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Tag: Military

Getting to the Meat of Dog Food

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2016 Issue of Vohne Liche Kennels’ American Working Dog Magazine.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation in the world of dog food when it comes to ingredients. We’ve touched on some of these in the past when discussing the perceived benefits of grain free foods. Another common misconception is the perceived superiority of whole meats versus meals and by-products. To illustrate the flaws in this, we’ll use the various forms of chicken used in dog food as examples.

 

Pet Food Meats Defined

Following is a summary of how AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) defines these three ingredients. For clarity I’m paraphrasing but it is an accurate characterization of each of the definitions.

 

  • Chicken: Chicken meat, skin and boneKinetic Dog Food Vohne Liche Kennels
  • Chicken Meal: Chicken meat, skin and bone which has been ground and dried
  • Chicken By-Product Meal: Chicken meat, skin, bone, necks, unborn eggs, cleaned entrails, feet and organs which has been ground and dried

 

Now if you believe most of what’s spread around the internet, you’d probably rank the quality of these ingredients in the order shown above. In reality, you’d probably be doing your dogs a nutritional disservice. In most cases, we’d encourage you to move “Chicken” to the last spot on the list and here are three very good reasons why.

 

3 Reasons Meat Meals are Better

Reason #1: Chicken is about 80% water. This means you’ll get about 5 times more meat from both Chicken Meal and Chicken By-Product Meal than you will from whole Chicken. During the manufacturing process all that water is cooked out and you’re left with basically Chicken Meal except only about 20% as much as if you’d have started with a meal.

 

Reason #2: Many foods that use whole Chicken immediately follow it up with some other ingredient to account for the protein they missed out on by not using a meal to begin with. In many cases, this is a vegetable protein, such as Corn Gluten Meal, which dogs absorb at only about half the rate they do a meat protein. In short, you replaced the missing protein with only half of what you should have.

 

Reason #3: As unsavory as it may seem to many people, there’s actually excellent nutrition in the by-product components of Chicken By-Product Meal. Hearts, livers, feet and even clean entrails provide a protein dense meal with a broad nutrient profile that offers nutritional benefits not found in regular Chicken Meal. While it may not sound appetizing, dogs both enjoy it and thrive on it.

 

Specific is a Must

One final distinction that may seem small but is actually pretty important is making sure your meat sources are specific. While a by-product meal may be acceptable, or even preferred, we’d limit that to only those that are known and named. If you see a generically named ingredient such as Poultry By-Product Meal or Meat and Bone Meal, you’re probably better off to avoid those foods. The generic terminology allows for least cost usage of different protein sources in your food. This means you’re quite likely to get a different quality and type of meal from one bag of food to the next. For safety sake, you’re better off avoiding the mystery meat and sticking with something you know.

Why Your Working Dog Needs So Many Calories

Kinetic Pro Staff Member Bobby Roettger of Vohne Liche Kennels discusses the nutritional needs of working K-9s.

 

Feeding the Working K9

Working Dog Challenges

It’s a pretty rare event to see an active working K9 carrying excess weight. In fact, the opposite is generally the more likely situation. The combination of breed and drive in working K9s often results in a dog that burns a ton of energy and has a great deal of difficulty maintaining weight. This can jeopardize the health and performance of a valuable canine team member who serves on the front line of protection; whether police, private security or military.

Feeding Working K9 DogsWorking K9 Breeds

Breed certainly plays a role in the performance of working dogs and it also contributes to the feeding and management challenges. In a K9 workforce made up of a large percentage of German Shepherd (GSD) and Belgian Malinois dogs, many years of breed refinement have created high performance canine athletes that burn fuel at higher than normal levels.

It’s not unusual to have a Mal or GSD burn more energy during “inactive” periods in a kennel than most dogs might use at work or play. Their drive is both genetic and reinforced by training which makes it very difficult to just flip a switch and turn off the motor. In addition, an athlete bred for lean muscle mass is going to have more difficulty maintaining weight under the most relaxing of circumstances. Under the constant stress of high level focus and performance expectations, maintaining proper body condition and overall health becomes an even greater challenge.

Dog Food Needs to Match Performance

Working dogs are required to perform at elite levels and many of them simply cannot be properly fueled by the same diet as a household companion. Even under the same conditions, genetics and drive will force them to burn more energy and require more nutrients to maintain condition and overall health.

Foods created with large amounts of grains, fruits and vegetables with limited, at best, digestibility are simply not going to be sufficient. To maintain peak health and performance, a high energy diet made with plenty of meat, fat and digestible starch is a base requirement. Add in the best quality vitamins, chelated minerals and prebiotics and you’re well on your way to a very healthy dog performing at peak efficiency.

High performance athletes don’t train and compete on snacks and salads. They load up on protein, fat and digestible carbohydrates to fuel extreme performance. While your working K9 needs more of the first two than his human counterparts, the general idea is the same. You don’t win the prize with burgers and fries.