It has been, and continues to be, a very popular movement to take the nutrition of your dog (or cat) in hand and rather than feed a commercial food to select ingredients and prepare the meals yourself. This is very admirable as it is a move to freshness and a greater awareness of the quality of the food.
Along with this movement has been an emphasis on using primarily meat and bones in the meals. This is unfortunate and has led to unnecessary suffering. Starting with the first edition of our book, and continued through the recent 4th edition, we advised keeping meat in the recipes at a minimum, instead using a balanced ration including whole grains and vegetables. We did this for more than one reason and the one I want to address here first is the issue of health.
What we know is that dogs in nature eat primarily the animals they capture. From this thought one is encouraged to imitate this by buying meat and using that as a primary ingredient. What is not understood is that wolves and other dog-like animals don’t eat the meat that we get in the market. They eat the whole body of the animal they capture, not just its muscles or liver or heart. Do you see the difference? Then we have to bring in that if the animal being used as food (the livestock so called) was raised in the conventional factory farming process it will have been given a number of drugs — growth hormones, antibiotics, and parasiticides primarily. These drugs remain in the meat and are taken into the body of the animal (or person) that eats them.
It gets more complicated when we consider the food being fed to the livestock as we also have a number of chemicals in these crops accumulating in their bodies as well. How could this have happened? It is a sad story.
In this last century our human culture committed itself to practices that have, in today’s world, created very serious problems for us. With the development of chemistry substances were created, new chemicals, and they were put to use in various ways. Many of them are used directly on food crops, the various poisons against what are considered weeds and also to kill the various creatures that want to feed on these plants.
There are two things to emphasize here. First these are poisons and secondly these substances have never existed before.
That they are poisons cannot be denied as this is why they are used — to kill insects, other plants, etc. The justification is that they are harmless to us, or your dog or cat. We have learned, however, that this is relative. Yes, they are more poisonous to the insects or plants but they are not neutral in the bodies of animals. This is being found out over and over. As some of this comes out, then there might be a ban against using that particular chemical but of course then a new one is turned to — with the naïve expectation that somehow it will be different and not cause any health problems.
That they have never existed on the earth before, not for the 9 billion (or whatever) years of the time of our earth is important. I want to emphasize — they never existed before. The problem is that, because of this newness, the various forms of life that encounter these substances are not prepared to deal with them. In contrast to the many thousands of years of evolution during which creatures learned to handle the natural toxins encountered, found ways to neutralize them, we (and the animals) don’t have a way to do this. Maybe in a couple of centuries that ability will develop but now these substances are just building up in the body , in a body that does not know what to do with them.
This is why these agricultural chemicals are so useful. When introduced there does not exist any way for the plants, insects to avoid being affected by them. Yes, they are learning to do it, but the extraordinary usefulness of these chemicals is because of this newness. And it is this newness that is creating problems in the bodies of the animals that live with us.
(to be continued — environmental toxins)