Dr. Hirsch here, I am going to talk a little a bit today about fresh food nutrition specifically for dogs in this segment and why this is important information that I would really like for my clients to be aware of prior to their appointment with me.
So nutrition is truly the fundamentals of our health and wellness. Vast majority of animals that come to me are already on some sort of kibble or sometimes canned food diet and because that’s what veterinarians have told them for a very long time is what is healthy and best to feed their animal, that’s truly what they think they’re doing the best by their animal to feed. My approach is different and how we view things here at Holistic Pet Care as a practice is really truly that fresh food is tremendously better for our animals than processed food.
Fresh, high quality, balanced, ideally free range or pasture sourced food is what I like to optimally aim for. Anything that you can do to improve what your currently doing is better than doing nothing at all. When I say fresh food what do I mean? I mean food that is not shelf stable. Otherwise, food that if it sits out for several days or without refrigeration or freezing is going to spoil. Why? Because that food is food that hasn’t been pumped with a bunch of preservatives and hasn’t been processed in a way that actually does change its nutritional content and it’s what gives the best nutrition to our animals. For many of my patients, that is a raw food diet, however other things that fall into fresh food diets are lightly cooked diets and home cooked diets. All of these are certainly options that can be phenomenally helpful for our animal’s overall health and wellness.
Sourcing is a really big piece of what I like to educate people about because you’ll find ppl who have attempted to go to toward a fresher based diet than kibbles and many canned foods. But I still often times will tell them that I’m not thrilled with the choice because it’s not very species appropriate in terms of the amount of carbohydrates that are in some of these, as well as my concerns about sourcing sometimes mold issues, sometimes some other things that have come up with some of the very more widely available in grocery stores and really big box pet stores with some of those products.
Why do I care about sourcing so much? Sourcing is a big deal because the nutrition of what we eat is affected by what that being, by whether it be plant or animal, has been exposed to when it was alive. And for meat-based products, animal-based products, the way that those animals lived indeed affects their nutrition once they become part of the food supply. And this also stands for people as well, although I’m speaking about dog nutrition today. Really what I’d like for people to understand is that, pasture raised animals that are either free raised or pasture raised or have appropriate activity levels and a more natural lifestyle are tremendously less stressed than animals that are raised in confinement and large production scale facilities; that is very very common in conventionally raised/processed food animal situation. So feed lots and high capacity poultry operations and other situations lead to a significant amount of stress in the animals that are there. Thinking about the concerns with both GMO concerns as well as herbicides, pesticides, other contaminants; so optimally if we can have ingredients that are actively organically sourced in terms of vegetables and fruit that is involved, that’s optimal. Is it always possible in every situation, no; but again I just want people to understand what sets apart some products from others in terms of their sourcing.
And then when it comes to the fresh food being, whether to choose raw or whether to choose lightly cooked or whether to choose home cooked. One of the things I like to advocate for is, for growing animals, for young animals, puppies, young animals that have not reached their maturity yet. I do personally prefer a high quality commercially balanced diet because the calcium and phosphorus ratios as well as a number of the vitamins and minerals that is necessary for having a balanced diet and is really helpful when animals are actively growing; is something that I don’t like to leave up to chance or to hoping that clients get recipes right.
Adult animals I think can do very very well on home cooked foods as well. My favorite resource in that regard is Dr. Judy Morgan ‘Yin Yang Nutrition for Dogs’, available online and also available in an e-book for on kindle as well. We do carry copies here in the office so if that’s something you’d like to actually take a peek at, when you like to see us, happy to share it with you. Dr. Morgan’s book is a phenomenal resource to understand the basics behind nutrition in a Chinese perspective and Chinese balance. So, one of the things I will often ask my patients, about my patients of my clients are their preferences about temperature that they prefer. Is your animal always looking for the sunniest warmest spot to lay or do they like to maybe sprawl out on a cool wood or tile floor or lay in front of a fan or find areas that are cooler near an air conditioning vent? Because that can give us some clues into what an animal is searching for in terms of balance in its own body. And combined with what I find as part of my holistic physical exam which includes tongue and pulse from a Chinese perspective, I can often help guide my clients in terms of different proteins to potentially choose to find the optimal balance for yin and yang and aiming for a really balanced healthy optimal health situation that the diet can really support.
I really look forward to seeing you in the practice, moving forward; have a great day.