The truth about animal nutrition is not cut and dry! As a holistic practitioner I have seen many animals do well and thrive on cooked foods very similar to human diets. I have also seen animals do well on raw foods, veggie diets, and finally commercially available foods all of which advertise they are the best. Let’s get a disclaimer out there…there are many animals out there who are extremely sensitive and just looking at a French fry or turkey sends them straight to the vet with vomiting and diarrhea. For those pets there are strict home cooked, raw or commercially available diets to choose from which can help keep special diet needs dogs and cats healthy. The reality is that most animals can tolerate fresh clean human food well, and thrive on it. After all they made it to the 21’st century without pet food companies didn’t they? I think the beauty of pet food companies is that they provide us with convenient choices. It is really easy to pour out some kibble diet and open up a can of old nasty as our pets jump around the bowl and howl for joy!
Pet foods come in varying qualities from grotesque to gourmet each claiming that they are the best or special in their own unique way. I believe that the secret to understanding food tolerance and nutrition for our pets comes from understanding their bacterial gastro intestinal flora and their own body nascences.
There is a delicate balance of bacterial gastro intestinal flora that helps digest food. The interesting thing about these bacteria is that like our pets, they are not created equally. Some of our pet’s bacterial flora are so tough that they can help digest anything and survive…these are the pets that can eat your whole Thanksgiving meal and be fine the next day. For other pets that one dessert can cause a rapid fermentation that decreases gastro intestinal ph which kills off the good bacteria that aid digestion and promote the growth of harmful bacteria that cause vomiting and sometimes bloody diarrhea. In most of these cases these animals go from eating a stable boring diet to exciting and exotic, all in one day. Too much, too quick! These animals and more importantly their gut flora are not used to rapid changes in diet and get sick easily. For most normal dogs who are fed a varied diet all year long their gut bacterial flora are able to adapt to different kinds of foods with little or no ill effect. The problem is that most dogs and cats are on a plain bland kibbled diet all year long and everyone at the holiday table wants to experiment with giving goodies to the pet on the same day, at the same time usually the result is GI upset. Get some good information on real food for pets. There are many good books on feeding real food to pets safely. If you have the time, patience and life style that allow you to cook and feed your pet’s real food then do so. If you’ve never experimented with real food for your pet’s you may not want to do it on a holiday when most vets are closed, to avoid an expensive trip to the pet ER should Fido get in trouble.
There is a large amount of market driven misinformation out there about pet food. Some of my clients act as if their confessing a mortal sin when they ask me if it’s OK to continue feeding their 15 year old pet, the boneless chicken they have been feeding for a decade…My answer, if it is not broken don’t fix it! There is nothing wrong with real food. If anything my boneless chicken is fresher than the chicken parts in the bag! The current marketing wants to make you feel bad about feeding natural food…as if your doing something wrong if its not in a can or bag…LIES, LIES, Great marketing Lies! But they are convenient!
My Chihuahua and I can’t wait for Thanksgiving! For us, everyday is Thanksgiving. Today Pancho is having boneless chicken and rice over veggies. Maybe a little bit of chips and some hot salsa as an appetizer, he is Mexican after all.