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Discussion Starter #1
There is so much controversy around canine and human nutrition, it makes my head spin. What is the best diet? Protein good? Bad? What's up with carbs? Should dogs have fats of any kind? Is kibble really acceptable? What is food, even? Is it just sustenance? Is it what fills this void we call 'hunger'? Are we truly aware of anything in the universe, really...
Ahem.
So. I've decided to do an in-depth search into what makes an actual good, balanced diet for my dogs. An experiment of sorts. In this experiment, I will first find all the information necessary to make a general conclusion on what makes a good diet, and then try to figure out some diets based off of that. Obviously, I'm not a scientist or a nutrition expert, and therefore encourage various levels of input from others. But there are rules I would like to uphold in this research. Namely, the type of resources used.

What IS a Good Resource
Studies by universities
Blogs/Youtube videos by a nutritionist
Non-biased articles
Breaking news announcing the conclusive evidence of a multitude of studies
Experiences that can be tied to a specific type of food (i.e., my dog eats a carrot every morning and now has laser vision)
Experiences that brought about an obvious change in the dog or has kept the dog much healthier/much less healthier than other, similar dogs (my dog was eating my shoes for breakfast, and was generally unhealthy, but as soon as I switched him to diet X that is high in nutrient Y, he does much better! His cousin, on the other hand, eats the same food my dog used to, and has the same problems my dog did.)

What will NOT be considered a Good Resource
Blogs/Youtube videos not written by a nutritionist
Articles pointing fingers and cherry-picking information, especially for the purpose of fear-mongering
Studies that are too small to be effective or have been obviously influenced by a particular party
Breaking news articles announcing a single new study (too soon to declare effects of research, also not yet repeated by peers)
Studies on humans that assume the exact same for dogs (we are completely different animals requiring different volumes of different types of nutrition)
Second-hand experiences (i.e., a friend's friend's dog ate a piece of lettuce and began to dance ballet)
General conclusions based off of diet (does my terrier run circles around my house in the morning because I feed him my lost hopes and dreams, or is it because he's just a hyper guy in general?)


My hypothesis, based on research seen thus far:
A diet high in protein and 'healthy fats', and also has 'healthy carbs', are going to be the best for dogs. Raw, nutritionist-balanced diets are likely the best overall, but needs more research to determine/support if it is. Home-cooked, nutritionist-balanced are likely second-best, and also needs research. Third would be whole food, prepared diets like Freshpet's steamed stuff, and fourth would be breed-specific diets based on the dog's activity levels. I also assume that natural, whole ingredients are the best, and that the more animal protein in a specific food, the better.

This hypothesis will change and be added to over time as I gather more information.
 

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This seems like a huge undertaking, though an admirable one. I will add that one thing that really complicates things is that our understanding of "necessary" nutrients for dogs is often built on synthetic nutrients which have different bio availability than those in whole raw foods. This is why there's quite a clash even between raw-feeding groups on whether certain supplements are needed. Kibbles generally have added synthetic nutrients to meet the RNC and AAFCO standards, but these standards are in turn created with kibbles and synthetic supplements in mind. Which is just far different than feeding a raw diet. So the nutritionists in the raw group I belong to don't always believe in striving to exactly match these specific values. In a couple cases I've questioned them when I'm not sure about Misha's diet and their explanations are always very in depth.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've gone through the top two studies. The first one is about seeing if dogs can self-regulate their macronutrient intake. It seems they can, and based off of the study, it looks like they would like a diet high in protein across multiple breeds, with 25%-35% of the total energy composed of protein. To put that into perspective, the average American eats about 16% of their diet as protein every day (although this number should be higher). Overall, this study seems to be pretty through, even comparing the findings to other studies in cats.
The second study has only a short paragraph summarizing its findings. I'll try to find the whole study, but for now it seems to support high protein benefiting dog's health, as the results found that a high-protein-high-fiber diet supports weight loss. Not sure how legitimate this study is, so I'll take it with a grain of salt until I can look further into it.
@Raindrops, that's interesting. I'll have to see if I can find any studies on raw diets to support any findings I get from studies using kibble/mixed diets. Maybe that's wishful thinking, but I'll try my hardest.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
After thinking about the first study I mentioned, I鈥檓 wondering if it鈥檚 the quality of the protein that is a determining factor in how much the dogs ate.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't remember if you're familiar with WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) as a resource. Home | WSAVA
then to Global Nutrition Guidelines | WSAVA
a few layers in, focus here on pet owners nutrition information:

There may be something of use or interest for your quest.
I am not too familiar! Thanks, Rose! I see multiple things already! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I've gone through this study today. It's a repeat of the macronutrient study with different dogs and seems to support it, confirming that the dogs will choose to eat around 30% protein as a part of their diet, with lamb green tripe used to manipulate the protein content. The experiment only spanned 10 days, however, and could use a longer study. In addition, this study only used Harrier Hounds, not diverse in breeds at all. And just because the dogs choose to eat 30% protein does not mean that that is the best for their health. However, overall, the results were the same, which is encouraging.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Took a break for a little bit. Calculus is the worst, and my head spins after class...

I went through this study today, and, um, it's kinda sketchy in how the dogs were kept... But it does show that too little protein is very, very bad. And, you know, maybe feed your dog a diet appropriate for its species, and not carrots, lard, and sugar?

And this study! This study is long! It spans 4 years! It also shows that higher protein diets (in dogs) are not linked, in general, to kidney failure (which is a general concern, as it is linked to kidney failure in rats and humans), and in fact may improve renal functions.

This study shows that neutered dogs fed a high protein diet gain a lower level of fat.

This article states that older dogs will need a higher level of protein intake, which makes sense, as their bodies cannot absorb nutrients as effectively.

Finally, there is this article, which pulls several studies together into a summary.

All in all, I feel comfortable feeding my dogs a diet that is at the least 30% protein. HOWEVER, if one of them had some kind of kidney disease, I would put them on a vet-recommended low-protein diet, as we do not know for sure if high protein does not adversely effect said disease.

Onto carbs, I guess.
 

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Me too! My vet cheerfully calls it "throwing some science at the problem", and leaves me to it, gently steering where necessary.
 

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Floof, can you check my interpretation of the report Dogtor posted recently? It looks like fat in raw diets doesn't have the same effect on blood triglycerides as fat in kibble. The levels remain in a healthy range, despite higher fat content. The mechanism isn't clear and isn't suggested in the paper. But perhaps there's a difference in protein in raw diets versus protein in kibble diets as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Been there, probably always gonna do that lol馃帺馃悋
View attachment 469642
Me too! My vet cheerfully calls it "throwing some science at the problem", and leaves me to it, gently steering where necessary.
Haha, glad I鈥檓 not the only one.
Floof, can you check my interpretation of the report Dogtor posted recently? It looks like fat in raw diets doesn't have the same effect on blood triglycerides as fat in kibble. The levels remain in a healthy range, despite higher fat content. The mechanism isn't clear and isn't suggested in the paper. But perhaps there's a difference in protein in raw diets versus protein in kibble diets as well.
Sure! It might take me a day or two to fully go through it, as I have a calc quiz tonight (ugh) and a chemistry exam on Friday (double ugh). But I鈥檒l see what I can find!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, exam week is almost over (and went out with a BANG, as the website crashed while our class was taking the exam), so I can spare a little more time to look at things. I'll start on that report first.
 

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... I went through this study today, and, um, it's kinda sketchy in how the dogs were kept... But it does show that too little protein is very, very bad. And, you know, maybe feed your dog a diet appropriate for its species, and not carrots, lard, and sugar?

And this study! This study is long! It spans 4 years! It also shows that higher protein diets (in dogs) are not linked, in general, to kidney failure (which is a general concern, as it is linked to kidney failure in rats and humans), and in fact may improve renal functions.

This study shows that neutered dogs fed a high protein diet gain a lower level of fat.

This article states that older dogs will need a higher level of protein intake, which makes sense, as their bodies cannot absorb nutrients as effectively.

Finally, there is this article, which pulls several studies together into a summary.

All in all, I feel comfortable feeding my dogs a diet that is at the least 30% protein. HOWEVER, if one of them had some kind of kidney disease, I would put them on a vet-recommended low-protein diet, as we do not know for sure if high protein does not adversely effect said disease.

Onto carbs, I guess.
These are a nice group of links you put together for us, thank you! They confirm what I what I always thought, which is that dogs do best when eating a diet containing some daily portions of unprocessed poultry and meat etc. Mine get some baked chicken daily, or sometimes I'll split a homemade hamburger between them, and daily Royal Canine kibble. When I run out of that, I switch to another brand to keep it interesting for them.

A kibble-only diet, even by "the best", just never felt right for an animal that's a carnivore, sort of like if we ate only nutritious cereals. However, I'll add that science shows dogs need it all balanced very carefully, so the thinking in some camps is that meat only could deprive them of other nutrients they need.

FYI, there's a highly recommended site, DogFoodAdvisor.com, which researches and reviews dog food brands and stays up to date on dog food recalls.
 
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