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Brief History Of Dog Food

FACT: Dogs are animals. animals eat fresh food.

No animal anywhere has EVER been known to cook it's food. Even bugs kill and eat other bugs. Fresh, raw food from plants to prey. In other words, dogs by nature, would eat uncooked (raw) meat and scavenge for scraps.  

Now that they are domesticated, we have taken away the "fresh" from their lives. We serve them food that is cooked, processed, and made from sub-par ingredients that they wouldn't normally eat. We are, in fact, lucky that they do as well as they do on a manufactured diet and it's a shame.

Imagine if you will, that instead of wolves (dogs), humans domesticated crocodiles or tigers.  After domestication, people began to feed the crocs and giant cats a heat-processed pellet of corn, chicken feathers, heads & beaks, and sugar/salt/chemical additives.  These pellets would also be marketed to "keep their teeth clean" and "provide optimal nutrition" and  sold at the vet's office.  If a Veterinarian is selling it, the product must be good, right?  TV commercials show Crocodiles enjoying these pellets with a smile on their little faces, so it must be the right thing to feed, right?  The package has pictures of chicken drumsticks, eggs,  and carrots; they wouldn't lie would they? Advertising has to be true, doesn't it?

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Not only that, but we would begin to believe that if we were to feed something else, it might not be complete nutrition, or that we might do it wrong, make them sick, poison ourselves with bacteria or give them "blood lust"... right?

WRONG.

In actual fact, we domesticated the dog, which is technically, and biologically an Omnivore.  Crocs and Tigers are technically and biologically, Obligate Carnivores so their nutritional needs are not exactly the same but I made up the above scenario to illustrate a point.  If it weren't for their smarts and good looks, dogs would still be wild and would still be eating what they could find or what they could kill.  No cooking, no processing, and no pellets.

Gross at it may sound, a dog's digestive system is hearty enough to eat bacteria-ridden decaying garbage (both vegetable and animal.) Their teeth are designed to tear meat from bone, and then to crunch the bone into usable phosphorous, calcium, and magnesium to create energy.  The fact is, they have been eating our scraps for 10,000 years (from caveman's bone scraps in the beginning to farmer's scraps in the 1800's) until the dawn of dog biscuits.  

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HOW KIBBLE BEGAN

Legend has it that strays on the English docks were nourished as a kindness. Dogs at home were eating table scraps and hunting or butchering cast offs, but the ones that nobody owned were thrown moldy "hard tack biscuits" and scraps of rotten food, a method called trencher feeding.  Upon seeing this, an American, dog-loving electrician by the name of Spratt vowed to improve the conditions for these strays.  He created a biscuit called Meat Fibrine Dog Cakes from wheat, vegetables, beetroot and beef blood. This was the dawn of kibble.

Many pets were still eating fresh food and table scraps for a long while. Eventually when people began to starve during The Great Depression, but did not want to give up Man's Best Friend, they had to resort to feeding whatever they could afford.  Competition for meat became very real.  Canned dog food was born: meat flavoured filler became edible sustenance for our pets.  In the 1940's when metal for the cans became scarce due to World War II, people transitioned to dry bagged dog food.  Ever since, it's become the "norm." The dry food had become a way for the milling industry to sell by-product and the dog food industry to obtain a cheap filler. The filler was then artificially flavoured, beautifully packaged and aggressively marketed as 'nutritionally sound'. Dry dog food was said to be healthier than anything you could come up with on your own.  Another way of looking at it is that both food and packaging scarcity enabled this sub-par, "enriched, enhanced" filler to become the staple of a dog's diet. Also, the dawn of processed food for humans brought with it processed food for pets. 

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Enter Purina, Ken-L-Ration, and General Mills and their fancily-packaged bags of "DOG FOOD" available at the grocery store. Dry dog food boasted "shelf life, flavour, and health" for everybody's dog.  Huge amounts of money were sunk into marketing and big profits were offered to Veterinarians who sold the product. Consumers were told that they were no longer capable of feeding their dogs anything but prepared dog food, and they believed it. It was an era of progress; the Western World switched its idea of proper pet nutrition overnight.  Nobody really questioned the ingredients (mostly, and to this day, corn, fillers and unfit-for-human-consumption animal parts) as much as they didn't question the ingredients of a twinkie or that orange powder used to make macaroni and "cheese." Advertisers and Veterinarians gave Dog Food the credibility it needed.

To this day, huge pet food manufacturers, their advertisers and many veterinarians all maintain that XXX brand dry food is the only thing your dog should eat.  To feed anything else suggests that you are irresponsible, 'kooky' or a radical. That YOU as your dog's loving, devoted caregiver and owner, could not possibly come up with anything better on your own.  Objections to a fresh diet are that you will do it 'wrong', miss out on important ingredients, cause nutritional deficiencies, or make your dog ill.

I beg to differ. Fresh, raw food is natural, appropriate and arguably the most nutritious way to eat-- for ANY species. 

A raw diet prepared either by you or by a small-scale raw food manufacturer, stored in the freezer, and thawed for mealtime is the best thing you can find to feed your dog today.

Read More about what the Daintree dogs are eating. View an album of our dogs' meals.

 Baby Steeler gnawing on a recreational raw bone.

Baby Steeler gnawing on a recreational raw bone.