The importance of good nutrition
There's much more to nutrition that just providing enough calories and protein to keep the body moving and growing. Dozens of minerals, vitamins and other substances essential to good health are obtained via food. Moreover, recent understanding of the role of gut microbes has highlighted the importance of components in food that the animal body doesn't use directly. These help support a vibrant community of diverse gut microbes that have a profound influence on how the body functions. Even the brain, controlling behaviour and mood, is now known to be directly influenced by gut microbes, and the animal immune system is trained and supported by them. So exactly what our animals eat is extremely important.
Eastern thinking is that we are part of our world and emotional and climate conditions affect us and our digestion as well as the food we eat. The energy we are born with is like a bank balance and we can draw on this over our lifetime, but as the balance gets lower it becomes more important to replenish it with quality ingredients, both emotional and physical.
A "hot" person or animal will live longer and avoid more diseases if he/she is nourished with cooling foods. These cooling foods will not suit a cold or stagnant body. Daverick Leggett's book "Helping Ourselves" explains this in more detail.
We strongly recommend including raw foods in your pet's diet. Raw foods not only contain many more vitamins and antioxidants but encourage beneficial bacteria in the gut to produce vitamins and antiinflammatory substances such as butyrates which our body needs. At East West Vets we produce our own range of in-house made raw food natural diets, which can be bought at the clinic. Your local supermarket or butcher will often also have bargain cheap cuts or offal that can be quite economical.
Canned and packaged moist foods
Cannned and packaged foods usually share the failings of human fast food, with high levels of fats and sugar. Take a good look at the nutrition label when deciding which brand to buy. Cheaper brands are often produced in asian countries where control of ingredient sources and quality may be lax. An Australian produced product is more likely to be wholesome.
Dry foods for pets are convenient, but they are calorie dense and stodgy. An active cat or dog may cope well with them although the stomach mucus layer can be degraded by the inherent abrasive quality of kibble, and there is danger of kidney problems if the animal does not drink enough fresh water. For many animals the cooked carbohydrates and cooked animal fats can encourage inflammation. The internet is full of research papers demonstrating this and linking dry food diets to a huge number of diseases both physical and mental. A proportion of dry food in an animal's diet is OK, but we do not recommend it as the only food.
Puppies and kittens have to have good calcium levels for their bones so thought must be put into growth diets. Cats usually insist on 2/3 meat in their diets as their need for protein is higher than dog's but some raw vegetable content is desirable. Wild animals eating a herbivore carcase consume the bowel, which is full of ground-up vegetable matter.
Most of the common foods we humans eat are OK for pets. However chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, macadamia nuts and avocadoes are best avoided in anything more than minute amounts.
Many of the sick animals we see are greatly improved or even cured by changing their diet to a more healthy balanced diet with lots of raw foods in it. See the article on Nutritional Medicine.