Most dog or cat parents would do anything to improve or even extend their companion’s life. As pet health advocates ourselves, it’s thrilling to see the growing trend of caring for pets through their diet. Unfortunately, finding the right diet that suits both your pet’s and your own needs can be tricky at best.
Even when you’ve sorted through the overwhelming amount of options available to you—raw, freeze-dried, dehydrated, canned, etc.—it doesn’t always match your budget or lifestyle. So this week, let’s reflect on misconceptions we may have about pet nutrition and ask ourselves an important question: what values do we hold that make us choose what to feed our pets?
The Big Misconception About Pet Nutrition
Let’s start by clearing up some long-standing misunderstandings about how we feed our pets. At some point, pet parents and pet professionals became comfortable with the fact that just because our dogs and cats have different nutritional requirements than humans, it’s normal to give them those nutrients in a completely different way than how we would feed ourselves.
The thing is, dogs and cats are still mammals like us—and all mammals metabolize their food the same way. The design of the digestive system may vary, but the science of food and the biology of how it’s metabolized is the same for all of us. In the end, it simply doesn’t make sense to throw everything we know about nutrition and digestive functions out the window just because we’re feeding cats and dogs instead of people!
So if we know that a high-quality, balanced human diet requires a variety of fresh, minimally processed foods and plenty of water, why would we choose to feed our furry family members a monotonous diet of dry, ultra-processed kibble?
Holistic health practitioner Ann Wigmore once said, “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison,” and that’s a belief we live by here at RDBK. When we deny our pets nutrition with the same standards we have for ourselves, we lower the chances of them living their best, longest, and healthiest life.
But just like with people, a healthy diet comes with compromises: the up-front cost of fresh foods can be pricier than kibble or canned foods, and they can take more time to prepare—and that’s not even mentioning the time and skill it takes to learn how to balance your pet’s diet for optimal nutrition.
Fortunately, there are ways to find compromises within compromises when giving your dog or cat a fresh food diet. It all comes back to deciding what we value most about our pet’s food.
The Three Forces Behind a Balanced Diet
When you’re choosing a diet for your pet, there are three factors you need to consider: quality, convenience, and cost.
Quality encompasses everything that contributes to the value of the food, from the nutritional composition, texture, colour, processing, food safety, and more.
Convenience refers to how much time and effort a particular product can save you.
Cost is, well, just that! How much are you willing to spend on your pet’s diet?
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as the best of all worlds here. You have to pick two of these forces to prioritize—you’ll never be able to satisfy all three.
So which two would you choose?
Quality + Convenience: This means you recognize the importance of healthy, high-quality ingredients, but you also know you don’t have the time or knowledge to create meals yourself. This means you’ll be paying more for someone with access to these ingredients and the skills to make it for you—like a meal prep delivery service for you or a premade high-quality raw diet for your pet.
Quality + Cost: You know the value of high-quality ingredients, and you have the skill and access to ingredients to make it yourself. This will take more of your time, but you can save money by making it yourself. It’s the same as cooking for yourself at home, but now you’re doing it for your pet, too—just without the heat!
Convenience + Cost: Making convenience and low cost your priority means you’re willing to risk feeding a low-quality product. There’s no way to make high-quality food both cheap and convenient—that cost has to go somewhere! For yourself, this would look like fast food or TV dinners; for your pet, it could look like anything from kibble to low-grade canned or raw food.
If you chose convenience + cost as your two priorities, then you must ask yourself: is this a conscious choice, or will learning more about food quality and safety change your decisions?
Want to read more? Download your FREE Ebook from RDBK: Creating a High-Quality Diet for Your Pet’s High-Quality Life and learn how to identify high-quality raw food, a 30-day vet nutritionist-approved meal plan, DIY recipes, and our top tried and true raw feeding savings tips—and more!
The Final Priority
One of the biggest challenges in the pet food industry is looking back on how we think about pet nutrition and what forces in our lives impact what we decide to feed our pets. Once we fully internalize the fact that our dogs and cats digest nutrients the same way we do and should benefit from the priorities of nutrition we put into our own food, we can start to build them a diet that will support them for their whole lives—while still finding ways to manage our time and budget!