As a pet owner, did you know that biologically, your furry companion depends on drawing the bulk of their nutrition from a meat-based diet in order to remain in good health?
Here are a few reasons why:
Dogs and cats are naturally carnivorous. A clear indication of this is made by observing their teeth – long, pointy canines show that these animals were designed to tear up and consume meat as their main nutritional source.
Cats are obligate carnivores; meaning that they must eat the tissues of other animals in order to thrive. Dogs share more than 99 per cent of their DNA with the modern-day grey wolf and they too should be fed a diet rich in meat.
There are countless benefits to embracing a meat-based diet for your pet. It provides for a great protein source which is important for building strength, healthy bodies and shiny coats. It also helps your pet maintain an ideal body condition and gives them a satisfying feeling of ‘fullness’ after a meal.
Puppies & kittens especially benefit from animal proteins which provide all the amino acid building blocks with a growing canine and feline need. Animal fat is a great source of energy and it is important to note that fatty acids are used by the body to promote better brain and nerve development. Meat also provides essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorus which are important for developing the bones and joints of young pups and kittens.
It is possible to feed a plant-based diet with supplements to a carnivore like a dog but, this isn’t necessarily the best source of these nutrients. Plant-based diets contain plant proteins which are not nutritionally complete and require supplementation and also contain high levels of carbohydrates for which dogs and cats have no need. It may be cheaper to feed your pet a plant-based diet, but what is the true cost in terms of overall health and wellbeing? A meat-based diet contains all the nutrients that dogs and cats need naturally with little or no need for supplementation.
Choosing a meat-based diet:
Not all meat-based diets are created equal. Be sure to read the label before making a pet food purchase. Here are key points which will help guide you in making the best decision for your pet:
- Look out for products that contain no less than 50% meat content in the list of ingredients.
- Consider whole prey meat inclusions with organ meat (in the correct ratios) for your pet’s diet, which is a great way to introduce concentrated and natural sources of virtually every nutrient your dog needs to thrive, as these include all essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and vital amino acids. Densely packed with nearly every nutrient, including heavy doses of B vitamins, organ meats such as kidney, liver and tripe are loaded with the minerals phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, and iodine.
- Meatier diets offer more variety when feeding at mealtime. Rotational feeding of different protein sources such as lamb, poultry, pork and fish will help keep your pet interested in their meal and decrease the chances of them developing sensitivities.
- Consider more sustainable choices by selecting brands that use free-run poultry, nest-laid eggs and wild-caught fish to minimise your pet’s environmental impact.
Authored by Dr Matt Robertson, a Johannesburg-based veterinarian.