THE PET FOOD MEAT FACTS

The Carnivore, Herbivore, Omnivore Quiz

If you’re unsure what to feed your dog or cat, take a look at these pet food meat facts.

What’s The Difference

But, before I really get into this, it’s helpful to understand what comes naturally. And, what our pets need to eat to be strong and healthy and stay that way throughout their lifetime. So here’s a quick quiz.

What’s the difference between a carnivore, a herbivore, and an omnivore?

Carnivores, such as wolves, dogs and cats, eat meat.

Bobcats are carnivores, shown here hunting for prey. Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service South East Region
Bobcats are carnivores, shown here hunting for prey. Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service South East Region

Herbivores, such as deer, cows and sheep, eat plants.

Deer are herbivores, seen here eating a plant. Photo by lwctoys
Deer are herbivores, seen here eating a plant. Photo by lwctoys

Omnivores, such as whales, squirrels and humans, eat meat and plants.

Whales are omnivores, here a humpback feeding. Photo by Murray Foubister
Whales are omnivores, here a humpback feeding. Photo by Murray Foubister

Why is this so important? Because once you understand the basics, you may realize that what dogs and cats need to eat may not, in fact, be what you are giving them to eat. And the purpose of today’s blog is to help pet parents choose the most appropriate diet for their companion animals.

What Comes Naturally To Dogs And Cats

Dogs and cats are not vegetarians. They are carnivores. Consequently, I am laying out here why pet carnivores must eat meat. This is a characteristic that has been handed down from their wildlife ancestors. Their anatomy, including their digestive system, was created for that purpose. The fact is, they are ill-equipped to break down plant fiber. Simply said, they were not created to be either herbivores or omnivores.

So, when our dogs and cats eat high quality meat that comes from a reputable source it will contain the proteins, amino-acids and trace minerals that their bodies require. 

A Balanced Diet For Canines

The wolf is the ancestor of our domesticated canine
The wolf is the ancestor of our domesticated canine

The fundamental component of a well-balanced diet for our domesticated canines is meat, organ and muscle. And the source may be beef, bison, venison, elk, lamb, goat, duck, chicken, and turkey. These are, indeed, the facts about meat for all dog pet food.

No kibble for this stray because dogs are carnivores and must eat meat. Photo by Tiia Monto
No kibble for this stray because dogs are carnivores and must eat meat. Photo by Tiia Monto

Nutritionists also recommend including small amounts of antioxidant-rich, dark green vegetables, such as spinach, kale and broccoli. In addition, small portions of fruits like apple, pear and blueberry will enrich the nutritional value of the diet as well.

A Balanced Diet For Felines

This big cat keeps its prey, a gazelle, away from rival predators. Photo by Leyo
This big cat keeps its prey, a gazelle, away from rival predators. Photo by Leyo

It’s no secret. Cats are obligate carnivores, just like their canine counterparts. Their very existence depends on meat and animal organs. Have you ever watched an outdoor cat in the evening hours? Sooner or later, it will catch a mouse. Why? Because it can only get the fatty acids, minerals and vitamins it needs to thrive from animal tissue. Especially important are calcium, vitamin A and niacin, which plant tissue simply doesn’t have, either in the amount, form or ratio that cats need. So, it couldn’t be clearer. Our domesticated kitty carnivores must eat their meat.

The pet food meat facts show that outdoor cats hunt prey, focus on nutrient-rich organs. Photo by Fabian Köster
The pet food meat facts show that outdoor cats hunt prey, focus on nutrient-rich organs. Photo by Fabian Köster

Another point worth mentioning is that although cats lack the enzymes required to digest plant-based foods, small amounts can provide important benefits. Green, leafy vegetables help them detoxify the colon. In addition, they may also enable hairballs to get pushed through the digestive tract or provoke vomiting to expel them.

A Couple Of Great Supplements

Although I will be writing about food supplements at another time, here are some very brief comments about two of them.

Sardines are loaded with nutrients and both dogs and cats love them.
Sardines are loaded with nutrients and both dogs and cats love them.

Sardines. Fortunately, most dogs and cats love sardines. They are loaded with a whole range of highly concentrated nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins D and B12. This small, cold-water fish provides wide-ranging health benefits from bone support to cardiovascular performance to preventing certain allergies and slowing down memory loss.

Pumpkin is a natural stool-consistency regulator, ideal for our pet dogs and cats
Pumpkin is a natural stool-consistency regulator, ideal for our pet dogs and cats

Pumpkin. I always have a can of organic pumpkin handy in case a client of mine is out of town and their pet is in need of a stool-consistency regulator. Usually, dogs as well as cats like the taste and a small amount added to the food works in one of two ways. It either adds bulk to a loose stool, or it will soften a hard stool. 

To Sum Up

If you didn’t know this before, you now have the pet food meat facts at your fingertips. As a result, the domesticated cats and dogs that are part of your family will have a species appropriate diet. Truly nourishing food that will foster longevity by keeping them healthier, longer.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  


OLDER PETS NEED PROTEIN

Older pets need protein even more than when they were younger
Like this Mastiff, older pets need protein to help the aging process

Contrary to what was previously thought, older pets need protein even more than when they were younger. That’s right. Senior dogs and cats actually need more, not less, protein from a nutritious diet of meat and fish.

Their kidney, liver and immune functions need extra help during the aging process and they get that by eating quality protein that is easily digestible and has sufficient moisture content.

ANCESTRAL TIMES 

The focus today is on meat. Meat is protein. And carnivores, like domesticated dogs and cats, and their ancestors in the wild, eat meat. That said, let’s take a look at protein.

THE FACTS ABOUT PROTEIN 

A dog’s and cat’s body is made up almost entirely of protein which also plays a role in vital body functions such as digestion. In the digestive process, substances are either utilized or eliminated. 

Protein needs to be eaten daily because the body doesn’t store it for future use like it does fat. The body needs both sufficient protein as well as good quality protein to perform satisfactorily.

THE POWER OF LIVER 

This organ—not eaten nearly enough by humans, by the way—has enormous nutritional value. It is packed with protein and is rich in minerals such as iron, trace minerals, and amino acids, as well as vitamins A, D and all the Bs.

So now, hopefully, we can all agree on the benefits of feeding our canine and feline friends meat and why older pets need protein from this source. But, do we all agree on when older pets actually become senior pets? Let’s find out.

SENIORS – HOW VETERINARIANS AND GUARDIANS DISAGREE

It’s quite interesting to discover that veterinary professionals and pet parents have different ideas on the age that dogs and cats enter the “senior” category. A study shows that they do not agree. Veterinarians consider it starts earlier than pet parents do. Here’s the breakdown.

Dogs:

  • Most veterinarians and their staff say it is between 5 and 7 years old.
  • More than half of pet parents think it is between 7 and 9 years.

Cats:

  • Most veterinarian professionals say by age 9. 
  • Most pet parents think it is by age 11.

Are you surprised by the stats? I certainly was!

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

SHARING A COMMENT 

After reading a teaser I had posted on LinkedIn about this topic, I received a brief comment from Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, Professor Emeritus at Tufts University, near Boston, Massachusetts, which I would like to share with you. “Unless they have renal insufficiency…”

PET FOOD AND MARKETING GIMMICKS

Marketing gimmicks mislead pet parents when they buy food for their dogs and cats
This cat parent is wondering what “complete and balanced” really means

You see a word or phrase on a bag of dry food or a can of wet food and think you know what it means, but do you really? We all know that some advertising claims can be misleading and the pet food industry is no exception.

Here are the most common words you will read on a pet food label together with our guide as to what they really mean and what the use of these words actually signifies.

Natural
“Natural” leads us to believe that it is good, harmless, something that has worth. However, this word doesn’t tell us anything. Period.

 

 

Grain Free
“Grain free” is good because dogs and cats do not have a digestive system that enables them to process the cellulose found in plants. However, manufacturers replace them with other substances such as soybeans and potatoes to provide the required consistency. These are not good either, but acceptable if kept to a bare minimum.

Protein
High quality meat and fish protein is good, very good. Protein that comes from sources that are potentially harmful to carnivorous pets, are definitely not good.

No By-Products
On its own, this phrase is misleading. Liver is classified as a by-product yet it is highly nutritious. Road kill and euthanized animals also fall under this heading and continue to be used in the manufacture of pet food with deadly consequences.

Scientifically Formulated
What? I would certainly hope that pet food manufacturers rely on food scientists to formulate the products they sell and that this task is not done by some amateur in their home-based kitchen. So, is “scientifically formulated” supposed to convey that the nutritional benefits claimed by a company are scientifically supported by clinical studies? I guess we’d have to ask them to find out.

Complete And Balanced
Really! According to whom? “Complete and balanced” in the eyes of the manufacturer? Or in the eyes of a nutritionist with a university degree?

Reliable Sources
No wonder most pet parents are confused. And, some are confused and angry.

It takes effort and it can be time consuming, but often the only way to be satisfied that you are doing your very best to keep your pet healthy is to do your research. From reliable sources, of course.

I’ll leave discussing unbiased publishing and news reporting for another day.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!