What started as a simple idea- find a few differences between wet and dry food for cats- has now officially escalated into a self-led crusade to rid the world of dry cat food. Or, more realistically, start a conversation about what we are feeding our cats. Now before I surge onward I want to profess that my kitties, yes all four of them, have been eating premium dry food for years and all are healthy. I might add that my six water stations, including a water fountain, contribute greatly to this. But much of what I learned helped me to round out my knowledge of their dietary needs, understand which part of their diet is lacking and gave me the knowledge to make better, informed choices on what my kitties should be eating.
Cats, I have learned, are obligate carnivores meaning they need muscle based meats in their diet. Specifically, cats require the essential amino acid taurine, exclusively found in animal protein and critical for normal heart function, vision, digestion and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Aside from needing taurine, our kitties rely on food for one other vital component –water. Wild cats get nearly their entire required water intake from prey. This means 70%-80% of prey is water. This means cats that receive 70% of their water from food do not drink much water on their own. This also means that cats eating a diet less than 60% water can become dehydrated if they are not drinking enough additional water.
I will divert off my food expedition and stop for a moment at the waterfront. Cats, unlike dogs, take longer and are much slower to initiate water drinking when dehydrated. Kitties often do not consume enough water when dehydrated to fully restore themselves to a hydrated state. A quick comparison at the watering hole: dogs will replenish six percent of body weight in one hour whereas cats take 24 hours.
Now, as my steady procession propels me forward, let’s peer a little further into water content. Wet food is typically around 78% water. On average most dry foods contain a whomping ten percent. This low water content has one upside- it is cheaper to buy. However, cats on a strictly dry diet are only consuming half the amount of water needed to stay hydrated. Continue reading
Culturally, we have seen and are still experiencing a drastic shift in the food we consume. Processed foods are being replaced by fresh, local, organic and holistic alternatives. We are willing to pay a little more for pesticide-free, grass fed and free-range fruits, veggies and meats. High-end grocery stores and farmers markets are doing better than ever thanks to a new found love for getting “back to basics”.
Being aware of what is put in the food we consume is shaking up many fast food chains, some of the most iconic staples to the American food industry. McDonald’s is no exception. They are slowly on the decline with drooping profits and store closings because they are struggling to meet this change.
We demand the best for our bodies and rightfully so. But we should also be demanding the best for our pets’ bodies too. Eating McDonald’s every day is detrimental to our overall health and many dog foods are the same equivalent. As pet parents, we should be demanding the same quality, care and safety in pet food that we look for in our own food. Eating is one the most enjoyable experiences, for me at least, and our pets should have the luxury of enjoying this experience too!
But how do you know what foods uphold the standards you require? Walking down the aisles at the grocery store we are saturated with a plethora of health proclamations all stating the product is “natural”, “organic” or “gluten free.” Dog food packages are no different. So how do you start?
You start much the same way you do when buying for yourself, by reading the ingredients label. The first five ingredients are the most important since ingredients are listed in order of quantity. So checking the first five ingredients will give you a quick look at the quality and type of food your dog is consuming. Lets look at two ingredients lists:
1. Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E)
2. Trout, white fish meal, whole ground millet, potatoes, oat flour
Option one shows the first and most potent ingredient is ground yellow corn followed by chicken by-product, whereas option two shows us trout is followed by white fish meal. I know if I had to eat one of these I would be choosing option two, along with many of you.
The first list is from Beneful and the second is Flint River Ranch. Almost every pet owner knows about Beneful, but how many know about Flint River (who has never had a recall)? My guess is probably not many because Flint River does not have ads on television or eye level placement on store shelves. Advertising and placement do not enhance the quality of food!Several other factors go into eliminating pet foods that are not suitable for consumption and lucky for me, and you, I found a website that did exactly that. Reviews.com has done many, many reviews on various items, and most recently…dog food!
Check out the review here!
The researchers go through each step detailing their process and talking through each decision they made and why. At the end you have a beautiful listing of the 125 best dog foods, narrowed down from the overly saturated market of 2,223.
This is one fantastic resource that will hopefully get you thinking about what you’re putting in your dog’s body the same way you think about what you’re putting in your own body.