Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dining with Your Dog and Cat


Monday Morning Post


A while back, I wrote about how our dogs eat the same kind of food we eat. When we have bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast, so do our dogs. If it's stew for supper, the dogs get stew, too. It drew quite a response. People wanted to know if I was kidding. They didn't know that dogs could eat "real" food.  They thought that dogs had to eat "dog food".

The topic came up again recently when a friend put a message on Face Book saying that her cat wasn't eating.  As a cat lover and all around cat "mother", I offered my advice. "Get some chicken baby food or well mashed tuna," I said, "open kitty's mouth and put a little in the cheek." The kitty recovered and began eating with abandon. She loved her new food but my friend was worried that people food wasn't "good" for a cat.

Everyone - people and animals - are happier and healthier when they eat real food that's lovingly prepared. How sad it is that we've forgotten that real food is important to everyone - including our four legged friends.

Some where along the way, we were taught that food from the table was bad for our dogs and cats. We've come to believe that only commercially prepared food is nutritious. That is so wrong!

Pet foods are convenience foods.  Moist pet food is the animal equivalent of fast food and dry pet food is the equivalent of breakfast cereal. 

Most traditionally prepared commercial pet foods are made from ingredients that are not for human consumption. Think about that. Not for human consumption. Even pet foods that are advertised as gourmet and home style in taste are made from ingredients of such poor quality that vitamins and minerals have to be added. Why would you ever want to feed your animal companion food that you would not eat yourself?

Commercially prepared pet food, just like fast food for humans, will get your pets by but it will not make them thrive. Inferior food eventually yields inferior health.

Feed real food to your dog and cat and they'll smell better, have sweeter breath, less offensive urine and feces, less skin problems and less fleas - all signals of improving health.

Begin by making gradual, healthful changes in your pet's daily diet just like you do with your own. Add human foods in small amounts. They should be plain and basic. Nothing exotic, spicy or salty. Just like a healthful human diet, choose low fat, low salt, high complex carb foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meat and fish. Nothing complicated, overly processed or too much work to make.

Search the internet for ideas.  Advice from British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse is a good place to start. She's an early champion of returning dogs to real food. Cats are more particular but they love real food too. Stay away from food that will harm or poison your pets. No onions, hot peppers, nuts, chocolate, raisins or grapes - among others.

So what did we have for breakfast this morning at our house?

My husband Tony, William (the dog) and I had poached eggs fresh from the farm, boiled potatoes, whole wheat toast, fresh, raw apple with a little plain yogurt, wheat germ and a squirt of flax oil. The cats, who prefer a higher protein diet, had poached eggs, whole wheat toast and tuna packed in water.

Dining with your dog and cat is easy and healthy for you both!

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