People food can be a very healthy addition to your pet’s diet. Current recommendations often state that a commercial diet should be fed in order to create optimal health for your dog or cat. There are undoubtedly some advantages to feeding a commercial diet, but there are also some profound limitations that often go unrecognized.
The best diet for dogs and cats is a meat-based diet with a 70% moisture content. This must also include a proper balancing of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Here are some basic pros and cons of different types of dietary ingredients:
Commercial dry diet
Pro: Contains basic vitamins, minerals and amino acids required for proper nutrition
Meets basic nutritional standards set forth by AAFCO (American association of feed control officers)
Convenient – no preparation or refrigeration needed
Con: Processed at high temperatures which can destroy important enzymes and other nutrients that are important for ideal health.
Lack of moisture can be detrimental to the kidneys if there is not enough water consumed
Dry food can be irritating to the stomach lining causing vomiting after eating
Nutritional content is measured before processing, so nutrients lost during the processing procedure will not be reported.
Fresh food ingredients
Pro: Fresh ingredients offer enzymes and other nutrients that cannot be added into commercial food
Moisture content helps maintain a healthy urinary tract
Easy to digest
Con: Diet must be balanced by feeding either the correct combination of foods or adding in supplements.
More time required in preparation of the diet
The healthiest diet for your pet is a balanced fresh food diet. There are, however, intermediate options that can offer the benefits of fresh feeding with consideration for your schedule, lifestyle and budget:
Add fresh meat and vegetables in with your dog’s dry food. These can be your leftovers or meat that you cook separately to avoid strong seasonings.
Fill your crockpot with any combination of fresh vegetables and add 1lb hamburger, chicken, or turkey and use to top your pet’s dry food
Remember that dogs and cats are carnivores and should eat a diet that is at least 70% meat
Things NOT to feed your pet:
Onions, garlic, grapes, raisins
Large amounts of macadamia nuts or avocados
Wheat or corn. These can lead to inflammatory disease such as itching and intestinal upsets.
Limit all grain intake to 10 % or less. Dogs and cats do NOT need to eat grain to have a nutritionally complete diet.
If you are feeding more than 50% fresh food, it will be important to completely balance the diet or add in supplementation
Fresh food can be especially important if you pet is sick – there are nutrients there that it will not get anywhere else. Any health condition can benefit from feeding fresh food in the diet, thought it is still best to seek veterinary supervision.