Humans have cohabitated and even co-evolved with dogs and, to a lesser degree, cats. The origins of this mutually beneficial relationship stem from what was initially a competition for natural resources. At some point, the wise philosophy of, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” was adopted by both sides and now, dogs and people are two of the most successful creatures on the planet, measured by population growth.
For the majority of that time we shared our meals with our canine companions. As our diets became more evolved and more processed, the ailments of what is now called, “Western Disease”, (ie, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer), began affecting dogs as well as humans. Diets based upon what was known about canine nutrition were developed and marketed for the public and over time humans stopped sharing their food, instead feeding their dogs (and cats as they, too, became common pets as urbanization spread) formulated and highly processed diets advertised as “nutritionally complete”. Today, many pet owners consider the feeding of “table” or “human” food taboo or even a sign of neglect. Meanwhile, cancer, obesity, hypertension, etc… have grown and medical problems in pets have reached levels exceeding those in humans.
The problem is that formulating a “complete” diet is impossible. The first formulated food was infant formula. In the two centuries since it’s creation, the most expensive and researched formulas pale in comparison to natural milk in terms of benefits. If we can’t figure out how to duplicate milk, how can we smugly say we have complete diets for dogs and cats that provide for all of their needs? A case in point: Shortly after the onset of formulated pet diets, dilated cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease, was the most common cause of death in cats. It was found to be caused by a simple amino acid deficiency, taurine, specifically. Once added to diets, the disease all but disappeared. Packaging on the cat food bags both before and after all carried the soothing label, “Nutritionally Complete”. Unfortunately, the label carries the same amount of false hood today as back then. It’s only complete until we find out it isn’t.
Worse than what isn’t in the diets is what is in them. In the billion dollars pet food industry, profit margins rule and many brands of food, (sometimes over 100 separate brands”) are all produced in single, gargantuan corporate mills. Rancid fat from the bins of restaurants, chemical fillers from China, ground hair and feathers, cement, etc… are all added to the bags followed by a package featuring a healthy looking pet to ease consumers minds. Many companies are out there producing great diets for pets but how does the average pet owner, without a doctorate or degree in nutrition, husbandry or medicine, figure out which label to trust? The solution may just be to make the diets ourselves. If someone tells you it’s harmful, the response could be, “Well, it worked for thousands of years” or “At least I know what’s in my dog’s food, do you?”
Oak Tree Veterinary Hospital can recommend great packaged foods for those who are unable to prepare the recipes shown so please don’t feel guilty if you cannot see yourself cooking for your pet . These are included for those who have the interest and resources to try it.
I’ve included my short list of recipes and a few diets thrown in for specific conditions such a s food allergy, kidney and/or liver disease, urinary tract disease and weight loss. I’ve included some treat recipes, too. For those who feel it may be time consuming, I suggest you try it and see just how simple it is. These recipes are designed for ease of preparation and, even if it can’t be done every time, it can be fun and your pet will love the extra attention and special treat! In Hebrew, the word for dog is “kelev” which translates to “like a heart”. Enough said.