Commercial feeds have been around for more than 70 years, entire generations do not remember feeding anything else. They are convenient, affordable and seemingly safe, especially those that are available at your local veterinarian.
With beautiful packaging and reassuring buzz words like “all natural, gourmet, veterinarian recommended, raw coated, ancestral” we truly feel like we are doing the absolute best for our pets.
As time goes on and our pets age, their fur begins to grey, they slow down because of joint pains and loss of muscle mass, their eyesight and hearing begin to diminish, and commonly, their kidneys will become afflicted as well.
This is all a normal, expected part of ageing dogs and cats. If only pet owners realised that they could delay their pet’s ageing and keep them around for years more than expected.
Health issues are on the rise worldwide for dogs and cats. The latest obesity census has concluded that 51 percent of all dogs and cats under human care are considered obese.
This means there are officially more obese pets than non-obese pets, making the majority of dogs and cats at risk for related health issues. Diabetes has increased a whopping 900 percent and possibly the most alarming of all, cancer rates have also increased.
It is now estimated that one out of two dogs will get some form of cancer throughout its life. Our pets’ longevity has also decreased, by up to one year in the last decade.
Advancements in veterinary sciences and medicine may have helped to buffer these numbers, however if commercial kibble and canned foods were actually optimal for our pets, why is there an epidemic of nutrition related health issues?
The Benefits Of Being Fresh
Feeding fresh diets are an alternative to commercial kibble and canned foods with a growing market share.
Fresh diets are an umbrella term used for home made raw or cooked diets, commercial raw or gently cooked diets (chilled or frozen).
Incorporating fresh ingredients into your pets diet, or perhaps transitioning to feeding only a fresh diet has obvious benefits.
Faeces are firmer and less smelly, weight management is easier, teeth are cleaner with better breath, fur is shinier with less shedding and even your dog’s temperament may seem more even, with less ups and downs.
There is mounting evidence over the long term that there are less chances of disease while feeding a fresh diet, especially health issues commonly seen in older pets.
Cancer, arthritis, cataracts, diabetes, cognitive decline and hypersensitivity reactions are all less likely because of a stronger immune system and stronger organs.
Making The Correct Choice
Singapore has a growing field of fresh foods, but unfortunately not all are created equal. Make sure you trust that the brand uses high quality, human grade ingredients and has a professional and hygienic set up.
The number one critic of fresh diets is the fear of pathogens such as salmonella. While it is possible that fresh diets are contaminated with salmonella, it’s also very possible for your kibble to also be contaminated.
In fact, approximately 64.4 percent of commercial kibble recalls in the USA were caused by Salmonella over the last 10 years. Dogs and cats, being of the order Carnivora, are entirely adapted to dealing with common pathogens in their food. If contamination does occur, their digestive system is able to conduct a “purge”.
They may feel poorly for a day or two but then should be back up and forgotten all about it, as long as they are not immunocompromised. Nonetheless, this is something we want to avoid so consider avoiding smaller home-based brands that may not have rigorous sanitary SOPs.
The second most important thing is making sure your brand meets all the nutrient requirements of dogs and cats. First, make sure the food is complete and balanced. Feel free to contact them and ask for the nutrient breakdown compared to NRC or AAFCO requirements (the currently accepted minimum nutrition standards for dog and cat food in the industry).
Growing scientific evidence is pointing us in the direction of feeding dog and cat diets made from whole ingredients, not cheap and processed meats and by-products.
If you are uneasy with this change, then incorporating fresh diets along with kibble will also have health benefits. Go at your own pace, just one step at a time.
Dr Francis Cabana
Director of Nutrition
About The Author…
As one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia, Dr Francis Cabana, Director of Nutrition at PetCubes, lends his expertise in animal nutrition from years of experience working in zoos around the world.
Originally from Montreal, Canada, Dr Cabana holds a PhD in Wildlife Nutrition from Oxford Brookes University. He has been working as a wildlife nutritionist since 2012.
He first joined Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) as the wildlife nutritionist in 2016 and was responsible for the diets of over 15,000 animals in the four parks under WRS — Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park.
He joined PetCubes, a Singaore company and a pioneer in the fresh pet food movement, in 2019 as its advisor. His mantra for PetCubes has been and will be to focus on three things: functional foods, nutrigenomics and the microbiome.