What Is Healthy For Dogs and Cats?
Last Updated March 05, 2020
Ever asked yourself what it means for your pet to have a genuinely healthy meal? Well, you’re not alone. Nowadays, a lot of buzzwords about a meal being ‘healthy’ or ‘organic’ keeps on popping up on everything that can be consumed. Even pet food was not spared from having these words attached to certain labels.
If you care about your health, you tend to stay away from unhealthy food. The same principle applies to our pets - if we care about their health, we give them the right kind of food. This trend is the inspiration for big companies to slap on the words ‘healthy’ or ‘organic’ in any of their products since we are now more aware as consumers. What’s interesting though is that we aren’t even sure if these companies are correct. A lot of times these companies find ways to put a product in a healthy light - either by listing down their ingredients or by putting in other buzzwords such as “sugar-free” or anything that rings the same. In reality, however, it's simply just that - a list of what they used to create a product, it does not necessarily mean that it is healthy. For example, “sugar-free” could be used to say that it is free from sugar, but other alternatives are used in its place. In the pet food industry, it is no different too! Some “healthy” pet food leaves out the part where the process of making the product actually leads to the product losing most of its nutritional value.
The latter is true for a lot of kibble companies. Kibble is actually heavily processed food for our pets - lots of salt and other preservatives that are definitely not good for pets. So with that in mind, what exactly are ‘healthy pet meals’?
For starters, it varies between the actual pet you are feeding. For now, we are going to talk about dogs and cats.
What is healthy for dogs?
Dogs are facultative carnivores, which means that they can survive on a plant-based but balanced diet. Dogs carry the genome that allows them to produce amylase, an enzyme that is key in the digestion of starch which is what most plant-based foods have. This effectively makes dogs 5 times better in digesting starch found in grains, beans, and potatoes.
What is healthy for cats?
Unlike dogs, cats are “obligate carnivores”. This means that their diet is very similar to the diet of an animal that can survive on its own in the wild - they cannot survive solely on plants or other plant-based products. This ultimately means that their diet is quite specific and you should be picky about what you give them.
With those in mind, below are the things that your dog and cat food need to have in order to be labeled as “healthy”.
Like humans, dogs also use protein for their daily activities and for muscle growth. Proteins contain amino acids that are essential for strong muscles and repairing body tissues. Dogs can actually only make around half of the amino acids they need, which means that the rest should come from their diet. Protein is primarily found in meat whether it comes from chicken, beef, lamb, or fish.
Contrary to popular belief, fats are not bad for dogs and cats. It’s actually quite essential to be part of a balanced diet. It naturally gives your pet a better, more vibrant coat and it also helps in the transportation and absorption of vitamins and minerals.
3. Vitamins and Minerals
The main ingredient or nutrient that is often taken for granted is the vitamins and minerals that your dog needs. Minerals needed by dogs and cats include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfur, taurine (for cats), and potassium while they generally need vitamins A, B6, C, and E.
Dogs and cats, while not really essential, may use carbohydrates for their daily energy. Since dogs are facultative carnivores, they are able to digest the most common sources for carbohydrates. Watch out for certain kinds of grain though as there are types of grains that are hard for dogs to digest. For cats, on the other hand, may use the carbs for both energy and fiber.
Now that you know what your dogs should get, the next question now is where to get them. Homemade pet food is one way to ensure that the food you give is not processed and filled with dangerous preservatives. Another option is to find pet food makers who actually care about your pets' health (like us and our line of healthy dog food and our line of healthy cat food!).