Where Every Puppy is a Small Wonder
Nutrition Matters
Email:  smallwonderskennel@hotmail.com

Research and experimentation with canine nutrition has been going on for decades and yet there has never been as much interest shown by the average pet owner as there is now.  We are so much more aware of and conscientious about the very significant role nutrition plays on our pets' health than we were even twenty years ago.  Today, many pet owners are knowledgeable about the failings of commercial foods and will pay the extra bucks for a premium food that claims to be all natural and made with human grade ingredients.  Most people now know that if the first ingredient is corn, it's a low end food packed with fillers that have no nutritional value for a dog and are hard to digest.  The dilemma facing pet owners today is how to choose from the numerous premium foods available.  It is such a competitive market.  Billions of dollars are raked in every year by the pet food industry.  Representatives from pet food companies greet us in the pet stores to convince us of their company's commitment to producing the most natural and nutritionally complete food on the market.  They talk about human grade meats and natural preservatives, antioxidants and lactobacilus, Omegas 3 and 6, prebiotics and probiotics, and a myriad of other ingredients that make theirs the diet that will fulfill all of your dog's nutritional needs.  With so much competition for your business, how do you decide what food is really best for your dog?

The simple answer is... none of them.  Think about it.  What is the supposed goal of the research funded by the multi billion dollar pet industry?  It is to replace the natural diet of the canine with a product that attempts to provide the nutrition required for the canine to thrive.  The next obvious question then is why not just feed them foods that are natural to them?  Why produce pelleted food (kibble) at all?  Good questions.  The truth is that the very best of commercial dog foods are nothing more than an inferior meal replacement.  As a human being you enjoy flavours, textures, and aromas from many different food groups including meats, vegetables, fruits, grains, fats, and carbohydrates.  Imagine if the foods that are natural to you were reduced to a bowl of hard, brown pellets that were served to you every day for the rest of your life.  No more tangy orange juice or smoky bacon or sweet muffins for breakfast.  No more pizza or roast beef or steaming carrots for supper.  Look into your bowl of hard pellets every day for the rest of your life and know that every effort has been made to pack those tasteless marbles with enough artificial vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep your body alive.  Mmm....  This is exactly what commercial dog foods attempt to do for your pet and, in spite of research that claims to have progressed in leaps and bounds over the past decade, the resulting products still fall far short of a natural diet.

We have domesticated and befriended dogs for thousands of years now which leads dog food companies to claim that dogs are now far removed from their ancestor, the wolf, and have adjusted or evolved to adapt to the foods supplied to them by humans. The truth is that the domestic dog (canis lupus familiaris) and the wolf (canis lupus) are so similar that their DNA differs by only two-tenths of one percent (.2%). DNA-sequencing techniques were recently developed in California that can genetically distinguish wolves from dogs. Previous tests were unable to distinguish the two. They are so genetically similar that in 1999 the Smithsonian Institute reclassified the domestic dog to the same family as the wolf. Essentially, the domestic dog and the gray wolf are so genetically similar (99.8%) that they are the same even though they look different. It stands to reason then that the digestive system and nutritional needs of a domestic dog are identical to those of a wolf and that the diet most appropriate for a dog would be modeled after the diet of wolves. Both dogs and wolves have a short gut and a high acid stomach designed to digest a raw meat meal (including bone) in about 4 hours. Humans produce an enzyme called A Amylase in their saliva and stomach which allows our digestive systems to break down the carbohydrates we eat. Dogs and wolves lack the enzyme A Alylase in their stomach and saliva because their digestive systems are not geared towards processing a carbohydrate-laden diet such as grains. Most commercial foods, however, are carbohydrate based. By feeding dogs a high carbohydrate diet we alter how they process their food. The gut pH rises from pH 1, which is normal, to pH 4 -5. This rise in gut pH denatures the enzyme, pepsin, which is crucial to processing proteins in the stomach. Because we produce the necessary enzymes, such as A Amylase, humans are able to digest a meal in about 24 hours. Dogs, fed a biologically appropriate diet, are able to digest a meal in about 4 - 5 hours. Because they lack the necessary enzymes to digest carbohydrates efficiently, the time it takes a dog to digest a meal of commercial dry food rises from 4 hours to 9 hours and, even at that, the meal is not processed efficiently. Compare the food pyramids of humans and of dogs/wolves and note the huge difference.

Animal Fats
Meat, Bone, Blood, Organs
Absolutely no carbohydrate-
laden grains
Here is an excerpt from Dr. Jeannie Thomason's article, "Kibble is Kibble is STILL Kibble" which explains how commercial foods are made and why none of them really provide for the nutritional needs of dogs. To read the entire article, go to www.thewholedog.org (highly recommended).  

Let's be perfectly clear right here, that processed pet food, (no matter what brand, no matter how much it costs, if the ingredients are organic, or nothing more than road kill and euthanized animals) all ends up the same way - nutritionally DEAD and void of any true nutrition. That's right, it does not matter what "raw materials" you start out with; whether it is premium, grass fed, organic beef, lamb or what have you, the final product is pretty much the same as the cheapest kibble you can buy at the grocery store.

How can this be?

First of all let's see what the pet food industry really means when they label their ingredients as "natural" or "organic".

Because our United States government has never bothered to define "natural" for human foods, this word essentially means anything the manufacturer says it does, especially when it comes to pet food.

AAFCO's official definition is:
NATURAL: A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as may occur unavoidably in good manufacturing processes.

Did You GET THAT?? You can render or extrude a pet food into mush, but its still considered "natural" if you haven't added anything synthetic, unless you had to. AAFCO also says that labeling some thing "natural" must not be misleading; but even AAFCO knows this is impossible. Pet food companies may in reality NOT add anything synthetic in the main raw materials for the food. However, typically they buy bulk mixtures of vitamins, minerals and other additives to spray on the finished product from factories overseas, where, as we all learned in the 2007 pet food recalls, quality controls are for the most part more nonexistent then they are here.

Officially, the word organic refers to anything that is now, or ever was, alive. Your dog is. Your lawn is. Your salad is. Your newspaper is, you are! Yes, this means that without any real quality control over pet food manufacturing that they may say their food is organic if they use once live meat or veggies in the "raw materials" they start out with for their unique formula.

Now, to even begin to understand the pet food industry we need to look at the "raw material" as it is received at the plant. Typically, the slaughterhouse for animal carcasses is one of the main suppliers of material to the rendering industry. To prevent condemned meat from being re-routed and used for human consumption, government regulations require that the meat be "denatured" before being sent to the rendering plants. Nice word, but what does that mean? Basically it means that first it must be contaminated in some way that would make it virtually unusable for human consumption. Some of the materials used to accomplish this task are: carbolic acid, creosote, fuel oil, kerosene, citronella, etc. Once this stuff has literally soaked into the meat, it's then fit to be sent on to the rendering plant.

Rendering plants are piled high with "raw product/material" consisting of a mixture of whole bodies and animal parts, plastic bags, Styrofoam packages, metal tags, pet collars-anything and everything that is considered to be "waste"- but suitable for recycling.

"Rendering" is the beginning process of cooking the raw animal material (truly organic range free chicken or rendering plant carcasses) to remove the moisture and fat. In the processing of pet food, all the raw materials used to make the pet food are first blended in order to maintain a certain ratio between the contents e.g. animal carcasses and supermarket rejects. Then, the carcasses are loaded into a 10- foot deep stainless-steel pit or hopper with an auger-grinder at the bottom that grinds up the ingredients into small pieces. These pieces are then taken to another auger-grinder for even finer shredding. Once shredded fine enough, the shredded material is then cooked at 280 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes (the amount of time and temperature the U.S. uses, those in Britain and Europe may differ slightly but, remember the high temperature and the amount of time it is cooked). This part of the processing /cooking causes the meat to melt off of bones to produce a soup or slurry.

The cooked meat and bone slurry, along with any metal, pesticides, etc. that may have been in what was rendered down are then sent to a hammermill press, which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverizes the product into a gritty powder. Once the batch is finished, all that is left is yellow grease, "meat" and bone meal. Depending on the dominant ingredient of a particular run, the product now becomes: beef, chicken, lamb, meat meal, meat by products, poultry meal, fish meal, fish oil, yellow grease, tallow, beef fat, chicken fat, etc. You will never see on the label any signs of using dog meal, cat meal, skunk meal, rat meal, or any of the other "goodies" but "its in there". If the raw materials came from a slaughter house then it is mixed in with the everyday batches of "raw material".

The term "meal" on a pet food label simply means that the materials in the meal have been rendered. The quality and content of the meal may be variable across batches. In the USA, this means that some question the nutritional value of the by-products. James Morris and Quinton Rogers, two professors with the Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of California at Davis Veterinary School of Medicine, felt there was a lack of information on the bioavailability of nutrients of pet food ingredients. The pet food labels give the supposed nutritional adequacy, but think about it, there are no true nutrients left from the processing so all that you can really look at is the vitamin mixture and additives they spray on at the end of processing. Not only this but these "nutrients" are no good if they are in a form indigestible by the pet which is normally the case since these vitamins, etc. are synthetic/man made.

Once the meal is made or sent to the pet food manufacturing plant, they then add their own "enhancers" (i.e. preservatives, food dye, synthetic vitamins, etc.) and put it through an expander or extruder. It is then pressure-cooked (steam, pressure, at very high temperatures again) and becomes a paste which is extruded through pipes which shape the blobs of paste into small biscuits or other uniform shapes. These are then puffed like popcorn and baked or dried again before being sprayed a final time with fat, digests, and the synthetic vitamins and flavor enhancers. In some cases, the cooked meat and bone go directly into a press, which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverizes the product into a gritty powder. The grit is then sifted to remove the excess hair and large bone chips; although, at times larger bone chips and hair do get past the sifting process as some owners can attest to finding in the resulting kibble. This is then added to cereal fines (processed grains) and any cooked, ground vegetables they will be using; which may then be made into paste, baked and broken into pieces and then sprayed with fat, digests, vitamins and flavor enhancers.

Facts regarding the effects of heat during processing.

The processing effectively kills off any beneficial enzymes, amino acids, etc. It does NOT kill off or get rid of the sodium Phenobarbital in the carcasses of any euthanized animals that may have been used.

At 110 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 43 degrees Centigrade), two of the 8 essential amino acids, tryptophan and lysine, are destroyed.

When food is cooked above 117 degrees F for only three minutes or longer, the following deleterious changes begin and progressively cause increased nutritional damage as higher temperatures are applied over prolonged periods of time:

*proteins coagulate

*high temperatures denature protein molecular structure, leading to deficiency of some essential amino acids

*carbohydrates caramelize

*overly heated fats generate numerous carcinogens including acrolein, nitrosamines, hydrocarbons, and benzopyrene (one of the most potent cancer-causing agents known)

*natural fibers break down, cellulose is completely changed from its natural condition: it loses its ability to sweep the alimentary canal clean

*30% to 50% of vitamins and minerals are destroyed

*100% of enzymes are damaged, the body's enzyme potential is depleted which drains energy needed to maintain and repair tissue and organ systems, thereby shortening the life span.

Remember, the rendering process alone takes place at 280 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes!

When proteins are subjected to high heat during cooking, enzyme resistant linkages are formed between the amino acid chains. The body cannot separate these amino acids. What the body cannot use, it must eliminate. Cooked proteins become a source of toxicity: dead organic waste material acted upon and elaborated by bacterial flora.

According to the textbook Nutritional Value of Food Processing, 3rd Edition, (by Karmas, Harris, published by Van Nostrand Reinhold) which is written for food chemists in the industrial processed food industry: changes that occur during processing either result in nutrient loss or destruction. Heat processing has a detrimental effect on nutrients since thermal degradation of nutrients can and does occur. Reduction in nutrient content depends on the severity of the thermal processing.

So, it is easy to see that no matter what wonderful (or not so wonderful) ingredients the pet food company may start out with, the rendering, cooking, drying, canning and baking (at high temperatures) destroy vitamins, amino acids and enzymes while rendering the proteins a source of toxicity.

In my opinion, it is no coincidence at all that since 1950, as processed food proliferated for both humans and pets, that not only have cancer rates steadily increased to the highest point in history but, we are seeing an increase in liver disease, diabetes, IBD, chronic skin ailments and other once un-heard of dis-eases in our pets today.

The un-healthy effects of consuming overly cooked food into a digestive system never designed to eat cooked food in the first place, is stretching it to even be considered minimal nutrition. The body is forced to raid its dwindling supply of nutrient reserves and enzymes which in turn, causes it to remain hungry for quality nutrients after a typical meal. This leads to further hunger even though the stomach is full. The result can be chronic overeating and the rampant obesity now seen in our dogs as well as ourselves nationwide

I am often berated for recommending a raw diet as being best for our carnivorous pets however, after all my research, education and the experience of feeding my own pets a raw meaty bone diet for over 20 years now, I can have seen first hand how much healthier and  longer lived our pets can be if fed a species appropriate, fresh, raw meat and bones diet. All the nutrients are there - alive, naturally balanced and complete. Unlike Kibble that is all the same in the end - it is still kibble, still no live, real nutrition no matter what great ingredients it started out with.

There is an endless number of studies and articles that present an overwhelming amount of evidence that commercial foods are not the best choice for our canine pets, regardless of the ingredients used or the price of the product.  The best food for our wolves in disguise is a species appropriate raw food (S.A.R.F.) diet.
Some believe that the obvious answer is, convenience.  People feed their dogs commercial food for the same reasons they, themselves, consume canned, frozen, and prepackaged foods.  It's quick.  It's easy.  But I don't believe that's the only reason.  People are bombarded every day with commercials, flyers, posters, and packaging that have brainwashed them to believe that the companies who produce dog foods know what's best for them.  Their veterinarians, whose only nutritional training was funded by or sponsored by a pet food company and are, therefore,  equally brainwashed, further promote the feeding of commercial pet foods.  Many people are just uninformed and, because they live busy lives, they have simply trusted their vets or the representatives of the pet food industry.  People love their pets.  We have only to look at the pet industry to know the lengths and expense people will go to, to provide for their companion animals.  The cost of premium dog foods average out to $2.00 and up per pound of food.  An S.A.R.F. diet can be fed for about $1.50 - $2.00 per pound so price is obviously not a deciding factor between commercial food and species appropriate food.  When I ask people why they don't feed their dog or puppy a raw food diet, many either look at me blankly (they've never heard of feeding a dog nothing but raw meats and bones) or they look at me with shock (they've been led to believe this is unhealthy and dangerous for dogs).  There are still so many myths about raw meat giving dogs worms, about raw meat giving dogs "a taste for blood" and making them aggressive, about bones splintering and lodging in the wall of their stomachs or intestines and some veterinarians, in spite of massive amounts of evidence to the contrary, still support some or all of these myths.   I have had people convinced to feed a raw diet to the new puppy they've bought... until they went to their vet where they were chastised like children for even considering such a ridiculous idea.  I have come to the conclusion that most people continue to feed commercial food to their dogs, not because they're too lazy, rushed, or cheap to feed them a natural diet, but because they are either uninformed or just plain scared of doing the wrong thing by their beloved pet.  If I'm right, then it is even more important for every one of us who have witnessed the improved health, energy level, coat quality, and life expectancy of dogs fed a species appropriate raw diet to pass on their knowledge and experience at every chance and through every avenue of communication available.

Note:  If your vet will not discuss S.A.R.F., in an informed manner, as a reasonable alternative to commercial foods for your pet, look for another vet.  If your vet is downright negative about S.A.R.F., he/she is either ill-informed or is receiving good kick backs from the commercial food company whose food his/her office promotes.
 Please note that Jan recommends Royal Canin, breed specific dry dog food to anyone planning to feed a commercial diet and that a Royal Canin Puppy Pack is provided with every puppy purchased from Small Wonders Kennel. Jan is a canine food nutritionist who worked with Royal Canin for 7 years. She firmly believes in the research and integrity of the Royal Canin food manufacturing process. 
Some of Our Little Wolves

At Small Wonders Kennel we feed an all natural diet of raw muscle meats, organs, and bones along with small amounts of fresh fruit and veggies, eggs, yogurt, and natural blends of supplements we've created, tried, and tested over the years.  We have seen dogs with unrelenting skin allergies, ear mites and ear infections, hot spots, sabacious cysts, hair loss, bad teeth, gum disease, digestive problems, etc. make a complete turn around to glowing, good health after being switched to a raw diet and our own blends of supplements.  Results can be nothing short of miraculous.  Many years of experience and research have gone into our commitment to the raw diet so, of course, we believe in it and promote it.  We are also realistic, however, and know that only a small percentage of the people who buy our puppies will be persuaded to feed raw meat.   Realizing this left us in the position of having to recommend a commercial kibble to our customers.   I have read and re-read lists of ingredients and guaranteed analyses for hundreds of  brands of commercial dog food, compared them, researched numbers of recalls, and corresponded with manufacturers.  Some of the premium commercial foods may start with fresher, higher quality ingredients and process them under stricter guidelines in cleaner facilities.  Some offer grain free formulas with no artificial colours or preservatives.  Some claim to have added digestive enzymes and probiotics as well as antioxidants and omegas.  Obviously there are some advantages to choosing a premium grade food in the same sense that there are advantages to choosing baked potato chips over deep fried ones.  The fact remains that it is still junk food.  The bottom line is that I find myself unable to recommend a commercial dog food to our customers.  Jan, however, spent several years working as a pet nutritionist and sales representative for Royal Canin and feels comfortable recommending their products.  She has toured their research facilities and their processing plants and feels confidant that Royal Canin makes a very sincere effort to produce premium grade foods that are safe and nutritious.  If you insist on feeding a commercial food, this is what she recommends.  
 I would like to recommend that, should you choose to feed kibble to your dog/puppy, that you consider adding one of our supplements to the bowl.  Start with our blend of probiotics and digestive enzymes which will maximize your dog's ability to absorb and utilize the nutrients available in the food.  Enzymes and probiotics are essential to proper digestion and intestinal health of dogs.  Regardless of what the companies claim, no probiotics or enzymes survive the temperatures at which all commercial dog foods are processed, therefore they must be added back into the food as a supplement.