When it comes to pet food, both dog food and cat foods, things are often NOT so simple. As you’re reading this article, I’m pretty sure that by this time, you've noticed people are basically divided into two groups.
One group straight up favors the commercial foods, another group preaches for homemade and raw pet foods.
And, both groups swear that their feeding method is superior!
Here’s the TRUTH — every feeding method has some pros and cons. And neither of the feeding methods is perfect.
Sadly, we, human beings, are yet to figure out the ultimate feeding method or the gold standard of nutrient composition.
So, what should you do here?
Do your research and consult with an acclaimed veterinarian. Unlike many self-acclaimed “experts,” the vets ACTUALLY possess the knowledge of dogs and cats' behavior and health academically.
Commercial vs. Homemade vs. Raw Diet — The BIG Debate!
First things first, let’s talk about the elephant in the room — the debate on which diet is better for your pet. Dog food & Cat Food, Which is best for your furbabes...
The Good and Ugly Sides of Commercial Foods!
Commercial foods come in two forms — kibble (pellets and grains) and wet food (mostly canned). Most of the pet parents give commercial foods to their furbabies.
The reasons are simple.
These foods are —
- Follow a constant recipe/ratio of all the necessary nutrition,
- Undergo numerous quality control procedures while production,
- Come with authoritative approvals (AAFCO, FEDIAF, or NRC),
- Formulated by nutrition experts.
Hold on, don’t you get sold on the commercial foods yet!
While commercial pet foods are mostly known for offering a balanced diet, most of them have unhealthy by-products and other harmful ingredients!
Some researchers label commercial pet foods as a slow poison!
Manufacturers often add by-products like — hides, bones, hooves, beaks, nails, and feathers — buying at a dirt-cheap rate from the leather and meat industry! They often use smart “cover” terms like — chicken meal or meat derivatives.
These foods include — cornmeal, sugarcane husks, peanut shells as fillers — synthetic flavors and taste enhancers like salt, MSG, and sugar.
And, don’t get me started on the hefty amount of preservatives and stabilizers!
Every year FDA recalls around 30 dog and cat foods for having harmful substances. These substances include aflatoxin, salmonella, lead, copper, choline chloride, listeria monocytogenes, and many more.
Are you feeling scared?
Raw Diet: Gold-Standard or Harmful?
Okay, the last segment got very grim real quick!
Every year, more and more pet-owners switching to a raw diet. As both cats and dogs are naturally carnivores, the raw food diet seems to be the most logical option.
Also, many raw feeders swear by the benefits of offering raw meals to their furbabies.
Yet again, I’m sorry to burst the bubble!
A raw diet can even pose lethal threats! Yes, your pet might die!
As raw meat doesn’t undergo any heat treatment, many bacteria and viruses might dwell in the meat. Salmonella is the most common threat here. Also, the number of internal parasites is relatively high too.
A raw diet might cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy in many cases.
In some cases, extremely harmful pathogens enter your pet’s body and even kill your precious baby.
You might ask — why don’t wild cats and dogs get sick after hunting and eating raw meat?
Well, they do get sick if they eat infected animals. Moreover, hunting animals avoid eating sick animals. Plus, they hunt and eat fresh meat — not the store-bought meat that can get contaminated easily.
The sad thing is that the raw feeders are incredibly confident in their choice and always avoid talking about the issues like the presence of salmonella and parasites in the raw meat.
Heat-Treated Homemade Food: The ONLY Viable Solution?
Heat-treated homemade foods somewhat solve the issues with the commercial and raw diets. This diet plan is NOT 100% full-proof but tends to be a better option than the others.
This diet implies that you should offer boiled meat or fish as the primary protein source. As you’re boiling the meat/fish, the bacteria and other parasites get destroyed. You can also offer cooked vegetables and legumes to support the need for minerals and vitamins.
However, preparing and maintaining homemade food can be quite time-consuming. You need to be extra careful to maintain the proper ratio of all the elements.
How to “Balance” the Nutrition for Your Cats and Dogs?
First, let’s find an answer to a simple question — what do cats and dogs need in an ideal diet?
Despite being two different species, both of them require similar nutritional values from their diet.
These nutritional values include — protein, amino acids (taurine or arginine), fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and water. You might add carbohydrates (rice or corn), but it’s not necessary.
The fresher and richer the quality of the food is, the better.
To ensure a balanced nutritional value, you should consult a vet or an animal nutrition expert. They would examine — breed, age, weight, lifestyle, and health factors before offering a good ratio of the elements.
** Do NOT try to “become an expert” and come up with your own ratio of elements. **
At the same time, you should ask them how to prepare the meals.
For example, how long can you store them in the refrigerator? Should you microwave the meal or not? How much food (weight) should you offer in every meal? How many meals should you offer?
Only an expert can accurately answer these questions.
Some online sources would say that you should offer 2/3 meals a day. But they don’t factor in weight, age, breed, or physical attributes, which play crucial parts in deciding the ideal number of meals per day.
When it comes to the health concerns of our four-legged family members, we can’t be too cautious! Also, a generalized solution can never be the optimum solution as our dogs and cats are prone to so many diseases and health issues.
If you’re settling for commercial foods, try to identify the exact ingredient used in them. Check for user reviews and make sure that it’s FDA and AAFCO approved.
Try to avoid a raw diet as you can never make sure that the meat is free from harmful bacteria and parasites.
And, always consult with a vet or a pet expert to ensure the highest possible nutritional benefit to your furbabies.