Fresh Dog Food: what we’ve learnt last decade

Can you believe it’s the first week of 2020? And a new decade? As we begin the new year, Team Lyka is taking a trip back in time, to explore key research of the 2010s that taught us more about the optimal fresh dog food diet.   

This decade has been an eye-opener, with many studies leading us to believe that a carefully crafted, fresh dog food diet is the best nutritional choice for pupper. Over the last 10 years, we learnt about the dangerous grain-free buzz-word, carcinogenic mycotoxins in kibble and why pupper gets less “bang for their buck” on a kibble diet.   

Our prediction on the 2020s? We believe this decade will bring millions of fur-parents switching to a fresh dog food diet, making kibble a thing of the past. 

So, come travel back in time with us and let’s dig in!

2010: Mycotoxins: a carcinogenic chemical found in most kibble

Back in 2010, a study from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna uncovered the presence of toxic chemicals, mycotoxins, in bags of commercial kibble. The researchers found carcinogenic mycotoxins, such as deoxynivalenol (DON), zearalenone and fumonisins in most of the kibbles they sampled. In fact, the DON mycotoxin was found in 83% of the kibble brands they investigated.  

Although the levels of mycotoxins were considered low, we have limited understanding of impact of long-term, low-grade mycotoxin exposure on dog health. We do know that low-grade exposure in humans has been linked to immune diseases and even cancer. All in all, feeding pupper kibble throughout their life may increase their cancer risk, and the safest way to avoid the exposure to this chemical, is to avoid kibble entirely. 

2017: Feeding pupper fresh foods boosts their nutrient absorption

Jump forward 7 years, and a research team in New Zealand undertook the exciting task of investigating the poos of dogs fed a fresh diet vs those fed a kibble diet. We don’t envy them!  

As unpleasant as it may be, fecal health gives us an insight into digestibility, and therefore the quantity of nutrients being absorbed by pupper’s body. High digestibility tells us a dog is using a large portion of the food it eats to nourish their body. Low digestibility means that most of the food eaten simply travelling through and out, so to speak. 

The study showed that the apparent digestibility of energy, fat and protein was higher in dogs that were on a fresh food diet than those on a kibble diet. The dogs on a kibble diet had higher amounts of protein and fat content in their feces, that their bodies didn’t absorb and use. This means that puppers eating a fresh dog food diet can get more out of their food and use the nutrients for important bodily functions such as producing energy, growing and repairing their cells.  

What’s more is that dogs fed the kibble diet also had a lower fecal health score and produced more poos. Many of our Lyka fur-parents tell us that once they make the switch to Lyka, their puppers have smaller and less stinky poos! That’s a win-win for pupper and for fur parents! 

Source: Pexels

2018: Australian Senate inquiry: essentially anything can be sold as dog food

A year later, a spiral of dog deaths in Australia linked to commercial dog food led to an inquiry by the Senate into Australia’s pet food industry. Unlike USA and Europe where the pet food industry is government-regulated, pet food in Australia is self-regulated.  It is hard for consumers to trust the food they’re serving their puppers, as essentially anything can be put into and sold as dog food.  

The inquiry resulted in several recommendations, including enforcing mandatory pet food standards in Australia. There has still been no action from the government nor the industry.  

Because of the unclear standards in Australian dog food, we at Lyka choose to hold ourselves to higher, human-grade standards. Our recipes consist of 100% human-grade ingredients and we produce our meals in a HACPP-certified, human grade kitchen.

2019: Grain-free kibble linked to heart disease

Last year, the FDA uncovered a link between canine heart disease (DCM) and premium “grain-free” kibble. Sadly, these foods were led to hundreds of dog deaths across the US. 

Grain-free doesn’t necessarily mean healthier. This is because even grain-free kibble still relies on high amount of carbohydrates, mostly for the kibble to maintain its biscuit shape. High carbohydrate ingredients such as peas, legumes and potatoes often make up over 50% of grain-free recipes. Some of these ingredients, such as legumes, are known to deplete the taurine in the dog’s body, and taurine deficiency is thought to be the main link to DCM heart disease.  

There are still a number of  US dog food brands linked to DCM that are on the shelves in Australia. Based on what we’ve learnt, the safest (and healthiest) option for pupper is to minimise the level of carbohydrates in their diet, which just isn’t possible on a kibble diet. This is why our Lyka recipes contains less than half of the carbohydrate content of kibble, and we focus on animal proteins, good fats and superfoods.

Source: Unsplash

2019: Omega 3 decreases risk of TZ lymphoma cancer

In this same year, a study from the College of Veterinary Medicine in Colorado, showed that high omega-3 content in a dog’s diet may decrease the risk of certain cancers, in particular TZ lymphoma.  TZ lymphoma is a type of cancer found within the white blood cells of dogs. There is no known cure and certain breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, are at a greater genetic risk. 

So, what’s so special about omega-3? Omega-3 is a fatty acid well known for its anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. The study showed that inflammatory conditions in pupper’s body increase the risk of TZ lymphoma. By adding omega-3s into their diet, the dog’s bodily inflammation was reduced, making it harder for the TZ lymphoma to grow and spread.  

This is why we at Lyka are obsessed with packing high amounts of omega-3s into our recipes. The benefits of omega 3 can only be reaped in a fresh food. This is because omega-3s quickly go rancid when exposed to oxygen, so the fatty acid just doesn’t survive in bags of kibble. 

Fresh decade, fresh diet for pupper

Based on what we’ve learnt in the past decade, carefully crafted fresh dog food is the way forward to bring only the best nutritional value to pupper’s diet. As the old saying goes…out with the old, in with the new! Now is the time to start pupper on a journey towards living their best life, which begins with a happier and healthier tummy.