Thursday, April 8, 2010

Getting the RMB Diet Right

A well-know aphorism is, "Variety is the spice of life."  In the case of food, variety is more than the spice of life, it's a lifeline to health. 

In our own diets, we include a variety of foods, from different "food groups", to make sure we get the wide range of nutrients our bodies need.  No need to include all nutrients everyday, we just vary our foods across a week or two.

The same aphorism applies to pets: A variety of raw meats and bones assures they get all the nutrients they need to grow and stay healthy.  Dogs' and cats' "food groups" are not the same as ours, however, because we are omnivores, who get essential proteins and fats from vegetables and grains, in addition to animal proteins and fats.  Dogs and cats are carnivores, who must get all or most nutrients from animal sources. 

Cats lack enzymes to digest vegetables and grains.  Cereals and vegetables (as in kibble and canned mush) poison their guts, causing digestive disorders and urinary tract stones.  Cats get all the nutrients they need from eating whole prey -- muscle meats, organ meats, and bones.

Dogs/wolves can digest some vegetable matter and derive nutritional benefits from partially digested grasses that cling to the guts of their herbivore prey.  They don't eat the contents of herbivores' stomachs and guts, just the partially digested matter that adheres to the surface.  Dogs benefit from organ meats such as green tripe that contain partially digested vegetable matter and from occasional family left-overs, such as cooked vegetables.

Pet carnivores cannot be healthy on muscle meat alone.  Muscle meat does not contain all essential nutrients, and it has too much phosphorous and too little calcium.  Pets must have edible bone for calcium and various organ meats for vitamins.  Pets cannot be healthy if they don't have bones to gnaw to keep their teeth clean.  Feeding minced mixtures of meats and bones omits Nature's toothbrush and makes pets vulnerable to periodontal disease and the chronic diseases that follow.

A complete diet for carnivorous pets includes items, such as green tripe, guts, and other parts of food animals that many pet owners would not willingly eat.  Many people have trouble feeding their pets foods they would not themselves eat.  Get over it!  Your pets are carnivores.  If you choose to keep a carnivorous pet, feed it an appropriate diet, which is NOT your omnivore diet or muscle meats alone.

A complete diet for dogs includes muscle meats, organ meats, and meaty bones, with occasional human left-overs. A complete diet for dogs does NOT include cooked grains, extruded from machines and sprayed with synthetic vitamins, manufactured minerals, preservatives, and animal fats to make the cereal appeal to carnivores (aka, kibble), or cooked mixtures of grains, meat byproducts, and vegetables, with added preservatives (aka, canned mush).

A complete diet for cats is simple:  Just the equivalent of small, whole prey (think birds and rodents): Meats and edible bones.  No leftovers or vegetable matter required or desired.  A complete diet for cats emphatically does NOT include dry, baked carbohydrates (aka, kibble), or cooked, canned mush.

When feeding carnivorous pets, the best image to keep in mind is WHOLE PREY.  That's what you are trying to approximate in your pet's diet.  You can't leave out the innards, such as liver and tripe, and provide a well-balanced diet.  Grit your teeth, hold your nose, do whatever it takes, to feed your pet the variety of carnivorous foods he needs.  Remember, "Variety is more than the spice of life."

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