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Introduction To Natural Health And Nutrition For Pets
There are many reasons why fresh, natural foods are superior to processed pet foods. Processed foods (canned, dry, etc.) contain ingredients that are unnatural for pets. Common ingredients are grains and soy products. These are not found in a carnivore's natural diet. It is my opinion that high complex carbohydrate levels are incompatible with carnivore physiology. The wild relatives of dogs and cats (wolves, tigers, etc.) eat other animals. It is logical that domestic dogs and cats should eat a similar diet. Despite breeding and domestication, they are not very different physiologically from their wild counterparts.
Domestic dogs and cats have existed for thousands of years, yet they have been eating processed foods for only a few decades. They did better on natural, fresh foods. Wild carnivores eat meat, bones, intestinal contents and internal organs and glands, such as liver, spleen, kidneys, brain, adrenals, etc. Organ tissues contain a variety of vital nutrients and tissue factors. The digestive tract of most prey animals contains partially digested vegetables, seeds, digestive enzymes and digestive bacteria. Little or no complex carbohydrates are found in this diet.
Processed foods usually contain toxic additives such as preservatives, colors and flavors. The vitamin and mineral additives are generally synthetic or inorganic and of questionable biological value. Another major problem with pet foods is that they are cooked. Cooking destroys vital nutrients and makes animal proteins much more difficult to digest. Think of digestion using a key to open a lock. If you damage the key, it is much less likely to work. Enzymes are similar in that they require an exact fit in order to digest a particular food. Cooking alters the shape of the food on a molecular level. As a result, the enzymes can no longer digest the food completely. When absorbed into the body, partially digested proteins can interfere with the immune system and result in a variety of health problems. I strongly recommend a fresh, RAW, natural diet.
While there are certain risks involved using raw foods, I believe the risks from processed food are greater. Remember, animals have been eating raw food for almost their entire existence. They have defenses against germs and parasites. They don't have defenses against cooking and unnatural ingredients. Veterinarians around the world are using this approach with great success and very few problems. One fairly common problem is a change in bowel function as the body adjusts. Be patient -- it may take time for a pet to adapt to the new food.
Please see the Natural Diet page, to see how I approach natural feeding. I avoid grains, beans and other starchy foods. I recommend supplementing with glandulars, digestive enzymes, probiotic bacteria, green food concentrates and trace minerals as indicated in the recipe. I mention specific products only because I know their formulation, the quality of their ingredients, and how much to use. If you have other products you feel are adequate, you may substitute them.
May you and your animal friends experience only the best of health.
- Russell Swift, DVM, Classical Homeopath
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