February 03, 2022
Samantha Henson is a Clinical Pet Nutritionist and Founder of Next Generation Pet Wellness. I sat down and spoke with her about dog food. Sam's formulations and work have been featured in Forbes, on Fox News, and she was Pet Food Innovator of the Year in 2018. Here are the nuggets from our interview and follow up:Kibble's Origin Story
Kibble, like anything else invented in the 1940’s, was a direct result of WWII. Tin was in such high demand for the war effort, and in such short supply, even tin from pet food cans was needed.
Pet food went from wet food to dry, bagged food. Major pro: with all the extra metal, we were able to stop Hitler from invading more countries. Major con: meat was replaced with dried grain and corn. This doesn’t sound so bad on the surface, which is why so many of us are still buying 50-lb. bags of the stuff. The real issues show up when you look at second- and third-order consequences.
For instance: in the 40’s cats were fed this mixture just as dogs were. But now cats are back to canned/wet food. Why? They went blind on dry food, that’s why. Dogs are tougher than cats (okay I’m a dog guy), and were able to physically process some of the plant protein found in the dry food. As different corporations began to see the higher profit margins of grain-based food, it became the standard. So dogs kept their vision, and their dry food.
The Yeasty Implications
BUT - and this is a big but - their microbiomes were destroyed. The canine digestive system is not built to process high levels of carbohydrates. I know, I know. Sounds like I’m pushing the Keto and Atkins diet into dog world. Actually though, their digestive system is just different than ours. You don’t see a lot of wild canines hanging out near cornfields for a reason.
Here are some of the drawbacks to dry, carb-heavy kibble for dogs directly from the writings of Samantha:
“Most kibbles are made through the process of extrusion. Extrusion is a method of mass-producing shelf-stable foods by mixing wet and dry ingredients together and then adding them to a machine, subjecting those ingredients to extreme heat and pressure. It is then fed through a die-cutting machine to form the kibble shapes we're all familiar with today. After drying, extruded food products are commonly coated with fat such as chicken fat, pork fat, and lard to increase palatability and calorie content. The biggest downside? The extreme heat and drying process removes beneficial vitamins, minerals, amino acids, micronutrients, and moisture that pets need to truly thrive.
“The other major downfall to feeding dry food is that...it's dry. Really, really dry. A dog is meant to get its moisture from its meals, so when that meal only contains 10% moisture, the body will pull water from elsewhere in the body. Its favorite places to draw water from are your dog's organs like their kidneys, bladder, and liver. Over time, this can lead to sad, taxed organs that begin to fail much sooner than they should.”
Samantha goes on to say that an overproduction of yeast in the gut causes what’s called Leaky Gut Syndrome. The results? Red/Brown gunk around any and every hole. Eyes, ears, mouth, nose… and some other ones we never sang about as children.
No matter how many times you remove this red/brown gunk professionally with the groomer, it comes back. Why? The diet hasn't changed. Mostly dry, high-carb kibble is causing an overproduction of yeast in the gut.
If you can afford to switch your dog’s food to one of these (in order of preference according to Samantha), your dog’s microbiome will thank you, and likely so will the rest of his body.
The Second War is over. It's time our dogs know it.