We are a new breed of pet health food store dedicated to improving the quality of our
pet's lives through natural nutrition, relationship building and of course, plenty of treats!
People Food for Pets
Rethinking the benefits
With so many commercial pet food recalls it’s time to review the benefits of people food for pets. In this article, we’ll ponder why we moved so far away from serving fit-for-human-consumption and healthy home prepared food to our pets. At the same time we’ll take a look at going back to supplementing today’s commercial dry kibble or canned dog and cat foods with that same pet-appropriate, fresh, healthy food from our kitchens. Some call it ‘people food’. We call it real food.
To weigh in on this topic, we’ll need to take a brief look at our own diets and highlight some generalities that we can apply to our carnivore companions. There are three principles that make our eating plans health-oriented. #1: Variety is important for palatability as well as balance. #2: Higher quality ingredients result in higher quality food. #3: Fresh food is healthier than processed food.
Now let’s relate these three points to pet food. Good sense doesn’t allow humans to consider eating exactly the same thing every meal of our life, yet we are not encouraged to provide variety or to add to our pet’s food. Knowing the potential value, it makes sense to incorporate at least some variety into a static processed commercial pet food regimen. One method involves using 75% of the pet’s regular diet, then topping it with 25% fresh people food. (At the pet’s meal time away from the dinner table.) Both dogs and cats appreciate lean protein additions, like chicken, beef and eggs to best satisfy their carnivorous roots. This protein can be helpful to offset the overabundance of carbohydrates in most commercial foods. The more omnivorous dog also tolerates most vegetables, cultured dairy and small amounts of fruit, among other healthy selections.
Let’s pause for several important thoughts on people food. There are many foods that are completely inappropriate for pets, like much of the processed food that pervades society. Some foods are harmful, like grapes, raisins, chocolate and onions. Please educate yourself about these and other potentially fatal foods. The good news is that much of the healthy protein and produce in our kitchens is well tolerated by pets.
Now, back to point two regarding higher quality ingredients yielding better quality food. Unfortunately, the majority of large commercial pet food companies utilize low quality ingredients, by-products, corn, wheat, artificial colors, chemical preservatives (linked with cancer), sweeteners, rendered fats, peanut hulls and even wood shavings in our pet’s food! As sole caretakers for our pets, relying exclusively on these low quality commercially processed creations may not be in their best interest. Once again, we can make the case for additions of healthy human food to improve the overall quality of what is going into our pets.
Speaking of quality, a growing number of thoughtful pet food companies are formulating healthier foods with natural, human-grade ingredients. These include antibiotic and hormone-free meats, whole foods as well as organic and regionally grown ingredients. Incorporating lower cooking temperatures, shorter cooking times and taking advantage of natural textures increase attractiveness to both consumers and pets! These companies are trying to regain the attributes of freshness in pet food (see our next point below) by the addition of enzymes, prebiotics, probiotics, fresh produce, non-rendered meats, gently dehydrated and freeze dried ingredients. Adding healthy human food toppers to these pet foods can even further amplify the overall health benefits.
Moving on to point three; Fresh food tops processed food for best health. Most commercial pet foods are highly processed under heat and pressure to make a shelf stable format that is convenient for us, but not necessarily for a pet’s carnivorous digestive system. As we know, heavy cooking and over-processing like this destroys nutritional values. Digestibility, nutrient content and beneficial enzyme activity all diminish. Each thermal unit applied to cook food takes it further away from the ‘realness’ that nature intended. People food to the rescue yet again! We can incorporate a great deal of freshness with a top dressing of appropriate fresh food from our kitchen!
For those concerned about disrupting the ‘balance’ (and I use that term loosely) in commercial foods, fear not. At a percentage of 25%, fresh food additions typically do not offset overall diet balance. Surprisingly, guidelines for formulating pet foods allow wide nutrient ranges. One example; Vitamin A. Food brand X can have 5000 IU/kg while Food brand Y can have 250,000 IU/kg; both quantities are within established guidelines. Now extrapolate that type of range across all 20+ vitamins and minerals in pet food and you’ve got some vastly differing balances!
In terms of pet longevity, if processed pet food is touted as the best we can do for our pets, why has there been no significant increase in their lifespan or even quality of life since its invention? More importantly, why is there no human equivalent to processed pet food? With regards to the apparent human obsession with feeding a daily balanced diet to our cats and dogs, are there any other animals on earth that eat a completely balanced diet every meal? Going back in time prior to the invention of processed pet food, our companion carnivores didn’t complain about sharing our (unbalanced) leftovers and apparently lived better quality lives, according to reputable pet health authorities.
I’ll leave you with one final thought. Recently, I met a woman who was shopping for her dog’s 20th birthday. Based on the dog’s age, I questioned the possibility that she had been feeding exclusively processed dry kibble to her dog. She replied “Dry food, hah! My dog has never eaten dry food; he’s always eaten what I eat!” If the much maligned people food is detrimental to our pets, how could this wonderful dog live to such a ripe old age? So, the next time you reach for your pet’s processed food, remember that you can make a healthier decision on their behalf. Take control of what they’re eating by adding variety, freshness and quality.
Thank you for supporting your local pet food & supply store.
9800 Montgomery Blvd N.E., Suite 13 / Albuquerque, New Mexico 87111
Phone 505-299-8800 / Fax 505-299-7500
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Information obtained from this website is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, prevent disease or act as a substitute for veterinary care. Please consult a veterinarian for your pet's veterinary needs.