This article has been kindly submitted to us by Jonathan Self, founder, and written by Nat Self, Executive Canine Chef, Darling’s Real Dog Food
‘Always read something,’ suggested P J O’Rourke, ‘that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.’ I am not quite sure how you would look if you keeled over with a book about canine diet in your hands. Earnest, I suppose. At any rate, you wouldn’t (and this may surprise you) die of boredom. Because, like many specialist topics, once you get into it, canine diet is fascinating. In fact, my chief complaint is that although there are a number of really good books on the subject, more has not been written. ‘Outside of a dog,’ advised Groucho Marx, ‘a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.’ Where that leaves books about dogs’ insides I am not entirely sure. Anyway, here are my favourites.
Give Your Dog a Bone
Give Your Dog a Bone by Dr. Ian Billinghurst, an Australian vet, was the first popular book to promote the idea of feeding dogs raw food and meaty bones. Published in 1993 it is still, pretty much, the best practical guide to the subject.
Billinghurst is responsible for promoting the term BARF, which stands for ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food’ or ‘Bones and Raw Food’, depending on your preference. However, there is no mention of BARF in this first book which starts by exploding some of the modern dog food myths (basically, that processed food is good for dogs), goes on to explain why so many common canine health issues are actually caused by processed food and then explains what some of the problems are with ‘home produced food’. Having set the scene he then discusses the ideal canine diet and provides all the information you need to prepare it yourself. There are separate chapters on the key ingredients and on feeding puppies and older dogs.
The book is based on Billinghurst’s own experiences as a vet and if you only read one guide to raw food, this should probably be it.
Raw Meaty Bones
Tom Lonsdale (a British vet) has been fighting a long and – if you will pardon the pun – bloody battle with the various veterinary professional bodies over canine and feline diet. In particular, he has accused the majority of vets and the organisations that represent them of being ‘bought’ by the pet food industry. In Raw Meaty Bones, published in 2001, he has gathered an impressive array of research to prove his main point: that a raw food diet involving meaty bones is by far the best thing that dogs (and cats) can eat. He highlights all the problems with processed food and offers hard scientific evidence that companion animals thrive on raw food. The book contains some diet advice but mostly it is concerned with the damage being done to dogs and cats by the processed pet food industry. The chapters relating to periodontal disease are eye openers. If you are interested in the theory more than the practice (and if you would like to learn exactly why some people think the pet food industry is heading for a massive scandal) then this is the book to buy.
Dogs, Diet and Disease
Caroline Levin’s Dogs, Diet and Disease is invaluable for a number of reasons. First of all she explains in language that I can almost understand how canine metabolism and endocrine functions work in a normal dog. In other words, she provides a relatively plain English guide to your dog’s innards. Secondly, she offers a really good section on diet, reviewing the options including commercially produced food, home prepared food and raw food. Thirdly, she has done her homework. The book contains details of all the relevant studies that have been undertaken into the effects of processed dog food compared to raw dog food. Incidentally, if your dog suffers from any sort of disease (Diabetes, Pancreatitis, Cushings &c.) then this book is a must as it contains lots of practical tips.
Foods Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Foods
For seven years Canadian author, Ann N Martin, researched the American pet food industry and Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Foods is the result. It is not short of the ‘shocking facts’ mentioned in the title, either. Did you know, for instance, that road kill, dead pets and zoo animals end up in pet food? Or that they don’t hesitate to use beaks, feathers and even more disgusting ingredients in their products? Ms. Martin is great on why processed food is so bad, but not terribly sound on what the best alternative is. Indeed, if you search for her book on Amazon.com and read the reviews you will see that some readers have been quite severe in their criticism. Nevertheless, she did a wonderful job exposing the appalling behaviour of giant pet food manufacturers and the book is worth reading for this alone.
Darling’s Real Dog Food makes feeding raw food easy and convenient. We produce raw, fresh food using human grade ingredients sourced from local, ethical farmers. It is our proud boast that we get our food ‘from field to Fido or Fifi in under four days’. www.darlingsrealdogfood.com.