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Why Feed Your Pet a Homemade Diet

January 06, 2010 | 63,305 views
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dog, pet, foodDiamond Pet Foods has reported a total of 21 cats with thiamine deficiency in Pennsylvania and New York since a voluntary recall of two brands of the company's dry cat food in September.

The updated announcement involves a Diamond recall of Premium Edge Finicky Adult Cat and Premium Edge Hairball Cat brands of
dry food distributed in 18 states.

All 21 cases came from New York and Pennsylvania.

Diamond initiated the recall after pet owners and veterinarians reported cats exhibiting neurological symptoms that pointed to thiamine deficiency.

Company testing confirmed the deficiency. Diamond asked retailers to pull the product from shelves, and asked pet owners to stop feeding the food at once and take potentially affected pets to a veterinarian.

Dr. Becker's Comments:

Pet foods are actually a relatively new addition to the marketplace, only filling a consumer niche for the last 100 years or so. Many proactive, integrative and holistic veterinarians have long recognized the short falls of many commercially available pet foods.

Unfortunately, most widely available pet foods and even many of the brands conventional vets recommend do not contain clean, inspected ingredients, and this is becoming increasingly apparent as pet food recalls become commonplace.

Along with the recall from Diamond Pet Foods, due to a dry food that caused thiamine deficiency in cats, several other pet products have also recently been recalled. These include:

  • Pig ears and beef hoof products from Pet Carousel, which may be contaminated with salmonella. 

  • Certain dry, extruded foods from Wysong, which may contain higher target moisture levels, resulting in potential premature spoilage and mold.

  • Certain dry dog and cat foods from NUTRO, which were found to contain melted plasreal tic. 

  • Select varieties of NUTRO dry cat foods, which were found to contain incorrect levels of zinc and potassium. 

And in 2007, you may remember, there was a massive contamination of pet food with melamine, a compound normally used in the manufacture of plastic and fertilizers that gives low-quality food and feed artificially high protein readings.

Sadly, that contamination led to thousands of sick pets across the United States, and even some deaths.

Studies from the Environmental Working Group have even found that eight major national brands of pet food contained fluoride in amounts between 1.6 and 2.5 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency's maximum legal dose in drinking water, and higher than amounts associated with bone cancer in young boys in a 2006 study by Harvard scientists!

Many Commercial Pet Foods are Not Healthy

When you feed your pet many commercially available pet foods, such as kibble (dry food), not only do you risk exposing them to contamination concerns, but also, and perhaps more importantly, these foods typically are not biologically balanced for your domesticated carnivore (cat) and scavenging carnivore (dog).

Instead, many contain inferior meat meals, cheap grains like corn, rice, and wheat, soy, fillers, by-products, food coloring, pesticides, preservatives, and other contaminants. Because of their inferior quality, common symptoms associated with regular consumption of commercial pet foods include: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Increased flatulence
  • Dull coat
  • Intermittent vomiting
  • Prolonged scratching
  • Diabetes
  • Organ disease

A growing number of veterinarians even state that processed pet food (kibbled and canned food) is the number one cause of illness and premature death in dogs and cats today.

What is the Best Source of Food for Your Pets?

Dogs and cats were created to consume live, unprocessed foods, and once you remove the raw food, it is difficult for your pet to stay healthy.

Matching your pet’s current diet as closely as possible to their ancestral diet is essential if you want a healthy, thriving cat or dog.

A whole generation of pet owners is afraid to feed anything but over processed food to their pets. But there’s no way you can create abundant health in an animal by providing only the minimum nutrients it needs for survival. Dogs and cats have a living food requirement, just like you do.

So, the ideal choice for your pets is to feed a species-appropriate raw food diet. You can even make healthy food at home, and this way you can control the quantity and quality of ingredients added to your pets’ meals. To be sure you're meeting the nutritional guidelines of AAFCO, NRC and your pet's ancestral needs, check out the recipes in my new pet cookbook, Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats.

Based on the ancestral diets of dogs and cats, Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats provides a rotational feeding plan and recipes for a meat-based diet that includes appropriate levels of vegetables, fruits, and supplements to complete your pet's diet, analyzed to ensure nutritional needs. It provides one of the best programs to feed your dog or cat the healthiest diet possible.

There are also commercially available raw food diets that combine USDA-inspected meats with human edible-quality vegetables and fewer grains, which is more biologically appropriate. You'll find these in the freezer section of your upscale pet-food retailer.

If you are unable or unwilling to feed your pet a species-appropriate raw food diet, then your next best choice is USDA-approved canned foods.

The last choice would be a dry food (kibble), made from human-grade ingredients with little to no grains or meal fillers, along with plenty of water.

Healthy Treat Options

If you cannot afford to feed your pet an all raw diet, don’t deny your pet’s access to living foods throughout the day, in the form of treats. Remember, treats (even really healthy treats) should not constitute more than 15 percent of your pet’s daily food intake.

Berries are one of the best treats you can offer, as they’re bite-size and packed with antioxidants. Many cats also enjoy zucchini and cantaloupe. My favorite training treats for dogs include peas and raw nuts (remember, the only nuts you should never feed your pets are macadamia nuts).

A salad without dressing, but with plenty of dark green leafy vegetables, is also good for your cats -- your pets are chewing on your houseplants for a reason, after all.

Avoid giving your carnivorous companions biologically inappropriate foods, including grains, such as oats, soy, millet, wheat or rice. Dogs and cats do not have a carbohydrate requirement and feeding your pets these pro-inflammatory foods creates unnecessary metabolic roadblocks to health.

Your goal is to provide a diet that mimics your pet’s biological nutritional requirements as closely as possible … and in this case this means rethinking the “lifetime of dry commercial food” theory.

[+] Sources and References