Leading a healthy, natural lifestyle is something we choose for ourselves, and many of us would like to give that same healthy, natural lifestyle to our pets that we love so much but may not know how. One of the ways we can do this is by feeding our pets healthy, natural foods. Yes, there are healthier alternatives of packaged dog food, but creating a healthy, homemade menu pf foods and treats for your furry friend is easier than you might think! And if they can eat as naturally as you, why not give it a try?
For those of us with dogs, making healthy, homemade food is easy, as our furry friends love foods such as oatmeal, rice, a plethora of veggies, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, eggs and some fruits like blueberries. Batches of food can be made and stored with airtight lids in the fridge for up to 7 days, typically, depending on ingredients. A couple of hours spent one day a week can keep your best friend fed all week. For optimum health a dog’s diet should consist of 40% protein (animal meat, seafood, eggs), 10% carbohydrates (grains and beans), 50% veggies, fats from oils or meats, calcium (crushed or powdered eggshells or a supplement), and fatty acids (cooked egg yolks, oatmeal, plant oils and other foods). While dogs can eat vegetarian or vegan diets it requires special attention to nutrition and health needs. There are some people foods that dogs should avoid, including onions, chocolate, avocado, tea, apple seeds to name a few.
If your furry friend meows rather than barks, there are ways to create a homemade natural diet for these furry friends as well. Cats have a trickier metabolic make-up than dogs and cannot tolerate the varieties of foods that dogs can. Due to this, cats need an animal-based protein heavy diet. This protein, coming from fish and poultry should be the main component of your cat’s diet. Amounts depend on your cat’s size, age, activity level and other health conditions. Essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by cats in sufficient amounts and must be supplied in the diet, without exception. These include: methionine, histidine, phenylalanine, isoleucine, tryptophan, lysine, valine, and most importantly, taurine. Taurine is a requirement for cats in order to prevent eye and heart disease as well as reproduction, fetal growth and survival. This amino acid is only found in eggs, meat and fish, making a diet strongly based on these foods, essential for your cat’s optimum health.
Fats are another requirement for cats, and as fatty acids cannot be synthesized in sufficient amounts, they must receive them in foods. The fatty acids linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, are both necessary for cats and are found in meats and fish. While there is no minimum carbohydrate requirement for cats, there is a minimum glucose requirement. Cooked rice, wheat, corn, barley and oats are all good, healthy forms of carbohydrates/glucose for cats. Though cats are not able to digest vegetables in the way that dogs can, it is okay for cats to have some veggies in their diet, in small amounts. Choices of veggies that cats can digest easily are baked carrots, steamed broccoli and asparagus, winter squash and steamed chopped greens.
Though it may take some extra prep time, it is entirely possible for your favorite cats and dogs to also enjoy a healthier, more natural lifestyle. And remember, for both cats and dogs, having fresh water always available is one of the most important things you can do to keep your beloved furry friend healthy and happy!
ASPCA. (2018). Nutritional tips for cats and dogs. Retrieved from: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/cat-nutrition-tips
ASPCA. (2018). 9 nutritional tips to provide proper nutrition to animals. Retrieved from: https://www.aspcapro.org/resource/9-tips-provide-proper-nutrition-animals