Thursday, April 7, 2011

Dog Supplementing

Supplementing is a two edged sword; there is good supplementing and there is bad supplementing. All dog food manufacturers add various ingredients to their foods during the manufacturing process so that the end product contains levels that meet industry standards. For example, to make protein that dogs can use the manufacturer may add various protein sources that have one or more of the essential amino acids. They do this until they have a protein blend that contains all ten essential amino acids. Thus, by the process defined as supplementing, the dog food company manufactures a food that will have nutritional value. The same supplementing is done to achieve nutritional levels of vitamins, minerals and other ingredients in all commercially manufactured dog food.

Most foods are brought to levels that have been established by the government National Research Council (NRC) as the Minimum Nutrient Requirements of Dogs. When dog food companies have added ingredients to reach NRC recommended levels, they have also reached the industry standards to advertise the food as "complete and balanced."

These NRC or "complete and balanced" levels are also established to provide safe levels for all dogs. For example, the NRC subcommittee recommends that dog foods supply 8 IU of vitamin D per kilogram of
a dog's body weight. This is 8 IU/kg. for any breed of dog's body weight, even though tests cited in a NRC publication show that some breeds require higher amounts of vitamin D (up to 270 IU/kg.). Since vitamin
D is a "fat soluble" vitamin, overdoses of this vitamin are dangerous. If manufacturers added enough vitamin D to meet the higher requirements of the few breeds that require 270 IU/kg., the food would actually be toxic to the many breeds who only require 8 IU/kg.

The dog food companies take care to not exceed the safe all-breed levels of any nutrient that could be harmful to a breed. They have no control over which breed of dog will consume their food.

Many studies show that any supplementing of a single nutrient to safe "complete and balanced" dog food levels can be dangerous. Some examples are:
A) Excess supplemental calcium can block the assimilation of the copper, iron, phosphorus and zinc in the dietary intake.

B) Excess supplemental vitamin A (a fat soluble vitamin) can decalcify the teeth and bones and cause liver damage.

C) Any supplemental vitamin C can cause a detrimental pH change in the kidney and cause a healthy liver to lose its ability to function properly.

D) Excess supplemental vitamin D (a fat soluble vitamin) can block calcium assimilation or collect in the glands to levels that can be toxic.

E) Any supplemental fluoride or fluorine can mottle tooth enamel during the period of calcification of permanent teeth in dogs. It also can block the assimilation of dietary trace minerals and alter the dog's natural ability to produce vitamin K.

F) Any supplemental thyroid can cause a healthy thyroid gland to lose its ability to function properly.

Supplementing can be dangerous when any one nutrient is added in quantities that negatively affect how the dog's body reacts to the other nutrients in the same nutritional complex, or when by supplementing we
change or take over the function of a vital organ. To avoid potential dangers, most dog food companies make a blanket recommendation that you do not supplement their foods. When dog food companies recommend that you do not supplement their food, they are correct about 50% correct!

What they haven't told you is that there is another side to the issue. The side that shows that the safe all-breed levels they have in their all-breed foods are not sufficient nutritional amounts for all dogs. The safe allbreed
amounts may be enough to keep any dog alive. But the safe allbreed amounts will not provide the correct amounts or balance to sustain optimum health for some breeds of dogs. All-breed foods, even though they contain nutritional levels that allow them to be classified by industry standards as "complete and balanced", also must be supplemented above these levels to provide proper nutrition for most dogs.

Dog owners may recognize their animals are not in the optimum of health because the all-breed foods they are using are lacking the proper nutrient amounts for their dogs. Then with the best intentions, they may choose to ignore the dog food companies' recommendations about supplementing and experiment with their dogs dietary intake. Experimenting with supplements usually produces negative, or at best, limited results.

Supplementing dog food is a complicated process. It is possible to do it correctly at the time of manufacturing, if the manufacturer is making a breed specific food. There is only one way that dog foods should be supplemented during the manufacturing process:

Step one is to calculate the nutritional requirements of the specific breed of dog that will be eating that food.
Step two is to determine which sources of each nutrient have the proper molecular formation for that breed of dog to assimilate.
Step three is to find food bases with these sources.
Step four is to acquire quantities of the nutrients from the proper sources.
Step five is to blend the proper amount of each of these nutrients to bring the levels and balances in the finished food to the proper levels and balances for that specific breed of dog's requirements.


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