Dog's aren't vegan! Benefits of a whole food diet for dogs.

Guest blog post written by Australian Pet Nutritionist Clare Kearney.

The range of Alfie’s Feast meals has been carefully formulated to meet the nutritional needs of your pet using only whole foods, because we believe this offers the best possible nutritional and health outcomes for your bestie.

So, what does that actually mean? Well, it means that the main ingredient in all our recipes is meat.

While it wouldn’t be technically incorrect to class dogs as omnivores—given they will self-select to eat some plant matter at times, they are in many ways far more accurately described as carnivores. Regardless of what we call them it shouldn’t impact what we feed them, because this is (ideally) based on their biology and their natural feeding habits. Both of these things, along with their high protein requirements, strongly indicate that dogs thrive on an animal protein-based diet.

Dogs display many physical markers that indicate they are designed to consume a protein-based diet, such as:

Dog's jaw
  • sharp pointy teeth (including pointy molars), designed for ripping and tearing, not grinding plants
  • hinged jaws that are only able to move up and down, not side to side (a requirement for grinding plants)
  • inability to produce any salivary amylase (a digestive enzyme required to break down starches that true omnivores and herbivores produce)
  • very low stomach pH that helps to neutralise pathogens, so they are able to digest foods like raw meat without becoming unwell
  • short digestive tract that is similarly designed to move any remaining pathogens through quickly but poorly designed to ferment starches
  • even down to the position of their eyes, facing forward as is typical of a predator.

While your hound may not seem like a predator, biologically dogs are almost identical to their wolf ancestors, certainly in the context of their nutritional needs. They do now produce a pancreatic enzyme that aids them with digesting carbohydrates from plant matter, and this is no doubt thanks to the domestication process over the last few thousand years. However, I dare say it is a bit of a chicken and the egg situation (which came first?). I would argue that it’s not so much that dogs evolved this gene because they need carbs, but rather they likely did so in reaction to the fact that we fed them carbs.

Modern nutrition standards that all commercial pet food (including Alfie’s Feast) is formulated around agree that dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates as a macronutrient. And they certainly have no need for highly processed grain waste in quantities as high as 50% or more, as we see in many processed dry dog foods. That being said, modern dogs are somewhat better equipped to obtain some benefits from fresh plant matter, so long as we prepare it in a manner that accommodates their digestive capabilities.

Professional Chef of over 25 years' and founder of Alfie's Feast, Megan Lilburn

For this reason, in all of Alfie’s feasts, we balance our human grade meat and offal with a carefully selected range of fruits, vegetables, wholegrain, seeds, superfoods and oils. Plants offer unique qualities that meat doesn’t, and they are able to provide nutrients that aren’t as plentiful in animal protein foods, and helpfully fill nutritional gaps. These benefits include fibre, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, iodine and a huge boost of antioxidants, which can aide in fighting any number of degenerative diseases. Prebiotic fibres found in plants also help to feed the good bacteria in the gut microbiome, which is essential for a healthy digestive system and informs overall health. This careful balance between nutritious and easily digested protein, and carefully selected fresh plant matter ensures your pup obtains absolutely everything they need from their food, and then some.

 

Clare Kearney is a Pet Nutritionist and founder of Hunde. She specialises in canine and feline nutrition and helped craft the winning formula in all of Alfie’s feasts.