How often have you heard someone say that their dog is a picky eater? Or perhaps someone has told you the dog will eat “When he gets hungry enough”.
What if that were not the case? I mean, yes, I’m certain an animal will eat most anything if they are literally starving to death. But what if pickiness and food refusal (in an otherwise healthy, normal weight dog) is something more?
What if it has nothing to do with the dog being a picky eater. What if the dog was actually trying to tell us something?
I currently have a normal weight, young dog in for training. The owner dropped him off with a bag of dry kibble and a few cans of the same name brand. The canned food was back up to entice him because often he doesn’t eat the dry food with enthusiasm.
This dog has a cautious personality. That often goes hand in hand with being shy about eating, particularly in front of a new person. But the dog willingly takes treats and eats the canned food. It is the kibble that is the problem. The dog is reluctant to eat it, despite it being a recognized national brand. When I mix the two together, the dog picks around the kibble and eats the canned food.
The dog acted very interested in the food I feed my dogs. So I offered him a little bit. There was no hesitation, he ate it right down and wanted more. I feed a fresh food diet and this little pup seemed not only interested, but pretty ravenous to consume it.
The difference between fresh food diets and kibble is significant. Fresh food is Fresh. Taken from the refrigerator and served.
Kibble is a processed food. Highly processed. The ingredients are baked and then pulverized into a powder form. The powders are mixed with other baked, pulverized ingredients, then water is added to create a slurry. The slurry mixture gets extruded and baked again. These foods come off of an assembly line in the form of hard, dry pellets. As a final step, the pellets are top-coated with flavoring as well as a vitamin/mineral spray to try and add nutrients back in.
When you open a bag of kibble it certainly doesn’t resemble the mouth watering photos of chicken, fish, beef, or the other ingredients shown on the front of the bag.
That is because fresh food cannot remain shelf stable. Highly processed foods can, thus the amount of shelf space devoted to dry dog foods in grocery stores. It is important we ask ourselves how nutrient dense a food can be if a bag can sit on the shelf and have an expiration date of years?
There is higher nutrient value in foods that are fresh, flash frozen, water packed and canned, versus foods processed into dry squares, or pellets.
I believe our dogs know it too. Certainly the fresh or moist food tastes better, but I also believe their bodies have an innate knowledge of what provides more sustenance for them. I’ve seen my own dogs decide which foods on their plate to consume first one day (the bone or protein) while picking at the others (veggie or fruits) and on another day eat in the reverse order. I suspect it is not any different than when I know I’m really in need of some veggies or a salad one day but feel the need to have a piece of fish or a chicken the next. I suspect eating healthy becomes an intuitive process when we learn to listen to our bodies.
For now, I’m giving this boy a bit of my dog’s diet and I’ll talk to his owner about potentially converting to the Volhard Dog Nutrition products so that he can be eating a nutritionally complete, biologically appropriate diet.
If that doesn’t feel doable (although it is actually quite easy) we’ll talk about foods from the fridge that can be added to his kibble that will help provide more nutrition. And likely the dog will continue to eat around the kibble…because yes, fresh food is better.