What we feed our pets is of primary importance in their health, just as what we feed ourselves. In order of good nutrition, pet foods can be ranked from most to least as follows: properly prepared raw food, properly prepared cooked food, high quality canned food, high quality dry bagged food. Contrary to what we have been led to believe, variety is healthful for our pets (as it is for us), so it’s important to vary their diet. We can use a mix of the above types of food. Woody’s Pet Food Deli sells both raw and cooked food of excellent quality and variety. Independent pet food stores such as Chuck and Don’s Pet Food Outlet www.chuckanddons.com sell a variety of raw frozen food. Local company Sojos www.sojos.com (available at Chuck and Don’s and Only Natural Pet) offers complete dry pet food mixes, which just need rehydration to feed and contain nutrition comparable to raw food. Sojos also offers premixed grains and/or vegetables to add to fresh ground or chopped meat. If you live outside the Minnesota Twin Cities area, Only Natural Pet is a reliable mail order source for pet food and supplies www.onlynaturalpet.com.
Taylor & Becker’s book (see below, look for 3rd edition or later) offers recipes for homemade pet food that are carefully balanced for optimal nutrition and suggests ways to vary the protein, grain, or vegetable sources. Always avoid onions (toxic to animals) and citrus (too acidic), use little or no salt, and vary meat source – chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, rabbit, buffalo, and venison are all good options. Another local company, Swanson Meats, offers “raws for paws“ to simplify homemade pet food. It’s good for pets’ teeth and calcium intake to offer raw bones periodically, but always raw as cooked or smoked bones may splinter. For animals as for humans, organic or pasture grown food sources are best when possible. To find whole food supplements specified in some of the recipes, Mastel’s Health Foods is a good source www.mastelshealthfoods.com.
If you want to feed dry kibble to your dog, we recommend Champion Pet Foods products. Their Orijen and Acana brands for dogs are high quality (available at Chuck and Don’s and Only Natural Pet). Cats do much better on wet diets, such as raw or canned food. Here is information on cat food.
Pet Food Label Reading
Ingredients to Avoid:
- Meat by-products, by-product meal, or bone meal
- Chemical preservatives such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, propyl gallate, or propylene glycol
- Sweeteners or artificial colors
All cats and most dogs do better on a grain-free diet. Check labels carefully and avoid grains, as well as carbohydrate fillers such as potato or pea fiber.
Ingredients to Look For:
- Whole meat source (or single source meat meal) as first ingredient
- Whole, unprocessed vegetables and fruits
When Switching to a New Food – Sensitive Dogs Especially:
For both dogs and cats, use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowls for both water and food. Avoid plastic bowls, which may leach harmful chemicals. When you introduce a dog to new type of food, start by (at each meal) mixing 1/4 new food and 3/4 current food. Feed for 2-3 days, then go to mix of 1/2 new and 1/2 current food for 2-3 days. Then go to 3/4 new and 1/4 current food for 2-3 days, then all new food. The process of going to a new food should be gradual over at least 7-10 days, even more slowly for very sensitive animals. This process can usually go more quickly for alternating raw foods or for cats. Stop at any time if animal is reacting badly — e.g., diarrhea, vomiting. Save receipts — stores will usually take back any unused food your animal can’t/won’t eat and suggest another brand.
For Further Reading on Pet Care
Read "How Much Money Are You Wasting on Pet Vaccines?" for more important information.
Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker authors a wide variety of articles on healthy pets.
Goldstein, Martin. The Nature of Animal Healing: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat.
Graham, Helen & Gregory Vlamis. Bach Flower Remedies for Animals.
Lennihan, Begabati, Margo Roman, & Shirley Moore. A Healer in Every Home.
Pitcairn, Richard & Susan Hubble Pitcairn. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.
Taylor, Beth & Karen Shaw Becker. Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats: Simple Homemade Food.
If you have concerns about your animal and/or are wondering what he/she is thinking or feeling, consider using a reliable animal communicator. We can recommend:
Dawn Huebner 651-480-8866 at www.animalpsyche.com.