wolves dogs genetics and starch

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Pocket Wolf
Barked: Fri Feb 15, '13 1:19pm PST 
dogs are genetically different

february 14,2013 Los angeles times article about how wolf genetics changed to allow domestication by enabling early wolf/dogs to process starch

Edited by author Fri Feb 15, '13 1:20pm PST


Member Since
Barked: Sat Feb 16, '13 8:21am PST 
Interesting article, thanks for sharing!! It's funny to think that so many people believe that domestic dogs should be fed exactly like wolves, when the truth is, they are not at all the same! Even domestic dogs are VERY different from each other - a Shih Tzu should not be fed like a St Bernard! And neither should be fed like a wolf!!! smile

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Sat Feb 16, '13 10:25am PST 
Here is the article in Nature magazine.
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5iLESopkbPdajAyd1ZEaElZY 0U/edit?pli=1
It also helps us understand why so many dogs do so poorly on high carbohydrate diets - they just could be the dogs with fewer copies of the gene.

And it doesn't mean they need the starch, it means they might do better on a starchy diet than dogs with fewer copies of the enzyme. Max did just fine digesting a normal 60% starch kibble but is much better off with zero carbs. I bet he has lots of copies of the gene.

Member Since
Barked: Sat Feb 16, '13 10:56am PST 
It may be true that dogs don't need starch to survive. Protein and fat alone can provide them with energy and maintain proper cell and body functions. But dogs can actually benefit from some starch in their diet, provided it is in the right amount and is in a highly digestible form.

Dogs derive about the same amount of energy from starch as they do from protein, and obviously (as we can see from the articles) they can metabolize it very well, especially if the starch has been cooked and ground, which greatly improves digestibility. The benefit of supplying some of the dog's energy through starch (rather than protein and fat alone) is that it frees up the protein to perform other important functions in the body, like building muscle tissue, helping with immune function, and transporting other nutrients to cells throughout the body (among many other important things).

Since it has been shown that too much protein and fat can lead to and intensify some health issues in dogs, providing energy solely through protein and fat can be problematic. If some of the energy the dog needs can be provided through starch rather than protein, it is a good way to both help regulate the protein level, and to free up most of the available protein to help with all the other functions it needs to perform in the body.

I'm triple- superior MAD- now!
Barked: Sat Feb 16, '13 1:22pm PST 
I would love some references to dogs having issues with too much protein. I know a lot of dogs have trouble with fat, some being genetic issues but haven't seen anything about protein except that some dogs don't tolerate high protein kibbles which isn't the same thing as needing less protein.

Im just a little- guy
Barked: Sat Feb 16, '13 2:54pm PST 
Some dog breeds were originally fed diets very close to what a wolf would eat. Dog breeds like Alaskan Malamutes originate from areas of Alaska where the people eat mostly animal meat and fat. They can not grow crops in that climate. I would guess Japanese breeds like Akitas and shibas ate a lot of fish and rice. Japan is an island and fishing is a huge source of food for people.

There are still nutritional requirements that just table scraps won't cover for dogs. Dogs won't thrive with out certain nutrients which are rich in meats.

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Sun Feb 17, '13 4:39pm PST 
I'm with Max, I'd sure love to see some studies that prove otherwise healthy dogs (not suffering from secondary health defects such as kidney failure) can be harmed by too much protein.

I once got into a debate with a particularly brazen Science Diet employee who was in checking product at the local store... they were actually one of their nutrition training people, not just a sales rep. They were of course trying to make the "too much protein causes kidney issues" debate, which I bluntly asked them to produce hard evidence of this. They could not, and in not being able to do so, went on a tirade about how "WHAT IF the dog was predisposed to the condition, and excess protein EVENTUALLY led to problems" yada yada yada. Again, bluntly asked for studies documenting that EXACT number of dogs suspected to be predisposed to this condition, so that I could decide for myself if I considered the risk high enough to feed my dogs (who have no genetic history of kidney issues or renal failure) food that IMO is extremely protein deficient. AMAZINGLY, they could not produce those studies either!

So all these crap kibble companies can go wonder off in the woods for about as much as I care. They have proof of nothing, and this study proves only a CAN... not a SHOULD.

Semper Vorax
Barked: Mon Feb 18, '13 8:35pm PST 
yeah that's what I thought about it too. Chihuahuas probably do really well without too much protein. the breed was fed corn tortillas, tomatoes, potatoes and avacadoes as food by the mayans and aztecs for centuries. To survive that I bet they are one of those highly adapted breeds too. But I would expect huskies, for example, to be less adapted because of northern wolf outcrossing (dogs are thought to have come from southern wolf subspecies)and because they were given mostly meat. I don't expect that the people of siberia did much farming.

Edited by author Mon Feb 18, '13 8:37pm PST


Which way did- they go?
Barked: Tue Feb 19, '13 5:20am PST 
haven't new studies shown that its not the amount of protein but the quality of protein that matters? Again I will defer to Dr Karen Becker, this is quite interesting......

Quality of Protein

Member Since
Barked: Wed Feb 20, '13 4:02pm PST 
Both matters - Quality and Quantity. My leather shoe, for example, is very rich in protein. My dog ate my shoe and you can be your bottom dollar he didn't get much use of that protein.

There are more cases of low protein deficiency than high protein caused illnesses in dogs and cats. High protein, of course, means digestible proteins - not leather shoes.