It’s been awhile since we have talked about food and nutrition, so mom thought it was time for an update. Since the traditional pet food industry is undergoing a huge shift to more “natural foods”, every major brand is introducing a new collection of cat and dog food that is “all natural, limited ingredients, grain free”, plus other “buzz words”, so what is a pet owner to think?
Why is this shift happening and the pet food companies responding?
Driven, in a great part, by the Millennials, more people are looking for upgraded versions of their own foods, and feel the same way about their pets’ food. As a result, the trends in pet food are following the trends in human food and nutrition.
Many more people are looking for non-GMO, organic ingredients, less processing and higher human-grade quality in their pets’ food. People are becoming convinced that highly processed foods are not as good as raw foods (for both themselves & their pets). If you are including more fresh foods into your diet, why wouldn’t the same be true for your pet?
As many of you know, Beau and I only eat raw food. Mom believes in the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet for all pets. In today’s post we will focus mainly on cats, but please note that we feel the same way about our canine friends!
Why do Beau & I eat raw food?
A quick refresher…my cat food must be at least 90% whole animal protein. Us cats need 2-3 times as much protein as dogs, who are omnivores. We are strict carnivores! There are 11 essential amino acids plus various vitamins that can only come from an animal protein.
The only carbohydrates we would eat naturally is the stomach contents of our prey and the occasional nibble on grass. So, our food must have a high-animal protein and high-moisture content, which only fresh food offers.
Overall, this shift is a new way of thinking about your pets’ food and it has brought a BIG change to the pet food industry. For years, the industry has relied on highly processed ingredients which denatures the protein and the use of chemicals and preservatives to put back the nutrients killed off in the baking of the canned wet food and kibble…which mom likes to call “dead food”.
So, what exactly is fresh food?
Basically, anything that is not cooked or baked. Fresh food does not have chemicals or preservatives that cooked and baked food require.
Always read the ingredients as whole animal protein must be the first ingredients listed. You should also be able to understand what each ingredient is and be able to pronounce each of them!
Fresh food can be frozen raw or freeze-dried raw, which is “raw with the moisture removed”.
Additionally, raw alternatives are also being offered such as dehydrated and air-dried raw food.
Another way these fresh foods are getting into our diets is through the food toppers, bone broths and supplemental treats that are now being offered. Mom puts bone broth mixed with water in both our meals each day, and will often sprinkle some organic food topper on top of our “chunky soup” meal just to spice things up!
Where can fresh RAW food be found?
Raw and raw alternatives for pets have been around “forever” but only produced by small independent companies who had the vision and commitment to pioneer the BARF diet because they knew it would mean better long-term health for us. Little by little this more authentic and holistic way of eating has emerged from the fringes due to demographic changes and more education about diet and nutrition in general.
Not to be left out, big pet food companies have finally recognized what the trend is and are introducing new collections based on a more “natural diet” which is good!
While mom prefers supporting the smaller companies and the independent pet products shops that were there first in this “fresh food” space, she’s excited that there will be many more healthy options on the shelves and refrigerators in the big pet stores and supermarkets for all pets’ benefit!