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The Natural Dog

The Natural Dog

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At The Natural Dog, it is our goal to keep your dogs and cats happy, healthy and safe.  It is exciting and rewarding for us to experience, witness and share our customer’s success stories. The Natural Dog offers a wide variety of natural & holistic products for dogs & cats!

Making Healthy Diet Choices for your Pet

Making Healthy Diet Choices for your Pet

By Dawn Price, Registered Dietitian
Owner of The Natural Dog

As the pet food industry continues to grow so does consumer confusion regarding what to feed their pets.  Pet food manufacturers have overwhelmed the market with thousands of commercial products, each one claiming to be better than the next.  The terms natural, organic, and holistic have been inaccurately and over used to the point that the true definition of these terms is no longer clear.  To make matters worse, deciphering the ingredient panel of a pet food label is nearly impossible for the consumer. This confusion and misinformation has resulted in heightened frustration when trying to decide what to feed.
The pet food industry is largely compiled of cereal manufacturers and has saturated the market with mostly grain based products.  Unfortunately, even though dogs and cats do not have a nutritional requirement for carbohydrates, the average carbohydrate content in an exclusively fed kibble diet typically exceeds 60%. If fed a predominately grain based diet problems may arise such as food sensitivities, dry skin, dull coat, and even low-grade inflammatory processes, diabetes and obesity.
Dogs and cats are carnivores. Cats are obligate carnivores and dogs are scavenging carnivores. Both thrive on a meat based diet. In addition, neither have a requirement for carbohydrates. Dogs and cats are designed to eat and digest raw meat.  Their teeth are used for slicing through and swallowing chunks of meat rather than chewing or grinding vegetables and grains.  Their short digestive tracts efficiently digest meats, whereas large quantities of carbohydrates pass through undigested. Therefore, choosing the most biologically appropriate diet can significantly impact their overall health.

Making Healthy Choices

When shopping for pet food, cost determines quality of a food. It costs a kibble manufacturer a lot less money to use grains than expensive meats. There are numerous premium kibble choices that include high quality meats on the market today. If feeding kibble, choose one that has meat as the first ingredient and avoid excessive carbohydrates, fillers and poor quality grains. There are also better options than kibble such as canned meat diets, dehydrated meals, frozen and fresh meat diets. These options are more nutritious than a highly processed kibble.  If feeding kibble, supplementing with one of these options will increase the nutritional content of the diet.
In addition to supplementing with or feeding a meat based diet, rotation and variety are also good nutritional practices.  Rotating your pet’s diet and offering a variety of foods over time will help prevent food sensitivities and will also increase gut integrity which will help optimize digestive health. Every dog and cat is different, so when rotating and offering new foods, it is wise to start slow until you know how your pet will handle these changes. Typically over time, most dogs and cats are able to rotate and accept new foods quite easily.

Optimizing the Diet

Even when making good food choices and especially when feeding a processed diet, it is always a good idea to add supplements in order to optimize the diet. Aside from providing each dog or cat supplements based on their individual needs, a few beneficial ones include probiotics, digestive enzymes, and omega-3 fatty acids.  Adding things like goats milk, bone broth and fish oil are good ways to help with digestion, improving joint health, decreasing inflammation and strengthening the immune system. 
Today, there is an abundance of information and an overwhelming number of products to choose from. When feeding your pet choose biologically appropriate foods, feed fresh, non-processed foods, add whole food supplements, offer a wide variety and rotate the diet often. These basic nutrition principles are the foundation of providing a healthy diet improving the overall well being of your pet.

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