Prior to domestication, dogs & cats were foraging animals. Cats hunted small prey items in the desert. Dogs were most opportunistic and ate more variety. When pets became domesticated, they initially ate human leftovers.
In the 1960’s the cereal companies packaged pet food in kibble form. Commercially packaged pet food became so popular because it was convenient and inexpensive. Currently, pet food has become a multi-billion dollar industry which is aggressively marketed.
Dr. Falck’s Top 10 Pet nutrition Tips:
- READ PET FOOD LABELS. You need to look at the ingredient list if you want to know what’s in the food! Sounds simple, but you may be easily distracted by colorful packaging and misleading nutrition claims.
- Choose fresh over processed foods. Most commercial pet foods are highly processed. If you are able to cook for your pet, you can control the freshness & quality of each ingredient and pets will receive multiple health benefits.
- Look for a few whole grains. Poor quality carbohydrates include rice flour, beet sugar, corn gluten meal & Brewer’s rice. Better choices are brown rice, quinoa and sweet potato.
- Look for natural preservatives, e.g. Vitamin C, E. Avoid chemical antioxidants, e.g. BHA, BHT
- Check dry food for a maximum shelf life of 6 months. Stale food may contain rancid rats and oils which cause oxidation and create free radicals, causing premature cell death.
- Store food in a cool, dry, dark location in a tightly sealed container.
- Look for organic and non-GMO (genetically modified) ingredients. Organic foods are grown without the use of antibiotics and hormones. We don’t know enough about the long-term consequences of genetically modified foods, so it’s best to avoid these potentially dangerous items.
- Conduct a “mini-feeding trial” with your pets for at least 90 days. Monitor teeth, gums, eyes, ears, skin, stools, weight, activity level, etc.
- Gradually introduce new food items to avoid intestinal upset.
- Find an integrative veterinarian to help you choose the best nutrition plan for your pet. (see blog on integrative veterinary medicine).
- Consider your pet’s diet an investment in their overall health & wellness. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t feed it to your pets!