacts to the sugar assault by releasing a flood of insulin into the bloodstream. Insulin lowers the spike in blood sugar by directing the body to convert the excess sugar to fat and store it. So instead of the dog using it’s food for energy, it is converted into stored fat to lower the blood sugar levels to a safe level.
The concept of reducing “fat” in dog food to help your dog lose weight and achieve its appropriate, healthy weight may sound reasonable to the average person and therefore it’s probably a good marketing slogan, but it doesn’t help the dog lose weight, and usually just ends up making the situation worse.
Since the highly processed, high glycemic carbs are the real cause of the weight gain, reducing the fat content only increases the problem because when fat is removed from the formula it is NOT replaced with lean, animal sourced protein (as one would hope); it is usually replaced with more high glycemic carbs – the actual cause of the weight gain to begin with.
Another way they’ve devised to get the poor dog to lose weight (because the dog is probably still eating way too many calories of high glycemic carbs even on the low fat weight loss formulas) is by the “Weight Management” concept. This is where they recommend cutting back the normal serving size of the food (by 33 to 50%) in an attempt to slowly mini-starve the dog until it sheds the weight. Once the weight is lost (assuming it ever is, which is doubtful since the calories in these diets are still way too high which you will see in the table I’m going to treat you to shortly) your dog will simply start regaining the weight when it returns to eating the same old high calorie, high glycemic carb junk that caused the problem to begin with.
To give you an example of this simply look on Chewy.com for the “Blue Buffalo Basics Healthy Weight Turkey & Potato Recipe Adult Dry Dog Food” with 20% protein, 8% fat, 64% carbs, & 8% moisture and let’s compare it to Brothers Turkey & Egg at 36% protein, 16% fat, 40% carbs, & 8% moisture).
For weight loss for a 25 lb dog Blue suggests 1 1/2 cups a day (at 337 kcal/cup that’s a total of 505 calories – only 20% of which is protein).
For weight maintenance, once the weight has been lost, Blue suggests you feed 2 cups a day (33% more of the same stuff which totals 674 calories a day).
Blue Buffalo’s daily “Weight Maintenance” serving (for a 25 lb dog) only has about one half the protein and fat that a daily serving of Brothers has. What Blue has more of is calories – 63% more overall calories than Brothers and 144% more calories from carbs. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which food will maintain a healthy weight naturally without the need for your dog to experience the painful yoyo cycle of putting weight on then having to starve it off.
Even though the Sticker price of Blue is $47.99 and Brothers is $79.99 it will cost you about the exact same (or a little more for the weight maintenance) to feed your dog for a month.
I’ll do a blog article soon to get you straight with that whole part of the Dog Food Deception thing around the cost to feed your dog.
Dogs don’t become fat from eating fat and they don’t lose weight by eating less fat. They are equipped with the ability to transform fat directly into glucose for energy through a process known as Gluconeogenesis. This natural process in a carnivore is shut down when they eat high glycemic carbs that boost the glucose levels in the blood and trigger a flood of insulin that aborts gluconeogenesis and directs the body to convert the extra glucose in the blood to stored fat.
Dogs become overweight from eating too many high glycemic carbs, and the LAST thing they need to do is eat a “Low Fat dog food” with reduced fat and even more high glycemic carbs.
Losing weight does not require a diet that diverges from a nutritionally balanced diet (and certainly not a diet that reduces fat). The healthy, and most effective, long term weight control and weight stabilizing solution is to simply feed your dog a nutritionally balanced food that consists of high levels of animal sourced protein with equal calories of high quality, identifiable animal sourced fat and equal calories (or less) of complex carbs with a low glycemic index like any of the Brothers Complete Dog Food Formulas.
When supplied with a perfectly balanced source of nutrition, free of high glycemic carbs from grain, white or sweet potatoes, or any form of sugar, in the appropriate quantity for the dog’s ideal weight (at 1 cup per 25 lbs body weight for Brothers Complete, up to about 75 lbs) Like Heidi on the right – the dog will naturally gravitate to it’s ideal weight and regain a healthy level of energy.
Richard Darlington, CO-CEO
Brothers Complete Dog Food, LLC