According to the most recent data, over 50% of our pet population is obese. While this number is definitely concerning and high, it’s not shocking when you consider that about 30% of the human population faces the same struggle.
Fat Must be to Blame
As time wenton, we got heavier and heavier. We set our sights on fat as the reason for why we were, well… getting fat. And, it would be easy to see why we might see fat as the issue; it has over twice the energy (calories) of/proteinorcarbohydrates. However, fat is not making humans or our pets fat. We’ve known this for well over 100 years, and it has been proven unequivocally by the scientific community.
Carbohydrate & Modern Agriculture
Ever since the advent of modern farming and agriculture, our bodies have struggled to adapt to a new style of living and eating. Gone are the days where we struggled with lack for days on end and had to most often fight for every meal. Making matters worse, manufacturers introduced highly processed-carbohydrate rich options into our food supply. Consequently, these highly processed foods were often the most economical choice over other more natural whole food alternatives.
Unfortunately, our dogs are not insulated from this food evolution either. Just as within the human population, reliance on highly processed-high carbohydrate foods has skyrocketed since the turn of the 20th century. Just walk down any pet food aisle in grocery stores and pet stores. Processed foods (kibble and canned foods) dominate. This is the same in human grocery stores for the food we consume. The center store is the largest of all sections by a large margin. Fresh-whole foods are sparse at best.
The cornerstone to these processed foods is carbohydrate,which in some instances, can represent upwards of 40% of the foods that we have traditionally fed our dogs. Mammals, including dogs and people, have no ability to deal with constant, excess starch and sugar (carbohydrate).
When analyzing the natural world (prior to agricultural revolution) for what represents food/nourishment, constant high levels of starch and sugar (carbohydrate) are never found. The only exception to this would be honey, which is rarely encountered by our dogs. On average, the starch and sugar content of vegetables, fruits, plants, berries, insects, eggs, fish, and meat is roughly 4%. This is remarkably low in contrast to our diets today which are commonly over 40% carbs.
Evolution’s Impact on Obesity
On a more technical note, dog/ and human bodies have eight hormones that raise blood sugar. There is only one that lowers it, insulin. It is easy to see that nature placed a great deal of importance on keeping blood sugar held up. And, very little need to lower blood sugar. Insulin’s role is to capture rare spikes in blood sugar and save it as fat for later use as energy. This ability played a critical role in our evolution and that of our furry companions. We could store excess energy for later use when times were tough.
But, hereinliesthe issue. Our sharply honed, battle-ready, 4 million year old bodies are not prepared to deal with our modern environment. The constant and excess consumption of carbohydrate-rich food such as kibble is directly responsible for the pet obesity epidemic we see today. The more carbohydrate that we consume, the/more/that energy is converted to fat stores for later use as evolution intended. Day after day though, we cannot use the stored energy fast enough and find ourselves with the obesity epidemic we are currently in.
Even as recent as 75-100 years ago, we did not have obese dogs. Not only was there not typically enough excess to foster such asituation, more importantly, the pervasive presence of high carb processed foods was non existent. It wasn’t until pet food manufacturers started to pump out kibble and change the public’s perception of how a dog should be fed, did things start to get out of control.
What’s the Solution?
The solution to both the human and pet obesity epidemic is a diet based on whole-fresh foods. Ideally for our dogs, the diet would be fresh, raw, and composed of muscle meats, organs, ground bone, and optionally, a small mix of fruits and vegetables. However, this is not a reality for everyone. Owners of large dogs could quickly go broke trying to feed their animals in this fashion.The solution then becomes to feed as much raw frozen/freeze-dried or canned food as your budget will allow.
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