FED talk attendees get the scoop on pet nutrition
At the March 9th FED Talk, sponsored by Doylestown Food Market, Dr. Laura Weis of Doylestown Veterinary Hospital spoke to a rapt audience about how to feed their pets to achieve optimal health and longevity. She focused on the physiological needs of cats and dogs and how they currently are addressed by commercial pet food, “people food” and supplements. Weiss also cited the growing health issues from harmful additives and absent nutritional elements.
“More than 50 percent of pets in our country are considered to be obese, even as young as six months,” Weis says. “It causes the same issues as it does for us; diabetes, arthritis, behavior issues.” She advised that pet food should not be left out all the time.
Weis pointed out the downside of using commercial food. Despite marketing claims of all-natural ingredients, dog and cat food most always contain pesticides, additives for color, flavor or longer shelf life, unhealthy meat by-products and contamination from under regulated processing plants. Weiss, who feeds her pets an all-natural home made diet, suggests that any natural foods you can incorporate into your dog’s diet will benefit its health.
For cats, which are carnivores, Weiss says that in addition to mice, a frozen raw diet is best or BPA-free canned foods, but never dry foods since cats do not have a thirst drive, so they need to get water from their food. In addition, dry cat food is often sprayed with fats, salts and sugars to make it more appealing. She suggested avoiding ocean fish that contain high levels of mercury. Cats also do not require carbohydrates in their diets.
Dogs, on the other hand are omnivores and do best on a diet of fresh foods including most fruits and vegetables and raw meats such as grass-fed ground beef and organ meat as well as chicken, which can be cooked or fed raw if it is from a trusted source. Cooked whole grains are also fine to include in the diet.
She recommends that anyone considering a fresh diet for their dogs should consult professionals to ensure that it is nutritionally balanced and transition slowly if you pet currently is eating commercial food. She said that homemade food for dogs and cats may require supplements and made recommendations for books and recipes.
“The commercial pet food industry is not the beginning or the end of how we feed our pets,” she said. “Any steps you can take to introducing whole fresh food are positive steps.”