It’s a little-known fact that just before he died the father of Bacteria research, Louis Pasteur exclaimed, ‘The Host is just as important’!
What he meant was that not everyone is the same. Some of us are more sensitive to pathogens, bacteria or ‘the outside world’ and he had realised that if the internal immune system was strong enough the bacteria was not a problem for that person, or indeed that animal.
Whilst a certain level of vigilance is required, equally so is an understanding of how to build your dog’s immune system and encourage them to be the Host that can cope with bacterial contact, including bacteria in dog food, and not – the other way round. Forgetting that part of the puzzle is a downward spiral, and sadly is very often the case.
Take, for instance, the dog’s stomach.
Dogs have evolved to have a greater protection against bacteria than us. A dog’s stomach is capable of producing a more acidic stomach acid, thus wiping out almost all bacteria they might come into contact with through scavenging, on killed prey or other food type.This really is a dogs first line of defence against possible pathogenic bacteria. As utter scavengers, that are often even expected to clear up stools in some countries! Dogs really are the ultimate bacteria enthusiasts. They evolved to be so, and cleverly also evolved to protect themselves too. In a relatively short space of time, certainly not the length of time for actual evolution to occur, our pet dogs have instead become more sensitive, often unable to cope with that kind of activity anymore.This has led us to fear them snacking on anything left in the street, eating titbits from the table or even eating a different food, let alone feeding them food that hasn’t been cooked.We have forgotten that by encouraging a healthy stomach function and stronger acid production we actually improve their defence mechanisms, including defense to bacteria in dog food.
So how do we do that? What encourages a dog’s stomach to function in the way it should?
A dog’s stomach should ‘chew’, grind and that way break down its food. Dogs are supposed to gulp then and ‘chew’ food in their stomachs, they do not have the volume of digestive enzymes in their mouth that we do. The movement of the stomach walls allows their strong
Bacteria killing acid to be released. This chewing action simply does not occur with processed foods, especially grain based processed foods. Unlike a fresh meat and bone content, processed foods simply swell in the stomach and gradually deteriorate.If this kind of stomach content is repetitive slowly the dogs stomach becomes less and less acidic and able to kill off bacteria. We gradually strip them of their evolved biological defence against bacteria by providing processed dry kibbles or grain-based tins and cans.
The only way to re-instate this biological function for your dog is to feed real, actual food, preferably with a bone content that encourages a flexing of the stomach walls. The dog does not have a sensitive stomach, they have a stomach that has not needed to flex, chew and release gastric acid. The first time they eat that fresh, real food again you instantly allow for that bacterial protection to occur, and you raise their immune system. In the model that supports the feeding of sterilised processed foods, the dog’s biological immune functions are forgotten, don’t forget biology is a branch of proven science. This is one example of how our fear of outside bacteria has led us to mis-understand the feeding of fresh food.
Almost every organ in the dogs body has a similar tale to tell, how the dogs body actually functions seems to be a forgotten part of veterinary science when it comes to a dog’s diet.*
The Microbiomes of the intestines are also becoming a greater field of science by the day. Millions has been ploughed into microbiome research, probiotics are now available in almost every high street pharmacy and even Sauerkraut has made a popular comeback. Slowly but surely the medical profession, and veterinary profession are realising the value of building up the body’s ability to live with, cope with and even benefit from bacteria.Some of you may remember how we played with mud pies as children, ate relatively unwashed fruit and veg, messed about in haystacks and, quite frankly, a general amount of the activities that today would be considered unhygienic! Yet those more countryside activities have been shown to increase rather than decrease immunity**. Being around bacteria is only an issue if you are not supporting your body’s defences and ability to cope with the outside world. The same goes for dogs.
Salmonella is of course the biggest fear
Lack of hygiene, coupled with less than caring farm practices has led to a great many Chickens, and at times eggs too, in the human food chain being recalled or declared something to be concerned about. This lack of trust even in the human food chain has of course led us to fear Salmonella, and worry it may also be in the raw food we present the pets. However, Defra impose stringent tests on the manufacture of raw pet food, it does not leave the factory full of bacteria! They wouldn’t allow that. There is no need to actually touch fresh raw pet food. You can add it to the bowl frozen, let it defrost and then simply hand the bowl to the dog.
In 26 years of feeding fresh I’ve not seen a dog leave meat in their bowl, they love it! Take the bowl up immediately they finish and wash it. No children would get a look in. Once eaten the dog Can cope with any possible bacteria in the dog food (as described above). Dry Pet Food recalls occur also – despite sterilisation attempts it is not possible to completely eradicate bacteria from any food product. As soon as the air gets to dry food bacteria can begin to grow. After 26 years of raw feeding a huge number of dogs, I can tell you, they pick up much more bacteria sniffing bottoms of other dogs, digging, eating earth (another favourite for canine bacteria enthusiasts) and licking themselves clean. Feeding a fresh diet including raw dog food plays a larger role in improving health for them than it does create health issues.