Your dog has evolved from a wolf. Although domestication and breeding has changed the appearance of many dogs, they are still physiologically the same as their wild relatives – their digestive system and nutritional needs have not changed from those of their wild ancestors. Dogs’ jaws, teeth, highly acidic stomachs and short intestinal tracts all dictate that they are designed to be primarily carnivores. Although dogs have no biological need for carbohydrates, small amounts of raw or cooked vegetables and fruit are not harmful and can be beneficial.
Cats are obligate carnivores and their diet should be comprised almost exclusively of meats.
When choosing foods for your pet, whether raw, home-cooked, canned or kibble, ensure they have a high meat content.
What about Bones?
Chewing on and eating raw bones is natural for dogs and cats. Bones are an excellent source of calcium and phosphorus, as well as trace minerals including iron, manganese, copper, iodine and zinc. Bones also contain collagen, chondrotin sulphate and essential amino acids. As added benefits, bones exercise the jaw and help keep your pets’ teeth and gums healthy and clean. Plus, it is psychologically healthy for dogs to gnaw on a bone. Raw chicken and/or duck necks and backs can be especially good for cleaning teeth.
The risk of choking on bones is drastically reduced if only raw bones are fed, because they don’t splinter like cooked bones. Still, it is recommended that chewing on bones be a supervised activity.
The Importance of Variety
Good health is based on a varied diet of high-quality foods. We understand this concerning our own health, so why is it right to assume that one particular formulation of food meets the nutritional requirements of our pets? Each meat has varying levels of protein, fat, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Rotating among a variety of foods can ensure your pet is receiving a balanced diet.
Food for Thought…
Imagine going to the grocery store to shop the isles of dry, processed “people kibble”. The selections are labelled “100% Complete and Balanced” to meet all your nutritional needs. You are to choose a package and then eat this, and nothing else, for every meal, every day for the rest of your life. Do you think you’ll enjoy optimal health and vitality? Would you not crave some real food?
Think Outside the Bag
Dogs have been domesticated for more than 40,000 years. Dry formula (kibble) foods became popular after WWII and were created, as a convenience for pet owners but not for their nutritional benefits. Canada and the United States feed more kibble than any other nation, and we also have the least healthy pets, who suffer from ailments that once were unheard of or, at least, uncommon for dogs and cats, such as obesity, diabetes, hypo/hyper-thyroid and cancer.
Fruits and Veggies
Dogs and cats have no biological requirement for carbohydrates; however, adding some plant material can be beneficial, especially for dogs. Virtually any fruit or vegetable (lightly cooked, shredded or whole, raw or frozen) may be fed to your pet. Be sure to avoid grapes, raisins and onions, as they can be toxic.
Canned pumpkin is often a special treat for dogs, and in addition to supplying many nutrients, it offers the added benefit of regulating stool, as it can help with constipation and diarrhea.
Moisture Is Key
Dogs and cats are designed to get the moisture they need from their food – they shouldn’t have to drink much water. Even the best kibbles, due to their low moisture content, can be taxing on your pets’ organs and digestive system and can lead to health problems.
Many holistic veterinarians believe that feeding cats an exclusively dry diet is the main cause of bladder and kidney stones, obesity, diabetes, FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease) and renal failure. Weight control becomes much easier once carbohydrate-dense foods are avoided.
If you choose to feed dry foods, you can benefit your pets’ health by adding some raw, canned or “table foods” to their diets.