Delicious and Nutritious: How Important is the Diet you Feed your Pet?
As pet parents, we know what our furry friends need the most - love and attention, exercise and socializing, food and water (and a little more love, just because). But when it comes to the diet we decide to feed them, how important are the choices that you make? In this article, we answer that question by taking a look at the importance of nutrition for elevating your pet’s well-being and helping them to thrive.
It’s All About Balance
Good nutrition can help improve your pet’s bone and joint health, immune system, dental health, skin, coats, stools and digestion - the list goes on! Just like humans, our pets benefit from a balanced diet that includes a combination of meat proteins, fruits and vegetables. Together, these provide cats and dogs with the vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidants that they need in order to thrive. While nutritional deficiencies have been linked to disease and poor health, good nutrition is considered ‘central’ to restoring their health, providing a multitude of benefits as well as preventing future illness.
So where does good nutrition come from - and how exactly will it help? Meat, vegetables, fruit and superfoods (like the ones found in all of Smack’s delicious pet foods), are all natural immune boosters. They help strengthen our pets' immunity - essential in order to be able to fight infections and prevent diseases, both as a new puppy (or kitten!) and when they reach old age. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (found in salmon and chicken, for example) help support healthy skin and a shiny coat, as well as providing anti-inflammatory benefits and improved digestion. Digestive enzymes (found in raw meat and organs in particular) are crucial proteins that help to break food down into smaller pieces, fuelling our pets’ bodies by helping to absorb the nutrients more efficiently. These enzymes include:
- Protease: Helps break down protein into amino acids
- Amylase: Helps break down carbohydrates
- Lipase: Helps with digesting fats
- Cellulase: For breaking down fiber
So a balanced diet is the way to go - simple, right? And it can be! Unfortunately, the traditional kibble that so many of us feed our feline and canine friends is highly processed - and this means it actually lacks those all-important nutrients animals need.
“Nutrients are lost during cooking of any kind, and especially during the high and prolonged heat cooking, plus extrusion, used to manufacture processed pet food.” (Dr. Karen Becker)
The process of cooking food breaks down the enzymes and amino acids that are otherwise so good for our pets’ digestion. A processed diet puts stress on their digestive systems and creates issues with nutrient absorption and digestion. Moreover, the carbs and other fillers found in processed pet foods are harder for animals to digest (even though their resilience means that they are able to survive on this type of diet, as so many do). Essentially, a diet of kibble deprives them of the balance and good nutrition that they need the most, and adds in fillers such as carbs which they do not need. But if this is you, you’re not alone (a 2021 study showed that up to 90% of pet parents are feeding a dry kibble diet). And fortunately, it’s never too late to change.
Finding A Fresher Way Forward
If we know what’s best for our pets (a fresh, balanced diet of good nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals), and what’s not (processed food that lacks the yummy good stuff) - what is the best way to get them what they need? Many pet health experts advocate for a ‘back to basics’ approach when it comes to pet food, and a ‘biologically appropriate’ diet, If we want to move away from highly processed, low-nutrient food, keeping our dogs’ diet as close to natural and raw as possible is really the best thing we can do. They ‘do far better’ on a species-appropriate diet of raw food, which maintains all those nutrients, enzymes and amino acids that bring them so many benefits. A raw diet has been shown to promote healthy teeth and gums, healthier skin and coat, gut and immune system benefits, and of course, provides a food that is easier to digest.
“While nutritionally balanced, fresh whole food isn’t the cure for every disease that afflicts cats and dogs, it’s the very best foundation upon which to build a protocol that can return a sick animal to good health.” (Dr. Karen Becker)
To achieve balance and good nutritional value, here are some things to consider:
- Natural, real ingredients
- Minimal processing (clean ingredient panels) to maintain nutritional value
- High quality animal protein (and a variety of proteins for optimal nutrient variety)
- Whole, nutrient-dense superfoods
- Healthy fats and fibres
- Antioxidant-rich foods
- No chemicals or fillers (low/no starch content)
Not Just Surviving, But Thriving
When it comes to nutrition and the foods we choose to feed our pets, clean ingredient panels, premium ingredients and minimal fillers are all key to finding a healthier way forward. At Smack Pet Food, we pride ourselves on our responsibly sourced, high-quality ingredients, as well as a dehydration process that successfully maintains the nutritional value of the food that we provide. We use nothing but GMO-free whole foods and wholesome, organic vegetables and fruits, and all our proteins feature a natural balance of meat, bone and organs, with no fillers, gluten or grain - just the yummy good stuff your dog and cat need. By gently dehydrating our ingredients, a high percentage of the amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals in our foods are not denatured or harmed, resulting in higher bioavailabilities. With our raw dehydrated crunchy style foods, we offer all the benefits of a raw diet, with the safety and storage efficiency of dry food.
It was our own family dog, Zorro, who inspired us to create the world’s best pet food, and help other pets live longer, healthier lives. Our pets don’t get a say in the food they’re fed, but we are passionate about empowering pet parents to make the best choice for them - we help you give your pets’ optimal nutrition, improving their health and well-being in the process.
Read more about our story here