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Natural Pet Food & The Absence of Chronic Health Conditions
More and more people are discovering the benefits of feeding a healthy, natural diet to their pets.
It has become increasingly apparent that chronic illnesses can be avoided through correct dietary practices, and an increasing number of people are willing to go the extra distance to make this a reality.
According to pet health insurance companies, the most common cause of vet visits among dogs was ear infections, followed by skin allergies, skin infections and hotspots, gastritus and vomiting and enterit/diarrhea. The most common medical condition in the feline community was lower urinary tract disease, followed by gastritus/vomiting, chronic renal failure, hyperthyroidism and diabetes. All of these conditions can almost always be avoided through the feeding of natural pet food.
What do we mean by "natural pet food"? The companion animals we have chosen to share our lives are carnivores. The cat is a true carnivorous animal and must be fed meat in order to maintain optimal health. The cat does not require vegetables, fruit or grains, and these foods should be avoided. The dog requires meat as a dietary mainstay, followed by vegetable matter to some degree. Grains do not form a part of the canine or feline diet due to their high carbohydrate content.
If we are to discuss a natural diet we must look to our pets' origins, in the form of the wolf and the wild cat. Both species have thrived on the planet for millions of years, in areas where wild prey animals have been abundant. This wild prey was consimed raw, including bones, beaks, feathers, fur, internal organs and all. They were not consumed with a side serving of corn, wheat, rice or potatoes. Wolves and wild cats have not evolved the capacity to ingest and metabolize carbohydrates to any degree. If we are to consider the species-specific needs of the wolf and the wild cat, we must maintain a diet for our domesticated animals that is abundant in meat proteins and fat, and very low in carbohydrates.
Diet is one of the single most important factors in the maintenance of good health. This not only applies to humans, but also to animals. Our hurried lifestyle has created the demand for quick and easy-to-prepare meals and fast foods. Pet foods have also evolved in a similar manner and we have been conditioned to accept the myth that food from a bag or can is nutritionally the absolute best you can do for your dog or cat. Adequacy, convenience, and cost have become the primary factors in selecting a feeding regimen.
The animals we have chosen to be companions in our homes are, through their ancestry, natural hunters and carnivores. Science has shown that although a dog has evolved from the wolf and has been domesticated for thousands of years, its internal digestive system has remained virtually unchanged - a very short intestinal tract geared to the consumption and digestion of raw meat. This also pertains to cats and ferrets. Compared to humans with a very long intestinal tract more suited to the digestion of plant material, the dietary needs of a dog or cat is entirely different. Knowledgeable caregivers and holistic veterinarians have become increasingly aware of the nutritional needs of our pets and have taken a proactive approach in understanding their animal companions' true nutritional needs and are more and more choosing quality and conrol of preparation over cost and convenience. The balanced raw meat diet is becoming the new standard.
Opponents to raw feeding claim that feeding raw meat creates a problem with salmonella, both with the animals internally, and also with their droppings transmitting salmonella to humans. There are many opinions that try to sway the viewpoint in either direction, but the fact remains that the canine and feline digestive systmes are able to absorb salmonella, and while our pets could be considered a potential source of infection, evidence has yet to prove salmonella in dogs/cats as a source of infection in humans. Even dry kibble left in a bag for months will absorb moisture and attract airborne pathogens. As with any feeding method common sense, good hygiene, and the handling of meats as one would their own is paramount.
The phobia of raw meat and home preparation of meals for companion animals appears to be a North American phenomenon, since to this day it remains common practice in European countries, especially Germany, where it receives full veterinary approval. If salmonella infection were truly a problem, it would manifest as a greater issue in the crowded and smaller European countries and would have been identified years ago as a public health concern.
Wild animals instinctively know their nutritional requirements and seek out the necessary food and plant matter to sustain them. Our beloved pets, who are members of the family, deserve what nature intended.