A book on dog food I can actually recommend – a rarity
The other day I was vaguely sifting through the deluge of “stuff” aka Twitter, not paying a lot of attention to most of what was scrolling on the screen – my normal approach to Twitter which I admit to finding a tad befuddling – and saw one of my favourite “dog people”, Julie Hecht had tweeted about a book on dog food; always certain to get a bit more of my attention than most things on Twitter, aside from dog rescue stories and appeals. Julie is a science writer and canine researcher and I find her twitter page and blog an invaluable source of good information. So I read her review of
Dog Food Logic – by Linda Case with a lot of interest and promptly ordered it for the Kindle.
There is so much that is written about dog food, much of it nonsense, sensationalist rubbish and best discarded that it can be a hard task indeed to source reliable information that is unbiased and sensible. I have done my best over the past few years to read everything I can, both the good, the bad and the mediocre to understand the subject and to know that our ways of feeding the dogs is healthy, not harmful. My instinct always said it was, but I do know enough about myself to feel the need to be as informed about a topic as I can be, not just rely on my own biases and intuition. It was especially important when I decided to include feeding in my book about Susie-Belle’s life with us that what I went public with, was sound in terms of canine health. I have never, and don’t intend to ever, tell others how and what to feed their dogs. What we do with ours, is based upon a lot of critical reading as well as our anecdotal experiences, my professional background in human health care and Michel’s as a chef. For us, I know what we do is great for our dogs. It wouldn’t necessarily be so for anyone else’s.
So, I’ve read a lot on the subject and I can say that Linda Case’s new book is the best I’ve read on the subject. It covers areas that are not readily available in other books and sources, at least if they are, they’re not discussed with much intelligence or critical evaluation of evidence. This is what I really like about this book, it presents evidence, but shows how to use that, how to be a critical consumer. This is sorely missing in a lot of the information we are bombarded with these days. It is not a book about what foods to feed. It is about understanding the pet food industry, the science of canine nutrition and how we, as dog owners approach feeding our pets on an emotional level. There are a lot of good memorable facts. Her stance on the cost of feeding dogs resonates so deeply with my own thinking I feel I could have written it myself, only not as well of course: if we believe our dogs deserve foods that are produced from high quality ingredients, that are wholesome, safe and well regulated then we need to be prepared to pay more for that food.
Although there is a strong US bias so some of it may not be directly relevant for UK readers (labelling regulations etc for example) there is such a broad range of information that is applicable to anyone wherever they are located who is interested in the minefield that is dog food that I’ve no hesitation recommending it. As a free-styling raw feeder, I was most curious to see the stance taken on what is a polarising and contentious topic; I was pleasantly surprised to see the information presented was clear, the evidence, or lack of for health benefits of this way of feeding is critically presented, and no unjustified or inflammatory criticisms are thrown around. Her view is that raw feeding can be healthy, if done correctly. Always been my point precisely. Just as some commercial dog food is perfectly healthy too. Again, something I don’t disagree with. But this is often missed by some who opt not to feed commercial food. People assume I don’t like any commercial dog food products. Not true. I don’t like a lot of them and would only buy the best quality and pay for that if I chose not to feed the way we do. Claims that all commercial food is poor, or causes health problems is not something I ever say or believe; but just as all commercial dog food is thrown into the slops in the minds of a lot of proponents of raw feeding, so raw feeding is regarded as whacky quackery by many on the other side of the feeding debate. It’s a polarising topic and this book tackles it well.
The book takes a scientific perspective on canine nutrition, dog-human interactions, which made this really valuable to me on a personal level, and I learned loads from reading it. The claims that are made by pet food manufacturers are put under the microscope and seen to be unsurprisingly to me, very shaky indeed. The marketers behind the pet food industry also get a roasting. Again, unsurprisingly. So do those who espouse the massive health benefits of raw feeding. And rightly so in my view. Claims are too overblown by many and the rhetoric that inflames a lot of the discussions on how we feed our dogs does no-one any good, least alone the dogs. The book is balanced, not in the least sensationalist and it doesn’t try to convert to one way of feeding over another. It aims to help consumers critically look at what they are choosing to feed their dogs. That has to be a good approach.
All in all, a lot of what I read confirmed what I knew already, there was lots I didn’t know too and some challenged what I thought I knew; all of it made me think more deeply about what the pet food industry is all about.
It is a great read, lots of science in fully readable language. And I shall still be happily feeding raw.