When it comes to pet nutrition, our furry friends aren’t literally what they eat of course. If it were so, many dogs would be a bag of kibble and cats would be a can of cat food.
The point of “You Are What You Eat” implies what we put in our bodies is critically important, and the same goes for pets. Ensuring you provide good nutrition for dogs and cats is imperative since you care about your pets like members of your own family
Nutritionists have tried to help educate humans on the importance of a “balanced diet” and the role that vitamins, minerals, and other important building blocks can play in how their body functions. You’ve no doubt heard that athletes and high performing individuals may eat a certain type of diet to help enhance their results. They are essentially “fueling” their body with nutrients that allow the body to function and perform well.
Before we get into dogs or cats specifically, let’s try to further agree that if all humans just ate donuts morning, noon and night, how they felt, looked, and most importantly, what occurred within their physiology (propensity to develop diabetes or have plaquing in their arteries) would undoubtedly be different than if they ate a balanced diet. This stems from the simple premise that a human body is geared to function best on a certain combination of foods made up of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates,
So, if human bodies function better under certain conditions, what would be the ideal conditions for a dog or a cat? We know many dogs and cats enjoy treats, but would you allow your dog or cat to eat only treats all day? Probably not, as if you had a child you probably would not allow them to eat candy all day.
Since pets can’t determine what they eat as they are no longer wild animals, they rely on us for most, if not all of their daily needs, which is why it’s crucial to make sure your pet receives the best nutrition for dogs or cats that they can get.
Before dogs and cats became common household pets and companions, their roots can be traced back to their ancestral predecessors who ate a diet that is quite different from what is contained in most commercialized foods.
Commercialized dog and cat foods (commonly referred to as “kibble”) have become extremely convenient and fast for pet food owners. Pop open a can or pour out a bag and voilà, you have dinner. What could be easier? But the question remains: Are we giving our pets the best chance at a long and healthy life by feeding them this fast and convenient food?
Would you let your child eat McDonald’s Happy Meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? It might be convenient and they might like the taste, but would it be the most healthful choice for them?
The dog and cat food makers have done a good job at extolling what they feel are the benefits of the various “kibble” foods they make available. I know many pet parents who splurge for their pets on what they feel is a better kibble food, and I applaud them for wanting to give their pet the best chance at a healthy life.
For many years, I was educated or marketed to successfully to believe a scientific kibble diet was quite good. However, like most things in life, there are two sides to the story. The flip side, or alternative to a kibble diet, is more of a natural approach to the diet, based upon what dogs and cats through history have naturally eaten before man started manufacturing their food.
I found it shocking to see how mankind has changed the diet of pets. Has this been for the betterment of the pet or because of convenience and also the profits a manufacturer could make by adopting this approach?
At the end of the day, everyone is ultimately responsible for their own choices. As a pet owner, you are responsible for the decisions you make on behalf of your pet. What started our questions about nutrition was learning how cancer is an epidemic in our pets today. In fact, I believe decades ago, the statistic was 1 out of 100 pets may have cancer and only very senior pets, while currently, it is something like 1 out of every 1.57 pets are diagnosed with cancer. Are some genetics at play here? Sure, perhaps a small percentage. Are there environmental aspects at play here? Sure, perhaps some aspect of that. But what else? Nutrition? Learning about the cancer epidemic in pets really had us starting to explore the topic more to ask: Why? Why is cancer an epidemic in our beloved pets right now?
And this, my friends, is why we wanted to discuss this topic of encouraging our pet parents to explore their feeding plan and nutritional needs. I’d encourage everyone to become more conversant with all of the options so you can make the best decision for your pet. Whether your ideal dog diet is kibble, a raw diet, a home cooked diet or supplementing your current pets food with fresh foods, it is worth investing some time to explore all the aspects.