I'm sure many of us have heard the saying “fresh is best” many times, but why so?
Many commercial dog foods are the equivalent of burgers and french fries, Andi Brown, author of The Whole Pet Diet and a pioneer of holistic pet products explains, “if you’re eating a steady diet of fast food every day, you’ll look and feel one way, and if you eat healthfully and thoughtfully from your own kitchen and garden, you’ll look and feel a whole lot better a whole lot longer.” Therefore the saying “you are what you eat” can safely be said the same for our pets.
Multiple studies have shown that freshly prepared meals are much healthier not only because they lack harmful chemicals and preservatives but also because the nutrients are much more digestible and biologically available to the body. Meals made from human-grade ingredients that are either fed raw or gently cooked contain much higher levels of nutrients including amino acids, vitamins, and minerals compared to commercial dog food as these nutrients are normally lost during processing.
Let us look at some great reasons why we think a fresh diet for our pets can be life-changing not only for us but also for our furbabies:
No more guessing games
Yes! That's exactly it. A meal that is prepared freshly for our pets is usually made with love and thought into our animal’s well-being. We no longer need to worry about fillers and meats from questionable sources that are commonly present in commercial pet foods. This is also a big PLUS when our pets may be suffering from allergies or food intolerances.
Nutrients such as zinc, B Vitamins, and fatty acids present in fresh food can help soothe and treat many skin conditions in our pets and are far more powerful when pulled from whole ingredients, rather than simply supplied as synthetic supplements commonly found in commercial diets. With a freshly prepared meal, we can eliminate additives and ingredients that could be potential allergens for our sensitive little (or not so little) furry ones. We are also able to provide a variety of protein sources which is an essential element in our pet's diet as it is needed for growth, development, and a healthy immune system. This brings us to our next point.
Improved quality of life
Who wouldn’t want their pet to feel happy and healthy? When allergies are managed, our pets will feel much more comfortable. No more worries about an upset gut or itchy flaky skin! Pet owners who feed a fresh diet have reportedly noticed much shinier and softer coats in their furry companions.
Our pets will also enjoy mealtimes as it is much more palatable. This is especially helpful when we have fussy eaters. In many cases, dried, commercial pet foods are stripped of their natural flavors during processing. Those flavors are then added back in artificially to enhance the palatability of the food. The final result might taste okay, but nothing compares to the naturally appetizing qualities of fresh ingredients.
Because we are also in control of the ingredients, we are able to better manage caloric intake for our pets, hence reduce the risk of obesity and their associated diseases. Maintaining an optimal body condition score is also beneficial as it helps protect joints from unnecessary added stress, improves mobility, and hence slows the progression of arthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD). This is especially important if our pets are already suffering from age or genetic related conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia, luxating patella, intervertebral disc disorder etc. just to name a few!
As mentioned earlier, fresh foods are much easier to digest making the nutrients much more readily available to the body. This in turn gives our pets more energy as less energy is now required to digest and breakdown over-processed foods. This also means less waste!
Yes, you got that right, LESS POO TO PICK UP! So if anyone tells you feeding fresh or raw food is expensive, you can probably say “at least I know my pet is fully digesting and utilizing the nutrients in their food instead of it going in one end and right out the other!” In other words, you are not paying for “crap”, no pun intended.
So we now know that fresh food has many important benefits for our pets' health, but the most important of all is longevity! We all want our fur babies to be able to stay with us for as long as possible. When our pets are no longer subject to consuming foods that are riddled with ingredients that may be cancer-causing and allergenic, we can safely say that would equate to many more years of life ahead!
A healthier animal would also less likely require frequent vet visits which makes it easy on the wallet too (we all know how expensive a visit to the vet can be!). Moreover, most of us would give ourselves a good knock on the head knowing that many of the common ailments seen in so many pets today can so easily be prevented and managed just by providing them with a well-balanced fresh diet!
In conclusion, it is clear that each and every nutrient in our pet's diet has a purpose. Without adequate and appropriate nutrition, our fur babies would not be able to maintain muscle tone, build and repair muscles, teeth, and bone, perform normal daily activities with ease or fight-off infection. Proteins provide a source of energy and help with muscle function and growth. Fats provide energy, help the brain function, and keep the skin and hair coat shiny and healthy. Carbohydrates supply a source of quick energy that allow your dog to be active and energetic. Vitamins and minerals are necessary for muscle contraction and nerve conduction and they work to prevent disease. So what better way is there to provide all of these to our pets other than through a fresh wholesome meal?
Alicia Tay graduated in 2012 from Massey University, New Zealand with double majors in Animal Science and Biotechnology.
She has experience with many common ailments associated with various animals while studying and working. Her approach towards nutrition and health from a holistic vs a symptomatic path has made her an asset to any organization she has been affiliated to.
Ever since then, she has made it her mission to continually share this knowledge and educate people on the benefits of how appropriate nutrition can dramatically improve the lives of our beloved pets!
Aside from nutrition, Alicia also has a keen interest in animal welfare and behavior. She would spend her time outside of her work volunteering for a local rescue organization by taking on dogs on death row, fostering them and rehabilitating them, giving them a second chance in finding themselves a new home. She was also conducting puppy classes to help equip owners with the necessary tools to raise their puppies to be happy healthy balanced dogs.
Alicia is now currently working in a general animal practice in Singapore where she continues to share her knowledge with the people around her.
She is a friend and a constant at the table of Paw Kitchen.