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Food Variety For Pets


The first principle of a healthy diet is based on variety so it's difficult to believe that many pets eat the same diet, day in and day out, for most of their lives. Is it right to assume that one particular formulation should meet the requirements for all dogs and cats when we would never eat this way ourselves?

Although the basic anatomy and physiology of the dog and cat remain the same as their wild counterpart, domestic pets have come to experience many of the same diseases that humans experience today. Cancer, allergies, skin atopy and inflammatory bowel disorders top the list followed closely by autoimmune diseases, diabetes, urinary and bladder disease, epileptic seizures, and growth related skeletal diseases. Oral health is mostly maintained through veterinary intervention. A more natural way to oral health is through the enzymes in raw food. Obesity is common in spite of the fact that a low fat diet may be fed. Diet related health problems are seen every day by veterinarians that try to cure pets with medicine, and a bag of "prescription" food.

Prescription pet food is a multi-billion dollar business and despite ongoing research that validates these products, "complete and balanced" pet foods remain a key to many diseases. Prescription pet food is a multi-billion dollar business and despite ongoing research that validates these products, it is these "complete and balanced" pet foods that are linked to many diseases. There should be no need for therapeutic diets if pet foods were truly "complete and balanced" for dogs in every sense of the word. The food may be complete and balanced for labeling guidelines, but that doesn't recognize the individual needs of the dog or cat eating it. Just like people, the nutrient requirements for one animal may not be adequate for another. As grains or other "starchy" vegetables like potatoes, are the primary ingredient in dry commercial pet foods, these diets couldn't possibly provide the best possible nutrition for a carnivore.

Knowing there is no such thing as a single 'perfect' food, or pet food, it's hard to believe that many pets eat basically the same meal on a constant basis. While this keeps feeding effortless for the owner, we all know that the first principle of a healthy diet is simply to eat a wide variety of foods. If you do feed the same food to your pet all the time you might want to think about the benefits of feeding various animal derived sources. By rotating foods in your pet's diet, you reduce the chances of providing excessive amounts of a particular nutrient that might be harmful, and help your dog or cat receive a wider variety of useful nutrients.

Meat is classified as a source of high quality biological protein. Protein quality is a measure for the ability of a food to provide a balanced pattern of essential amino acids. Different meats provide slightly different levels of essential amino acids.

Rotating foods may also help prevent the development of allergies to new foods. Any food if eaten repetitively has the potential to cause sensitivities in allergy-prone individuals. A diversified rotation of foods will give your pet the best nutrition possible with the least chance of provoking intolerances.

Meat contains a number of fatty acids. For instance, lean beef contains more monosaturated than saturated fatty acids and smaller amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Poultry contains more monounsaturated fatty acids with smaller but equal amounts of saturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a naturally occurring fatty acid derivative of linoleic acid that is found predominately in grass fed beef, but not in useful amounts in poultry. CLA is valuable because of its anticarcinogenic benefits. Grass fed meat also has a higher ratio of omega 3 fatty acids than grain-fed meat animals.

No single type of meat will provide the same amounts of specific nutrients necessary for a healthy and well-balanced diet. As an example, beef is only an average source of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin and vitamin B6, but it is an excellent source of zinc. Beef and goat supply more zinc than does lamb and chicken. When compared to chicken and lamb, rabbit is higher in iron. Different animals may supply various ranges of nutrients depending on what they have been fed and the time of year they are slaughtered. Winter feed may not provide the same nutrient levels to livestock that summer feed can provide.

Rather than striving to achieve complete nutrition for your pet per meal, consider that the basic premise of any good diet is variety, balance and moderation over a period of time. After all, this is the way we provide good nutrition for ourselves. It should be no different for our dogs and cats.