What have our pets evolved to eat and be healthy?
Dogs are carnivores. They have evolved to eat meat, and bones. Meat and bones, fresh and raw, should make up 75-80% of your dogs diet. The domestic dog is not a wolf, and has been evolving as a village dump scavenger with humans for a long, long time; they are more omnivorous and better able to eat vegetable matter than a cat. (Cats are obligate carnivores, and require 90-95% of their diet to be meat and bones – more about that later.) So dogs can survive eating carbohydrates (i.e. grains) but their bodies are evolved to eat and digest meat proteins.
If you feed a lot of carbohydrates (grains) to a carnivore, it upsets their whole metabolism. (This may be why there is so much diabetes in our domestic pets.) It also leads to upset gut flora, and this damages the immune system. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the harm processed pet food does to your pet.
The best food you can give your pet is raw meat, offal and bones with raw veggies, a little cold pressed oil (I like coconut) and some seaweed meal). The BARF diet is a complete raw food for pets you can buy in frozen portions. Our pets love it, and if ever they go to kennels and have commercial dog biscuits, we notice that their poos get unhealthy really quickly (soft, smelly).
You can make your own BARF- %75 lean raw meat, offal and bones for dogs, 90% for cats, and the rest grated or blended up raw vegetables, with some cold pressed coconut oil, some kelp meal and vitamins/minerals. You can also use raw eggs occasionally. Cats have to have a Taurine supplement- especially if only using freshwater fish as the protein source.
If your pet is fussy, let them get a bit hungry- a day or two without food will often do the trick. My cats looked at me as if I was insane the first time I offered them BARF, but two days later they were yumming it up! Some pets won’t eat it unless you cook it for them. Cooking your pets meals is better than processed, commercial food, if not quite as good as the raw food.
What difference will you see in your pet when you change to raw?
Many clients have told me that within a month, their pets are happier, shinier, have more energy, and their poos are smaller, harder, and not as smelly. Those with pets who had a lot of gas noticed that that went away.
The benefits over a lifetime? Better health, cleaner teeth with less dental disease, a shinier coat, a longer life, and a drastic reduction in chronic diseases- arthritis, allergies, digestions problems, (and perhaps even cancer) are all likely.
Why is processed pet food unhealthy?
Think about it. How would your health be after a month if you only ate food that came out of a tin, or a packet?
Commercial Pet food is made with low quality “meat” protein sources. The cheaper the food, the higher the content of cheap protein sources (meat and bone meal) and grain fillers. The protein sources are processed at every high temperatures, which causes changes, making the end product hard to digest, and unhealthy for your pet.
Here is a description of how meat and bone meal is made (taken from wikipedia). So all the bits that a human wouldn’t eat- bones, trimmings, fat, hooves, all the yucky bits – I will tell you what it is made from after this…
Rendering processes for inedible products. Materials that for aesthetic or sanitary reasons are not suitable for human food are the feedstocks for inedible rendering processes. Much of the inedible raw material is rendered using the “dry” method. This may be a batch or a continuous process in which the material is heated in a steam-jacketed vessel to drive off the moisture and simultaneously release the fat from the fat cells. The material is first ground, then heated to release the fat and drive off the moisture, percolated to drain off the free fat, and then more fat is pressed out of the solids, which at this stage are called “cracklings” or “dry-rendered tankage”. The cracklings are further ground to make meat and bone meal. A variation on a dry process involves finely chopping the material, fluidizing it with hot fat, and then evaporating the mixture in one or more evaporator stages. Some inedible rendering is done using a wet process, which is generally a continuous process similar in some ways to that used for edible materials. The material is heated with added steam and then pressed to remove a water-fat mixture which is then separated into fat, water and fine solids by stages of centrifuging and/or evaporation. The solids from the press are dried and then ground into meat and bone meal. Most independent renderers process only inedible material.
So what do they render up to make meat and bone meal? More from Wickipedia!
Animal by-products are carcasses and parts of carcasses from slaughterhouses, animal shelters, zoos and veterinarians, and products of animal origin not intended for human consumption, including catering waste (all waste food from restaurants, catering facilities, central kitchens, slaughterhouses and household kitchens). These products may go through a process known as “rendering” to be made into human and non-human foodstuffs, fats, and other material that can be sold to make commercial products such as cosmetics, paint, cleaners, polishes, glue, soap and ink. The sale of animal by-products allows the meat industry to compete economically with industries selling sources of vegetable protein.
Enough to make your toes curl!
However, High quality pet food will have actual real meat in it. Or at least some… Read the labels, just to be sure. I don’t think you will find very many without meat meal of some sort in it.
Most commercial pet food has a lot of carbohydrates in it. Why? Because it’s cheap, and the cheaper you can make it, the bigger the profit margins will be. Wheat, oats, rice, and many other cereal crops provide a lot of the energy in commercial pet foods. Grains are not a carnivores natural food.
And then they mostly have preservatives, flavourings, colourings and salt in them too- to make the food more palatable. No pet in it’s right mind would eat this stuff if they didn’t put these in. The dry foods chronically dehydrate cats, often leading to kidney failure in the end.
Tinned food is about the worst thing you can do to your pets gut flora. I tell my clients to throw it in the bin.
Stay away from all processed pet foods, especially cheap ones.
So what if your pet is fussy, and won’t eat anything but processed food? Do the best you can. If your pet absolutely won’t eat it, then you’ll need to supplement aggressively with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and superfoods. This can help a lot to overcome the toxic load of the processed food.
Cats are the hardest to deal with – some will only eat one thing. Make sure you get kittens and puppies into raw food and bones ASAP. Be willing to fast them for a few days to get them to taste it. If your present pet won’t eat raw, make sure you get your next pet at no older than 10 weeks of age, and get them off on the right foot.
If it’s too much trouble to make it, buy a good quality prepackaged BARF food. (I stock this.) Make the change, as much as you possibly can. If it’s too expensive, then cook up the best mix of meat and veggies you can with left overs and the best quality pet mince you can afford. Be sure to add a little cold pressed coconut oil and some seaweed meal or powder as well.
The cheaper the food, the more it hurts your pets.
And enjoy your pets!
Until next time, Dr Edward.