Biologically Appropriate Diets for Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats evolved as carnivores, getting their nutrients from other animals. Their living conditions included fresh air, lots of exercise, sunlight, and grass and soils rich in trace minerals. Their digestive system developed to efficiently utilize the protein they consumed, which is why carnivores have difficulty digesting grains and other complex carbohydrates. These carbs take a long time to break down in the stomach and small intestine, if they break down at all, and most pass through undigested and create a larger than necessary stool volume. As dogs and cats became more domesticated, people gave their pets scraps, raw meat, eggs, milk, and bones. The enzymes and bacteria found in these fresh foods aided in proper digestion for the animal and built stronger immune systems. These necessary nutrients are not found in processed foods as the processing and cooking destroys them.
While pet food companies would have you believe that grains are a good source of protein, the fact is that our carnivorous pets have a difficult time digesting and utilizing protein from carbohydrates. The three most common ingredients found in pet food – corn, rice, and wheat – are poor sources of protein for cats and dogs. Including these fillers might be good for the manufacturers because it lowers production costs, but it causes numerous health problems in pets as they must process this extra bulk and fiber which results in digestive problems such as gas, bloating, increased stool volume, and occasionally disease.
By not having proper nutrient absorption through their food, pets may be more prone to anemia, infectious diseases, internal and external parasites, depressed immune systems, cancer, and decreased life expectancy. A balanced diet that contains optimal proportions of all essential ingredients will:
- Stretch and lubricate bone, ligaments, and joints
- Nourish organs which will allow them to function at peak performance
- Replace fat cells with strong, lean muscle tissue
- Strengthen hair coats so they become thicker, shinier, and more colorful (and can reduce shedding)
When optimum nutrition is at work you will be able to see firsthand a pet that feels better, looks better, and acts happier. A well-nourished animal is capable of remaining healthier throughout its life and truly capable of living longer.