By Dr. Al Townshend
The domestic dog and cat we know today have evolved from their ancestors in the wild, the Grey Wolf and African Wild Cat. Their evolution has also been influenced by man for some 20-40 thousand years.
Man, through selective breeding, has created the variety we see in both dogs and cats. The Labrador Retriever and the Chihuahua are physically very different, however, genetically they are still similar. They are not only genetically akin to each other, but are also remarkably similar to their ancestor, the Grey Wolf. The same physical variety has occurred in the evolution of cats, but they too are genetically close to their descendants.
The first Grey Wolf is thought to first appear around a million years ago. The first Wild African Cat emerged 6-7 million years ago. Through almost all of their existence, they have been considered carnivores or meat eaters.
Meat is the best source for all of the essential amino acids necessary for a recipe to be considered complete and balanced.
During their relatively short domestication process (20-40 thousand years), dogs have gained a better ability to utilize carbohydrates. However, they still continue to do best when the bulk of their nutrition is from animal protein and fat. Cats, on the other hand, have not adapted as well and depend even more heavily on animal protein and fat for optimum nutrition and health.
Regardless of their better ability to utilize carbohydrates, neither the domestic dog or cat have a nutritional requirement for carbohydrates. They still have their ancestor’s ability to convert protein and fat to glucose (the basic carbohydrate utilized by the cells of the body).
As a result, many believe that a biologically appropriate high meat/low carbohydrate nutritional philosophy continues the best approach to feeding our canine and feline pets.
Benefits of a High Protein/Low Carbohydrate Total Daily Diet
Total daily diet consists of the primary recipe, treats, snacks and supplements. All should be chosen with the same nutritional philosophy. Feeding a high protein/ low carbohydrate primary meal and a low protein/ high carbohydrate treat defeats the purpose.
- Providing a more natural recipe for a carnivore can assure the pet is getting all it needs not only to get the basics but to assure all that is necessary for optimum nutrition and health are delivered.
- Optimum nutrition supports the immune system which is the pet’s natural defense system.
- Weight Management is easier when feeding fewer carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates encourage weight gain and excess weight increases the risk of conditions that are more common in overweight animals. Arthritis, heart and kidney disease, diabetes, and even cancer occur more frequently in overweight animals.
- High meat content eliminates the need for inexpensive and inappropriate energy sources that are also known to encourage allergies.
- Activity level improves with higher protein and fewer carbohydrates.
- High animal meat content improves the palatability of the diet.
Be Careful When Searching for a High Meat and Low Carbohydrate Recipe for Your Pets
Many might think the internet is the best place to find a high meat/low carbohydrate recipe.
- The levels of protein considered to be high and the levels of carbohydrates considered to be low can vary considerably according to the resource.
- Websites may say the food is high in meat and low in carbohydrates but make it hard or impossible to actually find the levels.
- Rarely can you find the level of carbohydrates on the package.
- Staff at grocery stores and large retail pet supply stores often have little to no nutritional knowledge.
- Many veterinarians have a limited understanding of all the nutritional philosophies available.
- One of the best resources for nutritional knowledge is Pet Planet. Pet Planet places an emphasis on nutritional training so staff can provide Guardians with the most up to date information so they can make the best choices for their pets.
You will find that all of the foods at Pet Planet stores are higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates and are considered biologically appropriate for both dogs and cats. Be sure to take advantage of the Free Pet Planet Nutrition Consultation at a Pet Planet Health location near you and learn more about the benefits of a high protein diet for your pet.