Natural Pet Food

There's a lot of debate over whether traditional processed pet foods are really the best you can do for your pet. Sure, the dog food or cat food you buy may claim to be "complete and balanced," but is that enough?

Scrutiny of what goes into pet food and how it is processed has led many veterinarians, associations, breeders, pet lovers and even manufacturers to advocate a more holistic, natural approach to pet food nutrition.

Let's face it: The ancestors of today's domesticated dogs and cats were carnivorous hunters. Their diet consisted of animal prey - meat, muscle, internal organs, intestinal contents, bones, skin and hair.

Cats are 'true' carnivores. The only vegetable or grain content in their diet came from the stomachs of their fresh-killed prey, and they could not survive on a strictly vegetarian diet. Furthermore, it is said that cats have a different thirst instinct and do not drink enough fresh water to maintain health, so they must ingest sufficient amounts of water through their food intake.

Dogs could fit more easily into the omnivorous category and can thrive on a vegetarian diet, because their systems are quite different than cats.

The range of pet food alternatives runs from chemical-free commercial diets to completely home-cooked or raw meals, prepared with fresh, even organically grown, ingredients and herbal supplements.

Finding out where a dog food or cat food product fits within that range can be perplexing, because the labeling or name of the product isn't always the whole story.

All that is named 'natural' is not necessarily equal, nor is it necessarily healthful or holistic.

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