We all know that in recent years, people have started choosing better food for themselves. We prefer minimally-processed, natural, local foods over commercial, adulterated, processed foods. It's no surprise then, that we've also seen a similar trend within the pet food industry. We care about our pets, and they trust us to make the necessary choices for maintaining their health. Dogs and cats have been our companions for hundreds of years, but never before have they been part of our families as much as they are now. We care for them as for our own children, and of course, nutrition plays a paramount role in keeping them healthy!
What is biologically-appropriate for my dog/cat?
First, let’s get this out of the way: Mother Nature requires all species to eat diets specific to their needs. They must eat what they were designed to, or they will die! For example, a lion is an obligate carnivore, meaning their diet must consist of at least 90-95% meat. If you force this wild cat to eat greens, it will die. If you try to feed an earthworm anything other than dirt, it will also die. There are laws that evolution has bestowed on all living things. If we disobey them, we will either die, or lead unhealthy and miserable lives. Moving on to dogs and cats, however, it gets a little more complicated. Modern dogs and cats are very resilient when it comes to food, especially dogs!
The modern dog is a descendant of the gray wolf. In the wild, gray wolves are “hunting scavengers”. They hunt animals for prey and also scavenge for dead animals whenever they find them. Their stomachs are very resilient because they eat virtually anything they can find.
The versatility of the wolf is inherited by the domestic dog. Thus, modern dogs can also be “nutritionally-abused” because they will eat almost anything. For this reason, dogs are unlike any other mammal because they can undergo severe nutritional deficiencies and not die... right away.
Dogs will do fine on any crappy food we give them, but they will not thrive. "Fine", in this case, doesn't mean they will be healthy, but they will survive. Their owners may not even see any signs of disease, but physical symptoms can often be misleading. Take diabetes and cardiovascular disease! The symptoms are not even visible most of the time, but they are the things killing most of us (and our pets) today.
Dogs are resilient, but like humans, they develop disease if given inappropriate food.
For dogs, a balanced and appropriate diet consists of a high meat content and some fruits and veggies. Although some question whether dogs need any vegetation at all, wolves have been found to consume vegetation in the wild.
For example, the first thing wolves eat after killing an animal is the guts. That’s where they find all the vegetation the prey. They’ve also been found to consume berries in the summer months, when berries are most widely-available.
The two predominant feeding models are PMR and BARF. The PMR diet is a strict meat, bone and organ diet. The BARF diet consists of 75-80% meat content and 20-25% fruits and veggie content. The Healthy Paw Foods meal composition is completely balanced with an 80-20 ratio of meat to veg.
For the list of fruits & veggies you can feed your dog, click HERE. If you'd like to learn more about PMR vs. BARF, click HERE.
Like any feline, the domesticated cat is an obligate carnivore. Humans domesticated them centuries ago, but cats have not lost this ancestral trait. Cats need raw meat to survive, but we’ve been feeding them inappropriate diets for the past 100 years. Adulterated, processed, packaged food is simply not appropriate for our feline companions. Unlike dogs, cats are very sensitive to the nutritional content in their diets. The first problem that arises in cats with poor nutrition is Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), which is largely due to the lack of moisture in the food they consume.
For cats, a biologically-correct diet consists of high meat content and only about 5% veggie content. For the list of fruits & veggies you can feed your cat, click HERE.
What exactly should I be feeding my dog/cat?
The best thing for animals to eat is raw, unprocessed food. The best guideline for feeding your companion animal is to look for what they would eat in the wild. Wolves hunt large-hoofed animals like deer and elk, as well as smaller prey like rabbits and sheep. Cats hunt rabbits, mice, rats, and other small prey. Choose a commercially-available diet that caters to your cat's needs. Or find a balanced recipe and make the food yourself. Suggested meal composition for cats coming soon!
What about fish?
Wolves do occasionally hunt salmon, but it’s not a staple food they rely on. The same goes for cats. However, it can be a good source of omega-3 fatty acids when added as a supplement on occasion.