As is generally accepted we can assume that dogs are descended from wolves. However the transition to household pet did not take place overnight.
One thing is fairly certain: the ancestors of today’s dogs were animals that lived in the wild, and which survived on whatever the environment offered them. Their varied menu comprised prey such as herbivores (of which the smallest were eaten up together with skin and hair), including stomach contents and intestines (with pre-digested grass, seeds and grain; for the carbohydrates), dead animals (carrion), wild fruit and roots.
Besides having sufficient food the most important pre-condition in order to be able to survive was having a well-developed instinct for recognising which substances were necessary and good, and which substances were not necessary and could even be dangerous. In other words: the wild dog had to use the instinct it was born with to be able to choose from the various diverse food substances.
The Wolf (wild dog) followed people. The prehistoric roaming nomads started to settle more and more and became farmers.
Recent research has demonstrated a genetic change in the ancestors of our dogs. Through this it became possible for dogs to adapt their digestive system to a broad feeding pattern containing more starch. The wild dogs came to live closer and closer to men and derived clear benefits from this such as shelter, warmth, safety, and regular food. After this period at first not much changed from the original varied feeding pattern of the dog’s ancestor. That feeding pattern was reinforced by the fact that the wild dog could always wander freely around the settlement looking for food.
Within the settlement the dog could choose for itself from diverse food substances such as (above all) leftovers of food from the people, remains from slaughter such as offal, dead animals, excrement from herbivores such as horses or sheep and other things that the dog knew by instinct that he needed and could safely eat. Whenever the amount of food available was not enough he followed his instincts, and went hunting.
The things that the farmyard dog mostly ate were single products which the dog could choose for himself. Important here was the born-in characteristic (instinct) that the dog could choose between ‘necessary’ and ‘not necessary’ and could choose between ‘good’ and ‘not good’. Through this ability to choose, the dog made up his own menu and ensured that he always took in what he needed and rejected the things that were not good for him.
The higher the dog climbed up the ladder of domestication, the less there remained of its natural feeding pattern. The daily menu was prepared for him, and that meant that the dog could no longer choose for himself. The big disadvantage of this was that the dog often received too much of one type of food substance and too little of another.
Over time a lot of scientific research has been carried out into, amongst other things, the nutritional needs of dogs and the required composition of their daily menu. As a result of this the commercial dog foods came into existence. In making up commercial food it was possible to choose from within the food substances available and to provide these in the right proportions, which matched the total requirements of the dog. But under the influence of mutual competition between the various manufacturers of dog food the danger is very great that the food will be made up out of single ingredients that the dogs from phases I and II would not wish to go near.
This is often compensated for by the addition of chemical aromas and flavourings, and because it also needs to look good (for humans) sometimes colouring is added in order, for example, to make the food look like it is the colour of meat. Also if the complete food is extruded, in order to improve the digestibility of these ingredients, the risk arises of aroma and flavour becoming mixed up, in addition to the danger of damage to proteins, vitamins, and fat. This mixing of aroma and taste means that the dog can no longer smell or taste all the ingredients separately, and only smells and tastes the aroma and flavour of the total “soup”. This is very unnatural for the dog and can lead to the dog rejecting the food as unappetising. Furthermore chemical antioxidants and preservatives are often added in order to give the “food” a longer shelf life. These chemical additives have a negative effect on the total digestion of the dog, which can be seen first in the form of skin and hair problems.
In the meantime it has become clear that in making up dog food you have to be extremely selective, above all in the choice of ingredients used. In first instance these ingredients have to be selected on the basis of their negative properties instead of their positive properties, in order to prevent the possibility of negative substances getting into the daily diet in addition to positive substances. For this reason very high standards have to be set for the purity of every single ingredient.
It boils down to the fact that the dogs in phase I and II would be happy to eat all the ingredients separately. For this reason only ingredients that are intended for human consumption are acceptable, because of the very high standards required for these in respect of quality and purity. But this does not mean that all the products that are used for human food are suitable for feeding dogs.
It goes without saying that in addition to the choice of ingredients, the proportion of the various nutritional and other substances in the food is important. The proportion of nutritional substances must be such that it completely matches the daily requirements of the dog. For this last reason you must be able to be sure that the nutritional substances in the food can actually be digested and taken up by the dogs body, and that they are not made indigestible by the production process and/or other substances in the food. A clear example of how the nature of an ingredient can be changed under the influence of a production process is bread crust. The white flour has become brown because of the high temperatures and suddenly tastes bitter. In other words: the preparation process has created a new ingredient that is a completely different in nature from the original.
If pure ingredients are used that are suitable for human consumption, this also results in the food being high in energy. This means that the dog then requires less food, in volume, and the digestive system has much less bulk of materials to process, which is beneficial to the total health and well-being of the dog. If you give your dog food which satisfies these requirements, you are back in line with the eating pattern of phases I and II. If the composition of the food in all its aspects is not just attuned to the eating requirements of the dog, but to his whole being, then this results in the food being more than the sum of its ingredients (the food is holistic). Your dog thrives on it and this can be seen in the coat and skin, enjoyment of life, vitality, and complete health.
‘Anno-today’ the choice of food is no longer up to your dog (s), but it is up to you. And in thinking about what is important to your dog the principle of “dogs first!” is our motto.