"Weaning onto a raw diet"
Proper nutrition is a key component of maintaining a healthy body and immune system. A raw diet is unsurpassed in providing the best nutrition. A raw meat diet is particularly important to the immune system of a growing pup during the weaning process. If a pup is weaned onto kibble food the immune system suffers from a decrease in nutrients and can be significantly lowered from a lack of Vitamin E and selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral present in the canine’s natural diet in amino acids found mostly in organ meats. (Derived from the soil which plant matter grows in.) It works with Vitamin E as an antioxidant and immunostimulator. Because of it’s strong ability to stimulate the immune system, it is the most effective defense against viral infections such as Parvo. NOTE ** Most dry and canned dog foods use an inorganic type of selenium - sodium selenite or sodium selenate. These forms of selenium are considered toxic by the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services.** As the pup grows, a deficiency of Selenium & Vitamin E can also cause muscular weakness. The failure of the muscle to develop and reach functional maturity at the same rate as the skeleton results in joint instability which may result in hip dysplasia.
"Hip Dysplasia - Diet & Exercise"
HD has not always been apart of the canine heritage. It was first noticed in 1935 and given a name. This is approx 5 - 10 years AFTER the first introduction of commercial dog food. (depending on the country) Over 70 years later and we still have not managed to curb it. And decade after decade we have continued to feed our dogs a totally inappropriate diet. Nutrition is everything…it grows our pups from the first meal they take…..a diet that is incorrect in its nutritional value will grow the pup improperly and that’s where all types of bone growth problems start. Most commercial (kibble) dogs foods are much too high in protein, fat, calcium and carbohydrates. (Some people will even offer calcium supplements to growing pup, mistakenly thinking that more is better!) This in turn leads to a rapid growth rate that is unnatural. The skeletal grow rate can not keep up to the growth of the pup. The bones are decreased in density, are thinner and have less minerals deposited in them; less calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. These bones are softer and weaker then those of a pup that is grown at a natural rate. This is a cause of HD. Pups that are overweight put too much stress on growing bones and joints, another cause of HD. A rolly-polly pup is an unhealthy pup. Another factor in bone growth is muscular growth. The growth of muscles directly impact the way in which bones will form….muscles will actually “mould” bone into proper shape. Many commercial foods are not only too high in protein, fat, calcium and calories, they are lacking in vitamins and minerals due to over-processing. They are especially lacking in vitamin E and selenium. Selenium is a trace mineral present in the canine’s natural diet in amino acids found mostly in organ meats. (Derived from the soil which plant matter grows in.) Selenium works with vitamin E to promote healthy muscular growth. The failure of the muscle to develop and reach maturity at the same rate as the skeleton results in joint instability which can result in HD. This is only one example of how a deficiency can cause growth problems.
Puppies & Exercise
One more important factor to raise pups free of skeletal diseases is the amount of exercise we allow them and how it is offered. A pup should be allowed to exercise freely of its own will and stop of its own will when it is tired. Continuing to exercise a pup that has become tired causes undue stress on bones and joints. When muscles become tired they are no longer supporting joints correctly. The muscles are stretched and weakened and the joints are no longer held apart, but are sitting and rubbing on each other. The best exercise for a growing pup is free playing time, either with his owner or other dogs. In this manner the pup is free to stop activity as soon as it becomes tired. And you will notice that when a young pup becomes tired, they will usually flop down and they are off to sleep within minutes! Walking on a leash, the pup may become tired ¾ of the way through the walk, but still needs to continue the rest of the way home, this is when damage can be done to growing bones and joints. (In the case of over-weight pups this damage becomes even greater) Too little exercise and confinement that does not promote proper muscular growth, can also lead to HD. A pup should be raised on a solid footing, not on the bottom of a wood or plastic whelping box or newspaper. These surfaces are slippery and are a major cause of joint and bone instability during the first weeks of walking.
**NOTE- The genes that can help “cause” HD are indirect genes. Genes for a large (giant) size breed Genes for heavier weight (which Labs are more prone to) Genes for fast growth Genes for small muscles Genes for poor structure (The sloped back of a German Shepherd) These are “man-made” genes/traits and can be corrected in the breeds that are prone to them.
"Some things to think about"
The occurrence of HD in wolves is extremely rare. In the few cases that have been studied, it can be directly linked back to a previous period of near starvation in the region or within the individual pack. Nutrition is the factor. It is well documented that pups are never born with dysplastic hips. It happens over time, either severe HD by 6 months old or mild HD in one or both hips appearing all the way up to 10 years old and anything in-between at any given age. Can this be called “genetic” or is the progression a matter of nutrition and exercise?
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be the food.” ~ Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine
Truer words have never been spoken
"A Matter Of Color"
Although there can be exceptions to every rule, the following is a quick and basic outline of the breeding of Catahoula colors -
M = Merle Gene m = Solid Gene Every dog has 2 of these color genes. One inherited from each parent. Mixed together they appear as the following –
mm = Solid colored (ie: black, red with or without varying amounts of tan, brindle, or white trim. Absence of the merle gene)
Mm = Merle or leopard colored (ie: red, blue, black, grey, yellow leopard, with or without varying amounts of tan, brindle, or white trim.)
MM = Excessive white/double merle/white leopard (absence of the solid gene)
Possible breeding color outcomes when the following crosses are made –
Solid x Solid: mm x mm = mm No leopard or white pups can be produced by breeding 2 solid colored dogs.
Solid x Leopard: mm x Mm = mm or Mm No excessive white pups can be produced when one of the parents is a solid color.
Solid x White: mm x MM = Mm All of the pups produced will be leopards...no solids and no whites.
White x White: MM x MM = MM All of the pups will be excessive whites.
White x Leopard:MM x Mm = MM or Mm No solid colored pups can be produced if 1 of the parents is an excessive white.
Leopard x Leopard: Mm x Mm = MM or Mm or mm 2 leopards can produce all the color outcomes.
"A Matter Of Color - Exeption of the rule"
Many aspects of a dog’s genetic make-up can affect the above guidelines and result in “exception to the rules”: The dog may not be a true solid color, but a “cryptic merle”, sometimes referred to as “phantom or ghost merles”. This dog appears solid, but still carries the merle gene, ie: a solid black dog with glass eyes. The dog may not be an excessive white, but rather a “Piebald” (a piebald is not a “double merle”) or just a “high white” in coloring. Or the reservse...thinking the dog is a piebald, but is actually an excessive white.
In 2006 the Texas A & M University discovered a mutation in the dog SILV gene and found it to be responsible for the merle coat colour patterning in dogs. There is now a DNA test that can be performed to verify if a dog is a solid, a single merle, or a double merle. Sometimes the results have been surprising! There seems to be more solid appearing Catahoulas that are actually carrying the merle gene then once was thought. And more dark colored leopards with virtually no white that are actually carrying two merle genes. This would account for “surprises” with resulting pups in litters.
"Raw Meat Diet"
Dogs may be able to survive on kibble dog food but they do not thrive. Dogs are carnivores, they were never meant to eat the average 70% carbs that come from different grain types that fill most kibble dog foods. A natural carnivore diet contains 1 - 2% carbs. Unlike humans, dogs have no fundamental requirement for carbohydrates. Their major energy source comes from free fatty acids derived from meat fat. This fat is stored in muscle tissue, their metabolism can only store very small amounts of glycogen from carbs. Excessive carbs from grain are the major cause of the diabetic epidemic in the dog population today.
Raw meat diets are NOT, “high” in protein as many people are inclined to think. A SARF diet is approx. 16% - 20% protein. (This being the protein percentage of most meats. The remainder is 75% - 80% water, and approximately 5% combined fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.) Many kibble dog foods contain protein levels of 22% - 26% . Many puppy foods contain protein near the 30% mark. This is too much protein for a growing pup!
Over the past 50 - 70 years (depending on the country) that kibble feed has become commonplace, many ailments have surfaced in the canine population - including:
- skin allerigies
- weakened immune systems
- gum disease and tooth decay
- hyper activity
- “dog” smell
- phobic problems
- weight problems
- ear and eye ailments
- allergies to cooked protein sources or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Most of this can be reversed by switching your dog to a Raw Meat and Bone Diet.