So you’ve probably been told by well-meaning veterinarians, other animal professionals, and your friends to never give “people” food or wet food to a dog or cat,.  The reasons can be many:

“Dry food is the best. It packs a lot of nutrition into each chunk of food.”

“Dry food is cheaper and the most convenient way to feed.”

“You’ll keep your pet’s teeth cleaner when they chew on dry food.”

“She’ll get ‘spoiled’ if you feed her wet food.”

“It’s too complicated to make my own food for my pet.”

And I can go on and on…

But let’s start with these 5 rebuttals to feeding anything but dry.  And stay with me, if you’ve “bought” into some of the reasons above. By the time you’ve read this short blog, you should be convinced to feed moist food (canned, stews, freeze-dried, homemade cooked, commercially-prepared raw, or homemade raw).

First of all, dry food is not the best. It is 100% processed under high heat and pressure very quickly, without any regards for making sure the vital micronutrients and trace minerals and enzymes have been preserved.  Even though the food may be considered within the guidelines set by the AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials),  it may well be far from the amount of nutrition your pet actually needs. And, a company can choose to ignore the recommendations of AAFCO;  it’s not required for them to comply.

AAFCO recommendations also do not guarantee that these amounts of nutrients in the processed pet food is actually absorbable, or at least to what percentage of nutrients are utilizable in the body. Like I mentioned, every animal (and every human) is different in what he or she needs on a daily basis, and a “balanced” diet occurs over time , not per feeding. Perhaps an easier way of understanding this is a guideline set by a governmental agency for an adult human’s calcium requirements.  However,  if I have a disease or other therapies / medications that cause me to not be able to utilize that calcium, I obviously won’t be guaranteed that by ingesting “x” milligrams of calcium will be enough.

Point #2:  Yes, dry food may indeed be less expensive than purchasing canned, packets of stew-consistency food,  freeze-dried, or raw, unless you consider the health benefits (in terms of less veterinary visits) of feeding a higher-quality food.  Dry kibble is mainly comprised of starch (i.e. sugar) to hold the kibble (chunk) of food together.  Grains such as corn and wheat are commonly added to pet foods for a cheap protein.  But they have so much carbohydrate content that it 1) packs on extra pounds – especially in cats – due to the fact that carnivorous animals (cats and dogs) can’t process these starches, leading to deposition of fat. 2)  Sugar in the body leads to inflammation, which is the precursor to almost every disease. 3) Dyes, artificial flavors, and preservatives in dry food are not recognized by the body and create “leaky gut syndrome”, which is a condition leading to inflammatory bowel disease, skin allergies, and a host of other disease conditions.

Point #3:  Dry food does not help (and is actually detrimental) to oral hygiene, in both cats and dogs, Remember from the previous point is that starches convert to sugars rather quickly in the body, and chewing on starches creates plaque and tartar, instead of removing it! This is especially an important point for cats that develop a painful, debilitating oral condition called “stomatitis / gingivitis”.  Saliva mixes with the dry chunk of food to help break it down before it reaches the stomach — but keep in mind that this process can result in that broken-down product being left on the tooth and gum’s surfaces, leading to more tartar buildup.

Point #4:  If your pet develops an affinity for moist food, clap your hands and perform a cartwheel!  He knows intuitively what is best for him!  Dogs and cats were designed to eat prey that they catch and kill and prefer not  to eat dehydrated, processed, chemically-ridden “food”. Animals are amazingly perceptive and those that turn their noses up at processed, “junk”-filled foods are telling you they know it’s not good for them.

Point #5:  The internet is loaded with many good, simple recipes for making a homemade cooked or homemade raw diet.  Once you consider the health benefits involved, you’ll find that you will save money in the long run;  you will have a healthier, more vibrant pet, and feel a sense of accomplishment in assuring your cat or dog has a better diet.

Bottom line: do not feel intimidated to start cooking or preparing a diet for your dog or cat. It’s not rocket science!  But it does take an open mind to feel comfortable enough to start.   – Barb Fox, DVM