Australian veterinarian and author, Dr. Ian Billinghurst maintains that ‘dogs fare best when fed a natural, unprocessed, raw diet based on bones, meat and vegetables.`
Durban veterinary homeopath, Dr. Jane Fraser says that `most commercial foods are cereal and carbohydrate-based and full of by-products and derivatives. They are unnatural and totally inappropriate for carnivorous animals. The optimum diet for an animal is the closest to what it would eat in the wild.`
She also expresses particular concern for cats.` Cats need animal-based protein and their diet should consist primarily of a variety of raw meats and chicken. The cereal content of commercial foods is not good for cats, because cats cannot metabolize cereals.` Dr. Steve Wimberley says that the pros of raw food `is that weight gain is limited,` compared with commercial food `which definitely has the potential to make animals obese.’
Dr. Wimberley’s biggest concern with commercial foods is the effect it has with large-breed dogs.` If they are fed too much commercial food as puppies, they grow too fast, and their skeletal system cannot cope. We are now seeing a lot of orthopedic problems, like hip dysphasia, which are directly connected to this phenomenon.` The concept of a wholesome, natural and real diet for our pets is no new revelation.
Wholesome food of days gone by
Our parents, grand parents and great grand parents certainly fed our companion animals left over scraps from dinner or even prepared, separately, a tasty nutritious meal from home. Chatting to a wide spectrum of these adults, none recall horrific ailments like cancer, epilepsy, renal failure and diabetes that are so common nowadays. In fact many boast about the lean and prime condition of their pets of the old days and how they lived ‘forever’.
So what went wrong? I suppose, with the faster life style and 24 hours not enough time to accomplish your work responsibilities, time in the gym, a hectic social life and time with the family, quick processed takeaways became the norm. We all moved away from that sit down dinner and Sunday roast, with crispy potatoes or steamed rice and sautéed vegetables. A home-made gravy, fresh green peas and garnished with freshly picked rosemary and thyme, became a thing of the past.
As our habits changed, so it changed for the feeding of our pets. Coupled with some brilliant marketing by the huge pet food multinationals, they soon had us believing that you could simply throw down a plate of kibble and your pets would be the healthier. How convenient, how simple. But as my Granny Rose used to say: ‘there are no short cuts in life.’ We have realized this very quickly and there has been a massive turnaround towards natural and organic food for everyone.
Go for the natural stuff
There is not a single supermarket that does not stock a range of natural, free range or organic meat and vegetables. We have all come to realize that the processed food that we have been consuming in mass, laden with preservatives, can explain so may of our common human ailments and sicknesses. We all understand that a healthy and natural diet leads to well being and increases longevity. Unbeknown to many South Africans, there has also been a massive trend, world-wide towards a more natural and real diet for pets.
In The States, last year, organic pet food increased by 63.3%. If you include natural or home-cooked meals, this trend would have been outstanding. The reality is very clear and I explain so in no uncertain terms, when I lecture on this subject of pet nutrition. Unless your pet is a freak (similar to the old lady who lived to one hundred but ate fatty food, smoked and drunk copious amounts of booze) your companion animal is all but destined to be inflicted with some sickness.
Our pet’s metabolism is not designed to consume food that is over processed, cereal and carbohydrate-based and contains a variety of additives, preservatives, flavourants and colourants. The highest quality of nourishment comes from whole natural and enzyme-active foods that are not refined, processed, cooked or laden with preservatives, especially organic foods. Nutrition is arguably the most important factor in maintaining health, longevity and wellbeing for both human and pet alike.
By Paul Jacobson, owner of Vondis Holistic Pet Care.