6 Reasons Why Feeding Your Pet Whole Foods is Beneficial Pet Diet & Nutrition 5 min read
As the saying goes, you are what you eat.
We all want our pets to be happy and healthy and live long fulfilling lives. There is no doubt that commercial pet foods are practical and cost effective, and most of them are nutritionally satisfactory for your pet. However, this value and practicality may come at a price. Many commercial diets contain preservatives and additives which may not be in our pets’ best interest. So why limit them to boring dry kibble if you have the option to add a bit of wholesome, fresh, natural foods to their diet?
Food is the fuel that the body uses to maintain all of its functions. It needs to be complete, varied, nutritious and able to offer all the benefits that your pet needs to remain healthy, to keep in good physical condition and maintain a long life expectancy.
Below are 6 reasons why homemade food may be better for your pet:
1. No additives or preservatives
If “additives and preservatives” are bad for us, imagine for pets. Different additives used in the food industry may have differing effects on the body. Some may lead to certain types of cancer, others destroy the nutritional value of the ingredients. While none of these products are used in a quantity that is acutely dangerous to you or your pet, over time these substances can have a negative effect on the body. Natural food does not include any preservative or additives, and must be made with fresh ingredients, conserved in the fridge or freezer in the correct way.
2. Health and vitality
Homemade food is fresh natural food, rich in protein. It has much less starch than industrialized dry food and, therefore, less risk of your pet being overweight. It is easier for you to regulate the exact nutrients your pet receives when you home cook for your pet. Commercial pet foods provide a ‘guaranteed analysis’ of their diets, however these are often listed as a range, leaving you in the dark about the exact numbers of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the diet.
3. Immune system
Studies have shown that homemade food has a lot of advantages compared to industrialized food. The fresh, nutritious ingredients are rich in vitamin and minerals, whereas processing foods may remove some of the nutritional value of the ingredients used. Fresh, natural foods give a beautiful boost to the immune system, helping to keep your pet healthy.
Home-cooked diets contain a much higher moisture content than industrialized dry food, which provides better digestion and helps to avoid kidney and urinary problems (especially in cats, who usually consume less water).
5. A better relationship between your pet
Your dog or cat will recognize the dedication put in to his food. Animals are sensitive and replace the absence of words with feelings they will certainly be able to convert your effort into gratitude and affection. Animals fed just with industrialized food may not enjoy eating, because their diet is limited only to the same food every single day. Homemade food can provide a plenty of different tastes and nutrients, therefore your pet will eat for interest, not only for obligation.
6. Helpful when your pet has a specific condition
Homemade food also is very helpful when your pet is going through a difficult situation, such as obesity, cancer, allergies, diabetes and other pathology. You can use specific nutrients and supplements that will accelerate the recovery and sometimes solve the problem. For example, during my veterinary practice, I created specific diets for animals that were experiencing several problems, or those who did not want to eat. These diets were essential for the recovery of these animals. As a researcher, I conducted some trials during my PhD where I discovered and published in my thesis and scientific journal that the correct supplementation of zinc is fundamental, and helpful in guarding against inflammation.
Below is a list of the essential nutrients needed in a diet in different cases of diseases.
Diet for Heart Failure
Pets with heart failure should receive a diet with reduced sodium levels, to avoid cardiac overload. The proteins must be increased, so that the animal does not suffer from cardiac cachexia. Cardiac cachexia is a condition in which the animal begins to use its own muscles as a source of energy, drastically thinning. Pets suffering from kidney failure and heart failure should preferentially follow the diet for kidney patients. NHV Hearty-Heart helps to keep the heart muscle strong and improves circulation. It is a great additive to a heart-healthy diet for your pet.
Diet for Kidney Failure
When a pet has kidney failure, his body becomes intoxicated with products that are generated by the body itself during the processing of proteins. For this reason, the diet of pets with renal insufficiency should be very restricted in proteins. The amount of sodium should also be reduced, and the blood levels of certain minerals – such as phosphorus and potassium – should be monitored for adjustments to be made to the diet according to the needs of each animal. NHV Tripsy is a natural anti-inflammatory which helps to maintain kidney and urinary health. It helps to support the kidneys during kidney failure and inhibits infections, which can be detrimental to kidney health.
Pets suffering from kidney failure and heart failure should preferentially follow the diet for kidney patients.
Diet for Liver Diseases
Different liver diseases lead pets to have different nutritional needs. In general, pets suffering from liver disease require a higher concentration of energy in their diet. This can be achieved by adding fats, which should account for the largest portion of the diet’s calories – unless the animal has hyperlipidemia or steatorrhea. Proteins should be maintained at normal or elevated levels and should be restricted only in more severe cases (hepatic encephalopathy). Supplementation with vitamins and minerals may be necessary. NHV Milk Thistle is a great liver support that can be added to any home-made or commercial diet when a pet is suffering from liver disease.
Diet for Diabetes
Pets with diabetes have difficulty keeping blood sugar levels within acceptable limits. To help you in this mission, we must provide them with a diet with fewer grains and carbohydrates, and more protein. It is important that the diet is also high in fiber, which helps regulate blood glucose and maintain a healthy weight if the animal is obese. NHV Mellit can help the body to regulate blood sugar levels and ease the frustrating symptoms of diabetes in your pet.
Diet for Cancer
Pets that have cancer often suffer from a condition called cachexia. Cachexia is a fast and pathological form of slimming, in which the body quickly consumes all of its energy stores, including muscle tissue. To get around this situation, it is recommended that the diet has high caloric concentration, coming mainly from fats and high levels of proteins. Vitamin and mineral supplementation may also be required. NHV Multi Essentials can help to fill any nutritional voids your pet is experiencing and help to increase energy levels. NHV ES Clear and NHV Natures Immuno work very well synergistically to help the body through its fight with cancer.
Pet Food Recipes
When developing a proper diet for your pet, it is necessary to understand animal anatomy, physiology, pathology and the composition of the food.
Therefore, an excellent homemade diet requires the advice and supervision of a veterinarian that will prescribe a full and balanced diet for your pet. Otherwise, you run the risk of not covering all the nutritional requirements that your animal needs to be healthy.
NHV and I are pleased to now offer a custom recipe service for you and your pet. With this service, you will provide us with your pet’s basic medical history and I will help to develop a custom recipe and meal plan for your pet, complete with recommendations on NHV Supplements. I am looking forward to helping you and your pet share many more happy, healthy days together!
Always remember to consult your veterinarian when making any change to your pet’s diet.
Dr. Amanda Nascimento, DVM, MVSc., PhD completed her undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine in 2010 and graduate studies in veterinary pathology (MVSc. 2012 and PhD 2016) at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Dr. Nascimento will be hosting her own blog series and sharing her knowledge with our extended NHV family.
Published: April 6, 2018