Saturday, January 16, 2010

What's Wrong With Pedigreed Dogs?

A video-expose of poor breeding practices in Britain led to a national inquiry into scandalous problems in pedigreed dog breeding, care, and shows.  The legendary Crufts dog show lost sponsorships, and respected animal welfare groups were called to account.  The national iquiry was led by Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, an esteemed Cambridge academic.

The inquiry commission lamented puppy mills that use poor breeding practices and fail to socialize puppies properly.  These pitiful, pedigreed puppies are sold through pet shops to an ignorant public that does not understand sound breeding and the early socialization that is needed to produce good family pets.  They lamented breeding practices that emphasize extreme breed characteristics at the expense of dogs' health; for example, extreme length and short legs in Basset Hounds and Dachshunds, deformed heads in bulldogs, and the like.  They chastised breeders for not understanding the deleterious effects of inbreeding and inheritance of diseases in many breeds of pedigreed dogs.

What they totally failed to understand is the critical role of diet in the health of pedigreed (and all) dogs.  Because more than 90% of all dogs in the UK and other developed countries are fed a high-starch diet, they failed to see that many health problems result from a totally inappropriate diet for carnivorous canines.  When nearly all dogs are fed commercial pet foods, it is not easy to discover the huge negative impact of this diet on dogs' health.  But to understand the myriad health problems of pedigreed dogs, it was critical to include improper diet in their inquiry.

We know from veterinary authorities that 85% of dogs have serious gum disease by three years of age.  Gum infections challenge immune systems, pour toxins into major organs, and cause chronic disorders that sicken and eventually kill masses of pedigreed dogs. If they had considered the good dental condition of wolves, who eat whole prey, they could have questioned why domesticated wolves (dogs) suffer so many illnesses from infected mouths.

The answer is simple: Kibbles and canned mush coat teeth with a gummy sludge that promotes gum disease, and dogs fed these foods have no way to clean their teeth.  Wolves clean their teeth by gnawing on meaty bones.  Unless dogs are given raw meaty bones, they cannot clean their teeth.  Veterinary advice to dog owners to brush dogs' teeth daily is not an adequate solution, as demonstrated by epidemic dental disease among pedigreed dogs and others.

One recommendation that could have come from Professor Bateson's review of pedigreed dogs' breeding and care would be a diet to support their lifelong health.  Because dogs share 99.8% of their genes with gray wolves and are classified as a subspecies of gray wolves, it is obvious that dogs' diet should be a close approximation to whole prey.  That close approximation is called raw-meaty-bones.

The inquiry commission lost a great opportunity to educate breeders and dog owners about proper feeding of carnivorous pets.  No one raised the diet issue, because everyone has been indoctrinated to believe commercial pet foods are an appropriate canine diet.  A massive, international myth, funded by global pet food companies, promotes cooked starches as "100% complete and balanced" diets for dogs.  Questioning this myth requires unlearning 50 years of pet food propaganda.  In addition, Professor Bateson thanks pet food companies for their cooperation and support of the inquiry.  Commission members may not have been motivated to indict their supporters.

The inquiry report highlights important issues in dog breeding and puppy care, but they failed to see the underlying destruction of dogs' heath by commercial pet foods.  From weaning to death, dogs are stressed and sickened by these foods.  Educating the public to demand responsible dog breeding and puppy care are valuable lessons, but, to improve the health and lives of all dogs, owners need to understand why and how to feed them raw-meaty-bones.

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