You may have noticed the rise in pet food home delivery services lately, not to mention the rise of raw pet food products popping up on supermarket shelves, some even saying they are for both dogs and cats, which is concerning.
We talk to Clinical Naturopath and herbalist, and pet food nutritionist, Narelle Cooke, about this growing trend and her concerns people ordering dog food home delivery services may not be feeding a complete and balanced diet to their pet
Why concerns you about some of the new pet food products on the market?
Dogs and cats require their own species specific complete and balanced diet. For dogs, this means it must have the right balance of muscle meat, organs, bone, fats, vegetables and other nutrients that meets their species-specific needs for things like growth and development and maintenance of overall health.
Whereas cats have their own set of unique nutritional needs, such as requiring higher amounts of protein, taurine, vitamin A and the omega-6 fat arachidonic acid.
So, a food that is nutritionally optimal for cats will actually lead to nutrient imbalances in dogs, and if a food is nutritionally optimal for dogs, it will ultimately lead to a range of serious health effects in cats. So, those products that are marketing themselves as suitable for both dogs and cats is concerning.
What should people look out for in products marketing to dogs AND cats or in general?
Some companies will add in the extra nutrients that are essential for cats, but because our dogs don’t need such high levels of those nutrients, it puts an added burden on their system and also increases their risk of gastrointestinal upset, obesity and, more concerning, pancreatitis.
Pet owners definitely want to avoid any artificial additives and any vague ingredients such as the word ‘meat’ or ‘vegetables’ on the label of their pet’s food, as you don’t know what you’re getting and, for that reason, they can often be of poorer quality.
What about the rise in pet food home delivery options?
The trend of pet food home delivery services is concerning as I’ve actually seen home delivery raw food meals that are just minced meat, with a little bit of organ meat, and some vegetables, and even though they do add in some additional synthetic vitamins and minerals, they’re still significantly deficient in calcium.
If pet owners can’t see ground bone listed in the ingredients panel, then they need to look for added calcium, and that if that’s not listed either then that’s a major red flag, as it will absolutely lead to musculoskeletal disorders and other serious health conditions, especially in rapidly growing puppies.
It’s like if we just ate mince, rice and vegetables for every meal of every day, that’s not complete and balanced, and we’re not going to get all of those amazing nutrients that we need to promote long term health.
Does this concern you?
It’s extremely concerning, because people are being misled into feeding their pets an incomplete diet which will ultimately lead to health issues later in life. Unfortunately, many pet owners are drawn into diet fads and marketing hype for their pets, without really understanding what their dog or cat specifically needs from a nutritional standpoint.
What should people look for?
I think the first thing pet owners should question is how long the company has been making pet food and specialising in raw food feeding.
They should look to see if the product is complete and balanced, with all the required nutrients that their pet needs for their specific life stage.
I also think it’s important to know that you can ring and speak to an expert at the company that you’re buying from, and not just calling a general service number where the person on the other end of the line isn’t actually qualified or knowledgeable in pet nutrition.
This is why I personally use and recommend Big Dog Pet Foods. They’ve been around for 20 years now, so long before it became a fad, and you can see on their ingredients list that their food is complete & balanced.