Overweight Dogs

OVERWEIGHT DOGS

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY OVERWEIGHT DOGS?

Let’s start by looking at the overweight problem from another perspective and attempt to answer the question, “Why are there so many overweight dogs” by asking a second question which is, “Why are there no overweight Wolves, Dingoes, Jackals or Coyotes in their natural habitat”?

In Mark Derr’s book “A Wolf Is a Dog Is a Coyote Is a Jackal” new genetic studies show the closeness of Canids. Mr Derr makes the observation that “Dogs, wolves, and other canids are closer genetically than some populations of people and should, by rights be considered one species.  That means the configuration that says a wolf is a dog is a coyote is a dingo is the correct one.”

It is important to recognize the difference between two types of DNA in your dog -  Nuclear DNA and Mitochondrial DNA — this awareness is essential if you want to get a handle on the real cause of the overweight problem in dogs, and how to solve it.

Nuclear DNA determines the personality, size, and physical attributes in a dog, and can be altered through selective breeding to get a 5,000 year old gray Wolf to eventually look like a Boxer, a Mixed Mutt, or a Chocolate Lab.

Mitochondrial DNA, is ultimately responsible for the energy pathways that transform food into cellular energy and protein building blocks to build and repair the body, as explained more scientifically by Mecofe Meha, BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Colorado Denver in the following quote from Quora at https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-mitochondrial-DNA-function.

"Mitochondrial DNA contains 37 genes, all of which are essential for normal mitochondrial function. Thirteen of these genes provide instructions for making enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation. The remaining genes provide instructions for making molecules called transfer RNAs (tRNAs) and ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs), which are chemical cousins of DNA. These types of RNA help assemble protein building blocks (amino acids) into functioning proteins”.

Changes in Nuclear DNA, however dramatic, do not alter the Mitochondrial DNA. The Mitochondrial DNA of a 5,000 year old gray wolf is 99.8% identical to that of the present day domesticated dog. Your dog may have the personality and physical characteristics of a Black Lab, a Boxer, or a Pug but its got the nutritional needs of a 5,000 year old gray wolf. It’s not how long the dog has been domesticated by people that determines what food the dogs system is designed to use, it’s the Mitochondrial DNA, plain and simple.

This is a hugely important distinction because the Mitochondrial DNA, unlike Nuclear DNA, has remained essentially constant for thousands and thousands of years and it determines how energy is processed and what your dog should eat.

 

OK that’s the end of the boring technical stuff, or at least most of it, as promised. Let’s look at another question.

What do we feed our dogs that is different from the diet of wild dogs?

We feed our domesticated dogs certain things that wild dogs don’t eat which include the following: 

Refined Carbs from Grains (corn, rice, wheat, barley, bread, etc.

High Glycemic Carbs from baked White Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Sugar in any form (Molasses, honey, corn syrup)

The dog food industry standard response for overweight dogs is to recommend a "Low Fat" dog food. If reducing fat intake is the solution, then it would be logical to conclude that eating too much fat is the problem. But if this were true then many of the Wolves, Dingoes, and Coyotes would be overweight since their diet is primarily protein and fat.

Nature designed dogs to eat fat and protein. There are no overweight Wolves, Dingos, or Coyotes and their diet is almost entirely fat and protein. The problem seems to stem from whatever is in commercial dog food that isn’t protein or fat. What if the problem is that we’re feeding dogs food that is inappropriate for a carnivore, such as highly processed carbs, potatoes, grain, sweet potatoes, etc., and those ingredients are what is causing their body to make and store fat? 

Does it seem logical or reasonable to assume that all the overweight domestic dogs got that way by eating high quality, nutritionally balanced, healthy, species appropriate dog food? Probably not.

If it were just a simple matter of a dogs tendency to overeat then why wouldn’t wild dogs gorge until they became overweight? Maybe because eating fat chemically triggers a feeling of being satiated or full but eating processed or high glycemic carbs has the opposite effect and chemically triggers the desire to eat more.

Dogs are NOT designed to handle the high glycemic carbs that are so plentiful in dog foods. These carbs cause a huge spike in the dogs blood sugar levels and the dogs system reacts to the assault  by releasing a flood of insulin into the blood stream. Insulin lowers the spike in blood sugar by directing the body to convert the excess sugar to fat and store it. So instead of the dog using it’s food for energy, it is converted into stored fat to lower the blood sugar levels to a safe level.

The idea that reducing “fat” in dog food is a healthy, or effective, way to lose weight and achieve a sustainable, appropriate weight for your dog may be an effective way to get people to buy the food but it won’t work, and in fact makes the problem worse.

If it is true that the highly processed, high glycemic carbs are the cause of the weight gain then reducing the fat only increases the problem because when the fat content is lowered it is replaced with more refined or high glycemic carbs - the actual cause of the weight gain. 

Dogs don’t become fat from eating fat and they don’t lose weight by eating less fat. They are equipped with the ability to transform fat directly into glucose for energy through a process known as Gluconeogenesis. This healthy process in a carnivore is shut down when they eat high glycemic carbs that boost the glucose levels in the blood and trigger a flood of insulin that aborts gluconeogenesis and directs the body to convert the extra glucose in the blood to stored fat.

Dogs get fat from eating carbs, lots of carbs, high glycemic carbs, and the LAST thing they need to do is eat a “Low Fat dog food” with reduced fat and even more high glycemic carbs.

Losing weight does not require a diet that diverges from a nutritionally balanced diet (and certainly not a diet that reduces fat). The healthy, and most effective, long term weight loss and weight stabilizing solution is to simply feed your dog a nutritionally balanced food that consists of high levels of human grade protein with equal calories of high quality, identifiable animal sourced fat and equal calories (or less) of complex carbs with a low glycemic index, like any of the Brothers Complete Formulas.

When supplied with a perfectly balanced source of nutrition, free of carbs from grain, white or sweet potatoes, or any form of sugar, in the appropriate quantity for the dogs ideal weight (at 1 cup per 25 lbs up to about 75 lbs) the dog will naturally gravitate to it’s ideal weight and regain a healthy level of energy.   

All calories are not created equal. This may seem obvious  as a concept but many people buy dog food primarily guided by the picture on the front of the bag seemingly oblivious to the fact that the attractive marketing on the bag isn’t necessarily related to whatever nutrition their dog is going to receive from that particular food. I think the presumption is that most dog food is pretty much on an equal footing where quality and nutritional value are concerned. As an extreme example, to make the point abundantly clear, consider the choice of feeding your dog (or your human child) one of the following 600 calorie meals:

Meal A - A bowl with 600 calories of white sugar in it.

Meal B - A bowl with 600 calories of Fat (rancid discarded restaurant grease)

Meal C - A bowl with 600 calories of Soy Protein powder in it.

Meal D - A Bowl with 600 Calories (200 calories each from bowl A, B, and C)

Meal E - a Bowl with 600 Calories (200 calories from each of the following):

*low glycemic, fresh, healthy carbs from the Cassava root

*pure, clean, clear chicken fat

*free range, anti-biotic free, hormone free, Venison

Unfortunately, Meal D is not as far fetched as you might think. But regardless, it’s obvious to anyone that 600 calories from bowl A, B, C, or D should not even be considered as remotely equivalent with Meal E despite the calories being exactly the same.  Since dogs must eat to gain weight, it makes sense to conclude that it is either the volume they are eating or something in the food they are eating that is cause them to gain too much weight.                                          

Why are there no overweight Wolves, Coyotes, or African Dingos in nature?  We feed our domesticated dogs certain things that the wild dogs don’t eat which include the following:                                                                                            Refined Carbs from Grains (corn, rice, wheat, barley, etc.)

   High Glycemic Carbs from White Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

   Sugar in any form (Molasses, honey, corn syrup)

Could these items be responsible for the added weight gain?

The dog food industries standard recommendation for overweight dogs is to reduce the fat content in their “Low Fat” foods. If reducing fat intake is the solution, then it would be logical to conclude that eating too much fat is the problem. But if this were true then many of the Wolves, Dingoes, and Coyotes would be overweight since their diet is primarily protein and fat.

Nature designed dogs to eat fat and protein. There are no overweight Wolves, Dingos, or Coyotes and their diet is almost entirely fat and protein. The problem seems to stem from whatever is in commercial dog food that isn’t protein or fat. What if the problem is that we’re feeding dogs food that is inappropriate for a carnivore, such as highly processed carbs, potatoes, grain, sweet potatoes, etc., and those ingredients are what is causing their body to make and store fat? 

Does it seem logical or reasonable to assume that all the overweight domestic dogs got that way by eating high quality, nutritionally balanced, healthy, species appropriate dog food?

Are there significant percentages of wolves, coyotes, or African dingos in their respective packs that are constantly overweight as a result of eating their species appropriate diet which is predominantly protein and fat? Is there even one?

Eating fat chemically triggers a feeling of being satiated or full but eating processed or high glycemic carbs has the opposite effect and chemically triggers the desire to eat more.

The reason why there are so many overweight dogs is directly related to the high carbohydrate content in almost all kibble dog foods, and the particularly high glycemic rating of those carbohydrates. For instance, white potatoes and that are widely used in dog food have a glycemic index that is higher than white sugar.

Dogs are designed by Mother Nature to eat a diet that is predominantly protein and fat, and although they have no dietary need for carbs, a minimal amount of carbs (as starch) are necessary to bind the kibble together when making dog food in kibble form.

If high quality, low glycemic carbs are used to provide the starch necessary to bind the kibble together then the impact of these carbs on the system can be beneficial or neutral. I refer to this as the Carbohydrate Tipping Point - the point at which the carb load in the system is small enough to be positive or neutraoint an increase in the cal but beyond that prb load will begin to have a negative impact on the dogs overall health and well being.

In a food that uses high quality protein and fat with quality low glycemic carbs like Cassava the tipping point doesn’t happen until carb calories are up around 38% of total calories. The Tipping Point is reached much sooner if the carbohydrates are low quality, highly processed, and have a high glycemic index like potatoes. In these cases the Tipping Point occurs almost immediately because the carbs are detrimental at almost any level due to their high glycemic index.

Cassava is a low glycemic source of high quality starch which is used extensively as the primary carbohydrate throughout much of the equatorial regions of the world. Wherever this low glycemic carb makes up 80% of the diet there is virtually no adult onset diabetes in the population. Compare that to the epidemic incidence of adult onset diabetes in this country due mainly to diets full of high glycemic, processed carbs and sugar.

Dogs are not designed to handle the high glycemic carbs that are so plentiful in dog foods. A dogs system was designed to handle meat and fat. These carbs cause a huge spike in the dogs blood sugar levels and the dog reacts to the assault  by releasing a flood of insulin into the blood stream to get the spike in blood sugar down to safe levels.

Insulin lowers the spike in blood sugar by directing the body to convert the excess sugar to fat and store it. So instead of the dog being able to use the food for energy, the high glycemic carbs cause a blood sugar spike and the resulting flood of insulin causes the blood sugar to be turned into stored fat.

The idea that reducing “fat” in dog food is a healthy, or effective, way to lose weight and achieve a sustainable, appropriate weight for your dog may be highly effective as a sales tool but it does a disservice to the dog

You don’t need to change your dogs food, upset its digestive system, or worse yet lower the fat content - which is a terrible thing to do to your dog - it only increases the carb / sugar load because they are not replacing the fat they remove with high quality protein, they're replacing it with more carbs / sugar. 

This focus on fat as the cause of overweight dogs, and feeding less fat as the solution, is the dog food industry using “Misdirection" to steer consumers away from the real problem and the true cause of overweight dogs in America, which is dog food full of carbohydrates and low in protein and quality fat.

Dogs don’t get fat from eating fat and they don’t lose weight by eating less fat. They are equipped with the ability to transform fat directly into glucose for energy through a process known as Gluconeogenesis. This healthy process in a carnivore is shut down when they eat high glycemic carbs that boost the glucose levels in the blood and trigger a flood of insulin that aborts gluconeogenesis and directs the body to convert the extra glucose in the blood to stored fat.

Dogs get fat from eating carbs, lots of carbs, high glycemic carbs, and the LAST thing they need to do is eat a “Weight Control dog food” that lowers the amount of fat in it and adds even more calories from high glycemic carbs.

Losing weight does not require a diet that diverges from a nutritionally balanced diet (and certainly not a diet that reduces fat). The healthy, and most effective, long term weight loss and weight stabilizing solution is to simply feed your dog a nutritionally balanced food that consists of high levels of human grade protein (or better) with equal calories of high quality, identifiable animal sourced fat and equal calories (or less) of complex carbs with a low glycemic index. When supplied with such a healthy basis of nutrition in appropriate quantities for the dogs ideal weight the dog will naturally gravitate to it’s ideal weight and regain a healthy level of energy.