From Tori Tyree. Question? Leave a comment or send her an email at [email protected]
Last week, I talked about what to leave out of the dog bowl; this week, I want to talk about what to leave in.
I’ve spent years debating the best meal for your dog – a task that has proved overwhelming and cumbersome; the “correct” formula is ever-changing and evolving, and unless you have an unlimited amount of time to dedicate to research, it’s easy to get lost in the information.
That said, I’m happy to say that there is one truism that has crossed all of my research and experience: variety is key.
If you’ve read last week’s column, What’s in Your Pet’s Food?, you are one step closer to understanding what a healthy, well-rounded meal looks like. Yet, seeking and purchasing high-quality ingredients at all-natural pet food stores is not the whole picture.
Before delving into what the best well-rounded meal looks like, it is important to realize that there are two main types of food: processed and raw.
No matter how you cut it – processed foods are, well, processed. Like humans, dogs are better off from meals that include fewer processed ingredients. Even if there are natural preservatives (instead of chemicals) in canned foods, the protein sources, vegetables and minerals all undergo a heating or extrusion process to make little kibbles of food.
To be honest, I would encourage everyone to feed their dogs raw food. Not only is raw food consumption the best way for animals to absorb nutrients, but it also the best way for them to ward off diseases. In fact, it has become all too common to spot a direct relationship between those who feed low-quality processed kibble diets to their pets and those who put their pets down due to diabetes, liver failure, inflammatory bowel syndrome, cancer and bloating.
The raw food diet has also become more affordable, as more companies have started packaging complete meals, and raw bones are actually better than toothbrushes – goodbye costly dental cleanings!
The Need for Rotation
For those of us (most of us) constrained to budget, I understand that the raw food diet may sound unsustainable, even unreasonable. Fear not – strike a balance. You don’t need to move to a raw food diet immediately, or ever. If you can, substitute some raw food for processed food in your pet’s diet a few days per week.
Raw versus processed food aside, mix and match within each category. Amidst an expanding marketplace of dog food and dog-care products and the increasing focus on animal care, take advantage of your options.
How do you mix-and-match, or strike a balance, when it comes to feeding both raw and processed foods? I recommend starting slowly. Take three-fourths of the old food and mix it with one-fourth of the new food. Do this for three days. Then go half-and-half for three days. Finally you can make the change over to three-quarters new food to one-fourth old food. This will help your pet’s body transition easily.
Once you’ve done this a few times, you get to a point where there is no lengthy transition. Your dog’s body is used to rotation and shouldn’t exhibit the same difficulty because of the healthier diet to start.
Just keep in mind, there is not one right choice for your pet. Everyone has pets with varying personalities and needs, and owners have different budgets. But I do strongly suggest mixing up your pet’s diet. Stay ahead of the pet food game and ensure the healthy life of your four-legged family member.