For most dog lovers, yes it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to verify that their dog’s kibble contains the correct ratio of calcium and phosphorus in relation to ME (metabolizable energy), based on calorie availability (e.g. meat versus cellulose).
As I mentioned above, cellulose (wood chips) or other forms of fiber and indigestible food components are used to increase the amount of food, but they are not a bioavailable energy source. You can also see practical evidence of this by comparing the stool size of dogs on kibble to that of dogs on raw food. Dogs fed kibble produce a much larger amount of feces. The difference is striking!
This means that while the Ca/P ratio per 1,000 calories of food may look good on paper and in the lab, it can be completely wrong when it comes to bioavailable calcium and phosphorus.
What are the consequences of all this?
Having seen thousands of dogs in practice, most of the growth-related problems I have seen, including hip dysplasia, cartilage growth disorders, fragmentation (osteochondritis dissecans) and growing pains (panosteitis), affect kibble-eating dogs.
Dogs that eat such foods appear to grow faster, leaner and weaker, similar to over-fertilized plants that grow quickly and weakly. Kibble has a much higher energy density. Dogs can consume more calories before feeling full, and nutrient bioavailability fluctuates widely based on the ingredients. In other words, dogs fed kibble are also ‘over-fertilized’.
Nature has the answer!
Since I started feeding and recommending raw food in the late 1990s, I rarely see dogs fed a whole food raw or cooked diet that suffer from hip dysplasia, panosteitis, or cartilage, joint, and abnormal growth disorders.
Dogs fed raw or cooked diets that contain meat, raw bones and vegetables, along with natural vitamins and other dog supplements, grow more slowly and are stronger. This allows the body to build good structure and healthy bones and joints, even in dog breeds that are supposedly prone to these problems.
Such an approach always works well, and I can say with confidence that a raw or cooked diet with complete nutrition, including the essential supplements, produces far superior results and dramatically reduces growth abnormalities and bone and joint diseases. I have seen this in my patients, and also in my own dogs.
Rather than focusing on following the difficult-to-administer calcium/phosphorus recommendations, or being misled by organizations sponsored by processed pet food companies, I recommend feeding our dogs a diet that is as close to the natural diet of dogs. Such a diet consists of a variety of meats, bones and vegetables, and includes: supplements.