Blog Why are our dogs getting so sick?

Why are our dogs getting so sick?


Why are our dogs getting so sick. Many people blame foods and chemicals, however there are a lot more at play here.

Is Feeding Raw Food the Answer?

In short, raw feeding is good when owners can do so correctly. However, many people don't and their animals end up with preventable diseases like rickets. However, raw feeding is not a cure-all. 

When I had my German Shepherd Kaz, she was so sickly she starved herself as a pup. She was skin and bones and so itchy. I tried raw feeding, but she preferred to eat my other dog's poop than actually eat her food. In the end, after trying absolutely everything including raw food, I ended up putting her on steroids. She lived to 9 which was a good age considering her health issues. She had itchy skin and spinal issues.

No one is telling humans to eat only processed food, so don't get me wrong, if you can feed raw, absolutely do so. But there's more to it than just feeding raw. It is not a magic potion. I personally feed my dogs Royal Canin, chicken carcasses and they get Ziwi Peak (food) as treats.

Of course, I must add here, your dog should be a decent weight. Not over or under weight. Neither will add quality or longevity to your dog. 

What Else Could be Causing Issues?

Stress. The way we raise and train our dogs add stress. How?

Let's look at Training: Any training that revolves around high dopamine and adrenaline will increase the dog's cortisol levels which is the hormone that causes all the issues (to be fair, we all need it in low doses, but as they say, too much of a good thing, is not a good thing). 

Things like playing fetch, training with a flirt pole, running your dog, etc. not only increases the risk of injury but also increases the risk of cancers and autoimmune diseases. After living with Kaz's autoimmune disease and Raven's leg injury, I no longer play fetch with my dogs. It's just not worth reducing my dog's quality of life because I'm too lazy to actually learn a better way of doing things. So I did.

However, credit always where it's due. If it wasn't for Raven's leg injury making exercise her less, I would have never discovered the benefits to her behaviour that reduced adrenaline and dopamine had. Raven has been the easiest dog I've ever had, and I'm sure it's partly due to the fact that she had to be on restricted exercise for 6 months as a young dog. Also, I probably would have never tried this, because we're constantly bombarded with the message "YoU MuSt RuN YoUr DoG tO eXeRcIsE iT!"

Is There Anything Else That Could be Contributing to Issues?

Funny you should ask, absolutely, yes!

Whenever there's an issue in a breed. It's an inbreeding issue. If you visit the Institute of Canine Biology you can see the percentage inbreeding in each breed. And then look at the health issues with each of those breeds. 

Dobermanns, Golden Retrievers and Cavaliers are MORE inbred than full brother-sister matings! Even my breed, Malinois, is as closely related as when half brothers and sisters are mated together. 

To be fair, breeds who are heavier (e.g. German Shepherds are heavier than Malinois) tend to have more issues with spine, hips and elbows. So better to breed em' lean for better health.

I've included a couple of links to the ICB's blogs to help you check where your breed sits.

Understanding the Coefficient of Inbreeding

Inbreeding of purebred dogs determined from DNA

So, what are the 3 things we can do to help our dogs live longer lives?

Breeders should be looking at creating more genetic diversity in breeds. However, we cannot do that with closed stud books. The only way we'll be saving our breeds is to allow out crossing between breeds. So choose a well bred cross bred dog. That doesn't mean the local "doodle" breeder. That means a breeder who takes a lot of care with breeding and breeding for health and temperament. These breeders, unfortunatly, are as rare as hens teeth. 

Consider how you train and exercise your dog. Reducing excitement and stress in your dog's life and training will help them live longer, happier lives. It's not as difficult as it may seem. There are a ton of ways to exercise your dog's body and mind in a low stress way. I live with 2 high drive Malinois and do this daily. We don't run. We don't play fetch or chase anything, and yet, my dogs are not destroying my home. It can be done.

Feed your dog a good quality diet. Of course raw feeding will always be the best thing to feed your dog. But if you can't do that then look at feeding the highest quality food you can afford. Remember, expensive doesn't necessarily mean quality.

Want more help with your dog?

Dogs and owners do best when they have a supportive village. Like the saying "it takes a village to raise a child" I've found that us owners and our dogs do best when we have a supportive village. But a good, supportive village is difficult to find. So, I created one!

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