“What Dry Food Do You Recommend?”

We’re asked this question – often.  And, to be honest, sometimes it requires a step back, take a deep breath and smile approach.  Internal voice- “Really?  You’re asking us to recommend poison for your beloved cat/dog?”.  Those who know us well know this is a real struggle.

And then I realize.  This is what Oprah (sorry) calls a “teachable moment”.  This person cares – a lot – about their animal.  This is not the person who just slipped by our table, grabbed free samples, and kept on going.  This is someone who stopped, engaged, and is looking for an answer.  They’re actually interested in what’s best to feed their cat or dog.  They’re not content with the answer from their veterinarian, their neighbor or whomever.

Next comes “we feed ….”.  Cringe inducing.  Repeat exercise above.  And then, approach the conversation gently.

Dry food – no matter what ingredients go into it, who makes it, what their advertising claims, how pretty their packaging and cute their commercials – is one of the most over processed foods on the planet.  Fact.  To get to the kibble stage dry food goes through an extrusion process and is heated at very high temperatures – damaging and killing any beneficial nutrients that MAY have existed in the first place.  Minerals and vitamins have to be added back in, usually synthetic versions.  Preservatives are added for shelf stability.  If a manufacturer is actually adding back in an ingredient like taurine (which should be derived naturally from meats and organs), you know there’s a problem.

Dry food causes a dehydrated state. Cats, especially, suffer from this.  As descendants of desert animals, it is in their hard wiring to obtain the majority of the water they need from their food.  On a proper raw diet, you will seldom see a cat drinking from a water bowl.  Dehydrated states in cats and dogs contribute and lead to a myriad of health problems, including urinary tract infections, bladder infections, kidney disease, blockages, inflammatory bowels and constipation.  Many in the field believe that dry food is the primary reason for GDV in dogs (commonly knows as bloat).  I, personally, have never heard of a case of GDV in a raw fed dog.

Many dry foods contain large amounts of grains.  Grains are detrimental to the health of cats and dogs.  They’re used because they’re cheap and plentiful.  They’re called “fillers” in the pet food industry but paraded as “fiber”.  Their bioavailability in the digestive tract of cats and dogs is very low and, essentially, they’re “pooped” out.  Grains are known allergens and not recommended by the majority of veterinarians knowledgeable in nutrition.  They’re high in sugars, which, if fed as a steady diet, will often contribute to diabetes.  And sugar feeds cancer cells.

Free feeding of dry food leads to obesity.  One of the single most important health issues in our cats and dogs today.  And one that doesn’t need to exist.  The myriad of diseases caused by obesity is well known but did you know that an obese animal’s life span is two years less then it should be?  Their lives are too short as it is.  Coupled with the fact that bacteria is growing on that food the longer that it’s left out in the bowl, it’s a lose/lose.

My veterinarian says I have to feed dry food to keep their teeth clean.  Really?  Does chewing on pretzels clean our teeth?  And those sugary grains?  Much better to have them down an appropriate raw meaty bone (like chicken necks) where they’re really getting the chewing/cleaning action.

Animals, especially cats, become addicted to specific dry foods. Pet food manufacturers know this and have spent big bucks proving it.  Cats become addicted to specific sizes and shapes of kibble.  Coupled with the palatants that are sprayed on and mixed in to get them to eat unpalatable food, it can be difficult to switch a stubborn animal to ANY new food.  As difficult as it would be to switch a child who’s been raised on candy and french fries.  But it’s never too late.

Would any one of us want to eat the same cereal, every day, every meal? True, whole nutrition is obtained from varied, whole food sources.  It’s common sense.

So, what dry food do we recommend?  NONE.

I know this isn’t the answer that they want.  But it’s the answer that they need to hear, for the sake of their animals who can’t speak for themselves.

Thanks for listening.

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