Choosing your Pet’s Food

Choosing your pet’s food can be a daunting task. A food that is good for one pet may be very detrimental to another. Since I cannot tell you the best food for your pet, I will give you some information to help you navigate your choices.

The first place to start is determining what is species appropriate for your pet. The best way to determine this is by looking at your pet’s mouth. What foods is that mouth best made for. The long sharp canines and  few (dogs) or no (cats) grinding teeth suggest that these animals are made to kill and eat meat, not chew plant material.

Cats should eat food that is meat based that contains a lot of water – like the meat they would be eating in the wild. Raw meat diets are great for many, but not all cats. Dry food is not an appropriate diet for cats.

Cats are obligate carnivores, which means they need to eat primarily meat with a few additional ingredients. Dry food is by its nature, a plant based food. A carbohydrate source is required to make kibble. Plain meat when dried will simply not hold together well. Plant proteins are not complete for cats and are much harder to digest. The excess carbohydrates also increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. A meat based canned food will provide your cat with all the nutrition he or she needs as well as providing enough moisture. Freeze dried raw products should always have water added prior to feeding.

Since cats are desert creatures, they do not have a strong thirst response. They conserve fluid by concentrating the urine, but this can increase the risk of crystals and stones in the bladder as well as stressing the kidneys. So, for now, just transitioning your cat from dry food to canned food will help a lot. You can find more information on the subject and suggestions on how to transition dry food addicts to canned food here.

Dogs are also carnivores, but they are also scavengers. In fact, dogs in the wild will eat up to 15% of their diet as fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts, the remainder would be lean meat.  The ancestral dog appeared to get, on average, 49%  of his calories from protein, 44% of his calories from fat and only about 6% from carbohydrates.

We know that dogs in the wild would have to change their diets based on availability of foods at different times of the year. So, it makes sense to give your dog a variety of foods in different forms and to include at least some fresh whole food. When treating your pet, remember that they are carnivores who, in the wild, would eat lean meats (not that fatty prime rib) and would also nibble on plants and fruits, not potatoes and grains.

The first 2 to 3 ingredients in any pet food should be meat. A balanced diet of fresh whole food is always best, but if you must feed dry, consider a mixture of good quality dry with canned or frozen or freeze-dried raw food along with some fresh whole food snacks like lean meat, fish and fresh fruits and vegetables. If your pet has specific health issues or you wish to cook your pets entire meal, I would be happy to help you. Reach out to me on the contact page and I will get back to you shortly.

For more information about the  dog foods and supplements I recommend for my patients, download my free book here.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates