There are so many knowledgeable and remarkable people who speak on the subject of nutrition for companion animals. You can follow the social media spotlights of Dr. Karen Becker, Rodney Habib, Dr. Marty Goldstein, the list goes on! The problem with the internet is, in my opinion...there is an equal amount of bad information that can derail your mission to get your cat or dog to the healthiest place they have ever been. Whether you are starting the journey with your first "fur baby" or building on previous knowledge of the lessons learned over many past companions, the important thing is that you approach information with an open mind and a steadfast determination to do what YOU feel is best for your pet. There is no "perfect answer" and certainly no one-size-fits-all when it comes to canine and feline nutrition. That being said, it is a good idea to understand the basics...dogs are carnivores, cats are obligate carnivores. How do they derive energy and nutrients from the food they eat - in other words, how do their digestive tracts work and differ from ours? I have fed kibble (gasp, I KNOW!), commercial pre-made raw, a horrific butcher floor scraps blend (another story for another day) and made my own raw from scratch. Different times in my life, different skill set and monetary restrictions have all factored into my past offerings to my babies. But one thing has remained the same, 20 years ago when I knew next to nothing about how to feed my Wheaten Terrier I still had a thirst for knowledge and no ego. (That was because I knew nothing, so ego didn't come into it!). Now, 2 decades later, I have helped thousands of pet parents make the switch to a real food diet and I have seen first hand the difference it can make in overall health. At my store, we offered the tools and knowledge to turn around common ailments such as GI distress, skin conditions, "allergy" symptoms, Leaky Gut and autoimmune disorders. We didn't claim to "cure" anyone, we simply offered our learned experience (free of charge) and showed people how we approach pet nutrition. It is amazing what a foundation of nutrition can do to build a strong, capable and resilient animal who has the immune system to handle the assaults it faces on a daily basis through environment and other toxins. What has not changed in that amount of time is that I still have that drive to educate myself and to do the best I can for the animals I am blessed to share my life with. You can't ever think you know it all - you simply don't. There is always a new research study or another brilliant case that is just around the corner. It is now relatively common knowledge that feeding "dead" or processed food to your animals every single day is not a recipe for wellness. It is common sense really, in a world that has come alive with the quest for "fresh", farm to table fare for the family that we would seek the same for our kids with fur. Think for a second of what "dog food" has come to be - a bag of hard bits of "cereal" that contain meat that can sit on a shelf for a year. Gobsmacking. Our ancestors raised farm dogs on table scraps or let them follow their instincts and hunt rabbits, mice and the like to survive. Those dogs - back in the day - had far less incidents of cancer and, in fact, lived longer lives than our pets do today. So go online, read a bunch of articles by Karen Becker (Mercola Pet), follow the nutrition blogger and pet advocate, Rodney Habib, buy a magazine (Dogs Naturally Magazine) and start your journey. Keep in mind that some of the information is "next level" - don't let it overwhelm you! Take what you want and leave the rest, we all had to start somewhere and you will find what rings true to you. There are so many opinions and not one perfect answer. The best you can do for Fido is educate yourself and then educate yourself some more, but always be open to hearing another opinion. Ask for empirical evidence - proven results, not just lab tests. As an example, I find canned pumpkin and cooked chicken breast or turkey to be better for dogs recovering from GI upset than rice and Gastro food from the vet. I have "proven" that theory probably 300 times with clients over the years, that's why I keep suggesting it. Find your own truth and your pet will be better for it.
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