Pet Food History: |
Dry, cereal-based pet foods became popular after World War II because it was less messy and more convenient for pet owners.
Today, many dog owners project their biases to pet food manufacturers, such as vegetarian kibble or mint-flavored treats marked as a tooth-cleaning aid thinking, if it is good for them, it should be good for their pets. That is not exactly true.
Cat and Dog Biology 101
* Cats are obligate carnivores...carnivores are meat eaters. Obligate means they solely depend on meat for their nutrition. They DON'T eat plants or fruit.
* Cats can't detect sweetness. (Meat doesn't have sugar.)
* Feral cats are mousers or birders, but not both. They honed their predatory skills to catch their prey
eating the same thing over & over.
* Cats use their sense of smell less than their eyesight (40% smell and 60% eyesight) to hunt for food.
* Dogs are not obligate carnivores. They will eat other food types. But, they do not need carbohydrates
in their diet
* Dogs use their sense of smell more than their eyesight (70% smell and 30% eyesight).
* Dogs will eat decaying food, but will lose interest (if their owners don't stop them first) when meat
decays past a certain point and loses the last of its nutritional value.
Pet Food Manufacturers use palatants (powdered flavor coatings) over dry kibble. The kibble can have the same ingredients with a little more meat meal or poultry meal, but the main difference is only the name on the label. Without the palatant, the food would be tasteless. It is this flavor coating that attracts your pet.
They also use pyrophosphates to coat pet food. Pyrophosphates determine what the kibble smells like. Since dogs rely more on smell on what to eat and how quickly they will eat it, pet manufacturers' find smells dogs like, then add enough vitamins and minerals to make the food nutritionally complete.
Cats are more of a challenge by not being driven by smell. But once the right blend of palatants and pyrophosphates are found, the cats will eat the food. If their owners change brands of cat food and the
right ratio of smell/taste (pyrophosphates/palatants) isn't in the new food, the cat may not eat the food
and get the reputation of being a "finicky" eater.
Predators, such as cats and dogs, developed sensory and hunting skills to survive. They ate their prey's organs, the most nutritional parts of the bodies first, then the rest of the meat.
As a owner of dogs all of my life, I understand the challenges we have when making changes to our
pets' diets to improve their health. There is a lot of frustration when you spend a small fortune on
different foods that your pet will not eat. There also is the owner's ability, desire, and financial
concerns that have to be considered as part of the diet modification.
Your pet's diet will be designed to achieve the greatest nutritional value based on the breed, age,
and health. My process is to:
1) Educate owners on the pros and cons of different types of diets (from kibble to raw)
2) Design a diet that works for the pet
3) Design a diet that works for the owner
4) Merge steps 2 and 3 for a diet plan that works for both pet and owner