Over the past few years, a growing number of documentaries about food have been released. “Food, Inc.”, “Fast Food Nation”, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”, “Forks Over Knives”, “Super Size Me”, and “What The Health” each provide sobering accounts of the once-trusted human food industry. Each documentary leaves the viewer with an overwhelming message: the foods we eat are making us sick.
Now let us ponder where our pets’ food comes from. Commercial pet food often consists of the leftovers of the human food industry. This includes meat, grains, and vegetables that were considered unacceptable for human consumption. Now, if the “acceptable” food is making us sick, then how is the “unacceptable” food going to affect our beloved pets? Netflix recently released a documentary addressing this specific issue called “Pet Fooled”. As pet parents, it’s imperative that you understand the deception behind pet food industry.
Dogs, Canis lupus familiaris, are the first large carnivores ever domesticated and descend directly from wolves, Canis lupus. According to mitochondrial DNA, dogs and wolves are 99.8% genetically identical. Comparatively, coyotes and wolves are only 96% genetically identical. Therefore, we should be feeding our dogs like wolves.
Dogs should be eating a diet rich in meat, fat, organs, and bone. They also need some vegetables for vitamins and minerals, but very little. The carbohydrate content of wolf or a wild dog would only consist of 9%-14% of the diet. This would primarily come from the gut contents of the prey animals they would consume. While dogs can digest some carbohydrates as they have more amylase than wolves, it certainly does not mean they should be consuming carbohydrates. Sadly, commercial pet contains up to 70% carbohydrates which is biologically inappropriate.
Cats are obligate carnivores, basically small mountain lions, and that means they absolutely require nutrients that come directly from muscle meat, organ meat, and bones. They have no use for grains or vegetables. Almost all cat food has grains and vegetables in it, which is unacceptable.
And we wonder why our pets are getting sick and dying prematurely…
According to several veterinarians, it has been well-documented that the incidence of disease in family pets has grown rapidly in the past 30 or so years. Half of all dogs will get cancer. And 1 out of every 2 pets dying from cancer is likely a low estimate as most people can’t afford to necropsy their pet at the time death to determine exactly why they died.
Additionally, other human diseases like diabetes, congestive heart failure, and chronic renal failure are also showing up in pets. Given the variance that occurs within each pet’s lifestyle, from farm life to city life, the common denominator is the pet food. Therefore, much like with our own food choices, we must be vigilant in the choices of food we make for our furry family members.
Animals require intact proteins – ones that have not been denatured by heating or applying pressure. This alters the structure of the protein, making it biologically inappropriate as the dogs’ body cannot effectively pull the amino acids off a structurally foreign body.
A ketogenic diet is the best diet as it meets nutritional requirements and actually mimics ancestral diets of wolves and wild dogs. A ketotic diet is a diet that utilities large amounts of fat, moderate amounts of protein, and very low amounts of carbohydrates to redirect metabolism into burning fats, instead of carbohydrates, for energy. Ketones refer to “ketone bodies” which are by-products created when fats are broken down by beta-oxidation. These ketone bodies are then utilized for energy production.
Dogs Going Ketogenic
A ketogenic diet for dogs is currently being studied by the KetoPet Sanctuary and seem to work well for dogs with cancer. It’s not necessarily a cure, but this approach to nutrition has provided some preliminary evidence that tumor size and number can be reduced. This diet can work synergistically with conventional cancer treatments to help impact disease states and, ideally, add quality of life and longevity for these sick pets. Their website, www.ketopetsanctuary.com, has a useful, free e-book describing very specifically the intended fat/protein/carbohydrate ratios for ketosis. The resource does all the nutritional math for you and allows you to make adjustments for the size of your pet and degree of ketosis desired.
The ideal pet food would be made at home with fresh, farm-raised, grass-fed and finished meat with locally-grown vegetables in proportions that mimic the ancestral diet of a wolf. However, with our busy lifestyles, we rarely do this for our pets…nor for ourselves.
Thankfully, the pet food industry has risen to our call for safer and healthier pet foods. There are now a number of options on the market that will provide the essential nutrients your pets require to live long and healthy lives that are easy to prepare at home at a reasonable cost. Answers Pet Food does this best. They make a “Straight” food that only contains muscle meat, organs, and ground bone. Pair that with Answers Raw Goats Milk and you have the ideal ketotic pet food.
Some of the benefits of feeding nutritionally appropriate foods include:
• Fewer health concerns (cancer, arthritis, kidney failure, diabetes)
• Fewer allergy symptoms
• Internal organ health
• More bioavailable ingredients for proper cellular regeneration
• Stronger immune systems
• Feed less food, therefore less gas and less feces
• Fewer visits to the veterinarian
• Better weight management
• Stronger muscles, more energy, and stamina
• Healthier skin and a shinier coat
• Less shedding and dander
• Cleaner teeth, healthier gums, and fresher breath
• Reduction in behavioral problems and hyperactivity
**Books available on Amazon:
Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats
Karen Shaw Becker, DVM
W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats
Richard H. Pitcairn, DVM & Susan Hubble Pitcairn
The Nature of Animal Healing
Martin Goldstein, DVM
The Royal Treatment
Barbara Royal, DVM
Unlocking The Canine Ancestral Diet
Jean Hove, DVM & Celeste Yarnell, PhD
Fresh Food & Ancient Wisdom
Dr. Ihor John Basko
Raw & Natural Nutrition for Dogs
Lew Olsen & Christie Keith
The BARF Diet
Dr. Ian Billinghurst
Paleo Dog Diet
Raw Dog Food
Carina Beth MacDonald
The Healthy Hound Cookbook
Paris Permenter & John Bigley