Holistic veterinary diet advice, tailored to the individual
Which diet is best for my pet?
This simple question is something many pet owners nowadays ask themselves, and the amount of options you have are almost endless.
What about raw diets?
Many people are now experimenting with raw meat diets and although these are quite good from a nutritional perspective, they have some drawbacks as well that you should consider before using them.
From a health and safety point of view, raw diets will increase the risk of introducing pathogens, that maybe previously your dog would not come into contact with. From your dogs own health perspective this is often not such a big issue but if you or one of the members of your family has a weak immune system this could pose a threat to them.
From your dog’s health perspective raw food is not great either, at least not for all dogs. The problem with raw, uncooked diets is that the body needs to do much more work to digest it and so their intestines and pancreas have to work harder. This is fine if the dog has strong internal organs, but if they are weak they may get into trouble.
I often see older dogs with a weak digestive system and are therefore not receiving enough nutrients.
Some people may say that wolves in the wild eat raw meat and therefore dogs should be ok on this as well. What you have to consider here is that dogs have been domesticated for a long time and have probably been used to eat (partly) cooked food as well. On top of that, wolves in the wild generally don’t live as long as our pet dogs. Dogs often get much older and so will have different needs, as their intestines age and gradually lose their ability to process and take up nutrients.
What about dried food?
So what about dried foods? Dried foods often have a high amount of carbohydrates, something that is not a natural part of the diet of a carnivore. This can give various health problems. Another problem with dried food is a lack of moisture, because of the heating and drying of the food. Both of these properties make it a suboptimal choice for ageing pets.
So what is the best option?
There here is no right answer for all pets. Each individual is different and what is good for one may be harmful for another. Having said this, I believe that for many ageing pets, a slow-cooked diet is best.
Slow cooking preserves nutrients, ensures that moisture is preserved and that the food is very easy to digest. Another benefit is that any pathogens are eliminated in the cooking process, so provided that you have good kitchen hygiene, it is low risk.
Another benefit is that specific advice can be given, based on the needs of your pet. Certain vegetables or meats may be beneficial in treating conditions in a holistic way.
The video’s below are made by Dr Linda Boggie, she practices acupuncture and Chinese herbs in the Netherlands and is a world-renowned teacher in veterinary acupuncture.
How do I introduce a new diet?
Before introducing a new diet, always ask your own vet for advice first, as there may be conditions specific to your pet, that could make the new diet harmful. Also, it’s best to introduce a new diet over the course of a few days, starting with one-quarter of the new food and three-quarters of the old food on the first day. Then half of the new food and half of the old food the second day, and so on.