Natural Pet Food FAQ
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Why do some people say a raw meat diet is the only way to go?
There is a significant debate about what makes for a truly natural diet for cats and dogs. Many people argue that because the ancestors of our domesticated cats and dogs were carnivores, they should be given the food most closely resembling that diet in the wild - raw meat. They argue that the system designed by nature is the one we want to satisfy, with an abundance of protein, calcium, fresh spring water, and little if any grains or vegetables.
On the other side of the debate, it is argued that meat was not the sole ingredient in their diet. Carnivores tend to consume almost all of their prey: bones, internal organs, skin, feet, hair. One of the first things a carnivore will go for in freshly killed prey is the stomach and internal organs, which often contain the prey's last meal in various stages of digestion - grains, legumes, vegetables, amongst other things. So, even cats in the wild do and did have some grains and vegetables in their diet, and, they say, these do contribute essential natural nutrients.
Can I give my homemade dog food to my cat?
No - cats have very different requirements than dogs, and you don't want to adjust and add to your dog food to accommodate them, because you'll be upsetting the proper balance of the ingredients a dog needs. Dog food is for dogs, cat food is for cats, whether it's homemade or processed.
Why can't I just feed my dog the scraps from my healthy family meals?
Well, as the argument goes: people food is for people, and dog food is for dogs. Although you want to strive for 'human grade' ingredients, you also want to formulate them so they meet the balances required for your dog's nutrient intake. Some of your healthy meals may do this, but it's not likely you will hit the mark for both your and your dog in every meal.
I'm preparing raw homemade dog food. Should I add supplements?
If you're feeding only raw foods, I hope you're not including uncooked, hard-to-digest ingredients like grains, legumes and some vegetables! And, if you aren't, then the diet may be missing out on an appropriate mix of some essential vitamins, minerals and whole foods. If you think that might be the case, then supplementing may be a good idea.
My dog food contains premium naturally preserved meat as the first ingredient, which seems good enough to me. Is it?
Maybe! Many dog foods are promoted on the basis of the fact that 'real meat is the first ingredient'. While it's true that the first ingredient is the one with the most weight or percentage, if the next four ingredients are low in nutrients, high in calories and/or preserved with traditional chemical preservatives, and if they make up more than the percentage of the meat, you've got a fairly unhealthy product.
I switched my dog over to a new natural dog food and he got really sick with diarrhea and vomiting. I thought this was supposed to improve his health!
Remember that saying 'time heals all'? Well, your dog may have a lot of healing to do if it has been fed the same processed dog food day after day for all of its life. And, its system will need time and help to adjust. Whenever you make a major change to your dog's food, you should introduce the new food a little at a time, mixed with the old food in increments over a period of several days. Some natural herbal supplements can also be added to help with specific problems.
I want to make my own dog food, but I'm a vegetarian and can't stand the sight of meat! Can my dog be a vegetarian?
Some people say that dogs are closer to an omnivore than a strict carnivore, and that they can thrive well as vegetarians, provided you can provide all the right balances of the essential nutrients from non-animal sources.