October 2018 marks 20 years in the business of formulating proactive and therapeutic diets for dogs!
I thought it might be fun to reflect on some of the biggest changes I've witnessed during this period.
1. The variety of commercial diets exploded to include not only frozen raw, cooked and dehydrated, but also the use of novel proteins. It was good news for many dogs, but also a slippery slope in the industry because once you use every protein source you have nothing left to try for a dog that has allergies. Still, the choices have helped many.
2. The raw food movement has sped up. The actual number of dogs eating commercial diets hasn't changed by much, but perhaps more of those diets are raw. It's hard to know with certainty since many people are feeding a combination of commercial diets with additions of fresh foods. That's where we've seen an increase in method of feeding, and while it has the potential to be good news, it's also a red flag. Feeding less of a formulated diet also means feeding fewer of the vitamins and minerals (and taurine! – another issue that's cropped up recently) than the dog needs. I'm hopeful that this realization will becomes widespread, so dogs can be fed fresh foods without unbalancing their diets as a whole. We do see the repercussions of cutting dry food back and adding fresh without considering the whole picture, so we are quite passionate about trying to bring awareness.
3. The DYI movement has certainly increased and with it came a host of people who discarded the National Research Council (NRC) method of formulating a diet in favor of a 'prey model raw' by using percentages. What's interesting is that studies show that real (emphasis on real – not percentages of different animal parts) whole prey meets the NRC guidelines, so reality is that using NRC can target a dog's true requirements. Proof that it's the best method comes via client's dogs who have been fed by percentages or generic recipes and how well they respond when we personalize their diets using a well thought out plan utilizing the NRC method.
Note: NRC is Not based on minimum requirements and surpassing the numbers without professional knowledge comes with risk.
4. On a personal note, I'm thrilled to have provided analyses of various raw meaty bones so that proactive dog owners can confidently use this information when creating balanced diets. I can't tell you the frustration of not being able to have this information back in 1999. Although it took time and a new appreciation of what it takes to get valid lab analyses done (1 or 2 samples is not sufficient), it turned everything around. Suddenly we could use RMBs with confidence in their nutrient values and writing the K9Kitchen book to help others could begin.
5. The microbiome is one of the biggest news stories in this field. Some of what's being reported is actually very old news that's being recycled with new dates, but the gut-brain connection is an amazing finding that has turned so many things around!
6. Social media has exploded during these 20 years. While it's great in many ways it has also overwhelmed people with information. "Sound bites” are now the preferred way to provide information to get people's attention. I would suggest that we can't learn much from sound bites other than what someone may be wanting to share with us. There is no time to delve into facts and consider an entire study when we're shown a flash of the part of a study that might be in line with that presenter's belief system, or agenda. So, all in all it's an interesting social experiment that's a bit unsettling to those who expect to differentiate between facts and hypotheses.
Social media has also been a breeding ground for fear mongering and an 'us vs. them' movement. My hope has always been to bring everyone together for the health of our dogs. That includes traditional vets, holistic vets et al because everyone has something to contribute if we start by respecting each other and knowing that we all love dogs, or we wouldn't be in this field.
That's not been what I've seen though. Each 'side' starts off by telling everyone why the other side is wrong, and the rift has become greater.
On the other hand, social media gives us the opportunity to reach out and try harder. Maybe we can do it together.
Thanks for being with me throughout the years, and here's to many more! Sincere thanks to Jody for joining me in this adventure for the last (almost) year. This is my dream job and every day is a blessing.
Twenty Year Celebration Sale!
Optimal Nutrition Regular $24.99 Sale $17.99 (save $7 per book)
Power of Food Audio Download Presentation Regular $29.99 Sale $9.99 (save $20.00)