Dr. Karen Becker dispels the long-held myth that “table food” is bad for your pets.
Human, edible foods can be very healthy for your pets. Throw away the concept of “cat” food and “dog” food, and just think “food” -- food that grows in the ground or comes from animal products.
A whole generation of pet owners is afraid to feed anything but over processed rendered 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.
The food you feed your pet should be biologically suited to meet your dog’s or cat’s needs. Dog and cat chow may be nutritionally “complete,” but it is akin to your drinking a meal replacement shake three times a day for the rest of your life … or giving them to your kids in lieu of fresh foods.
Yet, many veterinarians will often recommend you feed your pets kibble or canned food for the rest of their lives. Some will go so far as to say that feeding your pet anything that doesn’t come from a bag or can will be harming your pet!
This is a paradigm problem, and one that can be very confusing for pet owners.
In reality, there’s no way you can give your pet the food it needs to thrive if you do not feed it a biologically appropriate diet that includes a variety of fresh foods.
In fact, a growing number of holistic-minded veterinarians state that processed pet food (kibbled and canned food) is the number one cause of illness and premature death in modern dogs and cats.
So how did conventional veterinary nutrition positions get so skewed?
Well, major dog and cat food manufacturers provide much of the veterinary nutrition information to veterinary students. It becomes engrained in many new vets’ minds that it’s wrong to feed pets “living” fresh foods.
This is a myth!
Your Pets Need Living Foods
Veterinarians tell you to never offer living foods to your pet. But your pets need living foods on a consistent basis to achieve optimal health.
So, yes, you can and should offer your pets some of the very same foods that you enjoy. And since those foods are at a much higher grade nutritionally than typical dog or cat foods, they may be the healthiest foods your pets have ever consumed.
As you know, I recommend you feed your dogs and cats an all raw, nutritionally balanced living food diet. In my opinion, the only viable excuse to not to feed your pets a species appropriate diet is cost. Feeding raw food cost more than dry food .However, raw fed animals have fewer health problems, which mean lower vet bills over a lifetime. 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. Bite size and packed with antioxidants. Many cats enjoy zucchini and cantaloupe. . My favorite training treats for dogs include peas, 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.
Furthermore, there are certainly some foods that are toxic to feed to dogs and cats such as grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and onions. Never feed your pets these foods.
The Optimal Choice to Feed Your Pets
I highly recommend you give your dog or cat an opportunity to experience living raw foods like fruits and veggies as treats, and feed them a biologically appropriate, balanced raw diet the rest of the time.
Remember, your pet is resilient and can eat a variety of suboptimal, metabolically stressful foods on occasion and be fine, but because it’s my goal to provide a diet that most closely fits your companion’s biological requirements, I don’t recommend a lifetime of kibble or other “dead” over-processed food.
The goal is to provide a diet that mimics your pet’s biological nutritional requirements as closely as possible … in this case it means rethinking the “lifetime of dry food” or “canned food” theory.
If you are unable or unwilling to feed your pet a species-appropriate, nutritionally balanced, raw food diet, then I strongly recommend you compromise with the next best choice: USDA-approved canned foods (and supplement with raw)
My last choice would be a dry food (kibble), made from human-grade ingredients with little to no grains, and LOTS OF WATER.
But no matter which option you choose, remember that you can treat your dog and cat to berries, leafy greens, raw nuts and many other fresh fruits, veggies and meats on a regular basis.
I hope this insight will help you feel more confident offering foods and treats to your pets that are unadulterated and fresh. They deserve the same benefit of living foods that you get, and there’s no better way to start than by sharing some of these raw healthy foods with your dog or cat today.