The Diet Chronicles
Have you ever wondered how important your pets’ diet is? Most people don’t often wrack their brains with this question when deciding on a diet for their dog or cat. In fact, most people choose their pets’ diet based on their own beliefs or dietary choices.
The diet people choose to feed their pets has become somewhat controversial with many arguments happening online. So let’s have a closer look at the issue.
Dogs and cats are both inherently carnivorous. Their internal systems were designed not only to process high amounts of proteins; they were designed to flourish on protein based diets. Dogs and cats need certain amino acids derived from animal protein in order to produce vitamin D3 and taurine which are both essential to their species.
Over the years dogs have evolved slightly more which means that they are more likely to adapt to an alternative diet than cats, but they do still need protein in their diets. Cats, however, are obligate carnivores and have not been able to adapt to protein-free diets, nor can they obtain proper nutrients from plant-based proteins.
I think what most people do not realize is how much damage an unbalanced diet can cause to their beloved pet. Nutrient deficiency in animals can lead to many life-threatening as well as costly and painful conditions.
Does this mean you cannot feed your dog or cat a vegetarian/vegan diet? Not necessarily. It is possible to have healthy pets on a long term meat-free diet, but this route needs to be considered carefully and well thought through. Dogs will likely need supplements to provide the nutrients missing from their diet whereas most veterinarians would suggest placing cats on a commercial vegan/vegetarian diet. These pets also need to be monitored closely for any sign of nutrient deficiency and it is suggested that they have more frequent vet visits. Experts suggest that your pet has a vet visit every six months along with blood work being done to ensure the optimal health and well-being of your pet.
Another popular diet for pets is a raw diet, consisting of raw muscle meat, bones, fruits and vegetables. At a glance this seems like the opposite of a vegan diet so naturally, it should be healthier for your pets… But unfortunately this diet also comes with its’ own set of problems.
Cats and dogs used to be scavengers, and when prey was caught the animal would eat almost every part of their prey including the organs. Organs are filled with vital nutrients that carnivorous animals do not get from meat and bones alone. Dietary fiber is also important to our pets’ digestive systems. Not all essential nutrients are obtained with a raw diet, which also leads to nutrient deficiency and can be damaging to your pet.
Apart from the risk of nutrient deficiency occurring this diet also presents a few other risks. The bacteria found in raw meats can be potentially dangerous to humans and pets alike. There is also the danger of the animal choking on raw bones, breaking their teeth and damaging their gums as well as internal punctures from raw bone.
As with a vegan/vegetarian diet, this diet can be implemented but must be carefully considered and well thought out. Your pet will most likely need supplements and additional vitamins to provide the nutrients that have been cut from their natural diet and more frequent vet visits need to happen.
These diets can be beneficial to your pet, but it remains your duty as the owner to ensure that your pet is following a balanced diet and is living their best life possible.