Labradors and Nutrition
By Tripp Wood
“Dog food will have the single largest impact on the health of your dog “
Nutritional Demands of Labradors and Goldens
Labradors and Golden Retrievers have special demands when it comes to nutrition – not just because they are active dogs, but because of the chemical makeup of their bodies. Feed the incorrect food, for example, and they will not be able to synthesize vitamin c, which is the molecular glue for calcium. (It is a strongly held belief that the lack of ability to produce vitamin c can lead to hip dysplasia. Indeed, a number of studies certainly lead credence to this latest theory). Feeding a product containing growth hormone, or a high protein/calorie diet, can lead to OCD of the upper humorous. (Osteo Condrosis Dessicantus). This occurs when cartilage growth cannot keep up with bone growth, and the cartilage begins to splinter. Feeding a product devoid of proper nutrition can cause allergy like symptoms, leading the Retriever owner down the path of allergy testing, shots, and expensive formulas, all of which generally fail.
Assuming you pick up your Lab puppy at the eighth week of life, he will have been consuming regular food for at least five weeks – a full 60% of his life. His body will have blue printed itself as to hormone and chemical production. Therefore, it is imperative that both he and his mother were fed the proper food from the beginning. Puppy foods, even large breed puppy foods, can be dangerous to health.
It is not a good idea to skimp on food to save money. You will spend much, much more on vet bills than you can ever possibly save by purchasing cheap brands. True, the occasional dog sometimes squeaks through life on a cheap food, but the odds are not in the consumer’s favor. Figure on spending about $1.50 per pound plus shipping for a proper Labrador food. Your full grown Lab will consume approximately 1 ½ to 2 pounds daily. Due to cost and profit structure, you will not find a true Labrador food in a pet food store or grocery store.
A million “experts”
When you first take your new Lab puppy home, everyone and their grandmother will begin giving you advice – from how to train to what to feed. People you have not seen for years will appear out of the woodwork to push you into their beliefs. Neighbors turn expert, with their “experience” usually based on what their friend or trainer said. Never has there been such an extreme circumstance of the blind leading the blind when it comes to nutrition, and most of it is fueled by very successful advertising campaigns.
This leads to a complex dilemma – who do you believe? Veterinarians have been unfairly placed on a pedestal by dog food companies, and are expected by their customers to know what a truly good formula is. However, nutritional training for veterinarians is short, and covers many different species. The nutritional class is typically taught by a major dog food company salesman. Carnivore nutrition carries an entirely separate degree. Even if a veterinarian receives this diploma, it is not likely he has actually gained experience in this field, due to the heavy demands of his practice.
The reality of Dog Foods
The dog food production world is very small. All the formula owners and their nutritionists would fit into one small room. This is the only group of people that could truly tell you about dog foods and their effects. Because formulas cannot be patented, there is a necessary veil of secrecy surrounding formulas.
(Editor’s note – the author of this article is a Custom formula owner, and therefore privy to this information).
How to identify a good Labrador food
First, gain an education from either an experienced carnivore nutritionist, or a formula owner that has hired one to produce a super premium food specifically for Labradors and Goldens. (www.JaxMax.com)
Just because a bag proclaims it contains Labrador food does not necessarily make it so. Usually only the shape or color of the kibble has been changed. Below is some basic information regarding different types of formulas. When you finish reading this, you will already have more knowledge than most of the population – even most professionals.
Feeding Labs Treats
It is quite possible to feed a perfect food, and cause harm by feeding a treat that is not meant to go with that food. Treats are usually packed with sugars. A proper food and treat combination will work together to add benefit, as in free radical elimination. There should be no added sugars. The same rules that apply to dog foods apply to treats.
Feeding Labs vitamin/mineral supplements and topping
The only exception to the above rule is vitamin c. This is because dog foods do not contain vitamin c, even if it’s on the label. Vitamin c oxidizes rather quickly, and acts only as a stabilizer as the food cools after manufacturing. Another reason is because vitamin c is synthesized by the Lab’s body, and therefore declared unnecessary. However, the ability to synthesize vitamin c depends not only on what the Labrador or Golden eats, but its genetic predisposition to doing so. It is possible for the dog’s body to temporarily quit this process during sickness or distress. It’s fine to supplement a small amount of vitamin c on a daily basis, through tablets. Keep in mind that there is a difference in vitamin c brands. Most is chemically manufactured ascorbic acid, containing one or two molecular structures. Your Lab needs a type of c that contains all four molecular structures. You will not find this at vet’s offices or pet stores. If you never supplemented vitamin c, kept your Labrador on a proper diet and parasite free, chances are he would remain healthy even without this addition.
(Parasites eat vitamin c, so it is extremely important to keep your Retriever parasite free, especially of Roundworms).
Reading Dog Food Labels
Protein - The first item most people look at is the protein. Let’s say that 26% is listed on the bag. This tells you almost nothing, as it is listed as crude protein. This is the combination of digestible and indigestible proteins. It is possible that of the 26% listed, 15% may be indigestible, and therefore useless. Indigestible proteins may consist of horse’s hoofs, hair, feathers, beaks, rice hulls, inferior corn or chicken, etc.
It is illegal to place the actual amount of digestible proteins or the quality of ingredients on a dog food bag. This levels the playing field, and makes the venture more profitable for large companies.
Ash – The lower this figure, the better. Ash is created by several factors, such as the quality of the meat used, and the cooking methods. Take, for example, the majority of chicken used in dog foods today. These chickens are used as egg layers, until the quantity of eggs begins to decline. These hens are fed less and less on a daily basis, until they sometimes die from lack of nutrition. This not only leads to a breakdown of proteins, but a high ash level as well. Cooking imparts its own level of ash, therefore making cooking methods critical. Low ash chicken is the best, but used by very few dog food companies.
Moisture – Some moisture is necessary to keep the kibble edible. 10% is an accepted norm. More than that and you are buying expensive water.
Chicken - Chicken makes the best dog foods, as it is the most tasty and nutritious.
Lamb - Lamb is not desired by canines, due to the overpowering scent. It is usually necessary to mask lamb with sugars or flavors. Lamb is used as an ingredient to attract humans, not dogs.
Corn - If corn is the first ingredient on your bag – Consider returning it.
Rice hulls, peanut shells, etc. These are fillers, and not desirable due to their abrasive nature and lack of digestibility
Let’s start with the main source of meat. Take, for example, fresh chicken, which sounds healthier than chicken meal at first listen. Keep in mind that the ingredients are listed in order of weight at the time of mixing. Fresh chicken is 70% water, which gets cooked out during the manufacturing process. However, as the water adds weight, it is considered the first ingredient. Properly placed, it would really come in fifth or sixth on the list.
Chicken Meal is chicken with the water removed. When it is listed as the first ingredient, it stays in first place all the way through the process. Therefore, it is better to have chicken meal in a food. Fresh chicken is good in high quality treats.
Beet pulp (sugar removed) – This is an excellent product to help keep the intestinal tract clean.
Article written by Tripp Wood tripp@JaxMax.com (704) 975-2598
Copyright 2005 JAXMAX, INC.