We’re all becoming more aware of the importance of eating well to stay healthy. Between 2014 and 2018 the number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled to over 600,000 according to the Vegan Society and the sales of meat free dinners are up to £4.4bn in 2018. Even people who identify as meat eaters are tending to eat more vegetarian or vegan meals than they used to.
So naturally many pet owners trying to improve their own diet are also thinking about how healthy their pet’s diet is and whether there are healthier alternatives.
What are the new options in pet food?
Human grade pet food created for you
In the UK the rise of pet food suppliers creating new ‘healthier’ recipes for dogs and cats is in response to our demand for good quality food for our pets. Manufacturers such as Lily’s Kitchen and Naturediet create food using meat, fish and vegetables which are fit for human consumption, and many use ethically sourced ingredients, too.
The best human grade pet food producers believe that as our pets are family members, they should get the very best food to keep them healthy; and we agree! Today’s best pet food producers cater for the different life stages our pets go through producing food varieties suitable for young, adult and senior pets, so every pet is catered for.
Home made pet food
It is possible to create home-made food for your pet and there are more and more recipes online you can use. A homemade diet does allow you to introduce lots of variety into your pet’s diet but there are some golden rules you need to follow.
- Provide a well-balanced diet for your dog of 60% protein (seafood, fish, meat, diary or eggs), 30% carbohydrates such as rice, non toxic vegetables, 10% fat from meat, oil or egg yolks and calcium supplements suitable for dogs.
- Provide a diet for your carnivore cat of 60-80% meat protein from chicken, beef, pork, rabbit, fish or liver. Liver is good for its vitamin A and variety is crucial! Kittens also need 35% animal fat too, and adult cats need about 30% animal fat. Add calcium supplements suitable for cats and 10-30% water by weight. Carbs can be added but they need to be less than 10% of the food overall. Avoid any foods toxic to cats.
- Always cook all ingredients thoroughly to avoid tummy bugs and parasitic infections
- Always consult your vet before embarking on this diet choice for your dog or cat for advice on recipes and portion sizes.
Although it’s possible to feed your dog or cat a balanced diet, suitable for their life stage with homemade food, it is tricky to do well. We would advise researching the plethora of pet food producers willing to source great ingredients and create human grade food for our pets. They make life easier for us, remove any risk we might get our pampered pet’s diet wrong and provide great food to help our pets stay in tip top condition.
The raw pet food trend
One trend that started in US is the fashion for feeding your dog or cat raw meat and fish. The argument goes that they’d eat raw food in the wild so it must be the best option for our pets at home too. Advocates of this diet say processed pet food can contain lots of preservatives, salt and sugar so a natural raw meat diet would be better for them, surely?
This might be logical but in reality, it isn’t a good idea due to the bugs lurking in raw meat and fish and on raw vegetables. We avoid catching salmonella and E. coli (2 common, nasty bugs) by cooking our meat. We don’t tend to catch parasitic worms from pork as we cook it through before eating it, killing any lurking parasitic eggs. Although this trend seems a good idea, we’d advise you think again. Feeding your dog or cat raw meat and fish could result in them becoming very ill and they could pass on the infection to you and your family too.
This diet is popular in The Netherlands, with half of dog owners feeding their dogs raw food. Dutch Researchers published a report in the journal Vet Record showing that this diet poses a significant health risk for pets and their owners, and could lack important nutrients and vitamins, especially for growing puppies and kittens.
What is the best diet for my pet?
It’s natural for us all to want to do the best for our pets in every aspect of their lives. Luckily, it’s getting easier to find great quality pet food made of the finest ingredients and balanced to fulfil our pet’s nutritional needs, whatever their age or condition. There are so many great producers in the UK you’re bound to be able to find one that suits your pocket and your pet’s needs. Look for producers using human grade ingredients, with no artificial preservatives and food made form natural ingredients and you can’t go far wrong. And if you’d like to reduce food miles, there are lots of producers using only British produce so you can help save the planet a little too!