The Importance of Optimal Nutrition for Dogs (and Cats)

People often explore many different avenues of health, from prescription medication to diet and exercise plans to alternative and holistic options. Why not do the same for our animals? This winter, we’ve been featuring articles from Melanie Hampton, owner of Serenity Pet Massage. Melanie shares information about alternative treatment options for pets that she uses in her practice.

In this last post in the series, Melanie discusses the importance of nutrition for our companion animals.

How important is nutrition for our pets?

Nutrition plays a key role in a dog’s (and cat’s) life. It affects their behavior, ability to learn and focus, temperament, longevity, immune system, and more. Studies have shown that hyperactivity, anxiety, aggression, and more can be linked to diet.

I cannot stress enough the importance of taking a holistic approach with our animals to provide the best care possible. This means viewing the dog as an entire animal and making sure their physical and mental needs are being met. The happiest dogs are the ones getting an appropriate amount of physical exercise, mental stimulation, proper nutrition, and love.

Just like us, dogs feel their best and live their longest and healthiest lives when they are happy and healthy.

So…the first question we should ask ourselves is:

  1. Who owns your pet food?

Big business has bought out most smaller dog and cat food companies, and the pet food industry, under big business ownership, has been nicknamed the “trash can” or “trash bin” industry. Large companies like Proctor & Gamble, Mars, Colgate-Palmolive, and Nestle Purina own the majority of major label dog and cat foods today. Just think for a minute about all the pet food recalls that occurred in 2017. The further removed the company is from the ingredients they are using, the greater the risk.

So, what’s wrong with that?

Smaller companies such as Nature’s Logic, Open Farm, The Honest Kitchen, Ziwi Peak, Darwin’s Natural Pet Food, Primal Pet Foods, Answers Pet Food, etc. only make dog and cat food. Their product is their passion, and owners and employees alike are involved hands-on in making, packaging, and selling the food. They can be contacted, and their facilities can be toured and viewed. They take pride in their product. It is their sole focus and only industry.

When you shop big business, you are buying dog and cat food from someone who owns the process but has never viewed it. People who have no education or experience in canine and feline nutrition are the backers behind the products they have often never seen or touched. These folks own dozens, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of other companies, and their dog and cat food factories are typically low on the priority chain.

Think of it this way – if you were going to replace the windows in your home, would you rather work with a company that doesn’t even know their employees, knows nothing about the windows, and that you’ll never meet or even get a chance to talk to them? Or would you rather work with someone that has worked in window replacement for 20 years, can talk your head off about all the features in the windows they carry, and can proudly show you examples of their work?

You’d be careful about your windows, why not your own living, breathing dog or cat?

  1. Do ingredients matter?

Ingredients DO matter. And not just the macronutrients (Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fats) but also the micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and ash). The micronutrient category is what separates whole foods from processed foods. Micronutrients can be THE MOST dangerous food additives and it’s important to know how to recognize them and know which ones to avoid.

  1. What about marketing and advertising? 

Change your ideas about pet food! Big business companies employ what are known as “focus groups” (that cost quite a bit of $$) to discover what words, phrases, images, and commercial fodder will make you the most likely to buy their product and feel safe doing so.

Small business companies avoid all marketing and remain in business by allowing their product to speak for itself.

So, where should you buy?

Your number one change should be where you shop and who’s product you are buying. Avoid the large stores and stick with local, family-owned stores. They carry high quality products and are very knowledgeable about what stocks are on their shelves.

I teach a Pet Food Nutrition Seminar every other month. This seminar will help you pick up any bag, can, or box of pet food, easily recognize the ingredients listed, and know if it’s a food that will provide optimal nutrition for your dog or cat. So they can live a happy, healthy life.

Our best friend’s health and companionship is priceless!

Melanie Hampton

Serenity Pet Massage
Registered Veterinary Technician
Certified Canine and Equine Massage Therapist
Healing Touch for Animals – AP® and Reiki Practitioner
Certified Pet Food Nutrition Specialist
Pet Tech Instructor
Certified Canine Kinesiology Tape Practitioner

(919) 436-3306

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