Humans once thought of animals as food and service providers only. Early humans raised livestock for meat, dairy, and eggs and kept dogs and cats for hunting. These animals were good at their jobs, and humans thrived. You would be hard-pressed to find many people as attached to their animals as they are now. It would be even more difficult to find an animal welcomed into the home. Yet today, people adore the animals that have become pets. Some pets are even thought of as a “fur baby.”
With all the love people have for their pets, you will still see them buying store-bought, mass-produced food. Large quantities of dried pet food are purchased annually with little to no awareness of what’s in them. Many commercially produced pet foods are full of unhealthy and even toxic ingredients. These ingredients can harm your pet, shorten their lifespan, and cause cancer and other illnesses. Fortunately, more pet owners are discovering how nutrition affects their pet’s health. Here’s what you need to know:
Quality Ingredients Matter
Perhaps the most critical factor in a pet’s health is the quality of the ingredients they are consuming. Vitamins and minerals that come from natural foods like animal proteins, plants, and grains are best. Furthermore, the closer food is to its original state, the better the quality. Essentially, food boiled to high temperatures, highly processed, or stored for extended periods is deficient in nutrients.
The goal with pet food should be to ensure it’s cooked with fresh ingredients. Truly fresh dog food, for example, should be sourced from quality farms and prepared soon after harvest. This approach ensures the food is nutrient-dense. When animals get all their required nutrients, like humans, they have more energy. This also contributes to their overall health and longevity, ensuring they lead happy and vibrant lives.
Hydration Is Essential
Once you know you’re feeding your animal high-quality ingredients, it is also critical to ensure proper hydration. Getting your pet plenty of water will help them digest the food they eat and help the body absorb nutrients. Water acts as a carrier for the nutrients from the food, delivering it from and to the cells. It also provides lubrication for joints, regulates body temperature, and acts as a cushion for the brain.
A dehydrated animal loses all of these benefits they should be getting daily, and they deteriorate quickly. Internal organs will break down, digestion will suffer, and you may even notice serious cognitive decline. Add a lack of proper hydration to a nutrient deficiency, and you may be setting yourself up for a disaster. To help keep your pet full of electrolytes and water, keep a filled bowl of water out at all times.
One of the biggest issues with standard store-bought food is that it is high in carbs. Carbohydrates are the source of most of the energy that animals get. Without them, the body would be more apt to get depleted quickly and constantly exhausted. Still, it’s important not to overload your animal with carbs.
You’ve likely heard about good carbs versus bad carbs, and there is truth in that contrast. The body needs carbohydrates from healthy sources like grains, corn, potatoes, squash, and other plant products. The energy animals get from these carbs power their muscles and allow them to produce energy more quickly. Conversely, bad carbs, like the highly refined ones in most commercial dog foods, can cause obesity and low blood sugar.
It’s Important to Include Fats
Another essential nutrient for animals is fat. It is funny to think that humans have made such a big deal about fat. Fat-free diets have been a fad for humans and animals for decades. Fortunately, studies show that fat is not that bad for pets, but it’s also necessary. When animals consume healthy fats, the fat in their bodies is supported. Remember, the brain is mostly fat, so it needs fat to function at full capacity.
Thus, if you want your pet to be well-trained and listen to your directions, feed your pet fat. A diet rich in healthy fats will ensure your pet’s hormones are also well-regulated. Furthermore, fat helps control body temperature and blood sugar. When your pet gets healthy fats, they also get essential fatty acids, the foundation of a strong heart. Make sure your pet food has the right amount of healthy fat, and you’ll have a healthier, happier animal.
Protein Is King
Finally, you likely already know that you need to get plenty of protein in your diet. This is true for animals too. Dogs need one gram of protein for every pound of their body weight, and cats need double that. Animals need protein to build muscles as well as to repair them. Proper protein can help animals avoid serious tears in their muscles, too. Protein also serves to maintain healthy skin, hair, nails, bones, and even blood.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that not all protein sources are alike. Some protein sources, like those that have been highly processed, can be counterproductive. While you think you’re providing something healthy, it is actually causing damage. For this reason, you want to make sure your pet food contains protein from quality sources. Poultry, fish, eggs, and even legumes are great options for your pet’s diet.
To sum up, the nutrition you provide for your animal lays the foundation for their overall health. Whatever you take away from this information, place high-quality, nutrient-dense pet food at the top of your priority list. It does not have to be super expensive or hard to access. Just be sure you research any pet food you consider bringing home. Your happy, healthy pet will thank you for it with a long life and lots of love.