What Should My Dog or Cat Eat for Optimal Health?
Imagine the majestic, magnificent, male lion stalking his prey through the lush, green, grasslands of the African Serengeti. Slowly, quietly, patiently he creeps up on his next, unsuspecting meal… Then, at just the right moment he full out runs and then leaps and pounces on… an ear of corn!
The African Lion is an Obligate Carnivore! He is designed to tear flesh and bone and swallow and never would he consume an ear of corn. Wikipedia defines an Obligate Carnivore as one that depends solely on the nutrients found in animal flesh for their survival. In this same classification is the domestic cat.
The dog is a scavenging carnivore. Their digestive system is that of wolf. Dog was re-classed by the Smithsonian Institute in 1993 as same as wolf (Canis Lupus) but familiaris in designation, naming them domesticated. However, their digestive system is still that of carnivore, that of wolf.
So why is it that the big commercial brands of pet food are loaded with ingredients such as ground corn, corn gluten meal, animal byproducts, ground whole grain sorghum, whole wheat flour, soy flour, Yellow 5, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 2, animal digest, BHA, BHT?
These commercial foods are also products that contain ingredients that have been discarded for human consumption. Unfortunately, we need somewhere to discard our waste and at the same time, use everything. We discard many of our waste by-products by using them in the commercial pet food industry. However, would a carnivore, a true meat eater, be able to thrive on a diet of junk grains and by-products including hooves, feet, feathers, beaks, etc?
No, not thrive. They would survive for a while, but they would never be able to flourish and be healthy. They would most certainly have some problems. Significant problems? Not always. They might be stinky, have bad teeth, itchy skin, corn-chip feet, ear infections, or your kitties might vomit hairballs on a regular basis, have flakey skin and shed excessively. In addition, many of these traits may be passed off as normal. Nevertheless, these things are not normal.
These issues are the result of eating bad commercial grade pet foods. Your pets don’t have to stink, have bad breath, scratch all the time, or have corn-chip feet. Your kitties don’t need to puke or have flakey skin and dull coats. These are not normal pet issues.
The most important thing that everyone needs to know is that the pet food industry is an unregulated industry.
In general, they can do whatever they want. There are standards utilized within the industry under the group AAFCO who says how much protein, carbohydrates, fats, etc there should be in pet food. But in general, AAFCO doesn’t say what a pet food manufacturer should use to meet those protein requirements. For example; chicken feathers, beaks, and cow hooves are 100% protein, but are also 100% useless as a protein source for pets, but can be added to the protein content in a pet food.
What is a rendered, rancid fat?
Another example of a standard practice allowed by AAFCO is the use of rendered, rancid fats. What happens to all that grease from your favorite restaurant after they deep-fry your shrimp dinner, or your french fries?
Well, that grease goes outside and sits in a large dumpster-like vat. A special grease truck picks it up maybe once a week and this truck takes this grease to the rendering plant, after picking up all the other grease from all the other restaurants. This grease is then cooked again at very high temperatures to be used as a coating to spray on commercial pet foods to make your dog’s or cat’s dry pet food taste and smell better to them.
No, that grease left over from your favorite restaurant does not go to waste – it is used in the processing of commercial pet food and also adds up to the protein content of your pet’s pet food that is listed on the back of the bag.
Consider carbohydrates: Dogs and cats have no requirement in their diet for carbohydrates.
They lack the salivary enzyme amylase to break down carbohydrates. Therefore, when we feed a commercial, carbohydrate-based, dry food diet, we are asking the pet to produce a miracle every single day! “Here is a dry food loaded with junk carbs. Try to digest this food and try to convert it into energy that you can utilize without the enzyme to break it down.”
How can we expect our carnivore friends to do this and thrive? We can’t.
If we choose to feed a dry diet, we need to provide our dogs and cats with a high quality dry food diet that also contains a high meat content and low grain, but from fresh sources of meats and grains, the same kinds of meats and grains that we would purchase at the grocery store for our families. These diets are commonly referred to as “human grade” dry diets. We also need to provide our dogs and cats with moisture-based foods that contain real meat. Again, human grade canned foods. However, ideally, we need to provide our dogs and cats with fresh, living, whole foods! Raw foods! Yes, prey foods, but most importantly fresh foods.
In the past
Until about 80 years ago, our dogs and cats ate what we ate. Yes, table scraps, for lack of a better term.
Fresh foods… “Nick-knack, paddy-whack, give a dog a bone”. That nursery rhyme came from somewhere! Our pets, our carnivore friends, were never meant to be eating dried up lumps of preserved “food” out of a bag, scooped and dumped in a bowl that “stays fresh” for a year or more in our pantries…
Seriously, does this really make a sense? Are humans designed to eat a dried, fortified cereal for every meal, every day? Moreover, the same cereal, made by the exact same manufacturer, never to change the flavor for breakfast, lunch, or dinner for fear it may cause digestive upset? That’s silly.
So why do we do this to our pets? Because the commercial pet food industry tells us this is what we should do to keep us feeding their food. They don’t want us to change. It is just marketing. Rotating your pet’s food as often as possible is the best thing you can do for them. It makes for a healthy pet. It gives them the ability to keep food intolerances at bay by exposing them to a variety of foods and the ability to develop a healthy gut. In addition, a healthy gut makes for a healthy body. Rotating your pet’s food, and feeding a good human grade food along with a lactose free digestive enzyme and probiotic will help your pet have a healthy gut and lead them to having a stronger, healthier, more resilient body!
Dry vs. Moist Diet
Feeding a dry food alone is generally 70% dry matter. Our carnivore friends are meant to consume a diet that is 70% moisture. This 70% moisture diet comes from that fresh food diet.
Feeding a dry food diet alone can lead to many problems, including why there is such a high incidence in cats of crystal problems, diabetes, obesity, UTIs, etc. The grain matter leads to inflammation in our dogs, which in turn leads to anal gland infections, arthritis, chronic ear infections, staph infections, licking of the paws, gassiness, etc. They aren’t supposed to be consuming all that carbohydrate. Our pets do not produce the enzyme to break down carbohydrate. If you choose to feed a dry food diet, at least feed one of the human grade dry foods that is high in fresh meat sources. Then, add a lactose free digestive enzyme and probiotic to help your pet break down that carbohydrate and make sure your pet gets plenty of fresh water daily.
In conclusion, our dogs and cats are carnivores. They are not tiny little humans. We have chosen them as our companions and we must feed them as the carnivores they are. Fresh foods are best, but if we find them to not be convenient in our busy lives (even though pre-made, complete, raw food diets are available at your nearest holistic pet boutique) at least feed a human grade dry food diet to the carnivores in your home, along with a digestive enzyme and probiotic!
Stay away from the commercial pet food industry. They do not have your pet’s best interests at heart – only the bottom dollar.
Wags to Whiskers Holistic Pet Centers
Plainfield & Oswego Illinois
815-436-5957 - 630-636-9437
http://www.drkarenbecker.com Dr. Karen Becker
http://www.herbsmithinc.com/bessentmain.asp Dr. Chris Bessent
http://www.homeopathyfortheanimals.com/ Dr. Glen Dupree
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivore Wikipedia definition and explanation of Carnivores
http://www.bornfreeusa.org/facts.php?p=359&more=1 What’s Really in Pet Food
http://www.truthaboutpetfood.com/ The Truth About Pet Food