Friday, April 23, 2010

Optimal Health for Pets

Understanding the healthy diet for carnivorous pets is quite simple, if you begin with an open mind.  Cats and dogs evolved to eat whole prey.  Whole prey for cats consists of small animals, such as bird and rodents.  Whole prey for dogs consists of larger animals, such as chickens, rabbits, goats, deer, and sheep. If fed whole prey, cats and dogs eat either the whole animal, including feathers or fur and guts, or most of the animal, except the hard, inedible bones and hide. By eating whole prey, carnivores get a variety of meats and meaty bones, including all the minerals and vitamins they need to be healthy.

If  owners cannot conveniently feed whole prey, and most cannot, they need to approximate whole prey in their pets' diets.  Approximating whole prey is pretty easy with a raw-meaty-bones diet.

Randy Wysong, DVM, began his company, Wysong, more than 30 years ago.  His Optimal Health for Pets program recommends feeding whole prey or a variety of raw meats and meaty bones as the best nutrition for pets.  Although his company sells tons of junk food each month, because that's what pet owners buy, his dietary recommendations are contrary to his company's business practices..  Ethical considerations aside, his Optimal Health hierarchy for pets makes a lot of sense.
Best diet: Hunted, whole prey
 Second best: Raw meats and meaty bones, with minor amounts of vegetables and nuts (preferably organic)
Third best: Dehydrated raw meats (such as,Wysong Archetype), with the addition of fresh raw meats and raw meaty bones.
Fourth best: Dehydrated raw meats with added cooked fresh foods or leftovers
Fifth best: Wysong or other premium kibbles and canned mush (junk food) with added  fresh raw meats and meaty bones
Sixth best: Junk pet foods with added cooked fresh foods or leftovers
Seventh best: Commercial kibbles or canned pet foods alone
Eight best: No food at all.
Please note that feeding what most veterinarians recommend -- a monotonous diet of commercial kibbles and canned mush alone -- Dr. Wysong rates nearly as bad for pets as starvation.  It's just a slower death.

Understanding what pets need to be healthy is quite simple:  RAW meats and meaty bones, not cooked foods and not commercial pet foods.  Feeding the same junk pet foods -- kibbles and canned mush -- monotonously is a sure route to pets' chronic diseases and early deaths. 

Dr. Wysong does recommend and sell a number of diet supplements that can alleviate some nutritional problems caused by feeding pets inferior diets.  No dietary supplement, however, will keep pets' teeth clean, gums healthy, and prevent chronic diseases caused by periodontal infections. 

When I have a litter 3 to 6 weeks old puppies, before they can chew bones effectively, I add Wysong Call of the Wild to their meats to make sure they get enough minerals and vitamins. Wysong makes excellent supplements from organic and natural sources.  After 6 weeks of age, when puppies can chew up chicken thighs and drumsticks and gnaw on meaty beef bones, they don't need supplements.  The RMB diet, and their mother's continued nursing, supply all the nutrients they need.

Wysong promotes its series of essays, "100 Truths about Pet Foods ", that help pet owners understand what pets need and how wrong is the advice they hear from veterinarians and pet-food companies.  For pet owners who are new to the idea of raw-meaty-bones, these essays are worth reading.

Feeding carnivorous pets an excellent diet is really quite simple, once you understand what they evolved to eat (whole prey) and how you can supply the elements of whole prey in a diet of varied raw meats and meaty bones.