How Important Is Diet in Keeping My Pet Healthy and Preventing Illness?
“Let food be your medicine” – Hippocrates
Our pets’ diet is critical to their long and happy lives.
The food we feed them provides the building blocks upon which all life forces and optimal health depend. Proper growth and healing cannot proceed properly without the energy which derives from the metabolism of the food we feed.
The basic tenets of human nutrition and physiology apply to our pets. The best diet is one composed of fresh wholesome (preferably organic) foods, with plenty of variety. Beef, poultry, fish, vegetables and fruit should all be part of the diet. Almost any food, in moderation, is fine. Feeding only one diet, be it commercial or home-prepared, exclusively for a pet’s entire life predisposes to nutritional deficiency and is just not enough to ensure optimal health.
A “100% complete and balanced” claim can be made by any company meeting minimal standards. Although this “perfect” food may sustain the perfect pet living in a physiological vacuum, one food alone can not be either complete or balanced for all pets.
The ideal diet for an individual species is the one upon which it evolved. This is a simple, irrefutable fact. Dogs and cats are carnivores. They have adapted (with our prodding) to a cereal-based diet. The ideal diet for the carnivore however is raw meat from hunted prey possibly with some grains, vegetables and fruits (from stomach contents). The powerful enzymes and microorganisms (probiotics) that should be consumed in the stomach contents may need to be supplemented when a less than ideal diet is fed. Products such as Rx Zyme and Rx Biotic provide such enzymes and probiotics.
In addition to a diet of raw meat, the ancestors of our pets today experienced periods of enforced fasting due to lack of prey. Cycling between having plenty to eat and having nothing is normal and healthy. Fasting is beneficial because it allows the body to rest, detoxify itself and heal. Fasting has even been used in human studies to aid arthritis and atherosclerosis. In addition, calorie restriction has been shown (in both pets and people) to correlate directly with health and longevity.
The raw meats of today are a far cry from that which the carnivores of yesterday survived. Nowadays, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and bacterial contaminants (especially in ground meats) are the rule in most commercially raised meat and poultry. Feeding organic meat and poultry is the best alternative when economically feasible.
Although not optimal, a high quality meat-based commercial pet food, which is properly stored to prevent oxidation can be the basis for feeding our pets. This should be supplemented with fresh foods like vegetables (raw, juiced or steamed), fresh fruit, and meat. However, most pets will thrive on a totally fresh food diet. In some cases serious problems like allergies, gastroenteritis, epilepsy, etc., will improve just by stopping all commercial food.
If commercial food is the predominant component of your pet’s diet, please use the highest quality affordable food. Your veterinarian and other pet professionals can help guide you to the best available products. Learning to read pet food labels is indispensable.
Feed divided meals throughout the day. One large meal may predispose to bloat. Smaller, divided meals are easier on the body. Kibble, when fed, should be soaked well beforehand. In addition to allowing the gas within the pelletized dry food to escape, soaking allows hydrolysis (water-assisted digestion) to occur outside the body.
Another feeding option that is appealing to some pet guardians is a solitary home-cooked diet recipe. Since there will be minimal variety in this diet, it will need to be balanced and formulated with a veterinary nutritionist’s guidance.
As you can see, there are many good options available for feeding our beloved pets. The wonderful DVD “Eat Drink and Wag Your Tail” is very informative and humorous. If you would like to schedule a natural nutrition and holistic treatment consultation please visit the new client area of www.homevet.com.
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