Are You A Canine Supplement Expert?

Do you consider yourself an expert formulator of a completely and perfectly balanced homemade/raw diet for your dog?

Many of you may have difficulty answering this question, but may feel more comfortable with a slightly different version of this question. A question worded as follows:

Do you consider yourself an expert when it comes to feeding a homemade/raw diet?

Expert status is rarely a condition that is absent of good judgment or absent of the willingness to embrace advancements or improvements. True experts continue to learn from others to improve and grow their knowledge base. Stagnation and the unwillingness to demand new ideas, new science, and new theories, will foster mediocrity.

The true expert in many situations becomes the novice who is seeking answers; a novice demanding data and/or science based reasoning. The problem among the so-called self proclaimed experts touting expert status in and among the homemade/raw dog food folks is that they have not been really listening to the novices.

So what do novices want to know? Is it important to them that an expert has been feeding raw for 20 years, and very successfully? Of course that is impressive, but the experts have never looked to substantiate their feeding programs against the actual daily energy and nutrient requirement for dogs; substantiation to ensure that each feeding completely and perfectly balances the homemade diet, for homeostasis (maintenance).

The novice wants proof that the raw ingredients chosen for the dog, and any supplements recommended completely and perfectly balances the diet, and every so-called expert should demand the same. Commercial dog food manufactures are learning that consumers are becoming more and more concerned with the lack of full nutrient disclosures on labeling, and have also been demanding disclosure of where manufacturers purchase raw ingredients. Consumer sophistication and desire to feed dogs the best possible diet is leading a mini-boom toward the homemade/raw diet.

So the question becomes… how does the novice become their own food manufacturer?

The transformation of the novice to expert, and self-proclaimed expert to true expert, is only possible through an understanding and use of the same raw ingredient formulation models used by commercial manufacturers; formulation models which are closely held as proprietary programs of each manufacturer.

The process begins with an understanding that:

The internet is a wealth of information when it comes to dog nutrition. Much of it is experience driven disclosures of personal accounts and recommendations of breeders and dog fanciers all over the world. Unfortunately some of the information is a little misguided, especially when it comes to feeding raw diets and the required supplements needed to properly balance them. One indisputable fact about feeding a homemade raw diet is easy to remember! The raw ingredients of any homemade diet contain nutrients which fed in the proper amounts DO NOT provide the Recommended Allowance (RA) of nutrients required for the health and maintenance of the dog. YOU MUST SUPPLEMENT! Simply put, know the nutrient analysis of your raw food mixture, and you will know what you need to supplement.

It is important to understand the seriousness involved with formulating a homemade raw diet for your dog. The commercial dog food companies understand this and know that consumers depend on them to get it right. They have nutritionists and scientists monitoring the process with great care for the recommendations set forth by the NRC and AAFCO. When you make the decision to take on that responsibility yourself, you must have a basic understanding of the process and be able to follow any feeding program with assurance that you know the formulations and they make sense to maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the tendency of the dog to regulate its internal conditions, such as the chemical composition of its body fluids, so as to maintain health and functioning, regardless of outside conditions. Simply put, body weight and overall health.

The science behind the feeding and nutrient requirements of all dogs follows the years of research provided by the National Institute of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Pet Food Institute, published in the book, Nutrient Requirements Of Dogs And Cats, 2006, by the National Research Council (NRC) Of The National Academies, who are advisors to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recognizes the NRC as an authority on dog nutrition.

Using this science, the basis for establishing feeding and nutrient requirements for all dogs begins with understanding the Metabolizable Energy (ME) and the Maintenance Energy Requirements (MER) of each dog. ME is defined as the net energy available to an animal after the utilization of some energy in the processes of digestion and absorption, and the loss of some of the material as being undigested or indigestible. All dogs are assumed to have the same Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is the amount of energy expended at rest. The feeding requirements for each dog starts with the BMR formula as a baseline value before other factors are applied.

Science dictates that in order to provide appropriate daily feeding requirements for dogs, certain factors must be applied to the BMR to correctly figure the Maintenance Energy Requirement value. Factors include: the age of the dog, the activity level of the dog, and sometimes the breed of the dog. In the case of bitches that are in gestation or lactation, an additional factor is applied to the BMR for pregnancy or for nursing a given number of puppies in weeks one through four of lactation.

Discussion here must introduce that there are shared acronyms when evaluating the feeding requirements for dogs. Maintenance Energy Requirements (MER) also shares the same acronym as Metabolizable Energy Requirement (MER). Additionally, Metabolizable Energy Requirements (MER) is often denoted as two different values. The usual description is a value ranging from 95 to 200, as found in National Research Council (NRC), Table 15-4 Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, NRC, 2006, p 359. The alternate description is a resulting value after application to the BMR formula.

The Maintenance Energy Requirement differentiates itself from the Metabolizable Energy Requirement by the application of the dog weight to the Metabolizable Energy Requirement value.

One of the most difficult tasks when formulating dog food diets is to choose the precise combination of raw food ingredients that provide for the highest energy and nutrient combination. This is an extremely precise process that requires give and take in choice of ingredients to achieve the best ratio for both maximum energy and nutrient capabilities of the food.

The NRC has also established a very precise table of nutrient requirements for dogs and set them to a standardized set of values known as the Recommended Allowance (RA). Combined into mathematical formulations, the Maintenance Energy Requirement along with the RA, applied to a precise combination ratio of raw food ingredients, sets the basis of the food formulation and the amount of food required to feed a dog to maintain homeostasis.

From this basic introduction into the factors affecting dog nutrition, and the science required behind the precise formulation of dog food, you will appreciate the hard work behind the formulation tables available for use in the book, The Complete Nutrition Workbook For Dogs.

The formulation tables maximize the energy and nutrient efficiency capabilities of the raw food ingredients. Years of research ensued following the development of the tables in this book to find the perfect balance of nutrient supplements required to meet and exceed the NRC Recommended Allowance of nutrients.

Formulating the supplement required targeting the needs of all factors affecting homeostasis, as well as the RA in accordance with the NRC guidelines. Through years of applications of linear programming concepts and application of the concepts through personal feeding trials with our own Rhodesian Ridgeback showdogs, the exact nutrient/supplement formulation was achieved. The formulation exists under the Rawproconcepts program, and is the only supplement program available formulated to fill the deficiencies of the homemade diet.

So the question remains…are you a canine supplement expert?

By: Alan Anderson